Eight days of functional exercise quiets the hunger hormone response and makes dieting easy.

Harvard researchers gave obese people chocolate cake for breakfast then tracked their hunger hormone levels and weight loss. They showed that those who ate lost more weight and had lower hunger hormone levels in the long run vs. a group that was fed a low carbohydrate breakfast. [1] Finland researchers showed that in genetically identical twins if one twin repeatedly tried fad diets, and one did not – the dieter gained more weight in the long run. [2]

Starting on the left, the figure depicts how traditional diet changes and calorie cuts send an alarming message to the brain: we’re starving! The brain then, following thousands of years of evolutionary learning, rains hell down on you until you stop it (this is the source of the feelings you have on day 3 or 4, traditionally). The catching point program aims to create happy links between the brain and clean eating by harnessing and facilitating the positive changes that occur in between workouts. New links mean new feelings and fewer struggles with diet and exercise, like Sally Yogapants on the right.

What is the point of these studies? Mind-body links will not allow you to starve. [3, 4] The hunger hormone response to calorie restriction diets is intense, and real – and strong enough to cause you to overeat in the name of survival. [1, 5, 6] It is not reasonable to try and “white knuckle” through calorie restriction and beat this response. You will end up gaining more weight in the long run. Hence, so many people repeatedly fail these diets and become convinced that they cannot lose weight.

The solution to this epidemic is well known to the obesity medicine community. Pioneer of obesity medicine and Yale Professor Lee Kaplan, MD, PhD, said, “Exercise alters food preferences toward healthy foods . . . and healthy muscle trains the fat to burn more calories.” Most people don’t get to that point though, because they quit the diet once they feel the hunger hormone response.

What does it take to get to that point? To reach that position where clean eating is easy and fun? Eight days of functional exercise. Eight intentional workouts spread out over as many days as necessary, while staying full and supplementing recovery. At that point, the body’s response to fitness is positive, kinetic – and you are on your way. So stay full, supplement wisely, and exercise deliberately for as long as it takes to get in those eight workouts. Then you can abandon the struggle.
1. Dieting? Have some cake. Could your favorite treat help you lose weight? Harv Health Lett, 2012. 37(8): p. 4.
2. Pietilainen, K.H., et al., Does dieting make you fat? A twin study. Int J Obes (Lond), 2012. 36(3): p. 456-64.
3. Schubert, M.M., et al., Acute exercise and hormones related appetite regulation: comparison of meta-analytical methods. Sports Med, 2014. 44(8): p. 1167-8.
4. Disse, E., et al., Systemic ghrelin and reward: effect of cholinergic blockade. Physiol Behav, 2011. 102(5): p. 481-4.
5. Sainz, N., et al., Leptin resistance and diet-induced obesity: central and peripheral actions of leptin. Metabolism, 2015. 64(1): p. 35-46.
6. Weiss, C.R., et al., Bariatric Embolization of the Gastric Arteries for the Treatment of Obesity. J Vasc Interv Radiol, 2015. 26(5): p. 613-624.

 

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