Have you ever eaten something every day for a long period of time, and then one day decided you never wanted to have that food again?
Or, perhaps you’ve had a song stuck in your head on repeat for so many days in a row that you swear that you never want to hear that song ever again?
Or, maybe you’ve tried numerous healthy eating plans in an effort to lose weight, but fell off the wagon after a few days because you couldn’t stomach eating the same diet meals day after day?
We have all experienced this feeling, but there is an actual technical term for it, called satiation.
In a clever group of experiments, researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Management may have found a way to overcome satiation by eliminating something called ‘variety amnesia.’ Best of all, this news may help you stay on track with any food plan you choose.
The researchers conducted three tests using different satiation triggers, including: a close friend, a favorite candy flavor, and the chorus of a favorite song.
I will not go over all three studies as they were all similar in structure, so below is how the “favorite song” study went down…
Fifty students picked his or her own favorite song, and a clip was made for each person, on average about 30 seconds long, and it consisted of just the song’s chorus.
The goal was to make the student grow sick of hearing the same song over and over, so they made each person listen to their clip 20 times in a row! After each listen, the student would rate the clips on a 101 point favorability scale.
Not surprisingly, as time went on the favorability rating dropped. Starting at an average of 78, after 20 listens the clips were rated at an average of 35. This is a 50% decrease in enjoyment after just 30 minutes or so of repeated play!
Three weeks later, the same students were brought back to the lab and randomly split into two groups.
One group was asked to recall all the television shows that they had watched during the previous three weeks. (The Control)
The second group was asked to recall all the music they had listened to in the past three weeks. (The Experiment)
Then, all of the participants listened to their chosen songs (from the earlier part of the experiment) one more time. They were then asked how much they desired to listen to the full version of that song again.
The control group (that was asked to recall TV shows) expressed much less interest in listening to the song – they were still satiated. They ranked the song at 45.
However, the music-recall group expressed a much greater interest in listening to their previously tired-of song choice. They ranked the song at 69. This is because subjects were reminded of the variety in the same category in which they were experiencing satiation.
In short, it was the recall of previous experiences in a similar category, in this case, music, that helped relieve the variety amnesia.
A second trial, with jellybeans, further proved that the recalling of similar experiences had to be within the same category (food) to help end the satiation with the target food (jelly beans).
In other words, people become satiated with a particular item because they forget about the other varieties of that item that they have enjoyed in the past.
Therefore, by recalling some of your past experiences with items of the same type, you can more easily get over your satiation of a target item.
Why Does This Matter?
Some things you do repetitively can be good for you. Eating the same healthy breakfast, staying with the same partner, etc…
So, for example, if you feel like you’re getting tired of your partner, recall all the partners and dates you have ever had. This will help eliminate the satiation caused by the variety amnesia.
Lastly, if you are drinking diet shakes or eating prepared meals, perhaps simply thinking of all of the decadent meals you recently had, or other drinks you’ve had, will help you to stay on track with your current program.
I’d love to hear what you all think, so comment below.
Galak, Jeff, Joseph P. Redden, and Justin Kruger. “Variety Amnesia: Recalling Past Variety Can Accelerate Recovery from Satiation.” Journal of Consumer Research. December 2009, Volume 36: 575-584.
You have probably heard that the best way to lose weight over the long term is slow and steady.
You might have also heard that if you lose weight fast that you will just gain it back.
BUT NOT SO FAST
According to a study published in May 2010:
“Losing weight at a fast initial rate leads to greater short-term weight reductions, does not result in increased susceptibility to weight regain, and is associated with larger weight losses and overall long-term success in weight management.”
The study continued by stating:
“We suggest that, within lifestyle weight control programs, substantial efforts should be focused on promoting large rather than small behavioral changes during the initial weeks of treatment.”
It seems as if this new research contradicts the old adage about weight loss that we have all heard: lose weight slowly and it will stay off longer.
So which one is right?
This new study was conducted at the University of Florida, led by Lisa Nackers. It was published online in the May issue of Springer’s International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
The researchers were trying to find out if keeping weight off for a long period of time (months after completing an obesity treatment program) was easier to do if:
In the first month of treatment, the participants lost weight very quickly or slowly?
