Weight Loss Advice Ignores Body Changes

Losing weight is “twice as hard as previously thought”, according to media reports. Government weight-loss guidelines “mislead” overweight people about the effort needed to lose weight and dieting rules “don’t take into account changes in metabolism that occur when you lose weight”, several newspapers in UK said.

The reports are based on a recent conference presentation in which obesity researchers reportedly said that current weight-loss guidelines fail to take into account the changes in metabolism the researchers identified. They said that this means weight loss takes twice the time predicted by current guidelines.

The news reports stem from a presentation by Dr Kevin Hall, a researcher with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada. Dr Hall reportedly said that dietary changes spark complex processes that alter the body’s metabolism and body composition and that this has made it difficult to assess the relationship between diet and weight changes. In a nutshell, he suggests that weight loss is not a straight line towards one’s target weight, but a downward curve that plateaus the closer you come to your goal.

Dr Hall’s presentation appears to be based on earlier work from the NIH in which a mathematical model was used to predict what happens when people of varying weights, diets and exercise habits try to change their weight. This model suggests that a reduction in energy intake of 100 kilojoules (about 24 calories) a day for each person would eventually lead to a reduction in body weight of about 1kg (2.2 lb). Half the weight loss would be achieved in about a year and 95% in about three years. The NIH says this is only half the weight loss claimed for calorie reduction in current guidelines. This is important because it “leads to unrealistically large weight-loss expectations”, Dr Hall is reported to have told the AAAS conference.

The NIH has developed an online tool designed to calculate the level of dieting needed to achieve a weight loss target, taking numerous factors into account including metabolism. It allows users to adjust their calorie intake as well as activity levels and see how much their weight, body fat and other measures are predicted to change over time if they stick to the tool’s plan.

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The new weight-loss math ….

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Thinly Sliced Beef

These beef slices are readily available in Chinese and Asian grocery stores. They are usually used in hot pot meals.

This cut of beef is a convenient ingredient that can be used in many other dishes. The following are some examples.

Sautéed Beef with Green Onion

Szechuan-style Simmered Beef in Hot and Spicy Sauce

Hot and Spicy Beef Salad

Beef and Tomato Rice

The Myth of Muscle Loss Infographic


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Mediterranean Diet is Good for the Brain

Consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a reduced white matter hyperintesity volume, a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, according to a study led by Miller School researchers, which was published in the February issue of Archives of Neurology.

White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) visible on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are markers of chronic small vessel damage, according to background information in the article. “Although diet may be an important predictor of vascular disease, little is known about the possible association between dietary habits and WMHs,” said the researcher. “Studies have suggested that consumption of a Mediterranean Diet is associated with a reduced risk of the metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, stroke and cognitive disorders, but no studies to date, to our knowledge, have found an association between Mediterranean Diet and WMH volume (WMHV).”

Researchers evaluated data from 966 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study to examine the association between a Mediterranean Diet and WMHV. Participants were given a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary patterns during the previous year, and answers were used to determine a MeDi compliance score. The WMHV was measured by quantitative brain MRI.

Results of the survey showed that 11.6 percent of participants scored 0 to 2 on the Mediterranean Diet scale, 15.8 percent scored 3, 23 percent scored 4, 23.5 percent scored 5, and 26.1 percent scored 6 to 9. Women had lower Mediterranean Diet scores than men and participants who reported moderate to heavy levels of physical activity were more likely to report greater consumption of Mediterranean Diet. Participants with Mediterranean Diet scores of 6 or higher also had lower BMI.

These results suggest a lower burden of WMHV among participants with a greater consumption of Mediterranean Diet. This association was independent of sociodemographic and vascular risk factors including physical activity, smoking, blood lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes, history of cardiac disease and BMI. Additionally, after adjustment, the only component of the MeDi score that was independently associated with WMHV was the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat.

“In summary, the current study suggests a possible protective association between increased consumption of Mediterranean Diet and small vessel damage,” researcher concluded. “The associations with WMHV may be driven by the favorable ratio of monounsaturated fat consumption over saturated fat. However, the results of the analysis of the individual Mediterranean Diet scale components suggest that the overall dietary pattern, rather than any of the individual components, may be more etiologically relevant in relation to WMHV.”

Source: University of Miami Health System

Meat From the Lab, Soon Ready for Market

To the relief of cows and pigs everywhere, a new generation of grown-in-the-lab meat substitutes are on their way to production and could begin arriving in the next year, agricultural experts said at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

A hamburger created from cow stem cells, priced at €250,000 euros (about $330,000), may be unveiled as early as October, said Maastricht University scientist Mark Post, who is developing the burger in his labs with funds from an anonymous financier.

Patrick Brown is taking a different approach, putting together meat substitutes from plant materials. He says he’s starting with meat but could advance to dairy and other products, imbuing the food with a taste that he says will win over “the hardcore meat- and cheese-lovers who can’t imagine giving all this up.”

The scientists speaking at the AAAS Annual Meeting see modern meat production as an inefficient system that’s long overdue for a technological revolution. “Animal farming is by far the biggest ongoing environmental catastrophe,” said Brown, a biochemist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Grazing cattle or raising pigs requires intensive energy and land use, he said.

Concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, also are associated with human health risks such as deadly outbreaks of E. coli infection and, said University of Missouri geneticist Nicholas Genovese.

But people like their hamburger and steak dinners, Genovese said, noting that global meat consumption is expected to rise 60% by 2050. So scientists want to find ways to make meats that are more environmentally friendly, healthy, and in some cases less cruel to animals.

Even traditional meat producers are interested in the new technology, according to Genovese, who said large producers Tyson Foods and JBS have inquired about the possibilities of new meat substitutes.

There’s a significant amount of money to be made by the developers of synthetic meat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the retail value of the U.S. beef industry in 2010 was $74 billion dollars.

Brown and Post hope to compete head-to-head with this multibillion dollar industry, and so for now their new products remain mystery meats, at least in terms of the exact science behind their creation and the financial backers supporting the research.

Brown’s process uses plant materials, since he believes plants will be a cheaper and more environmentally more beneficial pathway to a better meat. He said yields from the world’s four major food plant crops—corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans—already provide more than enough protein and amino acids for the world population. But only 4% of the world’s land surface is devoted to growing these crops, he said, compared to 30% for grazing and raising the crops for livestock feed.

Post‘s approach uses cow stem cells, gradually transforming them into tissues that resemble the skeletal muscle that makes up steak or hamburger. Building meat this way, he said, would use about 40% less energy than traditional livestock production.

At the moment, Post’s lab has created small strips of this tissue; he’ll need thousands of these small strips to assemble into a hamburger that will meet the objective of his anonymous financial backer.

The original plan was to develop a sausage, Post said, but with all the fillers in a typical recipe, “it was hardly recognizable as a meat product.”

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science