Weight loss study (II)

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In the previous chapter, “Weight Loss Research (I),” we discussed the most difficult part of the weight loss problem, namely, the shift in mindfulness that creates the real need for weight loss, and the real need for weight loss that creates the real action. This part of the discussion is rather boring and lacks “practicality”. However, I still insist on discussing it because it cannot build a solid basis for discussion. Otherwise, both you and I will end up as hearsay, people follow the crowd, follow the trend of the foolish man and woman, busy looking for the “best way to lose weight”, in the end, nothing, just a waste of time and money.

Today we are going to do a specific case study to discuss in detail a specific weight loss method. Through this analysis, let’s see if we can build some kind of consensus as a way of thinking that can be used again and again in the future. If we are lucky enough, this approach may be applied to more than just weight loss. Next, let’s discuss the intermittent fasting method that has become more popular in recent years.

Intermittent fasting or light fasting is nothing new. In religious traditions, there is the existence of Ramadan or Kannon fasting. When a specific date arrives, believers adopt a fast or vegetarian diet to massively reduce their food intake and leave their bodies hungry for a significant period of time during a 24-hour period. In addition to the religious field, fasting was also used medically in the 1920s to treat childhood epilepsy by consciously controlling the food supply to keep epileptic children in a state of starvation as a way to reduce or eliminate epileptic symptoms.

In 2016, Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the mechanism of autophagy in human cells. His research showed that the autophagy mechanism is activated when the body is starved or otherwise stressed, engulfing invading bacteria and viruses, eliminating damaged proteins and cells, and using the energy and substances thus obtained to renew the body’s cells. Related studies have proven that the autophagy mechanism is closely related to Parkinson’s, type II diabetes, and Ozheimer’s disease.

All of the above are facts, based on which advocates of intermittent fasting have deduced a theory that

  1. Excess weight is a symptom, not a disease per se. It indicates that the body is in an unhealthy state and that there may be chronic inflammation in the body. Therefore, direct treatment for weight is ineffective and treating the symptoms is pointless; what needs to be treated is the cause of the excess weight.

  2. the cause of overweight is the body is full of work, too much intake for a long time, so you need to reduce the pressure on the body, “reboot” the body. The specific method is fasting, through fasting to make the body in a state of hunger, so as to activate the autophagy mechanism, to achieve cell cleaning and renewal.

  3. Based on the above two points, the traditional pattern of three meals a day, plus snacks, means that the body is not in a state of hunger for long, and the digestive system does not have much time to rest. Therefore, a reasonable approach is to concentrate the eating time relatively, so that a large amount of fasting time is vacated. Fasting sounded so unfriendly that it was renamed fasting.

With this theory, different fasting plans naturally emerge: -168 type of fasting: 24 hours a day.

-168-style fasting: 24 hours a day, eating time is limited to 8 hours. If breakfast is eaten at 9:00 am, then the last meal is before 17:00 pm. For the remaining 16 hours, no food is allowed except for water, natural tea, and black coffee.

-186-hour fasting: that is, eating time is limited to 6 hours, and for the remaining 18 hours, nothing is allowed except water, natural tea, and black coffee

-23-hour fasting: that is, eating only one meal per day and a second meal after 24 hours, with 23 hours per day when nothing is allowed except water, natural tea, and black coffee

-intermittent fasting: that is, choosing two or three days a week, reducing the caloric intake to less than 500 calories on those days and maintaining the original eating pattern for the remaining days

-7 meals per week or less: that is, one meal per day on average, but not evenly distributed. In between, there may be 48 consecutive hours of no eating, and then compensatory meals at the end of the week, two meals a day.

Let us now analyze this approach. First of all, it is not easy to establish a clear logical connection between the papers of Nobel Prize winner in physiology, Yoshinori Ohsumi, and fasting in all its forms. Yoshinori Ohsumi discovered the autophagy mechanism in the human body, and whether this and intermittent fasting can stimulate the mechanism, and to what extent, needs to be studied and proven. But looking at the various fasting methods, they do do one thing: control daily caloric intake.

A shorter eating window means eliminating at least one meal, going from three to two meals per day. Again, because there are only two meals and all snack additions are eliminated, this means that the overall daily caloric intake is reduced from what it was before. The focus may not be on the two main meals; the problem for too many people is in the snacks and treats. Because the portions are small, they don’t pay attention to them. But in fact, the total number of calories added up each day is quite impressive. By cutting out this piece, you are actually reducing a large chunk of your calorie intake.

