Science & Studies


Im on a Diet, but I Cant Seem to Lose Weight!

“I’m on a Diet, But I Can’t Seem to Lose any Weight!”

<rant>

I read an article Thursday from the L.A. Times:

Study of diets shows what truly counts: calories

Researchers took 811 overweight people and put them on one of four diets: low-fat, average-protein; low-fat, high-protein; high-fat, average-protein; and high-fat, high-protein.  After 2 years they determined that all the diets performed the same, about 9 pounds lost.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig into this pile of manure!

Closer scrutiny of the study itself –

Diets That Reduce Calories Lead to Weight Loss, Regardless of Carbohydrate, Protein or Fat Content

-Shows that NONE of the diets were low in carbohydrates, in fact, the lowest percentage of calories from carbs was 35%!  Not only that, but the ones who were only supposed to eat 35% averaged an actual intake of  43%!  That’s a far cry from the 10% or less consumed by real low-carbers, yet the researchers had the audacity to give the following quote:

“There isn’t any one way. That is the nice thing about none of these diets in particular winning,” said Christopher Gardner, a nutrition researcher at Stanford University’s Prevention Research Center. “We don’t have any right to push low-fat or low-carb or high-protein. If one of these approaches is more satiating, where you will not be hungry and have cravings, that is the one that will work for you.”

Seriously?  Worst of all, they admitted that the participants had a very low rate of compliance – “It’s just too hard” – and most ended up eating very similar diets, yet this article still got published.

Here’s a better title:

Study Shows That if you Aren’t Going to Stick to Your Diet,  it Doesn’t Matter Which one you Quit.

</rant>

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Researchers at UC San Francisco have determined that:

Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.

As is so often the case, Mark Sisson was all over this immediately, so I won’t rehash his post.  Please go check out his take on the research at  Mark’s Daily Apple.

I Didnt Know My Weight Could Lead to E.D!

"I Didn't Know My Weight Could Lead to E.D!"

<rant>In a frivolous waste of  time and money, researchers at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (no, really!) in Philly have determined that morbidly obese men who lost 2/3 of their extra weight after Gastric Bypass surgery (because let’s be honest, eating smaller portions of healthy food isn’t a realistic solution..) had improved sexual function.  The  Master of the Obvious  du jour is Dr. Ramsey Dallal who states:

“We estimate that a man who is morbidly obese has the same degree of sexual dysfunction as a non-obese man about 20 years older.  Sexual function improves substantially after gastric bypass surgery to a level that reaches or approaches age-based norms.  Sexual dysfunction should be considered one of the numerous potentially reversible complications of obesity.”

Gee, really?  It’s no secret that obesity causes thinning of arteries and restricts blood flow (duh fact: there’s no “bone” in a boner), and this study from two years ago determined that obesity accelerates the normal, age-related decline of testosterone in men (duh fact #2: testosterone is THE male sex hormone) by about 10 years worth.  Even a knuckle-dragger like me can do this math problem:

Obesity = Low Blood Flow + Low Testosterone = A Flaccid Soldier

And I don’t even have a medical degree.  I guess my biggest beef with the study is the implication that bariatric surgery corrected the problem, instead of the correction being a pleasant side effect of weight loss that could have been achieved through other means. Our society today is one of reward without sacrifice.  Why take responsibility for your health when you can pay someone to shrink your stomach so that only 1 Twinkie will fit at a time?  And the cold, hard truth is that many people who aren’t willing to actually change their lifestyle will regain their weight within 2 years , egg sized stomach or not. </rant>

note:  If you are suffering from too much testosterone, Scott Kustes has some great tips to help you get rid of your pesky sex drive.

I ran across an interesting article today called The Science of Willpower.  It highlights several studies that indicate that willpower functions almost like a muscle – referred to as the “strength model of willpower:

This “strength” model of willpower has important implications for fitness and wellness professionals who seek to inspire and support healthy behavior in others. By understanding how willpower can be strengthened, you can find new strategies for helping clients meet their goals. And by understanding why willpower is necessarily limited, you can identify ways of supporting behavior change without exhausting willpower.

A strength model of willpower proposes four important ideas:

  1. Willpower is a mind-body response, not merely a mindset.
  2. Using willpower depletes resources in the body.
  3. Willpower is limited.
  4. Willpower is trainable.

It then goes on to describe how acts of self-control actually lower blood glucose, and that one such act would make subsequent acts of discipline more difficult until glucose levels were restored.  For those of us who try to follow a diet which keeps glucose levels low to begin with, this may explain why even moderate stress can make it very difficult to resist that bagel or Butterfinger.

I mention this because I myself have “fallen off the wagon” several times in the past few days.  And the worst part was that it wasn’t a struggle where I would pace in front of the fridge, talking myself into rolling up a slice of turkey instead of grabbing that candy bar.  I just didn’t care. I said, “I want candy, chips, and ice cream”, and I ate them.  Even got a Dr. Pepper from the store, and I haven’t had soda since I don’t know when.  Now I’m not making excuses for my behavior, but I have been quite sleep deprived since the birth of my daughter.  Could it be that the willpower required to drag my butt out of bed every two hours at night is using up the energy I usually reserve for motivating myself to exercise when I get up and avoid the things I know to be bad for me but taste so sweet?  The research seems to support the idea.

Again, I’m not making excuses.  I find it very useful to know the actual physical processes which take place in the body, as I feel that understanding how the body works does make it easier to respond to the physical and emotional signals we receive.  Thinking of willpower as something that’s “all in our minds” makes it seem insubstantial and arbitrary.  I am going to make a conscious effort to remind myself that my lack of willpower is merely a symptom of the stress I am experiencing, and that I can easily replace that teaspoon of blood sugar through gluconeogenesis.  I will roll up that turkey!