SANE Science

Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

SANE Peanut Butter Pie. Go Ahead. Eat Dessert First.

Many members of SANE Community have shared all sorts of delicious ways to enjoy plain Greek yogurt. One way that I recently discovered involves using plain Greek yogurt to make what tastes like the filling of a peanut butter pie. The neat thing is that while this mixture can be put into a SANE pie crust, if you enjoy it right out of the bowl, it’s 44% protein, 42% healthy fats, and 14% carbohydrate. To put that in perspective, eggs are 29% protein, tofu is 37% protein, and salmon is 48% protein. That peanut butter pie sounds more like a SANE meal than a dessert.

Of course it’s not going to be as good as actual peanut butter pie filling, but getting as close as this gets while staying SANE makes me happy 🙂

Topping

  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt + non-caloric sweetener of your choice
Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

Filling

  • 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup + a tablespoon of natural peanut butter
  • What would be equivalent to approximately 2 tablespoons of sugar worth of the non-caloric sweetener of your choice (start with less and add more according to your desired level of sweetness)
  • 3 scoops vanilla whey protein isolate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Crust

  • Grain-Free Honey Graham Cracker Pie Crust I recommend leaving out the honey

Enjoy!

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Science Sound Bite: NYTimes’ “Fat Trap,” Tara Parker-Pope, and Unclogging Sinks

 

Update: Let’s repurpose this post to speak to Tara Parker-Pope’s recent NYTimes post “The Fat Trap” regarding the futility of traditional fat loss methods.

Parker-Pope is exactly right that studies show eating less of the typical diet and doing more of traditional exercise does not work for the vast majority of people. However, that does not mean we need to be “trapped” by body fat. Myriad studies show that by changing the quality of one’s diet and the quality of one’s exercise (vs. quantity of eating and exercise) long-term fat loss is not only possible, but practical.

Think about trying to burn body fat after years of the traditional American diet like trying to drain water from a clogged sink. Eating less of the same quality of food is like turning down the faucet. Doing more of the same quality of exercise is like scooping out the overflowing water with a teaspoon. Both are temporary ways to deal with the symptoms of the problem (too much water in, not enough water out). Neither does anything about the root cause (a clog blocking the sink’s natural ability to automatically balance “water in” with “water out”). That is why studies show eating less and exercising more failing long term 95% of the time.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

The problem is the clog. The solution is clearing the clog. And clearing the clog requires thinking in terms of food and exercise quality, not quantity.

Reducing the quantity of food which lead to the clog and increasing the quantity of exercise which ignores the clog doesn’t really help us. That simply reduces the symptoms associated with the underlying clog. We remove clogs–and “drain” body fat long term–by putting the right quality in, and keeping the wrong quality out.

It’s not about less in and more out. It’s about higher quality in and higher quality out.

The only “fat trap” is being unable or unwilling to escape quantity-based fat loss theories which have been proven wrong.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Why Do I Feel So “Blah” During Winter and What Can I Do About It?

 

by Catherine W. Britell, M.D.

The alarm clock rings.  It’s pitch black outside.  It’s so cold out there; so warm under the covers.  You roll over and hit the “snooze” button.  After the third “snooze” you reluctantly slip out of bed and into the shower,  get dressed, eat a quick breakfast and rush out the door for work, driving in the dark.   As midmorning rolls around, you can think of nothing but that gooey apple fritter you saw at the coffee stand in the lobby.  Noon brings a trip across the street for lunch.  Oooh…they have big soft hot pretzels and cream of tomato soup…you resist that, but decide on the whole grain grilled cheese sandwich.  So warm and soft and delicious.  By 2PM your eyes are droopy and you can barely concentrate on your work. A co-worker tells you he’s getting a Cinnamon Dolce Crème Frappuccino from downstairs and asks if you want one.  That sounds like the only way you’re going to get through this day.  Finally work is over, you drive home in the dark, and eschew your regular workout…you’re just too tired.   Your planned dinner of steamed veggies and that salmon fillet in the freezer doesn’t seem very appetizing, so you order in a pizza, watch a little TV, and turn in early.

