10 Scientific Studies That May Change the Way You Approach Weight Loss
There’s no shortage of information on the internet—especially when it comes to weight loss.
But the way you view weight loss may change after reading these scientific studies. And the knowledge you gain by looking at the research may help you develop a mindset to lose weight naturally and keep it off for good . . .
Here they are.
1. Being way overweight may take a toll on more than just your body.
There are so many fad diets circulating and trending out there. It’s enough to make your head spin. And do diets even work?
Looking at the percentage of obese people in the United States and beyond, “diets” are failing miserably. Obesity has been linked to brain dysfunction before, and now scientists are starting to wonder what that means for behavior.
There’s a little nugget of your brain that looks kind of like a pea pod. It’s called the hippocampus, and it takes care of important tasks, such as memory.
A study in the UK revealed that very high BMIs went hand-in-hand with glitchy “episodic” memories (the ability to remember events that happened).
Psychologically, this could make you more likely to eat when you’re not hungry. If you clearly remember your lunch, you might think twice before mindlessly grabbing a bag of chips from your secret stash.
If you’re not thinking about the big, juicy, (and filling) burger you just had two hours ago, you may see a big blueberry muffin and just go for it (even though you’re not hungry)!
Mindset Shift Tip: Pay close attention to what you eat and how much of it. Next time you think of munching mid-morning, recall in detail the deliciously crunchy, fruity, whole grain cereal you had for breakfast. Then see if you’re still hungry.
2. Important thing moms can do to have healthier kids.
You’ve most likely seen a connection between “fit moms” and active children. Until now, studies haven’t been able to prove anything conclusively. There were too many factors involved—maybe kids mirror their parents’ behavior, or maybe they have a genetic predisposition to like CrossFit . . .
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine decided to eliminate those complications and used mice to test the theory. A group of expectant and happy to run mice were selected and then split into two groups—one with a running wheel, and one without one.
The wheel group continued to run each night throughout their entire pregnancy, while the no-wheel group had no choice but to sit and twiddle their paws.
Later, they all gave birth, and the mice with running mommies were 50% more active than the other group, and this pattern continued all the way into adulthood!
Research conclusion: “If a similar effect gets confirmed in humans, it could represent an effective strategy to counteract the current worldwide epidemic of physical inactivity and obesity.”
3. Delight in nature’s delicious drinkable gift.
Are you one of those people who needs coffee ASAP after you get out of bed in the morning? Do you regularly hear things like: “Whoa, is that your fourth cup?” or “You drink three cups a day? No wonder you’re so anxious during meetings.”
Suffice it to say, coffee has gotten a bad rap in the past. But as long as you aren’t contaminating the purity of nature’s energy bean with sugar and artificial sweetener, you’re good! That’s right.
According to Vasanti Malik, a nutrition research scientist at Harvard, up to five cups of coffee, a day is perfectly healthy. Numerous studies have proven that coffee has cardiovascular benefits, weight loss benefits, and a variety of healthy antioxidants and vitamins.
So some say coffee will be your friend on the weight loss journey. Partially because of it’s healthy properties, and partly because it gives you more energy to get up and move.
Have some coffee with breakfast? Yes! Mid-morning perk? Why not! With lunch? Alright! Before bed? Probably not . . . let’s not get too crazy here.
4. Meat: it’s not just for cheat days anymore.
In the last decade, steak has spent a lot of time in the doghouse. You hear people say, “Oh I would kill for a steak, but my doctor said I should watch my cholesterol . . . ” or “I love red meat, but I’m really trying to lose weight, so I only have it on cheat days.”
In reality, red meat contains an array of essential micronutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, potassium, and a range of B-vitamins including niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B12.
What you probably should avoid is heavily processed meats, like salami. No one’s claiming that’s a healthy choice. Opt for fresh, nutritious, grass-fed beef.
5. When diet and exercise alone don’t cut it, a third factor may help you get cut.
One big reason people struggle with obesity is that they eat recreationally (rather than for the nutrition).
Maybe you’re stressed in the afternoon, so you grab a Krispy Kreme donut or two. Perhaps you had a bad day at work, so you get home and scarf down your favorite Ben and Jerry’s while catching up on season 34 of Survivor.
It happens. Actually, it happens a lot. Obesity is an epidemic right now. And stress-eating and “reward-driven eating” are eating away at humanity’s health.
Food (especially junk food) is super easy to get your hands on, and it gives you a quick sugary boost that just makes you feel a little better. With this in mind, researchers developed a study.
“Can we get people to lose weight by training them to eat more mindfully?” they wondered.
Yes! People can benefit from eating mindfully. Two groups of obese individuals went through a matching diet and exercise program. One of the groups also got “mindfulness training.” Six months later, the second group was eating less for stress and reward, and that led to more weight loss at the 12-month mark.
The results were statistically significant, resulting in the conclusion that conscious eating does contribute to weight loss success.
6. Nine out of ten restaurants in America are overfeeding you (by a lot!).
Everyone knows that fast food isn’t good for you. But when was the last time you thought about your meal at a sit-down restaurant?
