13 Things You Never Knew About Your Weight
Our team pored over the latest studies, interviewed the top clinicians in obesity science, and listened to the real-life experiences of men and women struggling to maintain their weight. Here, the latest (and often unexpected) thinking behind size and thighs, fatness and fitness.from Reader's Digest
As much as 16 percent of the population has two copies of the FTO gene, and half of us have one copy. So far, scientists suspect that the other possible obesity-promoting genes have a small effect compared with FTO. The good news? "A genetic predisposition isn't necessarily a life sentence," says Bouchard. Exercising regularly can offset the risk.
6. Sleep More, Lose More
When patients see Louis Aronne, MD, past president of the Obesity Society and author of the forthcoming book The Skinny, they're as likely to have their sleep assessed as their eating habits. If patients are getting less than seven to eight hours, Dr. Aronne may prescribe more shut-eye rather than the latest diet or drug. With more sleep, he says, "they have a greater sense of fullness, and they'll spontaneously lose weight."
Why? University of Chicago researchers reported that sleep deprivation upsets our hormone balance, triggering both a decrease in leptin (which helps you feel full) and an increase of ghrelin (which triggers hunger). As a result, we think we're hungry even though we aren't—and so we eat. Indeed, sleep may be the cheapest and easiest obesity treatment there is.
- Consume carbs in the form of whole grains and fiber.
- Avoid trans fats and saturated fats.
- Eat lean protein.
- Fill up on fruits and vegetables.
The low-carb South Beach Diet, for example, now espouses the virtues of eating the Mediterranean way-including lots of carbohydrate-rich fruits and vegetables. The latest Atkins book emphasizes the "good carb" message too. Weight Watchers, a champion of the points system, is now offering a "no counting" option based on healthy choices like those above. Jenny Craig is pushing Volumetrics, a high-volume, low-calorie strategy. And everyone gives a thumbs-down to processed and sugary carbohydrates, which cause insulin to spike and can lead to more fat and even diabetes.
Low-fat-diet guru Dean Ornish, MD, says, "It's the end of the diet wars." His most recent book, The Spectrum, even offers recipes that can be prepared in various "degrees"-from a vegetable chili served plain (low-fat) to one served with olives (more fat) to still another served with turkey breast sausage (still more fat).
The key to all of this, of course, is moderation rather than deprivation -- eating in a way you can live with. And for some people, an important side effect of eating more plant-based foods is that it's better for the environment. (See food writer Mark Bittman's Simple Till Six: An Eating Plan for Busy People.)