If some or all of these things sound all too familiar to you, you’re not alone or abnormal.  You’re experiencing your body’s reaction to the winter, and specifically lack of light.  Over the millennia of human existence, these behaviors probably evolved as a mechanism for our bodies to conserve energy, increase fat and prevent wintertime starvation. (1)  As the days have less and less light, your brain makes less of an important neurotransmitter called serotonin.   Serotonin indirectly or directly controls most brain functions, including mood and sleep cycles.  Serotonin levels are highest in the brain when you are awake and active, and almost completely absent when you enter the deepest stage of sleep. During sleep, another neurotransmitter, called melatonin, rises sharply.  Melatonin is made in the pineal gland, and is regulated by serotonin. Light increases the production of serotonin,  while darkness increases the synthesis of melatonin. Thus, these two neurotransmitters maintain balance in the sleep cycle, determining how sleepy or how alert we feel.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

As the days get shorter and darker and serotonin levels fall, most people crave carbohydrate-rich foods.  Eating  sugary or starchy foods boosts serotonin in the following way.  First, the sugar or starch causes insulin to be secreted. The insulin, in turn, increases tryptophan in the brain.  This is a major building block for serotonin.   Unfortunately, the secretion of insulin drives down our blood sugar, making us even more hungry for sugary and starchy foods.  In addition, the increased insulin causes more of the food we eat to be turned into fat.  And the elevation in serotonin doesn’t last very long; so the cravings are almost constant.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition where the decrease in serotonin in response to low light is exaggerated.   For people who suffer from SAD, symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer.  The symptoms of SAD include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating

If these things are happening to you, it’s important to see your doctor and get some specific treatment recommendations.  Interestingly, people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder also have decreased leptin response, and therefore do not regulate their appetite normally in response to body fat.  (2)

But even without SAD, a tendency to gain weight when the weather turns cold and dark is a well-known phenomenon. (3)  In  winter, a person’s weight creeps up on average by about 0.5kg.  Also, in many individuals lipids in the blood change, with increasing triglycerides and LDL, and decreasing HDL. Hemoglobin A1c also increases.   (4,5)  And everything just seems to s-l-o-w   d–o–w–n.

So, how do you keep your body from succumbing to the “winter doldrums”?   Enter (TA-DAAA!)   SANEity!   (6)  SANE eating and smarter eccentric exercise is the very best way to keep your body in “summer mode”, stave off carbohydrate cravings, keep your energy level high, and keep your body burning fat and building muscle.  Here are some specific recommendations:

  • Eat  SANEly, with macronutrient balance of lean complete proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats.  This will maximize manufacture of serotonin from tryptophan, and keep the carbohydrate cravings at bay.  When you are full of lean protein and non-starchy vegetables, cravings go away.  And healthy fats feed your “neurotransmitter factory”.  Particularly, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help regulate the brain’s serotonin levels.
  • Light up your life!  Take advantage of the sun when it shines by going for a walk outside at midday if possible, and consider using full-spectrum work lights on cloudy days or when you can’t go out.
  • Don’t forget Vitamin D.  This is essential for healthy bones, but may also affect fat metabolism.  If you live where there is very limited sunshine and you can’t get outside, you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement in the winter.
  • Exercise!  Smarter eccentric exercise as described in your SANE Solution will markedly increase your fat-burning hormones and your feeling of general well-being. It’s  particularly important to keep up with your exercise program in the winter in order to continue burning fat, building muscle, and feeling good.
  • Be active; have fun.  Meditation and yoga, dancing, taking a walk, playing at a sport, listening to music, playing an instrument or singing in a choir can also increase serotonin levels. (7)

 

So, turn up the lights, turn on the music, eat SANEly, exercise ECCENTRICally, and create a little bit of SUMMER in your metabolism!


