10 Scientifically Proven Weight Loss Tips
Lose weight based on Evidence not Marketing Hype or Myth
Every year tens of millions of people around the world try to lose weight, and most fail. We are constantly bombarded with advice about dieting and the latest slimming fads. But what really works? In this article Dr Andrew Dobson details some of the latest scientific breakthroughs in slimming, uncovering ten of the simplest ways you can shed those pounds, without it changing your life too drastically.
What is the benefit of Science?
The beauty of science is that the results are backed up with data. This means studies are replicated around the world and the results are consistent, no matter what type of culture, beliefs or preconceived ideas a person might have. Science works, and the results will work without having to accept a weird philosophy about having a caveman body, or accepting a religious or new age belief about what types of food we hope might help with dieting.
So lets begin to exam 10 easy changes you can make to help you lose weight without having to change your life too drastically.
1) Don’t Skips Meals or Calories
Brain scans show that when you are presented with either images (or in real life the opportunity to eat) food that is either high in calories or low in calories, our brains are triggered to eat higher calorie food when we are hungry. This means when you drastically cut back your food intake or even skip meals you are not only fighting your Willpower – you are fighting unconscious desires and biochemistry where your body demands you eat more calories to make up for the starvation it thinks it is going through.
Your brain on fasting days, will shout to you to eat high calorie foods. It does this because when our stomachs are empty a hormone called ghrelin is secreted to tell your brain your stomach wants to be filled up now. This triggers a strong urge to eat high calorie foods, that can over power your long term goals to eat better. It is important to note here that your brain is not telling you to just eat; it is telling you to eat sugar and fat and foods that are not good for weight loss
Take Home Tip:
Always eat at least 3 times a day, and do not cut back your calories too much (salads and extreme low cal foods). The very act of doing this is going to cause you to have compulsive impulses to grab a donut or bit of cake – which you are biologically unable to resist.
2) Reduce your Serving Size (Portions and Plate Size)
We eat with our eyes, and are psychologically primed to finish whatever is on our plate. In addition it can take 20 minutes before your stomach starts to send indicators that you are full, which is much less time than it takes to consume a plateful of food. Studies show that by reducing your plate size from 12 to 10 inches you will consume (and not notice) 22% fewer calories.
Research consistently shows that container sizes of food, not matter what the size are usually consumed to the same amount in relation to the container. It is not just enough to reduce the serving size you should also be aware of the amount of calories in the food that you choose to put onto your plate.
3) Count Calories
Learn about and find lower calorie types of food. If you have toast instead of a pastry for example you half the amount of calories. A branded store coffee can have 3 to 4 times the amount of added energy than a cup you make at home. There is no such thing as a slow metabolism – research shows time after time that we simply forget the amount of food that we eat. Our ability to self report the amount of foods we eat is beyond terrible. Often if we eat something healthy we will forget to include it in our daily calories assuming because it was healthy it does not count. The average person under reports the amount of food they eat (even healthy foods) by as much as 50%.
Take Home Tip:
The bottom line is if you are over weight it is because you have consumed more calories than your body requires. Use smaller plates, with smaller serving sizes of foods that are not high in calories. Have your meals planned out ahead of time and do not rely on your assumption that you can consciously add up the amount of food you eat during the day.
See what 200 Calories of different types of food look like
To see photographs of plates of food containing 200 Calories click here
4) Eat more protein.
When your stomach is empty you produced the hormone ghrelin to let your brain know that it is time to fill it up again. Protein has long been known that it keeps you feeling filler for longer, even a meal with 10% more protein than you are used to can extend the feeling of being full a few hours. When any food is broken down by your stomach it produces a hormone called PYY into the blood stream which stimulates the brain to stop feeling hunger pangs. Protein produces much more PYY which signals your brain to repress hunger pangs for longer periods. In addition it creates a situation where you tend to eat less in your next meal when you have protein previously.
Including protein in every meal will extend this effect throughout the day. It is important to note that typically cereal (our usual breakfast) has very little protein in it. When you are dieting, a breakfast of cereal is probably the worse thing you can have. Even eating eggs and bacon for breakfast is better for you in the long term because you are likely to eat less for lunch and not suffer from the effects pointed out in point one.
Take Home Tip:
Consume some protein with every meal. If you are a vegetarian, find out what types of foods are higher in protein. Remind yourself that while it may not be accepted by mainstream TV commercials, or a particular diet fad you have faith in at the moment – science is science! Eat more protein. A salad or bowl of fruit is not going to cut it.
5) Soup keeps you feeling fuller for longer
You feel full for as long as it takes for your stomach to empty and digest the contents. Studies show that when you consume the same amount of calories (lets say meat and 3 veg) and a glass of water, compared to that meal blended into a soup – your stomach takes much longer to digest the soup and empty. This creates a filler feeling for longer.
Typically your stomach will start to half its content in 2 hours, signalling again that it is time to eat. Soup will take almost 4 hours before this effect is noticed. This happens because fluid consumed with food will temporarily extend the stomach but quickly is processed and the stomach starts to shrink again. When the contents of your meal are blended together it thickens and takes considerably longer before you start to feel hungry again.