In addition, let’s look at the time allocation for various kinds of fasting. In general, they all have a tendency to extend the fasting time. It is generally recommended that people advance from intermittent fasting to 168, from 168 to 186, and from 186 to 23-hour fasting. Then, the body’s hunger is too long and hard to tolerate, which becomes a new problem. To solve this problem, the advice given is to increase the intake of protein and fats in each regular meal to increase the emptying time of the intestines and reduce hunger. Here’s the interesting part, if this approach is followed, it is actually a gradual shift to a ketogenic diet that gradually converts glucose metabolism to fat metabolism. But the ketogenic diet is something that many people are afraid of when they hear about it and worry about the health effects. And intermittent fasting does not talk about this topic, but if you really advance gradually, then it is only a matter of time before you enter the ketogenic state.

So, let’s remove the fasting, remove the Nobel Prize, remove the autophagy mechanism, but analyze from the method, intermittent fasting really plays a role in two points: 1, reduce calorie intake; 2, enter the ketogenic state and burn fat. In the event that point 2 cannot happen, doing point 1 is also effective. As for whether there is a body “reboot”? It’s good to have one, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

So why is intermittent fasting more popular than other forms of weight loss? Is it more popular? Yoshinori Osumi is certainly a very important factor, and his award has created a feeling of scientist endorsement among the public. But this is not the most crucial thing, the biggest advantage of intermittent fasting is that it takes care of human nature. In general, people who hold this theory do not make dietary norms. It sells the idea that you eat what you want to eat, and you have to eat every meal until you’re full, otherwise you can’t resist hunger later. If you’re really hungry, it means you’re not full, so make up some oil at each meal. And the price you need to pay is nothing more than to go away a meal every day.

This is far easier than counting the ratios to make your own bento at each meal, or counting calories to pick a match at each meal. It maximizes the appetite of the fasting person, in exchange for removing a meal plus a snack. Then the likelihood of this method being sustained is high. Also adding tea and coffee, drinks that contain caffeine to increase metabolism, the execution may be more likely to see results. Finally, there are health practitioners recommend that if you are really hungry at night, you can supplement some nuts. In fact, this is a supplement of fats and oils.

So, can we now conclude that the so-called intermittent fasting is a gentler, more humane way to slowly change the structure of your meals. Lowering your caloric intake while slowly increasing your protein and fat intake unconsciously because of the short evacuation time of starchy foods, as a way to prolong satiety and eventually enter a quasi-ketogenic state? So, it counts as a mild ketogenic diet?

With the above analysis for intermittent fasting, we can get an approximate truth that

(caloric intake < caloric expenditure) = weight loss

However, we don’t know yet whether this weight loss refers to water, muscle or fat, which we will discuss in a later section.

While the truth is important, we are human beings who are burdened by our physical bodies, so for us, the most important factors in weight loss methods are pain and convenience. If the level of pain is low enough and the level of convenience is high enough, then the method is likely to be sustainable in the long run. At the same time, our bodies resist drastic, sudden, radical changes in dietary structure, but we have the means to evolve more smoothly from one dietary structure and eating window to another through induction.

Therefore, “adherence” is not the right word. The opposite of persistence is giving up, and it’s just a matter of time. When a person “sticks” to a certain way of losing weight, it means that giving up is waiting for him in the near future. I think a better word than persistence is “habit”. Habit says that you do not need to resist anything all the time, nor do you need to be vigilant about anything all the time, but that after you make a little change, you can feel comfortable in the new state, physically comfortable, mentally feel that you have improved, then it will become a new habit.

All of this is based on the premise that you have enough knowledge and understanding. The purpose of analyzing the intermittent fasting method like we did so and so today is to address the question of what it is going to do and why it is doing it. All weight reduction methods can be studied and analyzed in a similar way. Then, go back to consider our own human weaknesses, as well as their different physical conditions, you can choose the most suitable method for you. Suitable is not only effective, but more importantly, they can be implemented in the long term, without too much pain.

Finally, allow me to add a sentence: no matter how various weight reduction method propaganda, exercise is not to be avoided. This is an objective truth, although there are always people who like to say that there is no need to exercise, just diet control. If this is true, we should be born to grow into a ball.

(to be continued)

Title photo photography by Huha Inc.

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