  1. Davis C, Levitan RD. Seasonality and seasonal affective disorder (SAD): an evolutionary viewpoint tied to energy conservation and reproductive cycles. J Affect Disord. 2005 Jul;87(1):3-10
  2. Cizza G, Romagni P, Lotsikas A, Lam G, Rosenthal NE, Chrousos GP.  Plasma leptin in men and women with seasonal affective disorder and in healthy matched controls. Horm Metab Res. 2005 Jan;37(1):45-8
  3. Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O’Neil PM, Sebring NG. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med. 2000 Mar 23;342(12):861-7
  4. Donahoo, William T, Dalan R. Jensen, Trudy Y. Shepard and Robert H. Eckel. Seasonal Variation in Lipoprotein Lipase and Plasma Lipids in Physically Active, Normal Weight Humans.  The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism September 1, 2000 vol. 85 no. 9 3065-3068
  5. Bardini G, Dicembrini I, Rotella CM, Giannini S. Lipids seasonal variability in type 2 diabetes. Metabolism. 2012 Dec;61(12):1674-7
  6. Bailor, Jonathan. The Smarter Science of Slim: What the Actual Experts Have Proven about Fat Loss. Aavia Publishing, 2012
  7. Young, Simon N.  How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 November; 32(6): 394–399.
Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Science Sound Bite: A Scientific Look at “Young, Obese and in Surgery” by Anemona Hartocollis

 

This post is a response to Young, Obese and in Surgery by Anemona Hartocollis of the NYTimes

In the majority of cases, trying to “cure” obesity with surgery to shrink the stomach is like trying to “cure” allergies with surgery to shrink the lungs.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

Why?

Researchers have proven that overeating isn’t the cause of obesity. Overeating is a symptom of a deeper hormonal issue, which is caused by low food and exercise quality. Obesity is no more of a quantity problem than allergies are. The cause is quality of what’s going into the body…not the quantity.

Regardless of the size of a person’s stomach, if it’s filled with low-quality food, that person’s health will suffer and their body fat percentage will rise in the long term.

We don’t solve problems by treating symptoms (overeating). We solve problems by fixing causes (repairing hormones). Fortunately, researchers have proven that we solve the hormonal problem causing obesity by eating more—but higher-quality food—and doing less—but higher-quality—exercise.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Eat Flaxseed Oil, Gain 100 Pounds?

Flaxseeds are one of the highest-quality and most SANE foods around. Their high fiber content makes them Satisfying…they fill us up quickly and keep us full for a long time. They’re completely unAgressive, and are therefore unlikely to be stored as body fat. They’re also Nutritious thanks to all the clog-clearing and fat-burning omega-3 fatty acids in them. Finally, their high fiber content makes them inEfficient…we burn a bunch of calories digesting them.

Milled flaxseeds are the best way to get flaxseed oil (thanks to all the fiber, lignans, and nutrients found in the seeds themselves), but for the point of this post let’s focus on flaxseed oil.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

Some people with very strong opinions about nutrition assume Calories In – Calories Out is all that matters because they assume all calories are the same and that calories are all that matter. Thousands of pages of academic research prove that opinion incorrect. Consider this flaxseed oil example.

Ask someone who has strong opinions in favor of eating less of our existing diet and doing more of traditional exercise if it is healthy to supplement your diet with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day. They will say yes.

Wait one week and ask them what they think causes us to gain body fat. They will say something like “An imbalance of Calories In – Calories Out…which is easily remedied if one exercises some discipline and eats less and spends more time on a treadmill.”

Wait one more week and ask them what they think about the 100 pounds of fat you’ll gain if you follow their advice about flaxseed oil for eight years. They will look stunned. They shouldn’t though. According to the traditional calorie quantity theory they have such strong opinions about, here’s what adding a tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day to your diet will cause: 119 calories in a tbsp. of flaxseed oil X 365 days per year X 8 years = 347,480 / 3,500 calories in a pound of fat = 99.28 lbs. of fat gained

That is how math works, but that’s not how biology works. We’ll step through myriad studies proving the difference between math and biology (and deal with the “Law of Thermodynamics” argument) in the coming weeks.

