diets · fitness

So many bad diet headlines, so little time…

There’s a lot we already know about dieting, namely:

  • No matter what cockamamie diet we dream up, it is both true that  1) someone probably can lose weight temporarily with it; and 2) almost no one can keep weight off with it.

Imagine my 1) lack of surprise; and 2) skepticism when I saw a headline saying “lose weight by eating as much rice and potatoes as you want– no, really”. This news (and I use that term lightly) story reported on a 14-week study done on participants in a UK-based  commercial weight-loss program called Slimming World vs. a control group that did self-led calorie reduction using standard nutritional materials.

The idea behind the study was to see if eating less-energy-dense foods (of which carbs are included) could result in more weight loss, lower appetite and fewer food cravings.  And indeed the experimental group did lose more weight on average than the control group (13 lbs vs. 7). However, we don’t know that it was because of what they ate, as the experimental group had lots of attention from the researchers, peer-group support, and other treatment that (according to the study) may well have influenced the outcome. In addition, the subjective reports of appetite, satisfaction with the program, and cravings were more favorable than those of the control group. But again, they knew they were the experimental group and identified as a group.

I might add that many of the important health metrics (blood glucose level, blood pressure, etc.) didn’t differ between groups.  However, one difference in the study caught my eye:

RMR significantly decreased in the SW [experimental] group but did not change in the SC [control] group.

What’s RMR?  Resting metabolic rate. The above line says that those in the Slimming World diet plan group ended up with a lower metabolic rate than those in the control diet group. That’s not good. That’s really not good. That’s one of the many bad effects on bodies that engage in dieting. It’s bad because it means that your body’s rate of energy consumption is lower, meaning that you burn calories at a lower rate.  This is part of the reason why most people who diet regain all the weight they lost and then some.

What can help raise the RMR? Several things, but the easiest is exercise, which can contribute to increased muscle mass.

So what are the salient results from my reading of this study?

  • You can indeed eat potatoes, rice, etc. in amounts you want. (We knew that already).
  • Being part of a group with shared goals (whatever they are), may help members feel committed to and satisfied by the group’s activities.
  • Dieting often results in lowered resting metabolic rate, which has significant negative effects on bodies.
  • Exercise has no such negative effects on bodies; in fact, exercise raises RMR.

If you’re looking for eating advice from me, here’s something that looks good– this whole-wheat roti with bananas and peanut butter.

What are you finding yummy these days? I’d love to hear from you.

Whole wheat roti with bananas and peanut butter. Mmmmmm...
Whole wheat roti with bananas and peanut butter. Mmmmmm…

 

 

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