May 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm , by Julie Bain
In early April I blogged here (“A Completely New Way to Think About Weight Loss”) about a fascinating new study that suggests when you eat certain foods may be as important as what you eat. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that mice who ate breakfast with more fat than carbs metabolized fat and other foods better throughout the day and avoided weight gain. Meanwhile, mice who started out their day with carbs didn’t metabolize as well, tended to eat more overall, got chubby and developed symptoms that can lead to heart disease.
Then I followed up a week later (“An Easier Way to Lose Weight”) with my own seven-day weight-loss experiment based on this study. I ate fat and protein like eggs, cheese and nuts for breakfast, with my only stipulation being no carbs before noon. No other changes.
I told the study author, Molly Bray, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, about my experiment, and she was intrigued and said she might try it herself. What were our results? I lost four pounds during that week, almost effortlessly. I didn’t feel as hungry throughout the day, and I didn’t crave sugary carbs as much, so I probably ate less and also metabolized what I did eat more efficiently.
Dr. Bray (left) told me she didn’t lose four pounds in one week as I did. “But over the course of a few weeks, I lost six pounds pretty much without even trying,” she says. Her only rule was to stick to a protein- and fat-based breakfast of mostly eggs with a little cheese and no other food before lunch. “I kept calories at breakfast under 300 but never felt hungry during the morning.”
Then, when she went out of town to a meeting where attendees were served fixed menus, she couldn’t always eat breakfast. What happened? She gained a few pounds. “I was mostly skipping breakfast and eating heavier dinners,” she explains, “exactly the way we found produces the most weight gain.”
Dr. Bray also shared that early results of a study her group is conducting seems to indicate that “the metabolic inflexibility” effects of eating a high-carb breakfast (meaning you don’t efficiently burn other types of foods later in the day) happens fairly quickly—within less than a week.
What does that tell me? That I shouldn’t switch back to eating bagels or donuts for breakfast, that’s for sure! And neither should you, if you want to keep your metabolism burning strong. Dr. Bray says she’s hoping to begin a human study later in the year and promises to keep in touch about her results.
We all know how easy it is to regain any weight loss—and quickly. So how have I done in the past six weeks since I started this? I’ve followed the no-carb breakfast plan most days, eating whatever feels right the rest of the time, and I’ve lost one more pound for a total of five—and kept it off. Let us know if any of you tried this experiment and how you fared.
By the way, don’t try this at home if you have any health conditions, especially if you’re on a low-fat diet, and discuss any weight-loss plan with your doctor.
Omelet photo copyright robynmac—Fotolia.com
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