10 surprising conclusions from 10 articles, that will change the way you think about diet and motivation
1. You Can’t Willpower Your Way to Lasting Weight Loss
“The most recent, extreme, highly publicized case was that of the study done on contestants from the reality show The Biggest Loser, most of whom, six years after losing 100 to 200 pounds, had gained most of it back, and had significantly slowed metabolisms.
The study provided a dramatic example of how the body fights against weight loss. And sheer force of will is rarely sufficient to fight back.”
“One study that followed thousands of girls and boys for two years found that dieters were more likely to binge-eat. (Female frequent dieters were 12 times as likely to binge eat, male frequent dieters were 7 times as likely to do so.)
“That’s probably just a biological response to repeated starvation,” Aamodt said.
The brain control’s you.
“This is the brain’s reward system, which tends to find a cookie to be a better reward than a carrot stick, and the hypothalamus, which regulates what Aamodt calls the body’s “weight thermostat.” This thermostat prefers the body to be at a certain weight, called its “set point,” and if weight dips below or rises above, hunger and calorie expenditure are adjusted to try to bring it back. These systems are constantly active.
“Studies show that any task that you do that requires discipline and self-control makes it harder for you to resist urges later. The executive system doesn’t function as well when people are lonely, or stressed. “And guess what? It’s impaired when you’re hungry,” Aamodt said.
“The basic answer to why people have so much trouble with dieting is they’re trying to use a system that tires easily to fight against brain systems that are always working, never take a day off.”
Conclusion: you can’t win with biology. Imposing over restrictive limitations such as calories per meal, for example a diet of 100 kcal, it is clear that we shall achieve our aim quickly – if the aim is purely a quick loss of kilograms without thinking about the long-term consequences. Unfortunately in the long-term our biology wins. Our metabolism slows down and as a result, we are living examples of the yo-yo effect – and this is only a part of how our health suffers. With every thoughtless attempt to lose weight our organism puts up more resistance.
2. 7 Ways You Can Easily Increase Your Willpower
A habit once learnt – good or bad – remains with us to the end of our lives.
Self-proclaimed experts on changing habits say something else and persuade us that a change of habit is so simple, painless and pleasant, and most of all takes only a moment. After all, in these hectic times no one has any time for anything.
‘Five simple ways to turn bad habits into good ones’…
‘To make a new habit last and make it replace the one we want to change, it’s enough to repeat it twenty times’ etc.
And? Doesn’t work? That’s no surprise… It’s no so simple. Why is it so hard for us to at least eat healthy food?
A change of habit is a process and therefore above all, has to continue. Moreover, it requires from you – it really does –work, time and space. If you have a thousand things on your mind then you don’t have time to think about what your diet should be. You need to make room in your life for this change. Neither will you learn a new language talking about it – in real life, physically, you need time so as to learn something every day.
Learning on its own won’t give anything either, for if you don’t use it, then you’ll forget it.
It’s the same with new habits – if you do not continue to weaken old habits and strengthen new ones so that they become part of your routine. Then even the best of intentions when something stressfull happens in your life or when you’re very tired, will not help and you will go back to the old habit.
It so happens that we are also our own worst enemies
“Research shows that people who think they have the most willpower are actually the most likely to lose control when tempted. For example, smokers who are the most optimistic about their ability to resist temptation are the most likely to relapse four months later, and overoptimistic dieters are the least likely to lose weight.”
It’s worth helping ourselves to work on new habits
“Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.”
“We shouldn’t need to be told something so obvious, but cranky toddlers aren’t the only ones who resist much needed naps. Adults routinely shortchange themselves on sleep, and the result is less self-control.”
Psychology also tells us that if you don’t categorically forbid yourself something, but just say that you’ll do it later – most often later you’ll simply lose the desire. This is also the case with diets.
“…people who had told themselves “Not now, but later” were less troubled with visions of chocolate cake than the other two groups… Those in the postponement condition actually ate significantly less than those in the self-denial condition…”
No change will be a success if you don’t begin by accepting yourself already before introducing changes – this helps at times when you lack the strength to work on your changes.
“Study after study shows that self-criticism is consistently associated with less motivation and worse self-control. It is also one of the single biggest predictors of depression, which drains both “I will” power and “I want” power. In contrast, self-compassion— being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure— is associated with more motivation and better self-control.”
3. Resistance is born in your head
‘A meta-analysis of 18,941 individuals examined in the period 1960-2001 clearly confirmed that stress causes changes in the immunological system. Stress experienced occaisonally has a mobilising effect, stimulating metabolic resistance, which in turn increases the organism’s ability to resist. Chronic, long-term state of psychological tension, however, lowers the organism’s resistance. The research conducted over the years showed that stressful events can cause an exhaustion of the immunological system in various aspects: lowering the number of leukocytes both B and T, which lower the effectiveness of the work of NK (natural killers) that are responsible for lowering the number of immunoglobulins IgA.’
