I’ve just come across some very exciting research that proves how important your “mindset” is when it comes to losing weight.
You’ll be surprised at the amount of control you have over your body and how it responds to food…
The Battle of the Bulge and the Mind-Body Connection
This study was recently published in the online journal, Health Psychology.
A team of researchers at Yale University decided to see how ghrelin, the “hunger” hormone, responds to mental perception.
Just so we’re on the same page, ghrelin is known as the “hunger” hormone because it’s responsible for sending a signal to your brain that causes it to “want” more food.
When your body’s ghrelin levels are high, the signal gets stronger – creating a tendency to overeat, even if you’re already pretty full.
Similarly, when ghrelin levels are low, we feel satiated and don’t feel the need to eat anymore.
Your ghrelin levels will typically increase before a meal and decrease after you’ve eaten.
Indulging vs. Being Sensible
The Yale research team divided study participants into two groups.
Group one was given a 380 calorie milk shake. However, here’s the twist:
They were told it was, in fact, a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake.
Group two was given the exact same milkshake (380 calories) that group one received. They were told it was a 140-calorie “sensible” shake.
After drinking the shakes, both groups’ ghrelin levels were measured.
Can you guess what happened?
The folks in group one – the ones who thought they were drinking the “fatty,” 620 calorie indulgent shake – had a dramatically steep decline in ghrelin levels after drinking it.
Those in group two who thought they were drinking a low-calorie sensible shake had a neutral ghrelin response. Their levels stayed pretty much the same… meaning their feeling of satiety did not increase.
Here’s the cool part: The actual ghrelin response that took place in the participants’ bodies reflected exactly what would have taken place if the calorie counts in the shakes had in fact been as high – or as low – as the researchers claimed them to be.
All that changed here was the participants’ perception of the shakes they were drinking.
“This study shows that mindset can affect feelings of physical satiety,” said Alia Crum, the study’s lead author. “The brain was tricked into either feeling full or feeling unsatisfied. That feeling depended on what people believed they were consuming, rather than what they actually were consuming.”
“What was most interesting,” Crum added, “is that the results were somewhat counterintuitive. Consuming the shake thinking it was ‘indulgent’ was healthier than thinking it was ‘sensible.’ It led to a sharper reduction in ghrelin.”
Think and Grow Thin?
It always floors me that the majority of people will try everything under the sun to lose weight – pills… extreme fad diets… potions… exercise gizmos… laser fat removal…
It isn’t until they’ve tried everything that they turn to hypnosis. That’s because changing their minds becomes the last thing they ever think of – it’s often the last resort.
Ironically, changing your mind should be the FIRST thing on the list to try. After all, external fixes only attempt to remedy the symptoms. They don’t address the root cause.
That’s why focusing on your mind, your habits, and your beliefs about a healthy lifestyle are so powerful at creating effective, powerful and long-lasting change.
And this study further proves how critical this piece of the weight-loss puzzle can be to your success.
Think about it: Ghrelin is responsible for those irresistible cravings you get. It takes part in making you hungry. As a result, it causes you to overeat. The excess calories then get stored as fat.
And thanks to the researchers at Yale, we’ve just learned that we can control (to a large extent) this entire process just by changing our minds and thoughts about the things we eat.
So, if we can use our minds to make ourselves “think” we’re being indulgent… we can actually be healthier.
Can you imagine how much frustration, time and money would be saved if most folks started their weight loss journeys by first addressing that thing between their ears?
I’d love to hear what you think. Let’s get a discussion going here and I’ll make sure to respond below in the comments section.
Most dieters will agree…
One of the hardest parts of sticking to any healthy eating plan is dealing with cravings.
That is, until now.
Losing weight has never been easier, with what some are calling the “Imagination Diet.”
As it turns out, the key to eliminating the great temptation of a craving is to eat as much of the foods you crave – in your own mental fantasy.
The researchers wanted to find out if “imagined habituation” (thinking something over and over again – kind of like a habit) could play a role in curbing appetite.
