Weight Loss NewsMay 19, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Over the past 8 months or so, I’ve lost just over 70 lbs. Many of the weight loss strategies I’ve employed were taken directly from medical studies I read about in scientific literature. Several recent trials exemplify the core principles that are helping me to reach my goal.
First, here’s what worked for me. I’ve been following a natural, whole food based, low-carbohydrate diet. That’s been largely responsible for my weight loss and improved health. I have been exercising as well, but not very intensely and, frankly, not even regularly. My pattern of loss indicates that I lose weight both during very active periods and when I’m relatively sedentary. I’ll provide a more detailed explanation of my protocol once I reach my goal weight, which i hope to achieve within the coming month. At that point, I’ll post some before and after photos and all the specifics of my wellness routine.
A study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes the effects of a low-carbohydrate vs. a low-fat diet on weight loss and cardiovascular markers. 69 volunteers who exhibited abdominal obesity and at least one additional risk factor for Metabolic Syndrome completed the one-year trial. Metabolic Syndrome is defined by the presence of more than one of the following conditions: elevated triglycerides, excess fat in the mid-section, high blood sugar, hypertension and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
33 volunteers consumed a low-carb diet consisting of 4% carbohydrates, 35% protein and 61% fat (based on total caloric intake). The remaining 36 participants maintained a low-fat diet comprised of 46% carbohydrates, 24% protein and 30% fat. Here’s what the authors found at the conclusion of the 12 month experiment (1):
- The low-carb group lost a greater amount of weight, -14.5 kg vs -11.3 kg
- The carb restricted volunteers also lost more body fat, -11.3 kg vs. -9.4 kg
- The low-carbers showed a larger decrease in triglycerides and an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol
The only negative feature reported in the carbohydrate restricted diet was a minor increase in LDL cholesterol levels. It should be noted however that previous studies do not support such an association between low-carb diets and elevations in LDL cholesterol. (2,3,4,5) In addition, the reduction in body fat and weight, the lowering of triglycerides and the boost in HDL are all positive and significant steps towards combating Metabolic Syndrome.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but increasing the amount of dietary fat and/or choosing specific fats may promote both the loss of body fat and excess weight. The most common concern about increased fat intake is the proposed endangerment to heart health. This fear appears to be unwarranted and is evidenced in the May 2009 issue of the journal Lipids.
A group of 40 women with abdominal obesity were instructed to take either 1 ounce of soybean oil or 1 ounce of coconut oil in addition to a balanced daily diet and a regular walking program. Testing was conducted on the women prior to the beginning of the trial and one week after the end of the experiment. The trial lasted a total of 12 weeks. Several interesting observations were noted by the researchers. (6)
- The total number of calories and the carbohydrate content of the diet was reduced after the inclusion of more dietary fat. The amount of protein, fiber and total dietary fat remained unchanged.
- The coconut oil group demonstrated an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and an improvement in the LDL:HDL ratio (the “bad” to “good” cholesterol ratio).
- The soybean oil group displayed an increase in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a reduction in HDL and poorer LDL:HDL ratios.
- Both groups lost weight, but only the women taking coconut oil showed a significant decrease in abdominal obesity.
The beneficial shift in cardiovascular markers may be surprising to some because coconut oil is rich in supposedly harmful saturated fat. Soybean oil, on the other hand, is very low in saturated fatty acids.
Including higher levels of fat in my own diet has been key to managing my appetite and maintaining proper blood sugar control. As such, nuts can be a helpful food in any weight loss program. It’s well known that most nuts and many seeds are rich in protein, fat, fiber and a variety of healthful nutrients. But, new research presented in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition offers an additional clue about how we can best utilize nuts to aid in weight management. (7)
A group 13 healthy men and women were included in a trial involving the consumption of 2 ounces of almonds per day. The goal of the study was to determine how the amount of chewing would affect appetite and fat digestion. Each participate was asked to chew the almonds either 10, 25 or 40 times prior to swallowing (on separate days). Appetite monitoring, blood tests and stool samples were taken prior to and after eating the almonds.
The participants hunger was suppressed and their fullness was enhanced by chewing the almonds 25-40 times. These effects lasted for at least 2 hours afterward. The researchers noted that the levels of a hunger suppressant hormone known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) decreased the most after 40 chews. It appears that these effects are likely due to improved digestion of unsaturated fats derived by more thorough mastication.
All three of these studies reflect my own experience and, more importantly, the effects reported by many other dieters that I’ve encountered on my weight loss journey. But these types of recommendations are rarely put forth by conventional nutritionists and physicians. I hope that will change as the number of studies that support alternative weight loss strategies are more widely disseminated. I’ll do my best to help spread the word and continue to document new and innovative ways to achieve a healthy weight.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Almonds, Cholesterol, Low Carb
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Nutrition