To test this, 262 middle aged obese (BMI over 30%) women were enrolled in strict diet and exercise programs. Each woman was given a personal plan that would result in consistently losing 1 pound per week.
After the first month, the ladies were split into three groups, labeled FAST, MODERATE, and SLOW, depending on how much weight they had lost.
The FAST group contained women who had lost 1.5 pounds each week. The MODERATE group lost between .5 and 1.5 pounds, while the SLOW group lost under .5 pounds each week.
They continued the study for six months and, of course, the FAST group lost the most weight, followed by the MODERATE GROUP, and then the SLOW group…
No surprises here, but read on.
18 Months Later
Contrary to the popular belief that if a person loses weight too quickly, they are more likely to put it back on – the FAST group kept on going.
After 18 months (12 months on their own), the researchers checked in with the ladies for the final time. The results determined that members of the FAST group were five times more likely to achieve their goals of 10% weight loss.
And, most importantly, they were able to maintain their new weight after 18 months.
The researchers also calculated that ladies in the MODERATE group were three times more likely to achieve and maintain their weight loss goals than the SLOW group members.
So is Losing Weight Fast the Secret to Long Term Weight Loss?
You hear all the time about the secret to long term weight loss is a slow “lifestyle change.” If you don’t change your lifestyle, then a “diet” will just be a short term affair.
However, in this study, the FAST group lost weight at a rate of 1.5 pounds a week, which is considered safe by most if not all weight loss authorities.
What I am saying is that most dietitians would not say that losing 1.5 pounds a week is fast. So I wouldn’t go on an overly aggressive diet thinking that this study somehow gives credence to the idea that fad diets are the key to long term weight loss!
What This Might Mean
It does indicate that it might not be wise to lose weight too slow. More research might need to be done, but it appears that if a person isn’t seeing tangible results in a short enough time that it can hinder motivation.
And 1.5 pounds might just be that magic number. So again, be careful about using these results to go on an eating plan that is overly aggressive.
I will do more research and try to find that magic number for you. If you know of any other research please comment below.
Nackers, Lisa M., Kathryn M. Ross, and Michael G. Perri. “The Association Between Rate of Initial Weight Loss and Long-Term Success in Obesity Treatment: Does Slow and Steady Win The Race?”International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, May 2010.
Most of us need some type of motivation to hit the gym on a regular basis.
New research has revealed that the best motivator to exercise harder and faster may not be an upcoming High School reunion, a pair of pants purchased in a smaller size, or that expensive personal trainer you hired.
Instead, it may be you.
You and Avatar Technology
An avatar is a computer user’s representation of his or her self online.
You may already be familiar with the concept: there are plenty of websites where digital beings direct you around the sites. There are also video games that encourage you to create a digital you to play online and interact with other gamers.
More recently, Stanford University has utilized Avatar technology for a very different and much healthier means.
Doctoral candidate Jesse Fox led a study to determine the impact that Avatars could have on the duration and intensity of one’s workouts.
To test her theories, she composed a test pool of over 80 people and separated them into 3 groups.
Avatars were developed for 2 of the 3 groups – participants submitted photos of themselves so that their Avatars looked as identical as possible.
During the tests, all groups wore virtual reality helmets. Members of the first group watched an Avatar of themselves hanging out, reading, and doing other non-physical activities.
Members of the second group watched Avatars working out, but those Avatars did not resemble the study’s participants.
The third group watched their personal identical Avatars running on treadmills.
After viewing their digital counterparts, the participants were sent home. Jesse Fox and other researchers phoned them a day later to find out the level of physical activity they had engaged in after leaving the lab.
Turns out that members of group three (the identical avatar group) worked out a full hour longer than other participants.
By now, you might be asking yourself, if the study was checking to see if Avatars help people to work out longer, why was the second group (those who had watched unfamiliar Avatars work out) not as motivated to work out as long as the third (who had seen their own Avatars running)?
The Key is Seeing Yourself in Action
Previous research in psychology, especially sports psychology, has determined that if you visualize yourself completing a task, you may be not only more eager to try the task in real life, but you may be more successful at it as well.
The same psychology is in play here, but more tangible evidence (the Avatar) takes this one step further.
Being able to see the Avatar moving may jumpstart your real self’s motivation to exercise, as you aspire to imitate your digital self.
