20 Apr To Lose Weight – Stop Dieting!
I read an interesting essay in Aeon by Michael Graziano, a neuroscientist at Princeton University, who has a new take on hunger and weight loss. Graziano experimented on himself for about a year, eating the same thing every day to establish a baseline. He would change one thing and then measure the effects to establish a new baseline and track the effects on his ‘hunger mood’.
During his experiment, he learned that 3 bad habits consistently boosted his hunger: a high carb diet, a low fat diet and counting calories – not surprising to anyone following nutrition science. He also found that trying to eat less, would prompt him to eat more! He indicated “skip breakfast, cut calories at lunch, eat a small dinner, be constantly mindful of the calorie count, and you poke the hunger tiger.”
In the Mood
He also discusses another concept – his ‘hunger mood’! He confirms hunger is a psychological state – rather than a physiological one – and his ‘hunger mood’ had a huge impact on whether or not he felt hungry or satiated, even if his portion size and food intake was the same. He believes chronic diets are the most insidious problem with our ‘hunger mood’ and our failing willpower. He found when we try to eat less, we end up eating more. He believes “your weight is in large measure about your psychology. It’s about the hunger mood.” And, “the more you try to micromanage your automatic hunger control mechanism, the more you mess with its dynamics” – and ultimately don’t succeed.
To lose weight, he decided to work with his ‘hunger mood’ and talk to his unconscious hunger control mechanism and encourage it to eat less. He greatly reduced his carb intake, ate more fat and consumed whatever he wanted at each meal, within some general healthy parameters. He didn’t micromanage his hypothalamus by counting every calorie or tracking each food. Surprisingly, he started losing 2 pounds per week following these guidelines, and letting his brain self-regulate his weight.
How to succeed
My take on Michael’s experiment is:
- Don’t obsess with what you eat or what you’re not eating
- Don’t fall for the latest fad diets
- Don’t deprive yourself
- Eat fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats (e.g., avocados, olive oil, coconut oil)
- Reduce your high-carb intake
- Stop when you are 80% full
- Savor every bite and eat mindfully
As the experiment shows, when you eat real foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, seeds and nuts, that nourish your body, you will feel great, have more energy and lose weight.
If you are struggling with weight loss, check out this article on BodyNutrition where I am featured with 38 other experts in a panel where we weigh in on how to avoid gaining weight during the pandemic.
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