You know why diets don't usually work? It's because as soon as you decrease the calories, two things happen. One, you feel hungry. And two, your metabolism and energy levels go down. But what if there was a simple way to go on a diet and prevent both of these things from happening? That would be good! You wouldn't feel hungry and your metabolism would stay the same. According to a study released last April, this is possible.
Researchers enrolled 12 men and 12 women for the study. They were between the ages of 23-31 years old. All of them were slightly overweight. Before the study started and after each experiment, the researchers measured their resting metabolism, their fat metabolism, total energy expenditure, and something called diet-induced thermogenesis. So before I get to the results of this amazing study let me explain what all of this means.
Someone's resting metabolism refers to how many calories that person burns while he is resting. Resting means minimal exertion. Most people are like me in that they have relatively sedentary jobs. I just sit in my chair and listen, make phone calls, or write in charts. Every now and then, I'll get up to get something. But in general, my body is in what doctors call a "resting" state. And even for those with very physical jobs, when you add up their sleep time and their down time, they are in a resting state for the majority of their day. And that's why your resting metabolism is so important for weight management. Because most of the time you're resting. If you have a rapid resting metabolism, you will be burning a larger amount of calories than someone with a slow resting metabolism.
Fat metabolism is a different concept. It refers to how much fat you are burning when you are in your resting state. There are two ways to burn calories. One is by burning fat. The other is by burning carbohydrates. The preferable way is to burn fat, and that's what people with a healthy fat metabolism do. But many people have a depressed fat metabolism. And instead of burning fat they live off of carbohydrate. This leads to fatigue, weight gain, and a craving for carbohydrates. Obviously, it's good to have a healthy fat metabolism.
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Total energy expenditure (EE) refers to the amount of energy a person expends during a 24-hour period. If you are feeling energetic, you are going to have a higher EE than someone who doesn't feel that way. Higher EEs are better for weight management because the higher your EE is the more calories you are burning each day from activity.
Finally, there's something called diet-induced thermogenesis. Let me explain this concept with a simple example. In my clinic, I always measure the resting metabolism of my patients. When I do that, I have to make sure that the patient has not eaten. That's because eating increases the resting metabolism. Diet-induced thermogenesis is just a phrase that refers to the ability of eating to increase the resting metabolism. People who have a healthy diet-induced thermogenesis will increase their resting metabolism up to 75% after eating. People who have a poor diet-induced thermogenesis will increase their resting metabolism much less, maybe only 25% after eating. Obviously, it's good to have a healthy capacity for diet-induced thermogenesis.
So now you know more than most people do about the various factors that cause one person to be skinny no matter what, and another to be overweight no matter what. The skinny types have a higher EE, a higher resting metabolism, a higher fat metabolism, and a higher capacity for diet-induced thermogenesis. Now let's get back to the study.
Once the researchers obtained all these tests, they put the subjects on a diet that reduced their calories by 20%. They did this for 36 hours, and during the entire time they monitored EE, resting metabolism, fat metabolism, and diet-induced thermogenesis. What happened was predictable. Even after only 36 hours their EE had decreased, their resting metabolism had decreased, their fat metabolism had decreased, and their diet-induced thermogenesis had decreased. In addition, they were starting to lose lean body mass. All of these changes left them feeling hungry and less energetic. And then the study got really interesting.
They did the experiment again, only this time they adjusted the diet so that the protein intake was substantially higher. Just like with the first diet, the EE decreased, the resting metabolism decreased, and the diet-induced thermogenesis decreased. The high protein diet had no effect on these measurements. But it did do two very important things. First, it prevented the loss in lean body mass. And secondly, it prevented the decrease in fat metabolism that happened with the regular diet.
So if you've dieted, only to feel miserable, this study shows you what you need to do — eat more protein. It will help your body continue to burn fat, and you won't feel hungry. But that's not the end of what these researchers found. They also found that an herb can help supercharge your weight loss. On Monday, I'll tell you what this herb is and how easy it is to use it to lose weight and keep it off.
Yours for better health,