Tag Archives: weight loss

TV’s Biggest Loser Plan Improves Prediabetes and Diabetes in Small Study

TV’s “The Biggest Loser” weight-loss program works great for overweight diabetics and prediabetics, according to an article May 30, 2012, in MedPage Today.

This isn’t directly related to the paleo diet or lifestyle, but I thought you might be interested.

Some quotes:

For example, one man with a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) of 9.1, a body mass index (BMI) of 51, and who needed six insulin injections a day as well as other multiple prescriptions was off all medication by week 3, said Robert Huizenga, MD, the medical advisor for the TV show.

In addition, the mean percentage of weight loss of the 35 contestants in the study was 3.7% at week 1, 14.3% at week 5, and 31.9% at week 24…

The exercise regimen for those appearing on “The Biggest Loser” comprised about 4 hours of daily exercise: 1 hour of intense resistance training, 1 hour of intense aerobics, and 2 hours of moderate aerobics.

Caloric intake was at least 70% of the estimated resting daily energy expenditure, Huizenga said.

At the end of the program, participants are told to exercise for 90 minutes a day for the rest of their lives. Huizenga said he is often told by those listening to him that a daily 90-minute exercise regimen is impossible because everyone has such busy lives.

“I have a job and I work out from 90 to 100 minutes per day,” he said. “It’s about setting priorities. Time is not the issue; priorities are the issue.”

Of the 35 participants in this study, 12 had prediabetes and six had diabetes.  This is a small pilot study, then.  I bet the results would be reproducible on a larger scale IF all conditions of the TV program are in place.  Of course, that’s not very realistic.  A chance to win $250,000 (USD) is strong motivation for lifestyle change.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Although not mentioned in the article, these must have been type 2 diabetics, not type 1.

Does Exercise Help With Weight Loss?

 

Enjoy your dinner!

Skyler Tanner slaughters some sacred cows in his blog post June 4, 2012. I pulled the following bullet points from his post. Click on his embedded links for details.

Comparing the effects of food and exercise on weight loss, what you eat, and how much, are more important than your physical activity.  By far.

  • Your genetics largely determines your response to an exercise program
  • Physical activity isn’t a great way to lose weight
  • School-based or other programs to increase childhood physical activity probably won’t reverse childhood obesity statistics
  • Disregarding weight loss, exercise has other worthwhile metabolic advantages
  • Highly advanced societies shouldn’t blame our overweight problem on decreased levels of physical activity

Steve Parker, M.D.

Short-Term Effects of a Paleolithic Diet in Healthy Medical Students

Stockholm Palace

Swedish investigators at Karolinska Institutet found diminished weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and waist circumference in 14 healthy medical students eating a paleo diet for three weeks.

Published in 2008, this seems to be one of the seminal scientific studies of the paleo diet in modern Europeans.

Their version of the paleo diet:

  • Allowed ad lib: All fresh or frozen fruits, berries and vegetables except legumes, canned tomatoes w/o additives, fresh or frozen unsalted fish and seafood, fresh or frozen unsalted lean meats and minced meat, unsalted nuts (except peanuts – a  legume), fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice (as dressing), flaxseed or rapeseed oil (as dressing), coffee and tea (w/o sugar, milk, honey, or cream), all salt-free spices.
  • Allowed but with major restrictions: dried fruit, salted seafood, fat meat, potatoes (two medium-sized per day), honey, cured meats
  • Prohibited: all milk and dairy products, all grain products (including corn and rice), all legumes, canned food except tomatoes, candy, ice cream, soft drinks, juices, syrups, alcohol, sugar, and salt

What Did They Find After Three Weeks?

  • Average weight dropped from 65.2 kg (144 lb) to 62.9 (139 lb) 
  • Average body mass index fell from 22.2 to 21.4
  • Average waist circumference decreased from 74.3 cm (29.25″) to 72.6 cm (28.58″) 
  • Average systolic blood pressure fell from 110 to 104 mmHg
  • plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 decreased from 5.0 kIE/l to 2.8 kIE/l
  • All of these changes were statistically significant

The researchers looked at a number of other blood tests and didn’t find any significant differences. 

Five men and nine women completed the study.  Of the 20 who originally signed up, one could not fulfill the diet, three became ill (no details), two failed to show up.

So What?

That’s a remarkable weight loss over just three weeks for slender people eating ad lib.

The study authors concluded that these paleo diet-induced changes could reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.  They called for a larger study with a control group.  (If it’s been done, I haven’t found it yet.)

Sounds reasonable.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: You’d think they would have said more about the three participants who got sick, rather than leave us wondering if the diet made them ill.

Reference:  Österdahl, M; Kocturk, T; Koochek, A;Wändell, PE.  Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers.  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62 (2008): 682-685.

Is the “Calories In/Calories” Theory Outdated?

Not watching The Biggest Loser

Dr. Barry Sears (Ph.D., I think) recently wrote about a lecture he attended by a dietitian affiliated with “The Biggest Loser” TV show.  She revealed the keys to weight-loss success, at least on that show.  Calorie restriction is a major feature, with the typical 300-pounder (136 kg) eating 1,750 calories a day. 

On my Advanced Mediterranean Diet, 300-pounders get 2,300 calories (men) or 1,900 calories (women). 

Although not stressed by Dr. Sears, my impression is that contestants exercise a huge amount. 

Go to the Sears  link above and you’ll learn that all contestants are paid to participate.  In researching my Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes book, I learned that the actual Biggest Loser wins $250,000 (USD).  Also, “The Biggest Loser” is an international phenomenon with multiple countries hosting their own versions, with different pay-off amounts.  A former winner, Ali Vincent, lives in my part of the world and still has some celebrity status.

This TV show demonstrates that the calories in/calories out theory of body weight still applies, including the fact that massive exercise can help significantly with weight loss.  In real-world situations, exercise contributes only a small degree to loss of excess weight. 

The major take-home point of the show, for me, is that you can indeed make food and physical activity choices that determine your weight.

Most of us watch too much

I know losing 50 to 10o pounds of fat (25–45 kg) and keeping it off for a couple years is hard; most folks can’t do it.  Do you think you’d be more successful if I gave you $250,ooo for your success?

Steve Parker, M.D.