That’s “real food,” right? So it’s healthy? The problem here is quantity, not quality. The average calorie intake recommendation is about 2,500 for men, and 2,000 for women.
Unless you’re big on tapas or gourmet restaurants with teeny portions are your thing, you’re eating too much.
The average restaurant entree in America contains 1,200 calories. American, Chinese, and Italian food are even worse, with an average of almost 1,500 calories per plate! This study focuses on entrees alone. We’re not even talking about drinks and appetizers.
If you’re the type of person who can’t even imagine life without a bi-weekly trip to your favorite happy hour, here’s a tip:
Order your meal and ask for a to-go box right away. When your food arrives, put half in the box for later and enjoy two meals for the price of one! Or, if leftovers are totally unappealing to you, order one entree and split it with your dinner companion.
7. The type of protein you eat may reduce your risk of type II diabetes.
An inquisitive nutritionist wanted to know if there was a difference between people who ate more plant protein and people who ate more animal protein. So he took a huge sample of people and found out that there is.
He observed that switching just 5% of your protein intake from animal to plant gives you a 23% reduced risk of getting type II diabetes.
That’s pretty significant. So next time you want to consume a chili cheese hot dog, consider having a plant-based meal instead.
8. Getting to the “sweet spot” of any exercise plan.
What’s the best way to workout, if your goal is to burn fat? According to this study, you’ll see the biggest change if you’re feeling the burn at your “FATmax.”
During exercise, your body “oxidizes” fat or carbohydrates, which is another way of saying you’re either burning fat or carbs to fuel your energy expenditure. As you increase the intensity, you start burning more fat, until you get to a peak. After the peak, the fat burn goes down and you’re burning more carbs again.
The FATmax is the intensity zone where you’re burning the maximum amount of fat instead of carbs. After ten weeks of training, the subjects in the FATmax group lost an average of 5 times more pure fat than the control group.
9. Are high-intensity workouts really better for weight loss?
Physiologically, high-intensity training causes “superior improvements in aerobic fitness.” Psychologically, it’s harder to maintain an intense training program than a moderate one. And it’s more difficult to sustain an intense training program than a moderate one.
If you have a hard time sticking to a fitness regimen, don’t over commit. If you make it too hard for yourself, you’re not likely to stick to it. If you’re already somewhat of a fitness junkie, you’ll definitely see more progress the harder you push yourself each session.
10. Vegetarian? Vegan? Omnivore? Which one rules the diet plan?
Ever wonder what type of diet will result in the most weight loss? Researchers in South Carolina took a sample of overweight adults and randomly assigned them to a six-month diet plan.
The options were:
vegan (no animals or animal by-products),
vegetarian (no meat, but some dairy and eggs),
pescovegetarian (dairy, eggs, and fish allowed),
semi-vegetarian (red meat once a week, white meat no more than 5x/week), or
omnivore (nothing off limits).
They all ate close to the same things each meal with a few variances. For instance, everyone had a taco for lunch, some with beans, some with fish, some with chicken.
After six months of following their diet, one group showed significantly more weight loss than the other four groups.
Which group would you guess lost the most weight?
It was the vegans. This is probably shocking to a lot of people. Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking “I knew it!” Either way, with most factors controlled, it appears that a vegan diet will help you lose weight on a larger scale than if you’re also eating meat and dairy.
Some people do well on a vegetarian diet. Some people don’t. Some people get gassy from consuming broccoli, bananas, and legumes . . . Others cannot even imagine eating lamb, pork chops, or a chicken pot pie.
You know what’s best for your mind and body, right? So listen. Pay attention. What’s your body telling you? Is your mind-gut connection giving you any cues or clues?
How do you feel when you eat red meat? What happens when you eliminate cheese and bread from your daily diet? Go easy on the beer? Do you feel any better when you eat low-carb foods?
Experiment and you’ll discover what you need.
There’s one thing everyone has in common when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off for good.
Yep, having a weight loss mindset rules. Your mindset is sort of like the foundation of a house. No matter how good your building materials (or diet and exercise plans), a shaky foundation means a fragile house.
Remember the mindful eating study (#5)? The participants learned how to have a positive relationship with food, and lost more weight (even though everyone in the study followed the same diet and exercise program).
You see, your relationship with food and your body is just like any other relationship—you get the kind of results you expect and encourage.
People who stay in great shape identify with their fit, firm, and fantastic persona. Internally, a healthy person (even on an off day, or week) will know “I’m a healthy person” the same as she knows, “I’m a woman.”
Before you start working on the outside, notice what’s going on inside.
Think about some of the negative self-talk you hear in your head sometimes (we all have it). Would you ever talk to your best friend that way? Probably not, if you know anything about winning friends and influencing people. It’s much easier to help and encourage people when you’re positive and supportive, right?
Luckily, you can train your brain to change . . . just like your muscles. If you want to have the healthy self-image of anyone who’s ever graced the cover of Shape Magazine, you can.
Learn the secret to retraining your brain for long-lasting success and release any feelings of failure you might have experienced in the past.
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About The Author
NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.
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