“The amount of misinformation about nutrition that is circulated widely, especially by those who profit from doing so, is overwhelming.” – researcher A.E. Harper, University of Wisconsin


[i] Harper AE. Dietary goals-a skeptical view. Am J Clin Nutr. 1978 Feb;31(2):310-21. Review. PubMed PMID: 341685.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Study Shows Obese Teens Eat **Fewer** Calories Than Peers

 

“Overweight children aged from 9 to 17 years eat fewer calories than kids of normal weight in the same age group, researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reported in the journal Pediatrics.”

In other news, rather than digging deeper and seeking out the hormonal issue that explains this elegantly, researchers search for way to cling to their preexisting manual calorie balancing hypothesis concluding: “One explanation for this would be that increased energy intake in early childhood is related to the onset of obesity, but other mechanisms, such as differences in energy expenditure, may contribute more to maintaining obese/overweight status through adolescence.”

D’oh!


The study – http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/09/04/peds.2012-0605.abstract

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

A Few BMJ Researchers Conclude: Eating More Protein Requires a Reduction in Vitamin, Mineral, and Fiber Intake. What?!

<Unedited Rant Warning :)> The BMJ recently gave science a bad name reporting online that avoiding an extremely high-carbohydrate diet increases heart disease risk. Thankfully, we’ll likely avoid another Ancel Keys-esque “get data from 22 countries and only report the 6 that support your preconceived notions” as other researchers are already publically pointing out the flagrant flaw in the BMJ researchers’ conclusions.

Quoting the BMJ researchers in regards to avoiding an extremely high-carb diet: “…implies low consumption of whole-grain foods, fruits, and starchy vegetables and consequently reduced intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A high protein diet may indicate higher intake of red and processed meat and thus higher intake of iron, cholesterol, and saturated fat.”

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

Can you see the massive flawed assumption there? Assumption: Increasing protein intake above the poultry (10%…pun intended 🙂 ) recommended by politicians means that *you have to* reduce your intake of fiber, vitamins, and mineral.

What?!

Couldn’t we *increase* our intake of non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits while eating a more natural and balanced diet? Of course. Go SANE. Eat so many non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, natural fats, and berries/citrus, that you are too full for hormonally-harmful and nutritionally-neutered starches and sweets.

This study should have concluded: Replacing SANE high-quality food with inSANE low-quality food increases disease risk. And of course that’s true. But I guess that’s not headline worthy enough.

Any diet that reduces the intake of fiber, vitamins, and mineral is inSANE and should be avoided. However, a diet with those characteristics is most often high in starches and sweets (aka higher low-quality carb) not high in protein.

The fact is that an absurd number of studies have shown that avoiding an imbalanced and unnatural extremely high-carb diet by eating more high-quality SANE proteins and fats improves health and body fat levels dramatically. One example is the Nurses’ Health Study, a longitudinal study of 82,802 women who have been followed since 1976. Hundreds of others are available in The Smarter Science of Slim. (more on fat here…more on protein coming in the next few months)

Bottom Line: There are high-quality SANE proteins, high-quality SANE carbs, and high-quality SANE fats, long-terms health and fitness is achieved by eating more high-quality food so that we’re too full for low-quality inSANE food. No sensationalized headlines need. No polarization needed. Just a bit of common sense backed by a massive meta-analysis.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Learned Helplessness in Overweight and Obesity and Cognitive Restructuring via “SANE Eating”

 

A guest post by Catherine W. Britell, M.D.

Every health condition has a number of components that work together in a complex way to determine the balance between wellness and sickness in each individual. They include:

Genes – These are the traits that we inherit from our parents, handed down over centuries and honed by evolution to help us survive.

Cellular Environment – The environment of our cells is a result of many things, including the foods we eat, the medications, pollutants and other substances that enter our bodies, the exercise we do, and the chemicals and hormones our body produces.

Knowledge – The information we have about how to remain safe and healthy is obviously vital to achieving and maintaining wellness.

Emotions – When we are sick, it has a negative emotional effect on us, and conversely, our emotions can powerfully affect our health and health behaviors.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

Social Milieu – Having adequate food, shelter and clothing, access to health care, social support and intimacy are all obvious and important determinants of wellness. And of course, when we are not healthy we become unable to provide for our basic needs, and also often become socially isolated and vocationally challenged.