Weirder and even more interesting, it does not take an action for the Avatar’s image to have an effect. When people watched their still, non-moving Avatars becoming thinner or heavier, they still exercised significantly more than when it was an unfamiliar Avatar.
This bolsters the weird phenomenon that is really depends on who the Avatar is that the participants are watching. If the Avatar is not you, it does not matter what it is doing. It has little effect on you.
The Brain and Self-Image
This study is interesting for a lot of reasons, but for me it is the tie in with the brain and self image that is most fascinating.
Over a year ago, I blogged about some really interesting research involving hypnosis and paralysis: http://exploringthemind.com/decisions-and-actions-who-is-in-control/.
There is a part of the brain called the precuneus. The precuneus is involved in mental imagery and especially in making representations of self (it is heavily involved in creating your self-image).
Various studies have demonstrated that representations of self can guide behavior (this is part of how hypnosis works). You can see it in the brain with an fMRI.
It would be really interesting to see what would happen if they were to do brain scans of the group using Avatars, versus not using Avatars to see if this part of the brain was more activated in the Avatar group.
Obviously, there needs to be a lot more research done in this direction and I personally can’t wait. Tell me what kind of research you would like to see done using Avatar technology.
Have you noticed an ever growing amount of people in restaurants taking pictures of their food?
What in the world are they doing – is the food so beautiful that they just have to immortalize it?
Is there a market for food photography that we don’t know about?
Well, it turns out that photographing ones meals is one of the latest diet crazes and it’s not going away…
It is becoming so big that Sony, Fuji, and other camera manufactures have begun creating “food” options on camera menus, with optimal lighting and close-up features to enhance the look and texture of the foods…
The idea is really just an extension of food journaling (something Dr. Temes recommends) and a solid technique for weight loss. Journaling allows you to detect patterns and helps hold you accountable for the choices you make.
So the idea of taking photographs of your food really brings this dieting technique to a whole new level. As long as you don’t choose to crop out your second helping of desert, photographing your food can force you to be even more accountable for the choices you make.
If you cannot force yourself to make better choices, even by taking pictures of your food, you may want to post the photos online and have other people help monitor your progress.
Take a minute to play the short video below – this is exactly what Eva admits she needs to do to help keep herself in check.
After losing a significant amount of weight, Eva realized that she was having trouble keeping the weight off. She began to take pictures of her food, like the high tech food journal mentioned above.
But even that was not enough to help her maintain her goal weight.
So, Eva began to post pictures of her food choices on Facebook, and even created a page called “What’s Eva Eating?”
Anyone from Facebook can find her and become a fan of her page. Doing this allows you to see her posts, view her photographs, and comment away about her choices.
One harsh comment on her page read: “If I followed the Eva diet for just a weekend I would gain 10 pounds!!!!”
That is quite a wake up call to make better choices! It will be interesting to follow her progress and see how this dieting trend will work for her. (You can find her and follow her on Facebook – I did – she already has over 100 followers and counting!).
Have you had the urge to snap pictures of yours meals? Maybe this is something you’ve done for years? If you do follow this trend, comment below and let us know why, we’d love to have more examples of this new trend to chew on, and to photograph.
Tom Venuto is an is an internationally recognized fat loss expert, nutrition researcher and natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder.
Since 1989, Tom has been involved in virtually every aspect of the fitness and weight loss industry – as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, motivation coach, fitness model, health club manager and freelance writer.
In the interview below, I ask him everything I have always wanted to know about losing fat in the right way. I think you will find it very informative.
Sorry, Tom’s Holiday Challenge is now Closed
However, if you want to read more about Tom and his Fat Loss Inner Circle (which I highly recommend), then click on the link below:
Please comment on the interview and any experience you have or are having with Tom’s information below…
Sorry for the over the top headline, but the answer to the question appears to be yes…and please read this whole post, there is something really good at the end.
How Being Overweight Affects The Brain
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh scanned the brains of 94 people over the age of 70. They were looking to see the differences in the brains of people who were of normal weight (BMI under 25), overweight (BMI 25-30), and obese (BMI over 30).
