A study at Purdue University has provided evidence that snacking on almonds may be the ideal way to control cravings and hunger.
Individuals in the study were told to continue all their normal eating habits and physical activity, except:
(A) in one control group, participants were told not to have any seeds or nuts during the study
(B) in several snack groups, participants were asked to eat a handful of almonds (about 250 calories) daily, at designated times, in addition to their usual food intake.
At the end of the four week study, the people in the snack groups, despite ingesting about 250 additional calories per day from the almonds, did not gain any weight.In addition, the folks in the snack groups reported the most significant appetite suppression throughout the day.
This study suggests that almonds may be an ideal snack option, which is not only healthy, but can also help reduce food cravings and weight.
For the first time, we have scientific evidence which helps explain why some folks can eat all they want without gaining weight, while others put on weight easily, even without overeating.
Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have identified a “helper” gene that aids in explaining why some people gain weight quickly while eating the exact same amount as others, who remain lean and gain no weight.
These scientists have been able to identify, and delete, a gene in mice that controls how quickly calories are burned.They were then able to identify one very obese child who had a gene-disabling mutation in the same gene.The results were recently published in the journal Science.
This gene-disabling mutation helps explain why some people have a propensity to put on weight even though they eat normal amounts of food.
The commonly held wisdom that eating an extra 3500 calories will add one pound of fat to the body does not hold true for everyone.
There are genetic factors that determine how much of what we eat turns into fat.
It is now clear that it is unfair to always blame overweight people for lack of self control, because there are other important factors which they are helpless to control.
An interesting, and somewhat surprising, finding was uncovered by the National Center for Health Statistics in a recent comprehensive review of the medical literature. After reviewing over 95 medical studies and close to 3 million subjects, the researchers concluded that people medically classified as overweight and low-grade obesity have significantly lower mortality risk than people in the normal weight category! Excess mortality occurs only at the highest levels of obesity, i.e., grade 2 and higher.
These findings are somewhat puzzling, although they are consistent with several previous studies.
A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to just below 25 is considered normal weight – e.g., an individual 5′ 8” and 160 lbs. is considered normal weight.People with a BMI of 25 to just below 30 (e.g., 5′ 8” and 190 lbs.) are classified as overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 to just below 35 (e.g., 5′ 8” and 200 lbs.) are labeled grade 1 (or low-grade) obesity. A BMI of 35 to just below 40 is grade 2 obesity.
We don’t know why overweight and slight obesity may be protective.We can only speculate at this point. Among the possible explanations: slightly increased amounts of body fat may provide beneficial and protective metabolic effects.
So, carrying a little extra weight may have some benefits.
PART 2: The FACTS
A recent New England Journal of Medicine article http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1208051 explored commonly held weight loss beliefs, separating them into FACTS,MYTHS and unproven PRESUMPTIONS.
This week’s BLOG is devoted to the FACTS – i.e., the things we do know with reasonable confidence that are supported by good scientific evidence.
Included among the FACTS are the following:
- Obesity is best treated as a chronic condition – like hypertension or hyperlipidemia- requiring on-going management to maintain long-term weight loss.
Meal replacements, and/or diet prescription medications, with behavioral modification, exercise and diet counseling under medical supervision provide an ideal forum to attain the goal of long term weight loss.
- Some prescription drugs can help achieve meaningful weight loss and maintain the weight reduction as long as they continue to be used.
Fortunately, there are new prescription diet medications approved by the FDA which have increased the options available.
- Better weight loss is achieved with meal-replacement products according to medical literature.
Providing diet foods containing protein derived from egg white, milk and other hi-quality proteins that are low in calories (and tasty) is essential in attaining this goal.
- Although heredity plays an important role it is not destiny!
Moderate environmental changes, diet foods and prescription medications can still promote weight loss in spite of genetics and metabolism.
- Regular exercise has been shown to help achieve long-term weight maintenance.
Physical activity is vital, but it must be vigorous, aerobic and consistent (5-7 days/week) to help attain long term weight maintenance.
- Increased levels of exercise increase health, even without weight loss and regardless of body weight.
Medical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that regular aerobic exercise improves health, and reduces risk factors, in many other ways.
Our next BLOG will probe the commonly held beliefs which are unproven PRESUMPTIONS.
PART 1: The MYTHS
This week’s BLOG is devoted to some commonly held weight loss beliefs which are actually MYTHS – i.e., scientifically incorrect, & false – as identified in a recent NEJM publication.
Included among the MYTHS are:
- “Small but regular increases in physical activity will produce large long term weight loss” For example, it has been claimed that walking 1 mile per day will result in a weight loss of >50 lb over a 5 year period. In truth, the total weight loss will only be about 10 lb based on recent studies using computational models to determine energy expenditure and predict weight change in humans.
- “Losing weight too fast results in less weight loss in the long term” In fact, in several weight loss trials, more rapid and greater initial weight loss has been associated with lower body weight at the end of long term follow-up.
- “Breast feeding is protective against future obesity in the child” Actually, the existing scientific data indicate breast-feeding does not have an effect on future obesity, although it does have other important benefits for both infant and mother and should therefore be encouraged.
- “Sexual intercourse burns 100-300 kcal for each participant” The truth is, a man in his early to mid 30’s expands about 21 kcal during sexual intercourse – far less than is commonly claimed.
Our next BLOG will deal with the commonly held beliefs which are true FACTS.