On BioScience and Life and Such

Posts Tagged ‘overweight’

Generalized Dontreallyknow Amount (GDA)

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2010 at 7:51 pm

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For no particular reason, it’s been a while since I have been to a McDonalds. We did go today though and I noticed that McDonalds like many other fast- or processed-food suppliers have started putting %GDA (Guideline Daily Amount) tables on their products. This is the Quarter Pounder one for women (!?):

So….according to the nutrinionists making these tables, eating two Quarter pounders with cheese a day will give you all the protein you need, all the fat you need and a bit more salt than you actually need. Throw in fries, a coke and a multi-vitamin pill. Result: a bit to much salt, but in general – healthy eating.

Anyone but me spotting a problem with these %GDA tables ?


The Intermittent Fasting Challenge

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

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I have accepted a dieting challenge and will give intermittent fasting a try.

The challenge is a twitter-challenge and it’s initiated by @NerdyScienceMom. The challenge is to loose 10 lbs (4,5 kg) by 31. May.

Since I have concluded that the amount of exercise that I have time for is not sufficient as a dieting tool, my exercise regime will stay as it is (medium to high intensity 1 hour exercises two to three times a week). The only tool left in the toolbox is controlling my diet. I have been reading up on calorie restriction, but that seems way too complicated, and besides – calorie count based dieting has recently been put into serious question. I have long been skeptical to any claim that says that you can diet by eating the “right” sugars and fats, – I honestly doubt that you change things more than marginally by changing sugar and fat types. Just eating less of a balanced diet containing the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, salts and vitamins that you need on the other hand…..

Thus, I’ll be trying out intermittent fasting. The principle seems easy enough – do not eat every other day. I am going for two to three fasting days pr. week. The science on this method says promising, but mostly the data is somewhat preliminary. What seems clear though is that this method does not seem to pose any risk of malnutrition.

My starting weight is 79 kg, which is up one kg since the challenge actually started just before Easter. I blame too much spare time combined with moderately elevated physical activity (snowboarding), which as I have blogged before – makes me gain weight.

The target weight I have pledged to reach is still be 73,5 kg, which means I now need to loose 5,5 kg instead of the 4,5 I started out with. I’ll be posting updates (if I come across any testosterone on the way I’ll be updating vigorously). Please also follow the other participants in the challenge through the Nerdy Science Mommy blog.

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A couple of more things we didn’t communicate that well

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2009 at 2:50 pm

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I am putting together a list of things lost in translation between science and the public. The full list is compiled here.

Following a couple of discussions on friendfeed on exercise and dieting, I’ve come across two more items, they are:

9. Any kind of exercise will help you lose weight (When the truth is that the exercise needs to be extensive and the right type, if weight loss is to be expected).

10. Carbohydrates and fat are bad for you (When the truth is that we need a balanced diet containing both fat and carbohydrates).



Too much of anything – even a good thing – is bad. So is too little. – That goes for lack of exercise, but it also goes for too much/wrong exercise. Too much carbohydrates- bad, too little – also bad. Too little vitamins – bad, too much vitamins – also bad.

Balance on the other hand is what results in healthy living. Balance: – in exercise and rest – and in nutrients.

This has been known for centuries. And, it’s proven by science. Contrary to what many may think, life science is seldom about labeling something “good” or “bad”. Rather, it’s about trying to find what makes the right balance.

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Here’s why I get fat when I exercise (part II)

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm

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The last couple of months I have lost about 8 kg


Previously, I had unsuccessfully been trying to lose weight by exercising more (Previous posts on this subject: “I get fat when I exercise, is that normal ?“, “Huge or tiny, either way I am being tricked“, “It’s the thinking that makes you fat stupid” and “Here’s why I get fat when I exercise“).

So this time I decided just to eat less. Not a different diet, just less of the same, and every other day I would skip a meal (lunch or dinner).

The new strategy worked like a charm, and I was planning on blogging my dieting results when I reached the 10 kg mark. But, then I read a veritable bashing of this TIME Magazine piece on how exercise does not necessarily help you lose fat. The criticism of this article I found very unfair. After all TIME was only telling us to put less faith in exercise as a dieting tool, – that’s fair enough isn’t it ? Besides, the points made in the article fit very well with my own experiences. Then a discussion on friendfeed followed, which I found very useful.

The TIME piece probably jumps to conclusions. The study he comments on does not support the conclusion that exercise makes you put on weight. Also the extrapolation of conclusions on adults based on data from studies on children may not hold water. However, the message that the TIME article conveys: the amount of exercise most people regard as sufficient to lose weight may act to the contrary, still hold true.

Looks like the consenus from the discussion is that exercise can help you lose weight, but it needs to be extensive (more than one hour more than 5 days a week) and it needs to be the right excersise (altough I believe the jury is still out on the effect of low-intensity exercise).

So, I’ll keep on skipping lunch and generally eat less, until I for some strange reason, should get enough time on my hands to prioritize 1-2 hours of exercise every day.