If you are 5 foot 10 and you weigh 220, you have a BMI of 31.6 and would be considered obese. If you are 5 foot 10 and weigh 180, your BMI is 25.8 and you would be considered overweight for purposes of the study. There are certain athletes with lot of muscle mass that make the BMI inaccurate, but for the rest of us it is a valid measurement.
If you are 5 foot 5 and weigh 155 pounds, you would be considered overweight. At 185, you would be considered obese.
Don’t let the fact that all participants were over 70 distract you; this shows the effects of being overweight over time.
The Scary Results
It turns out that Obese people have 8% less brain tissue than people of normal weight. Overweight people have 4% less brain tissue than people of normal weight.
According to Dr. Paul Thompson, a UCLA professor of neurology, “This represents ‘severe’ brain degeneration, that’s a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at a much greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain… But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s, if you can eat healthy and keep your weight under control.”
*Source: Raji CA, Ho AJ, Parikshak NN, Becker JT, Lopez OL, Kuller LH, Hua X, Leow AD, Toga AW, Thompson PM. Brain structure and obesity, Hum Brain Mapp 2009 Aug 6
Losing Weight is not Just About Looking Good
It is kind of sad that “looking good” is the number one motivation for losing weight, but if that does the trick, then great.
However, to me, this new research is way more important. There is nothing more important than having a brain that works. It affects everything in your life, especially the people around you.
There are also a plethora of studies showing that being overweight decreases short term memory, and for lack of better words – can make you stupider and lazier than you otherwise would be.
And in case you forgot, being overweight also increases your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and has been shown to inhibit sexual performance.
More Bad News
The parts of the brain that degenerated for overweight people are very important, it wasn’t brain mass that we can spare.
Here are the areas effected:
- Frontal and temporal lobes: Critical for planning and memory
- Anterior cingulate gyrus: Responsible for attention and executive functions
- Hippocampus: Important for long-term memory
- Basal ganglia: Essential for proper movement and coordination
Furthermore, the brains of overweight people looked 8 years older than those of people of normal weight, and the brains of obese people looked a whopping 16 years older!
It is All About Eating
I hope that this article has helped motivate you to get to a normal weight if you aren’t already there. I think you probably know that there is really only one thing you can do in order to get there, and that is to eat the right foods at the right portions.
Exercise can help, but recent research demonstrates that exercise plays a much smaller role than calorie consumption. In fact, it can hurt your weight loss efforts if you aren’t careful because people seem to overestimate how much more they can eat after exercising.
So when you do exercise, make sure to track the calories burned and do not eat any more “extra” than what you have used. I am not saying not to exercise – just don’t exaggerate the effects in your mind.
Do You Have the Willpower?
If you have the desire to get to a normal weight and for whatever reason just can’t seem to get yourself to eat right, then you are not alone. Only about 5% succeed in losing weight over the long term.
These habits are hard to break, and we just aren’t designed to “not eat” the food that is around us. In this case, abundance is a double edge sword!
Furthermore, willpower is kind of a myth. We consciously only have the ability to exhibit conscious self control in one area at a time. I have written about the cookie study before, but I think it is worth repeating (in a very short form).
Subjects were brought into a room and asked to solve some brain puzzles. Another group was brought into the same room and asked to solve the same brain puzzles, but in this case they had a plate of cookies in front of them – and were told that they could not eat them!
The group that had to “not eat the cookies” performed dramatically worse than the group without cookies.
*Source: RE Baumeister, E Bratslavsky, M Muraven, and DM Tice. “Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 74, 1998.
This means that when you are trying to avoid “bad” foods, it affects just about every other aspect of your day. So when a bit of stress hits, bye, bye diet.
So unless you have a stress free life, or amazing self control – changing your eating habits consciously is a tough road.
There is Hope
This is leading somewhere! If you can’t make the change consciously, then you have to make these changes unconsciously. A great strategy for nudging your unconscious mind in the right direction is to control your environment. Get rid of the bad foods in your house and workplace. Put reminders on the refrigerator, plan and prepare your meals ahead of time, etc… the more you can do with your environment to prime your unconscious mind the better.
And if this isn’t enough, try hypnosis. Hypnosis is the ONLY scientifically validated method for training your unconscious mind to eat right (and this is without using willpower – which just doesn’t work). Hypnosis works at a totally different level in the brain. It actually works at the level of self image.