Habituation is similar to the principle of diminishing returns. For example, have you ever craved chocolate… and then caved in?
Eating one piece of chocolate tastes great and exciting; but as you continue eating more… the fourth and fifth pieces don’t have the same level of pleasure as the first. With each bite that follows, your desire for the chocolate drops. That’s habituation.
It’s why you can get “sick” of eating too much of the same food. After a while, it becomes commonplace and loses its appeal.
In order to determine exactly how the imagination can affect how much we eat, the researchers divided the subjects into two groups.
The first group was told to imagine eating 30 M&M chocolate candies and putting three quarters into a slot.
The second group was told to visualize putting 30 quarters into a slot and only eating 3 M&Ms.
Then, the team of researchers got a large bowl of M&Ms and asked the subjects to have as many as they wanted. This was done under the pretense that they were doing a “taste test.”
After the subjects ate the M&Ms, the researchers weighed the bowl to see how many grams were consumed. This was done without the subjects knowing.
The Results – Eating in Your Imagination Curbs Appetite
It turns out that eating in your mind does in fact make you eat less in the real world.
The group that imagined eating 30 M&Ms ate half as many as the group that imagined eating only 3.
And in case you think this was a fluke – it wasn’t.
The researchers tried this experiment on four more separate occasions with different groups of people.
The ratio stayed the same. Those that imagined eating more of the M&Ms ate 50% less than those who imagined eating only three candies.
According to Carey Morewedge, the lead researcher in this study, “Merely thinking of a food does increase our appetite for the food. But if we perform the mental imagery that would accompany its actual consumption, this kind of thought actually decreases our desire for the food.”
How this can Help You
This recent research confirms what we in the hypnosis community have known all along: Your mind is the most powerful ally when it comes to losing weight and getting fit.
Because imagining something in your mind creates the same physical responses in your body as if you were experiencing that thing in real life… Pretty Crazy!
So next time you find yourself craving that burger… or that piece of chocolate… imagine eating it a few times first. Then, see if you find yourself eating less when you do indulge.
Let me know what happens. I’d love to hear how this little insight works out for you.
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:
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.
A female friend forwarded this to me…and although it was written for a female audience, the information was too accurate – for all genders – for me not to share.
In this month’s Glamour magazine (a good lesson to not judge a book by its cover!), Dr. Julie Holland suggests we take a page out of the book from our caveman and cavewomen ancestors in order to be our healthiest and happiest selves. She suggests that we have ‘primal needs’ that get ignored in favor of prescription medicines, social media, and unnatural ingredients in foods.
So, Dr. Holland suggests 9 helpful ways to live like the cavemen did…and you may discover your healthiest self yet.
Here are her tips:
1. Don’t Forget To Move!
Cavemen and women were quite active – from hunting, gathering, preparing meals, carrying water, to building shelters, and more. Since we do not have to manually prepare for our own survival in the same way, we’ve gotten too comfortable.
So many of us claim to be too tired and too busy to go to the gym, but really, some form of cardio – every day – is necessary. If you can’t hit the gym, take a walk around your office building at lunch, park your car further away from the store, or find a friend to help motivate you.
2. Fluorescent Lights Don’t Count as Sun Light
Once in a while, leave the office and soak up some sun. Vitamin D is produced naturally when you’re in real sun light – and without enough of it, you can become the victim of depression, headaches, chronic pain, and for women, PMS symptoms may also be stronger (and more uncomfortable).
We have covered the necessity of taking a 5 minute break outside before, and the good doctor just reaffirms this again. If you can’t make it outside daily, bring a plant into your window-less office to mimic the benefits.
Our cave-people ancestors lived every moment of their lives outside, and we, like the cavemen, thrive outdoors.
In short: go outside.
3. Eat Naturally
The best things for us to eat are the things that grow naturally – fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This is a given. Anything processed, fried, dyed, or made with artificial ingredients is simply that – artificial – and not good for any part of you.
