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.
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.