Downside is that I feel hungry a lot. Upside is that this may just possibly help me live longer.

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It’s the thinking that makes you fat stupid

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2008 at 2:19 pm

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Following the post “I get fat when I exercise is that normal” I have come across some interesting articles that introduce some rather unexpected scapegoats for my weight gain. The first two were the effect of pack size and the most recent one (found via friendfeed user laura) is mental activity, or Knowledge Based Work (KBW) as they call it in the article.

Health professionals and scientists generally consider that the increase in obesity prevalence in our community is attributable to changes in the way of living over the last decades. These changes pertain to the evolution of food habits and also to the progressive increase in sedentariness, which has been promoted by a modern lifestyle.

What I keep wondering is this: is more exercise the best approach to fight the obesity-epidemic, isn’t it eating habit’s we should focus on ? My personal experience is that increased exercise does not necessarily mean less body fat, (because exercise influences my eating habits negatively). In this paper the authors show results suggesting that KBW promotes excess energy intake and thus, another variable on eating habits is introduced.

This study showed that KBW acutely induces an increase in spontaneous energy intake, and promotes an increased fluctuation in plasma glucose and insulin levels. This study contributes to the documentation of a new risk factor for a positive energy balance, with the potential to lead to overweight in the long-term.

They note that an explanation for these effects of KBW is that the brain relies solely on sugar for energy, while exercise also can utilize fat.

This switch in the macronutrient oxidation profile can be realistically considered as a potential cause of the suspected effects of KBW on energy intake.

The authors also note however that eating more does not result from an increased sense of hunger. If I interpret them correctly, you are basically eating more without noticing:

Taken together, these observations suggest that activities requiring a significant cognitive demand favor an overconsumption of foods, without increased feelings of hunger, which could result in body weight gain as a possible long-term outcome.

The answer I guess is not to think less, but of course to eat less. The challenge you face is to eat less than your brain tells you to, and that challenge it seems, is a tougher one for those doing knowledge based work. In my experience this is also a challenge when you exercise. Exercise however, most certainly induces an increased feeling of hunger, – and if one can generalize based on my example, this lends support to the authors notion that exercise and KBW utilizes different energy depots.

Overall, I find the paper very interesting and there is no question that their results go to show that the overweight-epidemic we are seeing in the western world most probably is caused by a complex set of factors influencing eating habits. Exercise I believe, may turn out to be not that important after all.

And that, obviously, is food for thought.

ref: Glycemic Instability and Spontaneous Energy Intake: Association With Knowledge-Based…Chaput et al. Psychosom Med.2008; 70: 797-804

Huge or tiny, either way I am being tricked

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2008 at 8:56 am

In my quest to discover why I am gaining weight, I have come across this article that says that we are being tricked into eating and drinking larger portions….

This article illustrates how the compromise effect alters consumers’ selection of soft drinks. Using three within-subject studies, we show that extremeness aversion and price insensitivity cause consumers to increase their consumption when the smallest drink size is dropped or when a larger drink size is added to a set. – Kathryn M. Sharpe,Richard Staelin and Joel Huber, “Using Extremeness Aversion to Fight Obesity: Policy Implications of Context Dependent Demand”, DOI: 10.1086/587631

But in the same journal I found this article describing how mini-packs also tricks you into eating more calories

Tempting treats are being offered in small package sizes these days, presumably to help consumers reduce portion sizes. Yet new research in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people actually consume more high-calorie snacks when they are in small packages than large ones. And smaller packages make people more likely to give in to temptation in the first place. – Rita Coelho do Vale, Rik Pieters, Marcel Zeelenberg “Flying under the Radar: Perverse Package Size Effects on Consumption Self-Regulation”, DOI: 10.1086/589564

I am still no further in understanding how to restrict my calorie intake after exercise. And now, to add to the misery, I am completely confused on which package size is better.

Note: These papers were not open access (shame on you Chicago Journals) and reading the full version may provide more answers.

I get fat when I exercise, is that normal ?

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 6:22 pm

In the Dr. Phil category of posts

A problem I have is:

I exercise, I get hungry, I eat. Which means I eat more when I exercise. Which again means that overall I have been (slowly) gaining weight over the years. I am constantly struggling to reverse the process, but the funny thing is that when I take exercise breaks, like vacations and such, I tend to loose some weight.

I know the solution to this is straightforward: EAT LESS, idiot !!

….But still, it has left me wondering whether putting an emphasis on exercise is correct when advising people on how to loose weight. Eating habits seems to me to be the key element rather than exercise,  – exercise may even slow down the weight loss process.

I would be happy If I am corrected on this, since I would like to carry on exercising. And while you are at it, I would love to be directed towards some convincing data that tells me whether:

The overall physical activity level has gone down in recent years ?

And if so: have the number of calories consumed gone up proportionally more than activity has gone down ?, – enough so to explain the epidemic nature of overweight in the western world ?