Category Archives: Weight Loss

Cutting Back on Ultra-Processed Foods Should Help With Weight Loss

“How about some ultra-processed bread?”

Over the short term, those eating ultra-processed foods at 500 calories a day more than those eating unprocessed foods.

From Kevin D. Hall and associates at Cell Metabolism:

We investigated whether ultra-processed foods affect energy intake in 20 weight-stable adults, aged (mean ± SE) 31.2 ± 1.6 years and BMI = 27 ± 1.5 kg/m2. Subjects were admitted to the NIH Clinical Center and randomized to receive either ultra-processed or unprocessed diets for 2 weeks immediately followed by the alternate diet for 2 weeks. Meals were designed to be matched for presented calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber. Subjects were instructed to consume as much or as little as desired. Energy intake was greater during the ultra-processed diet (508 ± 106 kcal/day; p = 0.0001), with increased consumption of carbohydrate (280 ± 54 kcal/day; p < 0.0001) and fat (230 ± 53 kcal/day; p = 0.0004), but not protein (−2 ± 12 kcal/day; p = 0.85). Weight changes were highly correlated with energy intake (r = 0.8, p < 0.0001), with participants gaining 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.009) during the ultra-processed diet and losing 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.007) during the unprocessed diet. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.

Source: Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake: Cell Metabolism

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Are Drugs the Answer to Unhealthy Lifestyles?

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

“This is much easier than exercising and losing 30 pounds!”

Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, has a heretical short article at BMJ. I recommend you read the whole thing. It starts thusly:

More than half of adults aged over 45 will be labelled as hypertensive if new US guidelines are adopted, concludes a study in The BMJ this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.k2357). This equates to 70 million people in the US and 267 million people in China being eligible for antihypertensive drugs, a marked increase on already high rates of drug treatment for high blood pressure. Furthermore, the study calculates that 7.5 million people in the US and 55 million in China would be advised to start drug treatment, while 14 million in the US and 30 million in China would be advised to receive more intensive treatment. The evidence from trials indicates some benefit from drugs in terms of reduced risk of stroke and heart disease, but is mass medication really what we want?

Hypertension is just one of the many heads of the lifestyle disease hydra. Another is type 2 diabetes. Once thought to be irreversible and progressive, it is now known to be potentially reversible through weight loss. This is the cautious conclusion of the review by Nita Forouhi and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.k2234), part of our series on the science and politics of nutrition (bmj.com/food-for-thought). Whether by calorie or carbohydrate restriction, weight loss has been shown to improve glycaemic control, blood pressure, and lipid profile and is the key to treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes, they say.

She goes on to talk about fatty liver disease (NASH) and offers an alternative, of sorts, to pills. Good luck with that.

Source: Pills are not the answer to unhealthy lifestyles | The BMJ

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1/2 of American Adults Trying to Lose Weight

No wonder they’re not having much success:

“Exercise, eating less, consuming more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water were the most common strategies. The least common were skipping meals and cutting down on fatty foods.”

Source: Nearly Half of Americans Battling to Lose Weight: CDC Data – Bloomberg Quint

Drinking more water? Come on, America, get serious.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Does High Protein Diet Help With Weight Loss?

Sous vide chicken and sautéed sugar snap peas. Chicken is a good source of high biologic value protein.

P.D. Mangan makes the case for high-protein diets for those hoping to shed pounds of fat:

In humans, data collected from 38 different trials of food consumption that used widely varying intakes of protein, from 8 to 54% of energy, showed: “Percent dietary protein was negatively associated with total energy intake (F = 6.9, P < 0.0001) irrespective of whether carbohydrate (F = 0, P = 0.7) or fat (F = 0, P = 0.5) were the diluents of protein. The analysis strongly supports a role for protein leverage in lean, overweight and obese humans.”

In obese humans, substitution of carbohydrate with protein leads to far greater weight loss, nearly twice as much.

In a human trial, decreasing the percentage of protein in food from 15% to 10% led to increased calorie intake of 12%. However, increasing the protein percentage from 15 to 25% did not affect calorie intake, which shows that humans may target a certain amount of protein, and eat no more or less when they get it.

There’s more at the link.

Source: Higher Protein for Greater Weight Loss – Rogue Health and Fitness

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From Vox: Why Do Diets Fail…or Succeed?

Julia Belluz has interesting article at Vox regarding low-fat and low-carb diet success over the course of 12 months. Her focus is on a few individuals who participated and were outliers.

As I read this, I was reminded that successful long-term weight management starts and ends in the kitchen. It also took me back to 2009, when I determined that low-carb diets were just as legitimate as low-fat.

I don’t recall the author mentioning the typical pattern with 12-month weight loss studies: most folks lose significant weight in the first few months, then at six months they start gaining it back. Cuz they go back to their old eating habits. Sure, diets don’t work………..if you don’t follow them.

From Ms. Belluz:

As a longtime health reporter, I see new diet studies just about every week, and I’ve noticed a few patterns emerge from the data. In even the most rigorous scientific experiments, people tend to lose little weight on average. All diets, whether they’re low in fat or carbs, perform about equally miserably on average in the long term.

But there’s always quite a bit of variability among participants in these studies. Just check out this chart from a fascinating February study called DIETFITS, which was published in JAMA by researchers at Stanford.

The randomized controlled trial involved 609 participants who were assigned to follow either a low-carb or a low-fat diet, centered on fresh and high-quality foods, for one year. The study was rigorous; enrollees were educated about food and nutrition at 22 group sessions. They were also closely monitored by researchers, counselors, and dietitians, who checked their weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures throughout the year.

