When Kansas State University nutrition professor Mark Haub began his experiment, he weighed 201 pounds and had a body mass index of 28.8 (overweight).
Ten weeks later, he had lost 27 pounds, lowered his bad cholesterol and raised his good cholesterol. Plus, he lowered his blood pressure.
How did he do it? I can give you the answer in just one word: twinkies.
From Twinkies to Toned
The diet plan (if we can call it that!) that Haub followed is often called the “twinkie diet,” and for good reason.
For ten straight weeks, Haub has eaten mostly junk food, like soda, snack cakes, Doritos, and especially Twinkies.
Professor Haub volunteered himself as a guinea pig in what began as a simple test of portion control.
Instead of his normal diet of 2,600 calories, he limited himself to only 1,800 calories to see if he would lose weight.
What started as an experiment in portion control of calories (regardless of where they came from), actually resulted in a loss of weight… and a considerable amount, at that.
But Is He Healthier?
Pure numbers point to yes…in addition to losing 27 pounds, Haub’s LDL (the bad cholesterol) dropped by 20 percent and his good cholesterol rose by the same amount.
Haub does not recommend we all go out and load our cars with boxes of Twinkies…at least not yet – and he has yet to draw conclusions about it: “I wish I could say it’s healthy…I’m not confident enough in doing that…One side says it is irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn’t say that.”
Count Your Calories
Weight loss experts constantly flip-flop on the importance of counting calories…but Haub’s results show that at the end of the day…calories count!
Before the experiment, Haub claimed to be eating well, but just consuming too much.
From eating a controlled diet of only 1,800 calories, Haub lost weight, even though what he ate is usually blamed for adding weight, not an aid to losing it.
Also, his before lifestyle shows us that eating too much, even healthy food, will not help you to lose weight.
So, obviously lowering your caloric intake is the real catalyst to losing weight…
The bottom line: if you want to lose weight, you’ve got to consume less than you burn. That is it.
Drawbacks To Haub’s Method
Plenty of critics have already started talking about this study, and some do have valid points…
One said Haub did not receive the full range of proper nutrients that come from a well-rounded diet (note: Haub did take a multi-vitamin daily, drank a protein shake, and ate one serving of vegetables per day also).
Another very valid comment was that the “twinkie diet” may take a toll on your health if you stay on it long-term – there could potentially be risks to his heart health, and his risk for diabetes may rise considerably.
He may also be changing his blood-glucose level by eating too much processed sugar.
Haub plans to stop his “twinkie diet” the day before Thanksgiving, so we will give you another update as soon as we can!
Checkout the video:
If you are like most smokers, you realize the negative effects on your health and might even calculate the monthly or yearly cost of each pack of cigarettes you buy.
However, if you aren’t statistically minded, you probably aren’t calculating the TRUE cost of a pack of cigarettes. And, according to a new study from the Polytechnic Institute of Cartagena in Spain, the cost is dramatically higher than you may expect…
When you account for the VSL (which we will get to later) the true cost of one single pack of cigarettes is…
$150 For Men And $105 For Women – WOW!
If you had to whip out over $100 for a pack, would you still be smoking?
But thinking statistically can be difficult – I know it is not easy for me.
However, now that you know the true cost of a pack, try keeping it in the front of your mind whenever you are thinking of buying a pack. And whenever a friend or a loved one is about to buy a pack – reminding them of the true economic costs might just help them end this habit.
How In The World Did They Get This Number?
A metric called the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) was devised to analyze the problem from a cost-benefit standpoint. Without getting too complicated, what is being figured here is the cost of premature death.
Smoking cuts an average of 7.13 years off the life expectancy of a man and 4.5 years for a woman.
According to the study’s author, “one must not confuse the cost of premature death with the cost of healthcare. The cost of premature death is borne by the smokers themselves.” So this figure is actually a bit modest.
Obviously since we sell a hypnosis program for smoking cessation, I am a little biased. But the research does strongly support that hypnosis is a highly effective tool to help you quit.
However, people quit without hypnosis all of the time. Nicotine itself, for example, does not cause cancer, and the use of gums and patches is definitely a better option than lighting up.
I have found a free resource online that I think is excellent. It is called, “Why Quit,” http://whyquit.com/, and it completely unbiased. If you are struggling, it will be worth your while.
And since we are talking about the personal monetary costs of smoking, I simply have to give you a special offer for Dr. Randy Gilchrist’s hypnosis smoking cessation program, The Non-Smoker’s Edge. We have a special on the program for $99, but since the tone of this article is all about dollars – you can use this coupon code until Monday November 11th and get $50 off our already discounted price of $99.
So you can get this program for only $49, which is actually half the true cost of just one pack of cigarettes!
Use coupon code: quitnow
This code will expire on Monday, November 11th!
Source: Nicolas, Angel Lopez, and M Belén Cobacho Tornel, José María Ramos Parreño. “El Coste de la Mortalidad Asociado al Consumo de Tabaco en España”, Revista Española de Salud Pública 84(3): 271-280, 2010.
Here are a couple of good studies I’ve recently run into, both of which made me stop, reflect, and lay down – just a few minutes earlier than usual. It’s a good start, right?
Study 1 – Sleep Loss Linked To Muscle Loss
Ideally, when you lose weight, the goal is to lose pure fat while maintaining (or for some, gaining) lean muscle, right?
While it is nothing new that sleep habits are linked to body weight, a recent study by the University of Chicago reveals a fresh connection between the two.
They have shown that, while dieting, sleep deprivation can actually lead to a loss of muscle mass.
Their study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, followed the sleep patterns of 10 overweight men and 10 overweight women, and took place in the controlled and observable setting of a sleep lab.
The study took place over two separate two-week periods.
All of the participants were kept on the same reduced calorie diet for each of the two week periods.
During the first two week period, the participants were required to sleep for 8.5 hours per night, which sounds pretty nice to me!
For the second two week period, the participants slept only 5.5 hours per night – and remember the participants’ diets stayed the same during both weeks.
The Results – Sleep Protects Muscle
Senior researcher, Dr. Plamen Penev, reported that during each two week period, about 7 pounds were lost, on average, by all of the participants.
However, Dr. Penev notes that “the composition was different,” of the pounds lost during each period.
To clarify, when study participants got 8.5 hours of sleep, more than fifty percent of the weight lost was from pure fat. This is what we want when looking for successful weight loss!
When participants slept only 5.5 hours, it was discovered that only one quarter of the weight came from fat – and what is most telling, 55% of the loss was from lean tissue.
Lean tissue is muscle and other non-fatty tissue! This is not what we want to lose!
Real World Application
Dr. Penev and his team also reported that during the 5.5 hours per night sleep period, the participants reported being hungry more often – even though the participants stayed on the same diet during both trials.
So, what does this mean in the real world?
Odds are fairly good that if the participants had not been in a controlled environment, they may have decided to eat something not on their diet plan and would have less of a chance to lose weight.
One thing this study does not address is the duration of the “perfect night’s sleep” that each person needs for their nightly rest to also aid in weight loss.
The researchers could not make a universal claim because everyone’s requirements are different, says the study’s co-author, Dr. Shahrad Taheri.
In conclusion, this study adds to the research on sleep habits and weight loss, and suggests that if you’re trying to lose weight by reducing calories alone, you should pair your diet with a full night’s sleep to ensure you’re losing pure fat and not muscle.
(Also – one thing I thought of that is not mentioned…exercise wasn’t a factor here – I bet that by adding that to the mix, the results could be totally different, but that is for another article.)
The Take Home
The researchers leave us with some lasting advice, regardless if we are trying to lose weight or not.
They suggest we all take the time to learn the unique rhythms of our own bodies. Notice how “refreshed” you feel when you wake up from a solid night of sleep –for some it may be 8 hours and for others only 6 to 7 hours.
Allow yourself to sleep in and find out! Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to participate in that experiment?
Study 2 – Turn Off the Night Light
I emailed a few of you about this already, but I wanted to share again…an article just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that you may gain weight just by sleeping with a dim light on, like the glow from a night light.
Researchers discovered that mice exposed to dim light during their sleeping hours gained 50% more weight than mice sleeping in total darkness.
To test the significance of the light in relation to other factors, the researchers went ahead and reduced the calorie intake of the mice sleeping with the dim light on, and they added also more exercise to their routine.
Even with this intervention, they still gained more weight than the mice sleeping in total darkness – pretty crazy stuff.
The authors of this study, from the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychology at Ohio State University and the Israeli Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Chronobiology at the University of Haifa, also found that the mice not sleeping in total darkness experienced glucose intolerance (a pre-diabetic condition).
It is too early to tell if this study will translate in the exact same way to humans.
However, common sleep help advice suggests you stop using anything with an artificial glow – like watching television or playing on your laptop or cellphone – a couple hours before you go to bed.
So, if that is true, and this study is true for animals, I would assume that there has got to be a relationship between sleeping in dim lights for humans, too.
Starting tonight, I’m going to un-plug my Mickey Mouse night light and I am going to try to turn in – in complete darkness – at a consistent time every night…wish me luck.
PS – If you’re interested in reading more on this important health issue, check out our past article: http://exploringthemind.com/the-mind/secrets-of-sleep-revealed on shift-work disorder and the health issues for those who lose sleep when switching late night work shifts.
Sources: Nedeltcheva, Artlet V., et all. “Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity.” Annals of Internal Medicine. October 2010. Vol. 153, no. 7: 435-441.
Bedrosian, T.A., Fonken, L.K., Walton, J.C., Haim, A., & Nelson, R.J. “Dim Light at Night Provokes Depression-like Behaviors and Reduces CA1 Dendritic Spine Density in Female Hamsters.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. October 2010. Published Online.
Deep down, we all know pain and love are profoundly coupled. Well, according to some Stanford researchers, it turns out pain and love overlap in the brain. And although love can hurt, it turns out love just might actually be a “pain reliever” as well.
In the brain, early stages of passionate love are similar to what drug addicts feel towards their drug of choice. In short, just thinking about the one you love kick starts activity in several regions on the brain – notably the “reward center.”
Because research has established that activation of this “reward center” reduces pain – researchers predicted people in the early stages of passionate love might experience pain reduction when the reward center was triggered by a picture of the person they were “hot” for at that time.
The study itself is sort of involved, but very cool…so bear with me for a moment and everything will become clear…
The Set Up
Stanford University chose students from its own campus, selecting 15 total (7 men, 8 women, average age of 20) who all described themselves as passionately, intensely, deeply in love.
(They had to take a test to prove their level of love, and all scored at least 90 out of 100 on a 9-point scale called the Passionate Love Scale – and all were within the first 1- 9m stage of their relationship).
Subjects brought 3 photos of their beloved, and 3 photos of a personal acquaintance that they found to be equally as attractive as their significant other (and the same sex as their significant other, too).
Because they were testing pain reduction, the researchers had to induce pain.
So, the first step was to establish a ‘moderate’ threshold of pain for each student, using an Advanced Thermal Stimulator – a small device placed into the palm that would generate heat.
Heat was generated into the palm of each student and he or she had to rate their pain on a scale of 1-10 (1 for little pain to 10 for intense pain) and say when they felt a) moderate pain, and b) significant pain.
For the group, 4 was determined to be the average ‘moderate’ pain level, and 7 was the average ‘significant’ pain level. They also established a “no pain” level with the device putting out zero heat.
Subjects were hooked up to an fMRI so researchers could observe brain activity throughout the experiment.
Three possible situations tested pain relief in relation to the following:
- Romantic partner pictures. The romantic partner baseline was established by having the individual look at pictures of their beloved and think only of that person.
- The good looking acquaintance pictures. The second situation involved looking at photos of the attractive acquaintance and thinking of that person – the acquaintance baseline. (The participant had chosen that acquaintance based on the fact that while they were equally as good looking as the beloved person, the tester claimed zero romantic attachment to the person.)
- A distraction control game. The researchers used a word manipulation game that had been previously proven to reduce pain… (For example, one question was: “name all sports played with a ball,” and the person had to list all of the sports he could think of…and yes, this technique is a common, proven tactic for reducing pain because it distracts the participant from the pain at hand).
Subjects all experienced each of the above scenarios under the conditions of no pain, moderate pain, and significant pain.
The article, printed online in October’s PLoS One, breaks down the 54 total trials clearly: “Each condition (partner, acquaintance, and distraction) by pain (none, moderate, high) combination was repeated six times, for a total of 54 randomly ordered trials.”
Viewing pictures of romantic partners and playing the word distraction game both significantly reduced pain in the participants…there was actually zero difference in the amount of pain reduction when comparing the two – both reported the pain going from 4 or 7 down to 1 or 3, respectively, on the pain scale.
However, viewing a non-romantically linked acquaintance did not reduce pain.
So distraction and love appear to be excellent pain relievers!
However, different parts of the brain were triggered to reduce pain during each situation…
During the word distraction game, the right orbitofrontal cortex was activated, which does help reduce pain in the short term.
However, looking at pictures of one’s romantic partner showed reduced BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) activity in certain spots, which lends itself to longer lasting pain relief than the distraction tasks alone.
In sum, this study shows us that there are other cognitive, non-pharmaceutical ways to eliminate pain. This study has added both emotion- and distraction- based methods as ways of reducing pain.
The prediction here then is that the pain reduction from love is longer lasting…
Pass The Passion Phase…
One thing though, this study only examined the most passionate phase of love, the 1-9 month phase…I can’t help but wonder if the passion-reducing love has a limited time offer – can you still reduce pain by looking at your partner’s photo if you’ve been together 10 years? Or 40 years?
A study using older people would better aid the more senior population – those most often affected by chronic pain!
Regardless, this study certainly adds to the range of knowledge on pain, and we must now continue to examine the pathways of the brain linked to pain relief in order to hopefully, some day, be able to eliminate chronic pain once and for all.
Sources: Younger, Jarred, et al. October 2010.“Viewing Pictures of a Romantic Partner Reduces Experimental Pain: Involvement of Neural Reward Systems.”PLoS ONE: 5(10): online publication only.
White, Tracie. “Love Takes Up Where Pain Leaves Off, Brain Study Shows.” Inside Stanford Medicine. Stanford School of Medicine, October 2010. http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2010/october/love.html