Take Home Tip:
Eat more soup and blended food for meals. This means real soup, not the freeze dried packets (there is little actual food matter in these).
6) Choice Creates Desire
We are hardwired to prefer choice. It is an evolutionary step that was designed to increase our nutrient intake in times when food was scarce and limited in variety. In today’s world we can get more nutrients from a BigMac as our ancestors could in a wide variety of food they had available. This is why we tend to eat more at a buffer (around 30% more) because variety will trigger our instincts to try everything.
By being aware of this natural predisposition you can remind yourself that when you see a food while out shopping that looks tempting and rare – it is your caveman instincts at work. You are better able to say to yourself … “This is a choice response – I understand this is so simply a caveman can do it!” and move on.
Take Home Tip:
Be aware that we are hardwired for certain food choices and preferences, and variety is one of those. Attempting to consume the same types of foods consistently (soup everyday, diet meals etc) is going to start to trigger our need for choice and variety. So have a selection of acceptable foods for you – create the variety of options within your diet and do not restrict yourself to one or two types of foods.
7) Low Fat Dairy Products
When dairy calcium is digested in the small intestine, it combines with fats to form a soapy component that we are unable to absorb. So the calcium bonded fat is excreted. This is very helpful for those wanting to lose weight. Studies show that when eating the same calorie meals each week with or without low fat dairy – including the dairy can reduce fat absorption by twice the amount of not having it.
You must remember to count the calories of the dairy products, just adding extra calories to reduce fat absorption is not going to be much help. It is still a matter of consuming less calories than the body needs over all of your diet and food consumption
Take Home Tip:
Eat a variety of low fat milk and cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt and cream fresh with your meals for the fat binding qualities of dairy calcium.
8) The Effects of Exercise
Exercising will burn additional calories while you sleep. Many people add up the amount of calories doing moderate exercise and then decide that running for 20 minutes to burn a slice of bread is not worth the effort. However the effects of exercise are much longer lasting, reducing the amount of energy in our muscles and bodies (carbs) which can then take 22 hours to replenish. During this time we are forced to primarily use fat reserves for our energy.
The after burn effect is approximately 2.5 times more calories than the effects of exercise. If you can do your exercise after the last meal you consumed this amount becomes higher. You really can burn fat while you sleep – but you need to trigger the fat storage process with moderate levels of exercise.
Take Home Tip:
A walk in the evening at a pace fast enough to give you a short pant will help exhaust your reserves of carbohydrate energy. Your metabolic rate will start to use the fat stored in your body to replace this energy and maintain your physical functions while you sleep or rest.
9) Fidgeting (Keep Moving)
Small changes in your daily routine to increase your heart rate will burn extra calories. For example you burn twice the amount of calories while standing as you do when sitting. Adding a bit of fidgeting to the equation (such as a little dance or a few air squats or press-ups) adds up over a period of time. Parking a little further from work or at the end of the shopping parking lot, walking up stairs all add up. The more you can raise your heart rate the more energy you will burn. While this step will not produce remarkable results that you can notice short term, over a year it can amount to several kilos, over a lifetime it can keep you slim
Take Home Tip:
Being more active is the key to long term weight loss. We all know this – it is no secret! But this does not mean starting to exercise and sweating for hours a week of intense training. Look for stairs to climb, add a small break ‘dance’ every hour or so at work. Use a standing desk over a sitting one. Find ways you can burn just a few calories at a time, several times during the day. Make it a game and make it your lifestyle.
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10) Avoid the “White”
It is an over simplistic concept, but avoid most white foods! Almost anything white is either refined or is carbohydrate and can be considered high in calories (with little additional benefit). Things like flour, sugar, rice, etc offer little in nutrition and are the basic ingredients in cakes, cookies and all those treats that are not so good for the dieting result we want to create.
Carbs are the major reason most of us are over weight. When absorbed by the body they are converted to glucose in the blood. The body wanting to maintain a level of blood sugar secretes insulin to store all the blood sugar into the body (as fat). When you consume white types of food, the blood sugar levels increase, more insulin is secreted and more energy gets stored out of the blood stream into the body as fat. The insulin not only stores the glucose but any form of energy in the blood stream. The resulted lowered blood sugar levels trigger a response in the brain to consume more food.
While fruit is generally considered a healthy option it is all sugar to the body. Try to consume more than just fruit alone, add a little low fat yoghurt or protein into the mix.
Take Home Tip:
Attempt to avoid eating white foods by themselves. This will help you increase your protein uptake, keep a more constant blood sugar level and avoid the yo yo effects of hunger pangs.
Following these simple tips will change your life and help you lose weight. This is simply a matter of fact – fact about how food and the body works and fact of thousands of pieces of data collected by scientist over the years. Moreover these steps are easy to employ, they require very little change in your current lifestyle and because of the small changes you make are easier to maintain over the long term.
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