Obesity is a condition where these multiple factors work particularly closely together. People who live with this condition are often painfully aware of each one of these factors as it relates to their overall well-being, and how they work together to diminish physical health, happiness, and social and vocational effectiveness. Almost everyone who is overweight or obese would very much like the situation to be otherwise. And most have spent many years, much energy and often many dollars on the quest for a “normal” healthy body.

Almost everyone who is overweight or obese would very much like the situation to be otherwise. And most have spent many years, much energy and often many dollars on the quest for a “normal” healthy body.

 

Obesity in Childhood

For many, this quest starts in childhood, when siblings or playmates or classmates often tease, bully, or just exclude the obese child (1,2). The child may be admonished by loving parents or a caring doctor to “cut down on the sweets and run around more”. From that point on, there are no more candy bars or after-school trips with friends to the A&W or the Dairy Queen. So, they go home alone and read a book.  And at home, a “healthy” breakfast starts with a big glass of orange juice, followed by a bowl of Cheerios or granola and a banana and a lot of skim milk, while Mom lovingly packs a peanut butter sandwich on soft white bread and a big sweet apple for a healthy lunch. But no cookies like the other kids!  And despite eating less than his/her thin friends (3) the child becomes more overweight, participates less in sports and games because of inability to keep up with peers, and perhaps becomes more socially withdrawn, hating being “different”, doing what s/he is told, but seeing the condition simply worsen.

A “healthy” breakfast starts with a big glass of orange juice, followed by a bowl of Cheerios or granola and a banana and a lot of skim milk, while Mom lovingly packs a peanut butter sandwich on soft white bread and a big sweet apple for a healthy lunch. But no cookies like the other kids!

 

Obesity in Adolescence

Then comes puberty, where overweight children become overweight teens, or because of hormonal changes obesity first rears its ugly head. The emotional and social toll escalates many fold. Teens react to being overweight or obese in different ways. A few develop clinical eating disorders (4). Many become afraid to eat sweet or fatty foods, and fill up instead on low-fat starch, which quickly accelerates obesity.  Many experience chronic low-level depression (5,) finding that a sweet soda or bag of chips or a candy bar will make them feel a bit better for a short time. Social isolation becomes the norm, with inability to take part in sports, recreational exercise, or other rewarding activities. Well-meaning parents and physicians offer advice that the teen has heard and often followed before to no avail, adding to feelings of inadequacy and failure. A few compensate with high academic achievement, while many others spiral into low self-esteem, and begin failing in school (6). Those who do well and apply to college may be passed over in favor of their normal weight poorer-achieving classmates (7).

Social isolation becomes the norm, with inability to take part in sports, recreational exercise, or other rewarding activities.

Obesity in Adulthood

Fast-forward to adulthood, where the individual is likely a veteran of many a weight-loss program. The results always look promising at first; but after a few months, the weight creeps back up, despite compulsive adherence to whatever program s/he is doing at the time (8). As blood lipids and glucose and blood pressure gradually become more elevated, most follow their doctors’ advice to “eat less and exercise more”; while a few just give up. Many will make dieting a way of life, often reinforced by hunger, thinking that they are being “good” when they feel hungry. Many will end up and also spending many hours per week on cardio activities trying to burn off what few calories they take in. They may lose a few pounds temporarily, but as time goes on find themselves not only still overweight, but hypertensive, perhaps pre-diabetic, and dysphoric.

They may lose a few pounds temporarily, but as time goes on find themselves not only still overweight, but hypertensive, perhaps pre-diabetic, and dysphoric.

Many keep at the diet and exercise programs even though they don’t seem to work, because there doesn’t seem to be an alternative. Some fear that if they stop dieting they will balloon up to fatal, morbid obesity. Oftentimes, people who are chronically obese try adapt to their obesity, accept themselves as they are (9), and find attractive “plus-size” clothing.  They push themselves to over-achieve and compensate for the social and job discrimination they may likely experience (10,11). They may develop other stress-related conditions as a result. They hunker down and power through, taking their antihypertensive and lipid-lowering and anti-diabetic medications as prescribed, trying to make the best of a difficult situation.