Overall, dieters in both groups lost a similar amount of weight on average — 11 pounds in the low-fat group, 13 pounds in the low-carb group — suggesting different diets perform comparably. But as you can see in the chart, hidden within the averages were strong variations in individual responses. Some people lost more than 60 pounds, and others gained more than 20 during the year.

Read the whole thing. It’s not long.

Source: Why do dieters succeed or fail? The answers have little to do with food. – Vox

The DIETFITS Trial

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Have You Heard of the Milk Diet?

hiking, Arizona, Steve Parker MD,

Tom’s Thumb trail in Scottsdale, AZ

 

I vaguely recall a milk diet to treat stomach ulcers in the mid-20th century. Tagamet changed that!

I’ve been reading scientific articles on low-energy liquid diets for weight loss and diabetes remission, and ran across a reference to a milk diet. I found impressive results in a 16-week study.

This was a small randomized trial that enrolled 45 very fat folks — BMI 41-47, average weight 122 kg (268 lb), mostly women — and assigned them to one of three diets:

  1. Control: conventional balanced diet of normal foods providing about 800 calories/day and at least 36 grams of protein.
  2. Milk: “variable combination of full cream or semi-skimmed milk and unsweetened yoghurt,” about 800 calories/day. BTW, a cup (240 ml) of whole milk has 150 calories.
  3. Milk Plus: same as the milk diet plus “unlimited amount of a single food selected by the patient on each day of the week. Of these seven extra foods, three were a fruit or vegetable, two were a high protein food, and two were a “favourite” food. The seven foods were repeated on the same day of successive weeks.” (If you understand this, you’re smarter than me, which wouldn’t be unusual.) Average calories were 1,350/day.

The researchers figured these adults were eating about 2,500 calories/day at baseline. Diabetics were excluded.

Results

The Milk group lost the most weight. Eleven of the 14 participants completed the 16-week study, with an average weight loss of 11.2 kg (24.6 lb). Constipation was the only “serious” side effect reported. The authors admitted that deficiencies in some vitamins and iron might be a problem, but cited a similar but longer trial (24 weeks) that found no such deficiencies.

Eleven of the 17 in the Milk Plus group persevered for the whole 16 weeks. Average weight loss was 8.2 kg (18 lb).

Nine of the 14 in the Control Group were able to put up with it for the duration. Average weight loss was only 2.6 kg (5.7 lb). I suspect they had a bit of a compliance problem. When you weigh 268 lb, a 5.7 lb loss isn’t much.

“Analysis of compliance (not reported) showed that it was similar for the two milk diets but much lower for the conventional diet.”

Comments

The researchers opine that…

  • “Patients are more likely to respond to a simple diet which they have not tried before than to advice on conventional diets.”
  • Probably the best strategy is to rotate diets,…[to prevent compliance from falling].”

I wonder how well the Milk diet would work for someone who weighs 205 lb (93 kg) and just wants to lose 25 lb (11.4 kg).

I wonder how important are the exact proportions of “full cream or semi-skimmed milk and unsweetened yoghurt.”

I wonder if the Milk diet has ever been tested in overweight people with diabetes. The carbohydrate in milk shouldn’t be a problem since overall calories are so low. A cup of milk has 12 grams of carbohydrate.

As with all diets, weight regain will be a problem after the 16 weeks.

I’m skeptical about the nutritional adequacy of the Milk diet.

The Milk diet might be a good temporary option for someone who wants to lose more excess weight but has hit a weight-loss plateau in their current regimen.

The simplicity of the milk diet is very appealing to me.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Summerbell, C.D., et al. Randomised controlled trial of novel, simple, and well supervised weight reducing diets in outpatients. British Medical Journal, 317: 1487-1489. November 28, 1998.

Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, front cover

 

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This May Be Why You’re Not Losing That Weight

Old-school preparation for exercise; stretching actually doesn’t do any good for the average person

You’ll see the term “diet resistant” in the scientific abstract below. It refers to folks who are on a reduced-calorie diet who aren’t losing the weight they should, base on total calorie consumption. Long story short, they’re eating much more than the think and exercising less than they think.

BACKGROUND AND METHODS

Some obese subjects repeatedly fail to lose weight even though they report restricting their caloric intake to less than 1200 kcal per day. We studied two explanations for this apparent resistance to diet — low total energy expenditure and underreporting of caloric intake — in 224 consecutive obese subjects presenting for treatment. Group 1 consisted of nine women and one man with a history of diet resistance in whom we evaluated total energy expenditure and its main thermogenic components and actual energy intake for 14 days by indirect calorimetry and analysis of body composition. Group 2, subgroups of which served as controls in the various evaluations, consisted of 67 women and 13 men with no history of diet resistance.

RESULTS

Total energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate in the subjects with diet resistance (group 1) were within 5 percent of the predicted values for body composition, and there was no significant difference between groups 1 and 2 in the thermic effects of food and exercise. Low energy expenditure was thus excluded as a mechanism of self-reported diet resistance. In contrast, the subjects in group 1 underreported their actual food intake by an average (±SD) of 47±16 percent and overreported their physical activity by 51±75 percent. Although the subjects in group 1 had no distinct psychopathologic characteristics, they perceived a genetic cause for their obesity, used thyroid medication at a high frequency, and described their eating behavior as relatively normal (all P<0.05 as compared with group 2).

CONCLUSIONS

The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis. (N Engl J Med 1992; 327:1893–8.)

Source: Discrepancy between Self-Reported and Actual Caloric Intake and Exercise in Obese Subjects | NEJM

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