How To Lose Weight Well
On Tuesday night Channel four broadcast the first in a new series of How to lose weight Well, you can catch it on 4OD if you missed it. It seems to have caused a bit of a stir within the fitness industry and here’s our thoughts on it.
In this episode they took 3 pairs of friends and placed each one on a different diet. Two girls who wanted to drop a dress size for a photoshoot but had only a fortnight to do it (poor planning). Two brothers who wanted to lose weight before a darts tournament (whatever motivates you) and bride to be and her best friend, who obviously wanted to lose weight for the wedding.
The first pair were given crash diets plans based on two popular plans. One was the green smoothie diet, where she had to replace two of her three meals a day with a smoothie made almost entirely from green vegetables. The other lady was given a bone broth diet (I think we call it gravy in the UK?) where she had to have two days of drinking nothing but broth made from animal bones and the other days needed to be low carb and low fat (low fun too by the sounds of it).
The two brother were give ‘lifestyle diets’. One was put on a ‘clean eating’ diet, similar to Paleo, in that there were no processed foods, refined sugars, dairy, alcohol or wheat grains. The second brother had to do Weight Watchers.
The wedding pair were given cultural diet plans. The bride to be was on the ‘French Lady’ diet (who knew that was a thing?) and her friend was given the ‘Asian diet’.
The French lady diet was a strictly portion controlled diet that encouraged the preparation of traditional French meals but measly servings. The Asian diet had no portion controls but was built around eating low GI foods such as fish, stir fried veg and wholegrain rice.
Everyone lost weight. No surprises there, if you are given an eating plan that restricts foods, portions and entire meals you will create a Calories deficit by default. But the results for each individual were quite different.
The lady on the green smoothie diet lost 7lb (half a stone) in one week and felt much more confident doing her photoshoot. However, she said that by the second week she was bored with it and wouldn’t do it again.
Her friend lost 10 lbs on the bone broth diet and was ecstatic with this result. The alarming thing here was that she said “everyone should do the bone broth diet, but I definitely won’t go through it again.” So, she feels that sacrificing her happiness for some, no doubt, temporary weight loss is a positive thing.
The two brothers had 4 months to lose weight and were competing against each other to see who could lose the most weight, which obviously helped their adherence. After the 4 months they lost 1st 12lb and 1st 13lb respectively, almost 2 stone, That’s brilliant!
The two wedding friends also lost a combined stone but half way through their diet they both took a weekend off for the hen party and had a full-on food and alcohol binge, presumably because their diets were so restrictive they weren’t satisfied.
The lady who’s wedding it was seemed to react in a very negative way. The first time she sat down to eat a French lunch she burst into tears. At the end when she saw her 7lb weight loss she complained that it wasn’t enough. Then, as her friend was talking about her positive experience she made a (not so) passive aggressive comment about craving fried chicken.
It was obvious from the start that she was stuck in a very toxic mindset. Granted she was probably suffering with bride brain but if you can’t be happy with who you are in the present moment you will always find things to be sad, angry or anxious about. Shame the program makers didn’t pick up on this.
The Chewing Experiment
The program also ran and interesting, if somewhat basic, experiment to measure the effectiveness of chewing your food more.
Two groups of people were given an identical pasta meal with one group instructed to chew each mouthful 15 time and the other group 35 times.
By the end of it the 35 chews group had consumed 30% less kcals than the 15 chews group while reporting the same level of fullness.
This is impressive and while we clearly need more scientific data to back this up it goes without saying that mindful eating is a very positive thing. Mindful eating is something that we definitely encourage here at GymCube. Eating on the go, while working or while watching telly is well known to make you eat more and well past the point of satiety.
The diet plans used all had one thing in common. They provided a method of control that created an energy deficit. This is how you lose weight, eat less, it’s simple.
But, the program didn’t focus on re-education for the people on these diet plans. The crash diets were clearly not sustainable and would be interesting to do a follow up to see how quickly those ladies regained that weight.
The wedding friends were given very strict and restrictive plans and although the Asian diet looked more appealing (no surprise that she lost the most weight) would you get bored eating stir fries every single day?
The fact that they fell off the wagon so spectacularly only highlights the psychological impact of overly restrictive diets.
The two brothers seemed to have the best approach and, while the clean eating diet was by far the healthiest option, that too was overly restrictive. The man on this diet also had a f*** it moment and went off the rails for a day.
The man on the weight watchers diet plan seemed to like the control method of counting points and loved the group aspect of it. But, again, we don’t know what additional education these men had and if they continued on their respective diet plans afterwards.
The common theme, especially for the ladies, was that they seemed to believe that losing weight would make them happy and although one girl seemed very pleased with her result she also confided that she would never do it again.
If you place your attachment to happiness on a thing like weight loss, something that is hard to achieve and sustain, the likelihood of you ever being happy is quite remote. You will only be happy with your results if you are happy with who you are right now.
So, our verdict? The show was interesting but crash diets are not healthy (the program even gave out a health warning at the end) or sustainable. Overly restrictive diet plans almost always lead to spectacularly falling off the diet wagon and unless you learn to love yourself you will never have the conviction to stick to a long-term lifestyle plan.
This is why here at GymCube we offer you the support and encouragement you need to improve the relationship you have with yourself. We offer you the education you need change your eating and lifestyle habits for long term success. We even offer you several methods of control from menu plans to portion controls to Calorie counting because we know that everyone is different and one method might not be right for everyone. Plus, of course, we offer the motivation and means by which you need to exercise regularly for optimal health and fitness.
If you take anything from the show it’s that you should chew your food eat slowly.