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If you’re trying to lose weight, how fast you eat could be as important as what you eat and when you eat your meals. Can eating slowly prove to be the “magic pill” for weight loss?
When it comes to satiety, a full stomach isn’t the only indicator. Scientists believe that for the brain to register satiety, it also must receive signals from certain hormones released by the gut.
One of these hormones is Leptin. Leptin, produced by fat cells, signals satiety based on the body’s energy stores. The more body fat you have, the more leptin is produced.
Another hormone affecting appetite is Cholecystokinin (CCK). These are released by the intestines during a meal. Researchers believe that leptin "amplifies" CCK signals to enhance the feeling of fullness. It is also believed that leptin interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine to produce a feeling of happiness or pleasure after eating.
Obese and overweight patients actually have excessive amounts of leptin. The problem is that, despite having extra amounts of leptin, obese people often experience a signaling problem in their brains that leads to leptin resistance. When the brain doesn’t receive leptin signals, it falsely thinks that the body is starving, leading to overeating.
Scientists believe that leptin resistance is a major contributing factor to obesity.
One study in Japan looked into the eating habits of 60,000 people with diabetes from 2008 to 2013. The researchers based their findings on health insurance data that included consultations, treatments, and lab tests. The participants were also interviewed about their lifestyle, eating, and sleeping habits.
When it comes to satiety, a full stomach isn’t the only indicator. Scientists believe that for the brain to register satiety, it also must receive signals from certain hormones released by the gut. It is believed that Leptin "amplifies" Cholecystokinin (CCK) signals to enhance the feeling of fullness and satiety after a meal. They theorize that eating too fast might not give these hormones enough time to work.
"Slow eating speed may be linked to weight loss" - BMJ Open, February 12, 2018
"Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster" - Harvard Health Publishing, October 19, 2010
"We Found Out If It Really Takes 20 Minutes To Feel Full" - Huffington Post, October 11, 2016
"Leptin and Leptin Resistance: Everything You Need to Know" - Healthline, December 4, 2018
According to one study reported by Healthline, only 20% of dieters are successful at maintaining weight loss for at least one year. For the remaining 80%, maintaining weight loss is a massive struggle.
There are many reasons why most dieters fail to maintain weight loss or give up. These are the most common reasons:
You restrict yourself – Diets based on calorie restriction only work for the short-term. You’ll lose weight fast but you’ll also plateau hard.
Several studies have shown that a restrictive diet program can lead to a slower metabolism and a decrease in the number of calories burned by 23%. Even worse, this lowered metabolism persists even after you stop your low-calorie diet. So not only will you regain much of the weight back but you’ll gain even more weight.
You can’t sustain your diet plan – Most diet plans rely on your willpower to stick to a calorie-controlled plan or a workout regimen. What happens then when your motivation wanes? You fall off the wagon and you give up.
Your approach to weight loss is all wrong – The right mindset can spell the difference between success and failure. Most dieters see weight loss as something they have to do until they reach their target weight. After that, they go back to old unhealthy habits. That shouldn’t be the case. Maintaining your weight loss should become a lifestyle and attitude change.
A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen involving more than 2,000 participants with pre-diabetes found that women’s bodies respond differently to a low-calorie diet than men’s. After 8 weeks on a low-calorie and high-protein diet, the women in the study lost less body fat compared to the men. Additionally, women experienced negative effects with their weight loss, including decreased levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), lean body mass, and bone-mineral density.
Another study highlighted the negative effects of low-calorie diets. A 2018 study found that patients on a low-calorie diet (600 – 800 calories per day) lost weight and improved their blood sugar and blood pressure, but surprisingly their heart fat levels rose by 44%. The researchers noted that this may be due to fat being released into the blood and taken up by the heart.
The key to long-term weight loss is incorporating lifelong lifestyle changes and commitment.
Here are ways to maintain weight loss:
Stay active – Physical activity and exercise are vital to maintaining weight loss. Studies have shown that even 30 minutes of physical activity per day can have significant benefits to your overall health. The January issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists these benefits:
Have a support system in place – You are more likely to stick to your weight loss plan if you have people cheering you on. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 55% of participants who maintained their weight used some type of program to achieve their weight loss.
Address any mental health issues – Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can lead to overeating. It’s important to address these in a healthy manner. Seek help from a psychiatrist or psychologist.
The key to long-term weight loss is incorporating lifelong lifestyle changes and commitment. Maintaining weight loss involves staying active, having a support system, managing stress, making sustainable changes to your eating habits, and addressing mental health issues.
"5 Ways Restricting Calories Can Be Harmful" - Healthline, January 30, 2017
"Long-term weight loss maintenance." - PubMed, July, 2005
"The 17 Best Ways to Maintain Weight Loss" - Healthline, January 16, 2017
"Low-calorie diets affect men's and women's bodies differently, study shows" - August 9, 2018
"How do crash diets affect your heart? Study investigates" - Medical News Today, February 2, 2018
"Moderate Exercise Yields Big Benefits" - Science Daily, January 4, 2008
"Maintaining Weight Loss" - Johns Hopkins
Hitting a plateau can be frustrating. No matter how hard you train or how diligently you track your macros and calories, you might find yourself not losing any weight. It's often a matter of mindset.
"Is Willpower a Limited Resource?" - American Psychological Association
"Why Depriving Yourself Is the Worst Thing You Can Do for Your Health" - Greatist