A Completely New Way to Think About Weight Loss

April 1, 2010 at 9:54 am , by

Assorted Donuts on whiteFavoring fat over carbs at breakfast may help you avoid cravings later—and maybe even lose weight, says a fascinating new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

It may also prevent metabolic syndrome, that nasty bunch of symptoms including abdominal fat and high cholesterol that can lead to cardiovascular disease. At least it does in mice. But from what I’ve seen in nutritional studies of mice and rats, they behave pretty much like we do when it comes to eating.

The mice who were fed a higher-fat breakfast pretty much maintained their weight, but the carb-breakfast little guys got fat and developed the signs of metabolic syndrome. The researchers say starting with fat seems to turn on your ability to metabolize fat efficiently and also allows for metabolism of other kinds of foods throughout the day. But starting with carbs seems to turn on your carb metabolism and it just keeps going so you crave more more more. (You know that feeling!)

I’m not a fan of restrictive low-carb diets. While they have been proven to work in the short term, they make you feel sluggish and are almost impossible to maintain in the long run. But this research on the timing of when you eat or don’t eat carbs is a whole new way of thinking about it.

I’ve been craving carbs lately myself, and a few pounds have crept up. So here’s what I’m going to try as my own personal experiment: For one week I will have a relatively high-fat breakfast and no carbs before noon. That’s the only change I’ll make in my habits and will record how it makes me feel, what I crave or don’t crave and how it affects my weight. I’ll report back next Thursday.

Want to try it with me? One of my favorite low-carb breakfast foods is no-crust quiche. The South Beach diet version is popular, but I adapt it by using real eggs, real cheese and adding diced red bell pepper or mushrooms and sometimes a little diced ham or bacon. Why not, if it works for the mice? You can freeze the mini quiches, then warm up one or two in the microwave each morning.

Who wants to do this with me?

Photo c. Michael Flippo, Fotolia.com

17 Responses to “A Completely New Way to Think About Weight Loss”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by lhjHealthLadies: A completely new way to think about weight loss: Favor fat over carbs for breakfast http://bit.ly/cFZeP5

  2. Does this mean we have to stop Bagel Wednesdays?

  3. Moderation is key. If you are totally craving something, you should have it…just account for it. I find that if I feel deprived, I end up pigging out and sabotaging myself.

    I have lost 50 pounds over the last 2 years, and I have done it by watching my calories, eating less processed foods and getting in some kind of exercise every day.

    I usually walk 20 minutes every day and I wear SmartSole exercise insoles http://www.smartsole.com. They are body toning insoles similar to Reebok Easytone that help you burn extra calories while you walk or work out as well as tone and tighten. I read about them on my weight watchers board and the code ww10 gives you a 10% discount.

    I also try not to eat after 8 pm at night.

  4. I’d love to give this experiment a try with you. What recipes do you recommend for someone who doesn’t care much for eggs (real or subsitute)?

  5. I’ve lost 90lbs over the past two years just watching calories, and I am more successful in control over my daily caloric intake if my breakfast is higher in fat and protein than if I eat carbs.

  6. 90lbs! WOW! Good for you. Can I ask what you eat for breakfast that’s low in carbs? I was thinking protein shakes; maybe even with 2% milk to bump up the fat content, but I think they have a lot of carbs. I really don’t care much for eggs. Any ideas?

  7. For those of you who don’t like eggs, nuts and cheese are the way to go. I love really fresh, raw walnuts and almonds (keep them in the fridge). I’ll eat a good handful for breakfast, sometimes with a mozzarella string cheese or sometimes mixed in with part-skim ricotta mixed with a little Truvia for sweetness. And don’t forget some no-sugar veggie juice, too! Some people even have things like smoked salmon with cream cheese stuffed into celery. Why not?

  8. @Kjhart: For breakfast, it varies, but I will eat bacon and cheese, wrapped with a multi-grain tortilla and a piece of dark chocolate. Or I will eat an “Oatmeal to go” bar with a side of bacon, and a piece of dark chocolate. Another breakfast item I have is turkey, roasted peppers and shredded cheese wrapped in a leaf of lettuce (two of these), and again the dark chocolate. Sweets are part of my life, and I’m not giving them up. It’s all about moderation. Protein shakes are good, but I’m one who’d rather eat my calories than sip them through a straw.

  9. This is the recommendation from Jay Cooper’s book, “The Body Code” at least 10 years ago. Not really “new.” AND it works.

  10. Since I already have TWO stents, all of the above foods mentioned are expressly forbidden. My diet is for 150mg of cholesterol or less per day, 1 egg is too much. Cheese is OUT of the question entirely! Bacon and ham have too much salt for my recommended 2g daily. Any OTHER suggestions?

  11. Billie: This is just an experiment based on one study and is just for healthy people. If you have a health condition you should talk to your doctor before trying anything different. However, cutting down on simple carbs and sugar is a worthy pursuit for your heart, as several new studies show excess sugar contributes to heart disease risks. But if you should avoid fats for your heart, it may not be a good idea to try this. You could probably still have nuts for breakfast, maybe with fat-free unsweetened yogurt (which you can sweeten with some artificial sweetener like Truvia). But still, I’d talk to your doc before undertaking anything “experimental” in your diet. I wish you well!

  12. Well?! Would LOVE to know how this experiment worked for those who tried it! Please post your results!
    Thanks in advance

  13. UPDATE:
    Thanks for your interest in this fascinating new research. I did write two follow-up blogs, both on my own progress and on that of the study author herself. They can be found here: http://www.lhj.com/blogs/ladieslounge/2010/04/08/an-easier-way-to-lose-weight/ and here: http://www.lhj.com/blogs/ladieslounge/2010/05/19/more-on-the-new-way-to-think-about-weight-loss/
    I’ve stuck with the general idea of the program and have kept off my six-pound weight loss. Cheers!

  14. Is oatmeal a carb? I usually have it for breakfast…

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