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Slimming Tips from the BBC 2011/01/14

Posted by Daddy Dave in Health, Musings, Reviews, Tips and Tricks.
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We were sent a link to the BBC iPlayer for “10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight”.  It purported to have the very latest scientific tips on losing weight.  It featured Dr Michael Mosely — the chap doing the brain programmes for the BBC.  He didn’t look fat, but scans showed that he was fat on the inside. That was surprising; we’d always assumed that only those who were fat on the outside got fat on the inside.

Frankly, we were surprised that there was a surprise — and also that there was another surprise in the programme.  Hey, TWO things were didn’t actually know beforehand — well done BBC!

It was a reasonable show, considering that it is prime time entertainment telly.  They trotted out various experts, did bizarre experiments on minor celebs, and laboured each point, but we expected that. There were old notions in there too, but hey — dominant ideology is called that for a reason!

They kicked off proving that you ought never to skip meals.  But we all know that by now, still, it’s nice to get some science on screen in support of it nevertheless.  If you are not hungry, you look at all types of food without much brain activity, whereas if you are hungry, then your brain gets excited by the most fattening types of foods — the high fat, high carbohydrate kind, and less activity takes place when you look at meat and veg.

This suggests to us that you (a) don’t have “fattening foods” around to tempt you / don’t shop when hungry etc., and (b) try to get full, and stay fuller for longer. They ought to have stressed these points.

The show later showed that soup keeps you fuller longer, but this doesn’t actually mean that soup is a “secret key” to losing weight; they took two meals and two glasses of water.  One meal and water was blended together to make a soup — and then tested.  This is not quite the same thing as restaurant or supermarket soup — they could have stressed that a LOT depends on what goes into the soup, not just that it is soup. Bottom line is…

Make your own soup.

However, they also gave the biggest tip — and this really is a “secret key” to losing weight — the scientific fact that protein activates PYY into the blood that staves off hunger pangs.

We had no idea that low fat dairy is slimming; the calcium bonds with fat to make a soapy substance that gets excreted instead of letting the fat get stored.  That was interesting because we consumed a LOT of zero-fat yogurt, quark cheese and skimmed milk on Dukan.

It was refreshing that they attacked the “fat excuses” — used by those people who insist that they have tried every slimming diet under the sun, that they exercise and eat healthily, and yet — somehow they remain fat “mysteriously” and it’s not their fault!  The BBC showed that you cannot blame your metabolism, and that even if we keep a food diary, we all massively underestimate the amount of food consumed.

We found it strange, therefore, that they also trotted out the old calorie counting concept!  Calorie controlled diets have NEVER worked — there is zero scientific evidence for them, and loads of evidence to the contrary.  Let’s face it, if you cannot manage to truthfully and honestly keep a food diary — whether written or videotaped, what chance will you have doing that and adding up the calorie content after weighing and measuring everything?

They added insult to injury by suggesting we use smaller plates!  There was another mind trick — the fact that we prefer variety and eat more if there is more choice — so even with a small plate, we eat more at a buffet than when given a portion.

This made it all a bit too complicated, we think.

Dukan allows you to eat big plates of unlimited amounts of high protein foods — that lets you go mad at buffets or American-style table serving situations (where bowls of food are put on the table for diners to help themselves).  There is no need for smaller plates, weighing and measuring. And that is  “a good thing” because it seems that people simply cannot do slimming diets of that kind properly.

Of course they have to mention exercise, even though exercise is more to do with fitness and well-being than slimming.  They showed that  if you do 90 minutes on a treadmill at a fair lick, you will lose a tiny amount of fat — just 19g. But then the body will keep on burning fat after the exercise — even overnight during sleep.  This is interesting, but not very useful!

First of all, the fat reduction was in the region of 45g after all that hard work and hours of sleeping.  Not great. But the main thing they didn’t mention was that you cannot eat after exercise or the deal’s off!  Most people ruin this afterburn effect by having food or a drink — or the next morning’s breakfast!

Another thing on this — if you have no fat in your system (say, due to a low fat slimming diet régime), and no carbs either, then your body is more likely to burn muscle tissue than fatty deposits.  Dukan recommends that you take on extra carbs right before you do strenuous exercise, and that makes more sense to use.

The show agreed with Dukan on the idea of simply increasing your daily levels of mild exercise — such as taking the stairs instead of an escalator or lift, walking more — getting off the bus earlier, and things like that.

In the end, this TV show did tell us some things we did not know before.  It supports Atkins’s and Dukan’s Régimes, but we reckon the program was aimed at people who want to remain trim — rather than very fat people.  A restricted menu, smaller plates, soup and calorie counting might actually be useful to such “normal” people — or to people who are fat on the inside.

For the obese, we would recommend the Dukan Diet. It is low fat, carb controlled, low salt and high protein — no measuring nor weighing, all about cooking and taste and eating healthily — vegetables and lean meat.

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