An article on what research says about losing weight and keeping it off

How is that for World’s Longest Title?  I am sure this will get me a lot of traffic, too.  This kind of title does that.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Chris Kresser.  He writes quite smartly about weight loss and, in particular, he deals with a lot of clients who struggle with weight loss and system imbalances.  Many of these people have tried all different diets as well, from Paleo to low-carb to low fat, etc., and just are stuck.  One thing I like about him is that while he tends towards Paleo style eating, he is not averse to carbs in the form of potatoes and some things like rice if you can tolerate it (same with dairy).  He keeps an open mind.  You know there is a lot of diet dogma out there and people will defend their eating style to the death, so it’s refreshing to come across someone like that.


Anyway – way off track there.  Chris also does a podcast which is quite interesting and covers a lot of different health aspects.  He happened to have another researcher who specializes in the brain and obesity (and blogs about it here) on his show who I also enjoy reading by the name of Stefan Guyenet.  He is an obesity researcher and his posts are quite thoughtful on the subject.

Here is a link to the podcast transcription. You can either read the transcript or listen to the podcast.  (I like reading because I can skim to parts that interest me the most).

He talks a bit about setpoint and the difficulty in maintaining weight loss.  Here is this quote “

So, when you lose a bunch of weight, one of the things that happens when you’re below where your body wants you to be is you’re hungry.  You don’t get full with the same amount of food.  Your body just wants you to keep eating and eating to replenish that body fat.  You know, it’s like if you skip a few meals, you’re hungrier when you do start eating again.

I find this interesting because I used to be able to eat less calories and not be hungry. Now I get very hungry. These are the times I wonder if my body wants to be a lot heavier than it is. And I am still in the overweight category, too.

Stephan also has a theory about food palatability going along with obesity. And I think we get that with how addicting certain types of food can be, like sweets or whatever.

The basic idea is that food, depending on its specific properties, has a certain motivational value associated with it and also a certain enjoyment value associated with it.  The motivational value is called reward, and the enjoyment value is called palatability.  Just to illustrate that, I’ll give you a little example.  You’re in a restaurant.  You just had a big meal, a really nice meal.  You’re full.  And then the waiter brings out a plate with a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on it, and they put it right in front of you, and the smell is wafting up your nose.  What are you going to do?  Are you going to eat it, or are you not?  And if you don’t eat it, how hard was it?  You wanted to eat it.  Or if you don’t like brownies, put something else in there that you do enjoy.  But what happens if that waiter had brought out a plate of steamed, plain potatoes and put it on your plate?  You’re stuffed after this meal, and they bring out steamed potatoes with nothing on them.  No salt, nothing.  Are you going to dive into those potatoes?  Of course not.

It’s nice to see researchers actually working on this and not just saying you have no willpower.  There is also a link to a diet motivator plan called Dan’s Plan, just to let you know.  I won’t include the link here because it is in the podcast, but it has some free tools that you might find interesting the keep your behaviors motivating. There is also a paid option, but I didn’t click on that, so I can’t say much about it.

Anyway, I just thought some of you might enjoy this article.  It also talks at length about how sleep  (or lack thereof) affects weight loss as well.


Also, the site is really a gold mine of health info in the podcasts, so dig around there.

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10 thoughts on “An article on what research says about losing weight and keeping it off

  1. Mabelle @ Dance, Love, Dine

    Wow this is quite fascinating. I was specially intrigued by what it says your body does when you’re under the weight it “wants you to be” so you are triggered to eat more. Also, nice little example about the potatoes and the brownies. Wlll def need to hear the whole posts! Also, thanks for sharing your favorite blog. I’ll check it out 🙂
    Mabelle @ Dance, Love, Dine´s last blog post ..Getting Creative in the Kitchen

  2. debby

    Thanks for this link! I like listening to podcasts.

    I’m interested in the fact that you used to be able to eat a lot less and not be hungry and now you get very hungry. When did that change? Right now I am eating a lot less than I was and I’m not getting hungry. And I’m kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop (what does that saying mean, anyway?) There’s just a lot more going on in our bodies than we know, I think.
    debby´s last blog post ..Back to the Gym

  3. Ali @ Peaches and Football

    Hmm I definitely need to check this out. Always interested in more insight to understanding what I can do to help my weight loss out. Thanks for the info Lori – I had never heard of Chris Kresser before!
    Ali @ Peaches and Football´s last blog post ..Guess Who?

  4. Biz

    When I think back to how much food I used to eat, it makes me sick – Suzy-Q’s for the train ride, Burger King for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch, giant bowls of pasta for dinner, and a couple times a week a frozen pizza after my daughter went to bed – so crazy!

    Thanks for the link Lori – have a great weekend!
    Biz´s last blog post ..Family Day!

  5. Jody - Fit at 55

    Really interesting Lori & honestly – does not surprise me at all. I prefer to read too but may see if hubby can help with downloading the podcast since that is not my thing. 😉

    I so agree with that brownie example – oh yes, except it has to be a cookie! 🙂

    Set point – I always felt this was there even though other experts say not…. I think my bod tries to be at a certain weight & fight it friggin hard to be less – but it is more about how I prefer to look & feel than the actual scale weight but the look corresponds to a weight that I have to work very very hard to get at….
    Jody – Fit at 55´s last blog post ..Shoulder & Chest w/New Moves

  6. Taryl

    I have major issues with Guyenet and Kresser, to a lesser extent, in that they ignore solid endocrinology relating to fat metabolism and obesity. Stephan’s arguments come down to morality and hedonism, ignoring the physiological triggers (obesity, in his mind, is not a symptom but a disease, and when plenty of evidence to the contrary is presented he either outright ignores it or misrepresents the data to fit the template he is working with). Bad science, regardless.

    Kresser has some good articles, but again, feeding rice and potatoes to folks with insulin resistance just isn’t the wisest idea. My own self experimentation and research into the matter has lead me away from both blogs, which I used to follow. Taubes/Lustig/Attia/McDonald/etc are much more in line in their recommendations with what harmonizes with how the body actually stores energy, and less on the weak-willed fatty train of thinking, whereby if only I ate a less tasty diet I’d have never become obese (which is a head smacking conclusion if ever there was one).

    Sorry to be the contrarian, but the arguments look more compelling on their face than when they’re taken down with data and logic. I found what sounded reasonable fell apart in the face of actual data regarding the behavior of our hormones and cellular feedback systems.

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