The only thing you need to know about losing weight


There are a million diets out there, but if you want to lose weight the only thing you need to focus on is eating less. Obvious but true, and now Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, has published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that confirms what – if you have any sense – you already know. No one diet is better than any other, just find one you like and take in fewer calories than you are currently consuming. You just need to get the ratio right between the calories you burn up, and the calories you take in and the ideal diet plan would be to have 750 fewer calories each day than you are expending.

The Professor tested out various heart-healthy diets and asked the participants to also exercise 90 minutes a week. They all lost on average around 13 lbs.after six months of dieting, or about 7% of their starting weight, regardless of which diet plan they followed. As ever I am astounded that anyone would pay good money to prove something we all know – and may not like, but that’s another issue – but the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute handed over the funds for the study and they were delighted with the findings. However, most of the participants couldn’t sustain that 750 calorie mark and most by the end of the trial consuming only 225 calories less than they expended.

The researchers concluded that this target was too high, and a gradual reduction is better, and I entirely agree with them. A small reduction in calorie intake that is gradual and sustained will see the best results and a weight loss of just 5 percent can make a substantial difference to your health. So whatever diet you choose just eat less, and exercise more = boring, but effective.

Can snoring help weight loss?


This almost came into the ‘I don’t believe it’ category, but it is a valid piece of research and I shudder to think how people are going to exploit it. A new piece of research has been revealed that shows you can burn up to an extra 2000 calories a day if you are a heavy snorer. There is of course a known link between being overweight and snoring, but as a weight loss aid it’s a new one on me. I would have thought it’s the partner of the snorer that burns more calories from all that digging them in the ribs and rolling them over onto their backs, but what do I know?

The researchers have, not surprisingly, said they don’t know if the snoring is actually causing people to put on the pounds because they believe it might be. This comes from the fact that disturbed sleep patterns can alter the way your body metabolizes energy, and that could affect your weight. As a dietary regime I don’t think snoring will catch on, and one of the great dangers of heavy snoring is that it can be related to sleep apnoea. This condition needs to be taken seriously because it can reduce the oxygen content in the blood to dangerous levels.

Another chinese breakthrough in diabetes treatment

September 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Medical Research & Studies

Nothing to do with the Olympics, but Chinese medicine is known to be a very rich source for finding new therapies for diseases and for over 500 years have used bitter melon as a treatment for diabetes. However, anecdotal evidence – that is when you have seen hundreds of years with thousands of people taking some natural remedy that is effective – is anathema to the scientific and medical community. Herbal medicine has stepped up to the challenge to ‘prove’ their remedies work and, in a collaboration with an Australian research institute, the scientists have isolated four compounds in bitter melon that may account for why this treatment is so effective.

In addition to relieving the symptoms of diabetes, bitter melon is used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote digestion, brighten the eyes and cool the body. A spokesman for the Australian Chinese Medicine Association further claims that it helps people keep slim, lose weight and regulate cholesterol levels.

The researchers identified four compounds that appeared to stimulate the activity of a chemical known as AMPK, which is known to help regulate blood sugar levels.

In people with diabetes, the body is not able to move enough sugar from the blood and into the cells where it can be burned for energy, and exercise is normally prescribed as a part of diabetes treatment. This is because it activates AMPK, which is known to help move glucose transporters to the surface of cells, where they can then grab the sugar out of the blood..

In the current study, if bitter melon was taken before a meal, it helped by more efficiently removing glucose from the blood and had the same effect on AMPK as exercise.

As type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world, with an estimated 171 million people currently so diagnosed, then anything that can help stem this could be invaluable and the researchers are planning on full scale trials on people next year.

The researchers want to develop new drugs based on these compounds, but if you want to stay with the natural route – and there isn’t much bitter melon in my local supermarket – then talk it over with your doctor if you already are on diabetes medication, then either consult a traditional Chinese herbalist, or consider taking it in supplement form as several companies now market it in this way.