Wednesday, 3 June 2009

10 Things You Should Know...

No diet blog would be complete without a comment on the BBC programme "10 Things You Should Know About Losing Weight" which was aired on 27th May and is available on BBC iPlayer for just a few more hours now.

I watched it with a notebook and pen in my hand, and scribbled several pages of notes as I watched. I have made less notes at uni lectures! It was actually full of very interesting information, not all of it necessarily obvious even to the lifelong dieter that I am. For those who have watched, share your thoughts in comments! For those who have not, here's the 10 things, plus a few bits of further information, and maybe a comment or 2 from me!

1: Don't skip meals.

OK we all know we should at 3 meals a day because that's what we've always been told. But now we've been told exactly why skipping meals is so very counterproductive to healthy eating. Through brain scans, scientists have been able to show that there is increased brain activity when starved subjects are shown pictures of high calorie, high fat foods, verus low cal food. When the subject had eaten, there was no difference in brain activity. So in other words, when we starve ourselves, our brains compel us to seek high calorie food to make up for the lost meal. Sounds pretty obvious when you put it like that, but it's nice to be told that it isn't merely a matter of willpower!

I can eat regularly, it will take discipline, because currently I don't. But I can.

2: Use a smaller plate.

Again, we know this don't we? An experiment was shown where people were given either a large or "small" bucket of popcorn while watching a film, and instructed to eat their fill. Apparently the buckets were all large enough that everyone could eat as much as they wanted, and still leave some food. They found that those with the large bucket ate a lot more than those with the small bucket, possibly the size of the container leaving them unable to recognise their full signals? The conclusion was that by reducing plate size it is possible to cut calorie intake by up to 22% without even trying!

I have 3 different size dinner plate in my cupboard. From now on I will certainly choose the smallest even if only eating a salad.

3: Count calories.

Calories, points, yep that's fine. Common enough knowledge. It was interesting though to see all the different ways of consuming 300 cals - a large bowl of fresh fruit salad (a popular choice of mine!) or a small pork pie, a chicken dinner or a smoothie - those healthy treats (every Friday after school, delicious!) certainly do add up!

4: Don't blame your metabolism

OK I'm sure many of us must, at some time or other, have tried to blame slow metabolism for our inability to shed pounds. So what the programme makers did was send a lovely volunteer, actress Debbie Chazen, a lady who eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise but is still overweight, for a metabolism test. And the result was normal which must have been a bit of a blow really! She then had to keep a video diary, plus a written food diary (written at the time of eating the food!) and in addition she was given a special water to drink that would enable scientists to analyse her urine and calculate her calorie intake and output.

Now personally I'm just not sure about the special water! But the result of the test claimed that Debbie was under reporting her food intake by 43%, even when writing her food diary at the time of eating. Isn't that a little bit astonishing? I mean, if I am keeping a food diary, and I have chicken, veg and rice for a meal, how am I going to miss 43% of the meal off the list? I know from doing an SAS log a while ago that I tend not to look at food values until I have already eaten them, but that's a whole different issue.

So if we believe in the magic water, then this lady with a healthy diet is actually overeating by around 1000 calories per day, and portion sizes are the main problem. I can't argue with portion sizes, and that leads back to points 2 and 3.

5: Protein staves off hunger pangs.

Now this one is interesting! Eating 10% more protein at each meal floods our brains with a hormone called PYY and causes the brain to think we are full. That's pretty useful information. If I choose a boiled egg for my breakfast, that means, allegedly, that I should feel fuller for longer than if I choose toast or more usually fruit and yoghurt. This is going to come back to discipline though, making the effort to have a little bit of protein with every meal - it's a small change but new habits do take a while to sink in.

Atkins fans must be delighted by this information now I think about it!

6: Soup keeps you fuller for longer.

Wow, this one really is quite surprising in my opinion. This theory was proven by giving the exact same meal to 2 groups of people. I think it was chicken, rice, veg and a glass of water. Group 1 ate the meal and drank the water. Group 2 had the water mixed with the food and liquidised it into a soup before eating. Then they had scans done of their full bellies, and the soup group had full stomachs for longer than the solids group. We are told that this is because when the glass of water is drunk seperately, it briefly inflates the stomach but then leaves quickly, leaving the much smaller volume of solid food left to digest. But when the liquid is mixed with the food and consumed as soup, it isn't able to pass through the stomach as quickly, leaving you fuller for longer. Result! I love soup, I have a blender, happy days!

7: The wider the choice, the more you eat.