‘The research results demonstrated that individuals with a strong social support network and many social roles in which they had a voice, were healthier and their resistance system functioned more effectively than those examined without the support of close relations. People that were lonely and socially introverted had a lower resistance and lower level of antibodies thatn those who were active socially. It could be said that caring for close relations with your family and friends you can build a shield that protects you from stress.’
The research proves a simple correlation. To maintain our health we not only need the right diet, physical exercise, but also healthy relations with our environment and others.
4. Bottomless Bowls
Using self-refilling soup bowls, this study examined whether visual cues related to portion size can influence intake volume without altering either estimated intake or satiation.
These findings are consistent with the notion that the amount of food on a plate or bowl increases intake because it influences consumption norms and expectations and it lessens one’s reliance on self-monitoring. It seems that people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs. The importance of having salient, accurate visual cues can play an important role in the prevention of unintentional overeating.
“Those eating from the “bottomless” bowls consumed an unbelievable 73% more than those eating from the normal bowls! They also estimated that they consumed 140.5 calories fewer than they actually did. This is a huge underestimate compared to the estimate of the group with normal bowls, who believed they consumed only 32.3 calories fewer than they actually did. However, despite consuming significantly more soup and calories, the group with the bottomless bowls did not feel any more sated than the group with the normal bowls. In fact, afterward, many of the participants admitted that they usually eat until they reach the bottom of the bowl, and often clean their plate when eating at home. So, next time you sit down for a meal, keep in mind that relying on visual cues like an empty bowl might actually lead you to overeat!”
5. Sleep Deprivation Linked To Junk Food Cravings: the Endocannabinoid System May Activate Weight Gain
“When sleep deprived, participants reported increases in hunger and appetite, around the same time their 2-AG levels spiked, perhaps explained by the lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin. Not only that, but they were more likely to choose snacks with 50 percent more calories and twice the fat than the snacks well-rested participants chose.”
Sleep-deprived people had a harder time resisting “palatable snacks,” strengthening the idea that sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain.
“This study supports the novel insight that sleep restriction may not only lead to increased caloric intake due to changes in homeostatic regulation of energy balance, as has been shown by this group and others, but also by changes in…aspects of food consumption”.
Conclusion: sleep is one of the basic needs that a person needs to satisfy. It lies at the basis of Maslov’s pyramid together with other physiological needs. Not satisfying one of these is tied to a disturbance of the organism’s entire functioning. Not sleeping enough for a longer period brings a person’s organism to a dangerous state, disturbing the concentration of hormones responsible for hunger and repletion (ghrelin and leptin) and manifests itself in every other field of functioning in daily life. Therefore, sleep is necessary for an appropriate regeneration of the organism. Having slept sufficiently our mind can easily deal with the right choice of diet and other important matters.
6. Food Fears
“To overcome food ingredient fears, learn the science, history, and the process of how the ingredient is made, and you’ll be a smarter, savvier consumer. Researchers found that giving consumers more information about the ingredient such as its history can be effective in reducing ingredient fears. To arrive at this conclusion they asked participants to rate the healthfulness of Stevia, a natural sweetener. Half of the participants were given historical and contextual information to read about the product and the remaining participants were not given anything to read. Those who received information about an ingredient’s history rated the product as healthier than those who did not.”
This study investigated food fears that are ingredient-based, focusing on the case of high-fructose corn syrup. The results of a national phone survey of 1008 U.S. mothers offer five preliminary sets of observations: first, consumers with a fear of a specific ingredient – such as high-fructose corn syrup – may exaggerate and overweight exaggerate perceived risks. Second, such consumers may often receive more information from the Internet than from television. Third, they may be partly influenced by their reference group. Fourth, ingredients associated with less healthy foods mainly hurt evaluation of foods perceived as relatively healthy. Fifth, food fears may be offset when an ingredient’s history, background, and general usage are effectively communicated. These findings suggest new insights for understanding how public health, industry, and consumer groups can more effectively target and address ingredient fears.
Conclusion: An aware client is more open to new products because they know why something will be good or bad for their organism. Naturally, this does not mean that they will start a healthy diet straight away, but thanks to their knowledge they will begin to more eagerly and frequently introduce and work on healthy habits. Awareness increases our motivation to act.
7. Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook
“For the study, 379, participants were split into two groups: the experimental group was given an exaggerated cue, such as larger bowl, plate, or package, to consume food from. The control group was given normal sized bowls, packages, or plates.
The group given larger plates, bowls or packages consumed an average of 31% more food than those given normal sized plates, bowls and packages. 73% of the experimental group believed that they had not consumed more than they typically would. After the bias was revealed to the experimental group, 21% denied having eaten more, 75% attributed it to other reasons (such as hunger), and only 4% attributed it to exaggerated bowl, plate or package size.”
“These research findings demonstrate that we are aware of only a fraction of the food decisions we make and are either unaware of how our environment influences these decisions or we are unwilling to acknowledge itthis. Normal weight and obese participants made the most food decisions; those of normal weight were likely to have made more “no” related decisions than the obese participants. While the effect of certain environmental cues may cause overconsumption, there are other cues that could have the opposite effect and help us achieve or maintain a healthy weight.”