 

The Counterproductive Psychology of Starvation Dieting

There is a constellation of psychological, behavioral and biochemical changes that result from trying with all one’s might to change one’s condition for the better, but in the end, not being to exert any effective control over the situation. It is often termed “learned helplessness”.  This term was coined by psychologist Martin Seligman. In 1967, he performed a number of experiments with dogs (12). In Part 1 of the experiment, three groups of dogs were immobilized in harnesses. The first group (the “control group) were simply put in the harnesses for a specific time and then released. Groups 2 and 3 were the “study groups” and were in “yoked pairs.” If the dog was in Group 2 he would be given electric shocks that he could end by pressing a lever. Each Group 3 dog was wired in series with a Group 2 dog, and his lever had no effect, so he would receive shocks of identical intensity and duration as the group 2 dogs; but he could not control them. To a dog in Group 3, it seemed that the shocks were random and inescapable. Group 1 and Group 2 dogs quickly recovered from the experience, but Group 3 dogs learned that they were helpless, and exhibited symptoms similar to chronic clinical depression.

There is a constellation of psychological, behavioral and biochemical changes that result from trying with all one’s might to change one’s condition for the better, but in the end, not being to exert any effective control over the situation.

In Part 2 of the experiment, these three groups of dogs were put into a box where the dogs could escape electric shocks by jumping over a low partition. The dogs in the first two groups quickly learned to jump away from the shocks. The dogs in Group 3, who had previously learned that nothing they did had any effect on the shocks, would lie down passively and whine. Even though they could have easily jumped into the other half of the box to escape shocks, they didn’t even try.  It is interesting to note that animals subjected to conditions that produce learned helplessness show marked differences in various pain and mood-mediating neurochemicals in their brain (13,14).

Now, being very interested not only in characterizing psychopathology but finding ways to cure it, Seligman did another experiment (15). He took the dogs in Group 3, who had learned helplessness, and put them back into the divided box, where they would get shocks in one-half of the box, but could escape by jumping over into the other half. At first, the dogs just stayed where they were, whined, shook, hunkered down, and endured the shocks as with the previous experiment. Then the experimenters tried calling the dogs to come to the “safe” shock-free side of the box. Still, they wouldn’t move. Finally, they put leashes on them and physically dragged the dogs to the shock-free side. After forcing the dogs to “escape” on the average of 25 times, the dogs finally became able to decide on their own to take control, jump over and escape the shocks. So, the only way to “cure” the learned helpless in the dogs was to force them to do an activity to avoid the shocks, again and again, until they finally learned that they were able to take control of the situation.

In humans, learned helplessness has been implicated in dietary behaviors; (16) and as a causative factor in the persistence of obesity in both adolescents and adults (16).

In humans, learned helplessness has been implicated in dietary behaviors; (16) and as a causative factor in the persistence of obesity in both adolescents and adults (16).  This condition extends to health care providers as well.  In one study of primary physicians, a majority believed that dealing with obesity and weight loss is frustrating, treatment for obesity is ineffective, and they felt that patients are not motivated to lose weight (17).

SANE Science of Undoing Learned Helplessness

SANE offers a new level of control to a group of people, who, as described above, have likely developed a form of “learned helplessness” around their health, well-being and body composition. More than just a diet book, it is a program of “eating more and exercising less” in a particular way that has proven to be uniquely effective in turning around the metabolic conditions that conspire to maintain overweight and obesity. In many ways it is counter-intuitive and in many more ways counter to what physicians and their patients have been and are still being taught about the “calories in/calories out” theory of weight management. It promotes a significant behavior/lifestyle change that is simple, yet often challenging for many overweight individuals to make.

Importantly, it is not a “diet”; but rather a way of thinking about nutrition and exercise that results in lifetime behaviors that bring about dramatic changes in metabolism and body composition.