Dr. Holland has a mantra called the “junk-in, junk-out” analogy, which states that if you put bad fuel in your engine, it won’t run well. Makes sense to me!
While we are talking about food, make sure to drink plenty of water. You know this drill too – but it never hurts to repeat it. Avoid beverages that can actually dehydrate your further, like juice and yes, even diet soda.
4. Danger: Avoid “Sex Drive Predators”
Dr. Holland notes that in her private practice in New York, clients complain that they want to have sex, but the desire is gone.
There are more than a few triggers that can lower our sex drives… including lack of sleep, too much stress, anxiety, and, get this…possibly the biggest culprit to strip our desire to strip? Prescription pills.
For women, birth control pills often lead to lower desire for women. The Pill (and the shot, and others) lower testosterone in the body, which lowers desire.
For both sexes, taking anti-depressants also lowers the sex drive. And, for a double whammy, there are plenty of women who take The Pill and an anti-depressant. No wonder the desire has departed!
In general, some prescription drugs are necessary, but many do interfere with other bodily processes, so check to make sure you’re only taking pills you need.
5. Bad Moods Are OK
It is perfectly normal to have a bad day, or hell, even a bad week. And a blah mood that matches your bad day is normal, too.
For men and women, some bad moods may be hormonal, so you simply must accept the good with the bad.
If the bad tends to outweigh the good considerably, see your Doctor. Don’t change or stop taking medications without seeing your Doctor, either. Lastly, be wary of side effects (see # 4).
6. Schedule Face Time
With more social media networks than one can imagine (or stalk their exes on), we often forget to schedule time to see one another in person.
Although we are still “connected” to one another virtually, Dr. Holland reminds us that mankind is a social creature by nature…our “primal needs” include the touch of another person, and eye contact, among other bonding elements. Without planning some mandatory face to face time with those we love, we lose out on a lot, including sharpening our social skills.
Make sure to see your friends and family in person, not only through your Skype screen, at least once in a while.
7. Sleep Enough
Sleeping long enough, and well enough, is just as important for us as it was for our cave-dwelling kin. When we are overtired, we tend to reach for sugar foods or drinks loaded up with caffeine (or both, thank you, Red Bull) to get us through the day.
But in the long run, this may do more harm than good. Drinking caffeinated beverages all day keeps us awake later at night, which makes it harder to fall asleep. It can be a vicious cycle!
Dr. Holland suggests that in order to get a good night’s sleep, stop consuming caffeine after noon. That way your body has long enough to metabolize the caffeine you’re giving to it.
Also, turn off your electronic devices at least a full hour before you turn in. Bright lights from your electronics reduce the natural amount of melatonin you produce, which is a hormone that is necessary for a quality sleep cycle.
8. Schedule Some R&R
This relates back to #2. Unplug and go outside! Take the time to sit still, even for a few moments, with no distractions, and to just reflect.
If we just run and run and forget to stop, we neglect our health! We are more likely to remain indoors, to eat poorly, and to stay plugged in at all times, which pretty much covers this list.
Dr. Holland suggests spending your You-Time outdoors for maximum benefit.
9. Have Fun!
Yes, you should have fun, but your party time should not involve binge drinking or excessive drug use. Dr. Holland defines “binge-drinking” as having more than 4 drinks in a single setting – and this could be a huge reality check for some of us!
As far as drug use goes, Dr. Holland said it best already, so it is best to let her do so here:
“In some ancient groups, altered states enhanced communal rituals and gatherings. They were infused with meaning and spirituality. We should emulate that approach, rather than use substances to numb ourselves, zone out, and escape.”
Right. So, you can drink in moderation, but you need to consume your drinks slowly, and always remember how many you’ve had. (If you can’t remember, the answer is automatically “too many!”).
In conclusion, there is a lot to take away from this information. You do not immediately have to switch your entire life around and live according to the caveman ways, but there is a lot here that can help you to have an enjoyable, productive, and healthy life. Enjoy!
Source: Holland, Julie, M.D. “The Cavewoman’s Guide to Good Health.” Glamour Magazine. October 2010.