A Tool You Can UseAfter reading this post, I thought you would be interested in being able to find your own BMI. Here is a great resource. Just type in your height and weight.
Also, please comment on the research at the beginning of this article – I respond to all posts.
Some interesting news came out last night. The attorney general of Connecticut, Richard Blumethal, announced an investigation into the business practices and questionable science associated with Acai berry products — primarily pitched by Internet-based companies as a wonder treatment for weight-loss.
Personally, I think this is great news and it is about time.
If you spend any time online, you have surely seen ads with the headlines, “Oprah’s Diet Secret”, “Seven Rules to a Flat Stomach, or (the worst) “Amy’s weight loss blog”, “Karen’s weight loss blog”, etc… on almost every page online.
If you actually clicked on one of these ads, you probably ended up on what looked like a blog with a before and after picture of some woman who has lost weight. She then tells a story about how she saw Dr. Mehmet OZ and Oprah say that acai is a miracle diet food. It might also mention Rachael Ray.
The woman then says she tried it herself and the pounds just came flying off. It is kind of believable as it looks like a real person and there are even comments on her blog. There then is a link to one of the many companies selling acai berry on a free trial basis.
Problem 1: The Blogs are Phonies
The problem here (one among many) is that these blogs are all phonies.
The woman depicted on Tara’s Diet Blog, Olivia’s Weight Loss blog, Alicia’s Diet Blog, Becky’s Weight Loss blog, and at least 75 other blogs is a German model named Julia who has nothing to do with acai or any weight-loss product. The German photographer who made the original photos of her available on Istockphoto.com said the pill companies manipulated some of the “after” images to give the impression of weight loss.
Most likely the sites are actually run by men. (That is just my guess).
Anyway, the people running the blogs are definitely a part of the problem – but they are not the cause. These are just opportunist people who saw an easy way to make a buck by promoting the biggest diet pill hoax of the 21st century.
They are not “associated” with the folks who market the pills; they just get an ungodly amount of money every time they send these people a free trial through one of these blogs.
I could go on and on about this. One consequence of these fake blogs making so much money is it squeezes out ethical marketers because the price for buying ad space simply becomes too high.
Problem 2: Acai Berry Will Not Help You Lose Weight
In truth, açai has less antixodants than concord grapes, blueberries, and black cherries. But more importantly, no credible evidence suggests antioxidants promote weight loss.
The attorney general from Connecticut says it more strongly,
“There is no competent scientific research that demonstrates any of the claimed effects of Acai berry, including weight loss, detoxification and increased energy and vitality”
Problem 3: Oprah Did NOT Endorse Acai Berry
And the truth about the Oprah show with Dr. Oz is that they never mentioned Acai as a weight loss aide, just as one of many fruits that were healthy (like tomatoes). In fact, on Oprah’s website they have a statement out that says,
“Consumers should be aware that Oprah Winfrey is not associated with nor does she endorse any açaí berry product or online solicitation of such products.”
Just to be clear, there is no acai berry supplement endorsed by Oprah, Dr. Perricone, Rachel Ray or Dr. Oz.
Problem 4: There is no Miracle Diet Pill that Works
There simply is no magic pill that is going to allow you to lose weight if you don’t eat right and exercise. There are pills that can help you lose water weight in the short term, and there are supplements that may help you control your appetite (usually stimulants) but even they are not that dramatic.
If you have a thyroid issue, hormonal issues or have a tendency towards insulin resistance, there are certain supplements that can help you move towards attaining the metabolism of a normal person your age. However, these will not help you if you already have a normal metabolism. For example, I lean hypothyroid and am helped by a very inexpensive iodine supplement recommended by Dr. Hyman.
I am as guilty as anyone in that I am always looking for the miracle pill! I take quite a few supplements, (mainly for vitality and longevity) but have pretty much given up on the weight loss benefits. I do see promise in resveratrol, not as a miracle, but as something that can help keep insulin levels in check. But again, if you don’t have your diet under control it will do you no good.
In short, if you want to get to and maintain a healthy weight – there is no magic pill that is going to do it for you!
I would love to read your comments on the acai berry scam as well as any other feedback you have. Just comment below.