Importantly, it is not a “diet”; but rather a way of thinking about nutrition and exercise that results in lifetime behaviors that bring about dramatic changes in metabolism and body composition. At issue significantly is cognitive restructuring, so that the individual can move beyond old habits and wisely use the simple tools of basic, nutritious food and accessible exercise to achieve and maintain healthy functional goals.

 

In many ways, the SSoS program persistently and powerfully drags its participants toward appropriate lifestyle decisions, somewhat like Seligman’s dogs who learned that they could take control only after being dragged over and over again to safety. The book lays out the information in a straightforward way, then re-iterates it from a different angle, and repeats it in graphs and charts and diagrams, and then again in examples. Then the reader is brought to a rich website, with inspirational trailers, reader resources, book summaries, more charts and graphs, exercise videos, an overview, a 7-day diet plan, recipes, and a blog. There is a weekly webcast that re-iterates and expands the principles of the program in a conversational way, and a forum, where people have a chance to ask questions and share success stores. They are drawn in not only as consumers, but as valued members of a mutually supportive information-sharing team.

What is unique about this program is that it does not tell the individual what to do. Rather, it lays out information that allows people to make informed lifestyle decisions and empowers them to move forward and reap the multiple benefits of that change.

What is unique about this program is that it does not tell the individual what to do. Rather, it lays out information that allows people to make informed lifestyle decisions and empowers them to move forward and reap the multiple benefits of that change. And because the program works, the participant gains steady strong reinforcement for sticking with it.  The thing that initially attracted me to this program both as a physician and as a participant, and keeps me involved and recommending it to others, is that aspect of empowerment and control backed up by an impressive body of knowledge. This, I think is potentially the very best antidote to the “learned helplessness” of chronic overweight and obesity.

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About the author: Dr. Britell is a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who works as a health consultant and teacher. She is Associate Clinical Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington.


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  18. Bailor, Jonathan. The Smarter Science of Slim: What the Actual Experts Have Proven about Fat Loss. Aavia Publishing, 2012
Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

even bureaucrats recommend a natural balanced diet

 

In SANE we’ll chat about the natural balanced way we ate for 99.8% of our evolutionary history. Natural because it’s all about eating foods found directly in nature. Balanced because eating foods found directly in nature enable us to automatically get about a third of calories from carbs, a third from fat, and a third from protein—aka balance vs. The Food Guide Pyramid’s horribly imbalanced 65% carbs, 20% fat, and 15% protein diet.

But let’s say the bureaucrats’ brainwashing really hit us hard, we’re still on the fence about eating a mathematically balanced diet (33:33:33) instead of a mythically balanced diet (65:20:15), and we feel obligated to follow bureaucrats’ nutrition guidelines. Well, the USDA isn’t the only bureaucratic organization making dietary recommendations.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

For example, the Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intake published Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids in 2005. These guidelines recommend we get up to 35% of our calories from protein and up to 35% of our calories from fat. That leaves 30% of our calories coming from carbs. Ta da even bureaucratic organizations think a natural balanced diet is good for us.

More goodness. The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine recommends adults get 20–35% of their calories from fat and 10–35% from protein. If we go to the high end of each of those, we end up with a 35% fat, 35% protein, and 30% carb diet. Or most simply, consider the following from the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids from the National Academies:

“The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrate is set at 130 g/d for adults and children based on the average minimum amount of glucose utilized by the brain.”

130 grams of carbs a day is 520 calories worth of carbs…aka less than 25% of calories in the average 2,200 calorie diet.

Point being, bureaucrats playing biologist = bad. But if we feel obligated to listen to bureaucrats, there’s plenty of them recommending a mathematically balanced diet (33:33:33) instead of a mythically balanced diet (65:20:15).

PS Remember, it’s not about low-carb. How’s getting a third of our calories from carbs “low” carb? By that logic, a 33% carb, 33% protein, and 34% fat diet is a low-carb-low-protein-low-fat diet. That’s nonsense. So is calling a natural balanced diet a low-carb diet.

Sampling of sources

  1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=769
  2. http://www.iom.edu/
  3. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies, 2005. Print.
Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES