There are literally thousands of diets that focus on ways to lose weight. Subcuteous fat loss will give you a thinner appearance, but stop dieting and the weight often reappears, sometimes in greater amounts.
A team from Harvard recently published the results of a study over 120,000 men and women for 12 to 20 years to discover the major factors affecting weight in lifestyle and diet.
It is clear that there are more underlying factors that affect weight gain than simply diet and exercise but there do happen to be six top fattening foods, that if we limit in our diet we may see some protection to weight gain.
- Fattening foods
They discovered that the most fattening foods were potatoes in the diet, in all forms including potatoes used as an ingredient or a filler. They found that crisps (potato chips), french fries, chips or any potato based foods were responsible for more weight gain than any other food/beverage, including sweets, cakes and desserts and soft drinks. Over an period of 4 years, consumption of potato chips were responsible for 1.69lb.
Eat these foods regularly over an interval of 10 years and your body shape could be affected.
The top 5 most fattening foods were:
- Potato Chips
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
- Unprocessed Red Meats
- Processed Meats
- Slimming Foods
According to the study:
“Higher fibre content and slower digestion of these foods would augment satiety, and their increased consumption would also displace other, more highly processed foods in the diet, providing plausible biologic mechanisms whereby persons who eat more fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains would gain less weight over time”.
But it seems that the participants that were eating foods such as vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fruits and yoghurt had some protection against weight gain.
- Lifestyle behaviours
Regular exercise protected the participants against weight gain, but common factors of lifestyle such as smoking (including former smokers and new quitters), television viewing and drinking alcohol contributed to weight gain. Lack of and too much sleep* (<6 or 8 hours per night>) increased weight.
- Slow Process
Weight gain occurs gradually over a number of years, but small changes to your diet and lifestyle could potentially help to protect against weight gain. The lifestyle and dietary factors studied in the report did have small impacts on weight but this should not be taken lightly, as these factors can be accumulative.
“A habitual energy imbalance of about 50 to 100 kcal per day may be sufficient to cause the gradual weight gain seen in most persons. This means that unintended weight gain occurs easily but also that modest, sustained changes in lifestyle could mitigate or reverse such an energy imbalance.”
Reference: Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 23;364(25):2392-404.
It may only take a few small adjustments to your lifestyle and diet to improve the success of your weight loss regime. For example:
Slimming aids may include popular instant meal packs that are easy to use in the short term. Weight loss can be dramatic and fast, but in my experience I have not seen any long term results from drastic measures like these. One simple technique I use is to suggest whey protein concentrate shakes instead of these slimming packs. They can help to curb hunger and if taken after exercise, could have possible preventative factors to weight gain. I can report encouraging results in my clients wishing to slim down.
- Why The Amount Of Sleep You Get May Affect Your Weight
*Chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are affected by the lack of refreshing sleep, or sleep that is disturbed. In the January 2009 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that by curtailing sleep from 8.5 hours to 5.5 hours increased the urge for eleven healthy subjects to snack on high calorie and sugary carbohydrate based foods. This is said to be due to the alteration of the endocrine regulation of hunger and appetite.
The participants were studied under laboratory conditions for a short period of time and the thought is perhaps the prolonged exposure to appealing foods and “sleep loss changes in reward seeking and motivation” could be a factor.
According to the study, pronounced carbohydrate consumption and preference for sweets have already been reported in psychologically demanding circumstances.
The researchers conclude that:
“Additional studies will be needed to examine the effect of habitual sleep curtailment on human food intake and energy metabolism under free-living conditions.”
These findings reveal a link between sleep loss and weight gain on a relatively small number of participants. But with insomnia is on the rise, coinciding with increased instances of obesity, we could conclude that staying between 6 – 8 hours of sleep per night may assist with weight loss.