Anyone who has tried to lose weight has heard this before: instead of eating three big meals at specific times, eat 5-6 smaller meals, or ‘graze’ throughout the day.
The reasoning behind this is twofold:
- So that your metabolism will continue burn high all day. The argument being since your body is getting calories throughout the day, it will not go into starvation mode and store excess calories as fat.
- So, that you don’t feel hungry and end up over-eating.
I can’t tell you how many diet experts swear by this, I have literally read this a thousand times and accepted it as gospel.
Sounds good…in theory…
However, a new study recently published in the journal, Obesity, came up with some very different results.
The study took –place at Purdue University in Indiana, and 37 overweight or obese men took part in the study.
Stage One: Establishing the Control
Subjects were divided randomly into two groups:
Group A received a high-protein diet plan (about 25% of total calories from protein)
Group B received a mid-level protein diet (about 14 percent protein)
All of the participants were expected to adhere to their new plans for 12 full weeks.
Both diet plans contained 750 fewer calories than the men needed to maintain their weights. Therefore, feelings of hunger should’ve started up quickly and frequently in all of the testers.
No instructions were given as to the frequency of meals…
Stage Two: Testing Meal Frequency
Starting at week seven, the men (who stayed on the same diet plans) were asked to change the frequency of eating.
Some participants were asked to eat three meals per day, with meals spaced five hours apart.
Others were asked to eat a small meal every two hours, for a total of six meals per day. The participants stuck to one method for three consecutive days, then switched to the other plan for three days.
The men reported their results after the 12 week period had ended.
For the men on the high-level protein diet (25% – which a lot of weight loss experts would consider mid level), eating 3 meals a day kept them more satiated than eating 6 smaller meals a day. They were actually less hungry during meal times, and they thought about food less…
More importantly, they had less of an urge to snack at night – a big deal.
However for men on the lower protein diet, the meal frequency did not seem to make any difference at all…
Another interesting result of the study is that overall the men on the higher protein diet felt less hungry between meal times than the lower protein group.
More Questions than Answers
Like most of our articles it brings up more questions than answers.
Just writing out loud here…
Did the lower protein diet simply not supply enough protein to cause satiation? Making meal frequency irrelevant? This is speculative, but makes some sense. Did the subjects on the higher protein diet who ate three meals a day actually lose more weight than the folks on the high frequency diet? I think this may be important!!!
And obviously it would be interesting to see if the results were the same for women and for different types of diets…
And of course it would be nice to see a more long term approach.
The Battle Resumes:
This study is far from conclusive, but it does add new ripples to the 3 meals versus 6 meals debate. I would love to hear what you think about this as I know there are a lot of strong opinions out there! Please comment below.
Source: Heather J. Leidy, Minghua Tang, Cheryl L.H. Armstrong, Carmen B. Martin and Wayne W. Campbell, The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men, Obesity , (16 September 2010)
As health decreases and obesity increases, more people will look to drastic, alternative surgeries to drop pounds fast.
One surgical procedure that has made its introduction in America only this year is pretty drastic, to say the least! I really want to know what you think of this procedure, so please leave your comments below!
Please answer this question for me:
Would you consider sewing a mesh screen to your tongue to stop you from eating?
Could this even be a possibility? Amazingly, yes, it is now a reality.
Here are the details:
A small mesh patch, about the size of a stamp, is sewn directly onto the tongue.
You can learn to talk comfortably with it installed, but eating is uncomfortable.
The Doctor who created it, Dr. Nikolas Chugay, claims you will be able to stick to a liquid diet for a full month, which will in turn cause drastic weight loss. The good doctor claims that patients are losing about 20-30 pounds in a single month.
The good news is that the patch must be removed after 30 days, so that the patient can go back to a solid diet.
There are definitely a large amount of people who think this is not a good (read: very, very bad) idea, but Dr. Chugay defends his product against critics. Comparing this surgery to other weight loss surgeries, like gastric bypass or the lap-band, Dr. Chugay says his procedure is cheaper, only around $1500. He also notes that it is reversible, the procedure requires only local anesthesia, and the total surgery only takes about 10 minutes.
Is Drastic Surgery Necessary?
Worldwide reports prove that citizens in the world’s richest countries are getting fatter and fatter, and the United States has the fastest growing population of obese people.
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development released figures demonstrating that a full 75% of Americans will be considered obese (BMI=30+) in only 10 years from now.
Even with everything we know about how to lose weight effectively, people continue to get heavier and heavier…And instead of taking control of their bad eating habits, they are turning to drastic surgeries and gimmicks – which may not be helpful in the long-run.
This tongue surgery, only a matter of time…
The amount of people getting liposuction, gastric bypass, and stomach stapling has been steadily increasing every year as we seem to have given up on the idea of actually adhering to a healthy lifestyle on our own.
So, I guess tongue surgery only makes sense. What about a shock collar that detects sugar… that would be fun. Or they could just create a pill we could take that made us feel nauseous all the time. Or why not just cut off our fingers… making it really hard to eat?
Back to the tongue surgery, this is no long term solution. This liquid diet may help with short term weight loss, but my bet is that people gain the weight back extremely quickly once they are able to eat without feeling excruciating tongue pain…
How about you?
What measures would you take to lose some quick pounds, aside from changing your eating habits and getting more exercise, of course?
Source: Keller, Greg. “Number of fat people in US to grow, report says.” Yahoo News September 30, 2010.
As part of my commitment to staying current on the research, I have stumbled upon two pretty important pieces of research that may surprise you. So let’s get to it.
1. As Long as You Don’t Add Sugar, You can Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight…
A popular myth is that you can drink clear alcohol and as long as you count the calories in the alcohol (7 calories per gram) you will be fine. Because carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram – the reasoning is that 7 calories in alcohol are simply calories and nothing more.
Well, according to research carried in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, alcohol puts the brakes on fat metabolism (your body’s ability to burn fat as energy) in more ways than one. In the study, eight people were given two vodka drinks separated by 30 minutes.
Fat metabolism was checked both before and after each drink. It turns out that even hours after drinking both drinks, fat metabolism dropped by an incredible 73%. What is happening?
When you drink alcohol, your liver converts it into a substance called acetate. (The acetate levels in the subject’s bodies were 2.5 times higher than normal). And it is the acetates in your body that make losing blubber almost impossible.
Your body prefers burning acetate to all other sources of fuel (fat being one of them), and basically shuts down its normal process of burning off any other source of energy.
In other research, alcohol has been shown to increase appetite. When you combine alcohol with meals, studies have shown you tend to eat more. And since the alcohol is going to serve as your body’s primary source of fuel, all the calories go directly to your waistline.
And finally, alcohol increases your cortisol levels and decreases your testosterone levels for about 24 hours after you imbibe. And this definitely is not good for trimming down or adding muscle!
2. Healthy Additions Are Slimming…
According to some new research from the Kellogg School Management at Northwestern University, a core contributing factor to obesity is our belief about the relationship between a meal’s healthiness and its impact on weight gain.
People mistakenly believe that eating healthy foods in addition to unhealthy ones can decrease a meal’s calorie count.
In the study, 934 people were asked to estimate the calorie count of several meals. Some were shown “unhealthy” meals, and others were shown the same meals with a healthy option.
An example is that some people were shown a bowl of chili alone – and others were shown the same bowl of chili with a small green salad. Other food pairs included: a cheeseburger with celery sticks, a cheese waffle sandwich with a small apple, and a meatball pepperoni cheese steak with a celery-carrot side dish.
The results were pretty scary. Those who viewed the chili alone thought it contained 699 calories. Those who saw the same bowl with a green salad thought it only had 656 calories!!!
So, by “adding” healthier food, people thought the calorie count went down.
Researchers call this, “The Negative Calorie Illusion,” and it applied in all four food pairings. Even worse is that this illusion was TWICE as strong in people who are considered “weight-conscious.”
So now you know: if you are counting calories you have to stick to the numbers. Healthy additions will bias the estimated damage of your meals.
Knowledge is Power
I hope this information has been helpful. There are plenty more weight loss myths out there! If you know of any, please put them in the comments section below. I am going to compile a big list and share them later.
Also, please join our Facebook fan page and start commenting there as well. We are developing quite a community.
By now, you’ve probably seen the pictures of Drew Carey all over the ‘net (or here, taken from the ‘net) – he has lost over 80 pounds since January. He looks great, and he has firmly committed to keeping it off.
How did he do it?
His key (and yours, and mine) was and is good old fashioned exercise and a brand new menu.
His new regimen is quite strict – in addition to the “no donuts” rule he made for himself (good call there), he has taken a huge step to cut out grains and processed carbs completely!
In addition to changing his diet, he has committed to exercise as well, and hits the gym 5-6 times per week for 45 minutes each session.
But it was probably plastic surgery, or some miracle pill, right?
We read those rumors earlier this year, too. We had heard that thanks to his connections in Hollywood, he was taking a custom made nutritional supplement to curb his appetite. (Do we smell a cheater?!)
Now we are reading that this is not true, and Carey himself insists it is not true either.
He reported to People Magazine: “There’s nobody really standing over me. I do work with somebody who gives me advice on what to do, how many minutes to run, what my heart rate should be and all that kind of stuff.”
Straight from the horse’s mouth! (Or should it be “pony” considering he has lost so much weight?)
The Best Part
Thanks to Drew’s new healthier lifestyle, he has actually been able to get rid of his diabetes!
He was a Type-2 diabetic, and thanks to losing weight and becoming healthier, Carey reveals he is no longer considered diabetic and has stopped taking medication!
Carey continues to encourage himself – when he saw how his determination paid off, now wearing a 33 inch waist pant (down from a 44 inch waist), he became more determined to lose even more weight and regain his health:
“I like being skinny,” says Carey. “I was sick of being fat on the camera. Really, I just got sick of it.”
If the Price is Right host, who seemingly has every short cut method to losing weight just sitting there at his fingertips, instead chooses the old fashioned way of eating right and working out, is there any excuse left for us?
Pills Don’t Work
If you’ve tried to lose weight before, you know that popping pills does not help. Yes, you may lose weight, but you do gain it back – and usually you gain even more than you lost!
At the same time, however, it makes sense to want to try those pills. First, the commercials make them look like demigods in a bottle, and second, it is really hard to stay on a strict diet.
However, committing to a decent meal plan and moderate exercise is really the only tried and true way to take weight off and keep it off. You’ve got to have that desire, like Drew did, to want to change your lifestyle.
It looks like Drew made a change in the way he thinks about himself in order to make his incredible transformation; hopefully he keeps it up.
If you want me to discuss strategies that might allow you to make this kind of transformation, please comment at the end of this post. We have a lot of experience here!
One piece of advice that all dieters receive is simply this: don’t skip breakfast. The idea is that skipping breakfast will make you crave junk food, and bypass eating the healthy stuff.
Well, new research presented at the Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego explains why this may be the case. And it has everything to do with the activation of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.”
Before we get to the newest study, let’s learn a little more about this “hunger hormone.”
Ghrelin is a hormone located in the stomach that sends hunger signals to the brain. When ghrelin levels are too high, the brain wants food – even if we are full.
And when ghrelin levels are high, the food we crave is high in calories – especially foods that are loaded with fat.
Here is where it gets interesting: ghrelin helps you feel good. In fact it helps you feel REALLY GOOD by activating some of the same regions of brain that are also activated by cocaine! So let’s just say it is highly motivational.
Ghrelin and high calorie cravings
In a study on micei, Dr. Jeffrey Zigman and his team found that mice injected with ghrelin chose to be in a room previously anchored with a high calorie treat versus a room anchored with a low calorie treat. The mice not injected with ghrelin had no preference for either room.
For clarity, the mice with elevated levels of ghrelin just “felt better,” in the high calorie room, “The mice’s behavior had nothing to do with eating,” Zigman said. “Their behavior was linked to obtaining the more pleasurable thing.”
In a second test, Zigman tested how long mice would continue to poke their noses into a hole in order to receive a pellet of high-fat food. The non-ghrelin group gave up far faster than the mice injected with ghrelin.
A new way to increase ghrelin levels and your cravings for fatty foods…
Skip breakfast. In the studyii referred to earlier in this article, researchers recruited healthy (not obese) adults to test this theory.
Here were the conditions:
- Subjects came into the lab on three separate mornings.
- Each time, subjects would be asked to view pictures of either high calorie foods (chocolate, cake and pizza) or low calorie foods (salads, vegetables and fish).
- Then, using a keypad, the subjects rated how appealing they found each food picture.
- There were, however, three different conditions:
- Condition one: subjects came into the lab 90 minutes after eating breakfast and were injected with a saltwater solution 40 minutes before viewing the pictures.
- Condition two: subjects came to the lab 90 minutes after eating breakfast and were injected with ghrelin 40 minutes before viewing the pictures.
- Condition three: subjects came to the lab after skipping breakfast and were injected with the saltwater solution 40 minutes before viewing the pictures.
When injected, neither the researchers nor the subjects were aware of whether they were injected with salt water or ghrelin.
The results: Skipping breakfast is just like injecting ghrelin
The group that skipped breakfast (c) AND the group that ate breakfast and had the ghrelin injection (b) both preferred the high calorie foods.
The group that ate breakfast AND had the salt water injection (a) preferred the low calorie foods.
So don’t skip breakfast if weight loss is your goal!!
The best breakfast for reducing ghrelin (and your cravings)…
In a study, iiipublished in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers determined that protein is the best way to lower post meal ghrelin levels.
The ingestion of fats had little to no effect on post meal ghrelin levels, meaning that eating fat for breakfast is not going to help you make better decisions later in the day.
The ingestion of carbohydrates had an initial ghrelin lowering effect. But in a short period of time after eating carbohydrates, the ghrelin levels not only rebounded, but after only two hours, they rose to an even higher level than before. So eating lots of carbohydrates might also be counterproductive.
So, if you want to control your cravings for high calorie, fatty foods throughout the day, it might be wise to include a lot of protein along with a limited amount of carbohydrates and fats. I am not sure of the types of carbohydrates and fats used in the study, so it might be that carbohydrates high in fiber have a different effect – I just don’t know.
And you definitely require a certain amount of good fat in your diet, so please don’t overdo this.
A ghrelin pill?
Don’t expect ghrelin to show up in your local health food hotspot any time soon. Other studies indicate that artificially reducing ghrelin is also associated with a rise in feelings of depression.
Would losing weight be worth risking depression? Sadly, when people were surveyed on this question back in 2008, the majority of people said it would be worth the risk.
So would you take a pill that would help you lose weight even if you knew it would probably make you feel bad?
Please leave me your thoughts…
iPerello, Mario, and Ichiro Sakata, Shari Birnbaum, Jen-Chieh Chuang, Sherri Osborne-Lawrence, Sherry A. Rovinsky, Jakub Woloszyn, Masashi Yanagisawa, Michael Lutter, Jeffrey M. Zigman. “Ghrelin Increases the Rewarding Value of High-Fat Diet in an Orexin-Dependent Manner.” Journal of Biological Psychiatry. May 1 2010. Vol. 67, Issue 9, 880-886.
iiThe Endocrine Society 92nd Annual Meeting. San Francisco, California. June 21, 2010.
iiiWendy AM Blom, Anne Lluch, Annette Stafleu, Sophie Vinoy, Jens J Holst, Gertjan Schaafsma and Henk FJ Hendriks. “Effect of a High-Protein Breakfast on the Postprandial Ghrelin Response.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. February 2006. Vol. 83, No. 2, 211-220.