Apparently we are absolutely hardwired to eat more when there is greater choice. The prrof presented to us was in the form of 2 bowls of sweets. 1 multicoloured, the other all one colour. They were left on a table with a hidden camera in a public place. The multicoloured sweets were rapidly eaten, while the single colour sweets were largely ignored. Hmmm. Again, not sure about this - the evidence is a bit flimsy there really. Multicoloured sweets look more appetising, in the same way that a multicoloured salad looks much nicer than a plate of beige food. I'm not convinced restricting choice has any connection to that. But I agree with them that at a buffet table there is a tendency to overeat because there is so much choice. Hmmm. What do you think?

8: Low fat dairy helps you excrete more fat.

Wow, low fat dairy works like Xenical! Apparently the calcium binds fat molecules in the small intestine and transports them undigested from your body - brilliant!

Well that's me in trouble then because I consume very little dairy. I hate milk, I don't even use milk in hot drinks. I take my coffee black. I do love cheese, but cheese is a real danger food for me so I don't buy it. No point buying it if I'm going to end up eating my own body weight in the stuff - I doubt it's *that* magical! I eat yoghurt, but not loads. And especially not now on WW because there's no particular incentive to do so. I ate more on SW because, as any SW member can tell you, Muller Lights are free food!

So give me your top dairy consuming tips, pretty please!

9: Exercise goes on burning fat even while you sleep.

Here's some heartening news. For hours and hours and hours after you step off the treadmill, your metabolism remains higher, and the fat keeps on burning. But we already knew exercise is good for us in so many ways. It is nice to know it just keeps on giving though hey!

10: Keep moving and lose weight!

Yep, and writing a blog isn't using that much energy, so I'm off to walk my dogs!


Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What a FANTASTIC post - I watched the programme whilst on my computer and tired so wasn't 100% focussed. I'm going to stick a link to this on my blog as my WW leader missed it and was interested in hearing about the prog!!

on the calcium front I have 2.5 points of porridge for breakfast each morning, add a yoghurt at lunchtime and that's my calcium for the day - not much I know, but better than nothing. WW yogs are 0.5 or 1 point, Shape yogs are 1 point and the low fat activia yogs are 1 point - there's some selection there for a relatively low value.


Anonymous said...

hi! clicked through to you from Bryher's blog - regarding the dairy - have you thought of making or eating rice pudding as a way of getting your dairy?


Wendy said...

Bryher thanks for the link, and the compliment :) I will get a nice choice of yoghurts in when I go shopping later, they are a nice easy snack so there's no excuse not to really! And porridge for breakfast is good, with a boiled egg chaser of course, got to get the protein in ;)

Anon - rice pudding just makes me shudder a little bit, but cheers for the suggestion! Stay a while and have a poke around the rest of my blog :)

Digz said...

Thanks for detailing the programme, it sounds really interesting, I cant get iplayer over here.

Lucy said...

I saw this programme too! I thought the most interesting bit was the part where the lady was underestimating how much she'd eaten, even when she was writing it down as soon as she'd finished.

Loth said...

The people I work with were all talking about this programme and I was kicking myself for missing it. Don't feel so bad now! The soup thing and the dairy thing are real eye openers!

Lakeland Jo said...

once I had the protein tip sussed out my life got a lot easier. I find it works every time

Anonymous said...

My fav calcium is a low fat natural yog with an options mint or belgium choc stirred in. Leaves you feeling very full and if you make up in a nice glass and chill seems like a posh pud.

Wendy said...

Mmmmmmmm - sounds divine!

Anonymous said...

I take a calcium supplement daily as I don't eat a lot of dairy either. I did read somewhere that it helps fat metabolism, especially dangerous abdominal fat.

jh said...

These tips are wonderful--informative and useful and are so much about common sense. Thank you for including them here. I always learn something great by coming to your blog!

Boda Weight Loss Blog

Harvey said...

Hi Wendy,

Several of the points mentioned in the BBC program are partly incorrect and misleading.

Most people unless they have a thyroid problem don;t have a slow metabolism that is true.
It is in fact that they are simply very effective at storing their calories as fat rather than burning fat.
That is the reason the woman keeping the food diary appeared to be under-reporting on calories. I hear doctors telling people all the time that it is just about eating less.
The fact is if you are a fat storer then a calory in is not equal to a calory out.
The great news is that it is realitively easy to get back to being a fat burner rather than a fat storer but not if you adhere to all the usual dieting advice.
The other thing is that some types of exercise keeps burning fat for hours afterwards but not walking or jogging on a treadmill or cycling on the exercycle! Our bodies metabolism settles right back down to couch potato in under an hour. You'll have only burnt the amount of calories stated on the machine (usually about half a mars bar :-))
There is too much misinformation out there. Very frustrating as it keeps people trapped in overweight bodies when there is no need.
Cheers for your blog. Much admiration for your perseverence!