8. Why diets don’t actually work, according to a researcher who has studied them for decades
“The question that seems to hover over all this diet talk is whether any of the myriad weight loss schemes have worked. If one had, shouldn’t it have survived the test of time? And if we’ve gone this long without a diet that has been shown to work — according to science, not simply the sellers of the fad — will one ever emerge that actually does?
The short answer is no, according to Traci Mann, who teaches psychology at the University of Minnesota and has been studying eating habits, self-control and dieting for more than 20 years.”
“Dieting is actually a lot like starving, physically. It’s living like you’re starving. A lot of people do it, but what they’re actually doing is living as if they’re starving. They’re putting their body into that exact same state that it would be in if they were literally starving to death.”
“The first is neurological. When you are dieting, you actually become more likely to notice food. Basically your brain becomes overly responsive to food, and especially to tasty looking food. But you don’t just notice it — it actually begins to look more appetizing and tempting. It has increased reward value. So the thing you’re trying to resist becomes harder to resist. So already, if you think about it, it’s not fair.
Then there are hormonal changes, and it’s the same kind of thing. As you lose body fat, the amount of different hormones in your body changes. And the hormones that help you feel full, or the level of those rather, decreases. The hormones that make you feel hungry, meanwhile, increases. So you become more likely to feel hungry, and less likely to feel full given the same amount of food. Again, completely unfair.
And the third biological change, which I think people do sort of know about, is that there are metabolic changes. Your metabolism slows down. Your body uses calories in the most efficient way possible. Which sounds like a good thing, and would be good thing if you’re starving to death. But it isn’t a good thing if you’re trying to lose weight, because when your body finds a way to run itself on fewer calories there tends to be more leftover, and those get stored as fat, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen.”
In a word, restrictive dieting brings more harm than good for your organism. Naturally, maintaining your body mass within the recommended limits is a prophilactic against the development of many diet-based diseases. It should be remembered, however, that 95% of people on such diets – ie. 1000 kcal – stop doing so and return to their previous eating habits. That is why aims only focused on ‘kilograms’ instead of bringing a permanent change in diet are doomed to failure.
9. Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies
Research conducted over the years has proven that by all means, there is nothing better than physical activity to optimise your health, but it is not the case that it helps you effectively to lose weight.
“What we know:
Despite the prevailing advice, exercise is pretty unhelpful for weight loss. While 100 percent of the energy we gain comes from food, we can only burn about 10 to 30 percent of it with physical activity each day.”
“What it means for you:
Don’t expect to be able to lose a lot of weight by ramping up physical activity alone. While exercise is hugely important for overall health, how much and what you eat has a much bigger impact on your waistline”.
There is proof that confirms that people simply slow down for the remainder of the day after training, using less energy for daily activities, apart from the gym. Some decide on a total minimum and in fact go to bed for the rest of the day or are so tired after training that instead of taking the stairs, they choose the lift.
These changes are known as compensatory behaviour. These are not entirely conscious changes in life, ones that have the task of balancing the energy used during training.
It would appear that after a certain amount of training, the organism stops burning calories in the same way and the energy spent in the end achieves a plateau.
At present the proof is clear already: physical activity is perfect for maintaining health, but it is though, not as important for weight loss. Do no expect therefore spectacular effects from weight loss by ramping up training only.
10. We shouldn’t trust health studies that let people report what they ate.
“Most of us eat mindlessly, without noticing quite how much we’re ingesting. Estimating calories is a skill that comes naturally to few; ditto, estimating portion sizes. We’re so bad at these things, in fact, that the FDA proposed changing the food stats on calorie labels to more accurately reflect what Americans actually eat. It’s because we’re so bad at noticing how much we eat that people trying to lose weight always hear that they should keep a food diary. It’s only after being forced to write everything down that we are shocked into knowing what we put in our mouths. And even those diaries aren’t, strictly speaking, accurate.”
The food diary is one of the methods of assessing a patient’s nutritional condition, used by the majority of dietitions. When the patient begins to record exactly what they eat and drink and above all, in what quantity, this enables an obese or overweight person first and foremost to realise how much they in fact consume and in what situation. A diary such as this also helps a dietition to begin a process of changing habits. Thanks to this, the specialist can see that the patient snacks in the evening when watching television and can therefore begin work on changing this habit etc.
“The results of my study came out recently in the Lancet, years after my last measurement. Since this study didn’t focus primarily on what people ate, thankfully my indiscretions didn’t really affect the results the way they would have for a food-based study. People who were assigned to use the social media tools had lost more weight after six months. But at the end of the two years, nobody’s weight was significantly different from the numbers at the beginning. One possible explanation is that nobody wanted to use the social media tools after a while, a finding that is consistent with high rates of abandonment for wearable trackers.”
Putting this application to one side and not using it is natural. People need continuous help and support for strengtheneing their motivation in creating new eating habits and at the same time, weakening old ones. Mobile applications despite the fact that they are at the tip of our fingers do not in fact do the work for us when it somes to changing our habits. They can only help.