Science and Weight Loss

By Michael Edmonds 29/01/2012 6


This year I find myself carrying a bit more weight that I have in the past. Put it down to overindulgence over Christmas and quake weight (the Canterbury term for comfort eating), I am just over 90 kg and for my fairly average build, and height of just under 6ft (181 cm), that is a wee bit too much. So it is time to lose some weight.

Weight loss is a fascinating area as it is where two of my interest intersects – the chemistry of food and psychology. Research has shown that there is a strong motivational component to successful weight loss and that the quality as well as quantity of food consumed is important.

Weight loss is also an area that has attracted many dubious approaches and products, for example, the lemon detox diet, the apple diet (only eating apples) and the Atkins diet (which largely excludes fruit and vegetables is enough to make a dietitian roll their eyes in horror).

So, I’m going to use my plan to lose some weight to explore some of the concepts around weight loss, while also reporting on my progress. This plan is using one common motivational technique which is to tell other people what you are doing so you can’t back out.

So my starting point is as follows:

I’m 43 years old, 181 cm tall, average build and weigh 90.2 kg as of this morning. I go to the gym about 5 times a week which involves 10 to 20 minutes on a stair climber (dodgy knee means I can’t run on a treadmill for too long – also another good reason to drop some weight) plus some weight work for 30 to 45 minutes.

My BMI or body mass index is 27.5 which BMI calculators tell me makes be overweight. Apparently I should be aiming to be under 24.9. (Note – there are some issues around regarding BMI which I will blog about another time).

My plan is to maintain my current level of activity while adjusting my diet to effect weight loss. I’ll be taking what I think is the most sensible approach – decreasing the amount of processed and high fat foods and increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit.

Along the way I’ll report in as to how the weight loss is going while exploring common beliefs around dieting such as – does drinking more water make you less hungry? and does having a “naughty day”, where you eat what you like, work?

Hmmm, lunchtime – what shall I have?


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