“Of the 200,000 species on earth, only three are having weight problems.” So begins Dr. Doug Lisle’s lecture “How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind,” which I watched this morning and had to share.
“Radical environmental change over the last 50 years has left the ‘average’ person 30-40 pounds overweight, the genetically burly/curvy people 60+ pounds overweight, and the ‘unusuals’ only a little overweight.”
I’m providing a write-up based on my notes, but what is important to me may not be important to you; I highly recommend grabbing some notepaper (if you’re a notetaker like me) and some tea and settling in to watch his hour and fifteen minute entertaining lecture. In my write up, my own thoughts are in italics. If you want to scan through for his most important points, those are in bold.
(If the link doesn’t work for you, his lecture is available in the Forks Over Knives channel on YouTube.)
Did you know the three species? He identified dogs, cats, and humans. What we all have in common is that our environments have radically changed in the last 50 years.
He begins with some myth-debunking: losing weight is not about willpower. It’s not about pushing yourself away from the table. You don’t have weight problems because you need to control your portions, you don’t exercise, you’re stressed, you’re an emotional eater, your genes have doomed you, fast food is ubiquitous, you snack too much, or you have childhood issues. He claims that weight problems are not psychological problems; rather, weight problems cause psychological turmoil: it’s a reverse cause and effect in that there are social, romantic, workplace, and self-esteem prices to be paid when one is overweight.
Whether you are overweight or slender–most everyone in America is eating the same food. Why do some people have a problem and some don’t?
Commence the science-talk (which I will do my best to paraphrase).
The Law of Satiety says that “animals eating to full satisfaction in their natural habitat will, over time, eat neither too much not too little for optimum health.” Then he shows us how eating just 1% more than necessary adds up. This may be a tiny amount of calories a day: 10 or 20. Over years, thought, the effect is clear: you are (I am) 30-40 pounds overweight.
The digestive system has two types of receptors, nutrient (finding fat, sugar, protein, fiber) and stretch (measures volume), which work together to tell us we are satisfied. This is why we can’t eat only lettuce (we’d starve) and why crazy diets where you only eat chicken and strawberries don’t work–we are not satieted and, as a result, we end up binging. With most Americans eating high calorie, low stretch food (such as milkshakes, french fries, etc), individual differences (genes) such as lower number of fat receptors in our digestive system can account for systematic overeating.
Breaking the Law of Satiety takes three things: fooling stretch receptors, fooling nutrient receptors, and probably several other secondary methods, including exercise deficiency.
The number one problem with weight management is that most people can’t pick up high amounts of fat. Since mid-December, I’ve been ‘frying’ everything in water or vegetable broth. My husband hasn’t noticed anything different, except that he’s lost 5 pounds. WOW.
The primary causes of excess in our diet are:
1/fiber deficiency (because, in most processed foods, fiber is removed from carbs & fat)
2/fiber damage (processing of carbs: very easy to eat lots of bread but not rice, because bread is eays to digest as it it pre-digested by grinding the wheat)
The result is over-consumption of calories due to the artificially high concentration of calories in the diet. For example, rather than eating corn (~1800 kcal/pound) we now eat corn oil (~4000 kcal/pound).
More bulk (whole grains, veggies) means fewer calories (he uses the stomach image with 400 cal of oil, meat, and veggies to show that the veggies actually “fill up” the stomach).
Our problem with weight stems from the fact that our food is too concentrated (oils, refined grains, etc). In modern America, our environment is designed to make us overweight, because there is a high concentration of highly-concentrated foods. We need to swap concentrated food for high-density, bulk foods that will trigger satiety. Our bodies are designed to keep us at optimal weight–if we make smart swaps, we won’t have to “diet”, our body will naturally shed excess weight.
He says we should eat in this order: first, eat your salad; next, eat your veggies (which might be soup); finish with concentrated carbs such as potatoes, beans, pasta, rice, etc.
In sum, you don’t have to be perfect, hungry, or completely change your life. Habitually eat healthy food and weight will regulate itself. You are not designed nor destined to have weight problems.
Side note: In the short question time after the lecture, Dr. Lisle addresses “the green smoothie controversy” (Should I eat smoothies?). He says that because green (vegetable-based) smoothies aren’t a highly-concentrated food “it would be the last food I’d worry about”–he’d look for other highly concentrated food that’s slipping into the diet.
What are your thoughts?