We all know how to lose weight; eat less and exercise more! It’s that easy, right? The answer seems so simple. But if weight loss is so easy then why are more and more of us struggling with their weight? Why is something that should be so straight forward seemingly impossible for so many of us? The truth is: losing weight is hard!
The Psychology Behind Weight Loss
So what makes weight loss so hard? Before we tackle this question let’s first clarify a very important point: a strict calorie controlled diet and exercise program will assist almost anyone to achieve a healthy weight. If you can eat small portions of food and exercise regularly then stop reading, you’ve found your answer to weight loss!
The problem is, although most of us can maintain this approach for a short period of time, we cannot continue it long-term. So where are we going wrong? They say that everything begins and ends in our mind, and when it comes to dieting this could not be truer. The reason many of us haven’t yet succeeded is that we haven’t found a diet that is suited to our psychology.
There are three psychological hurdles that cause huge amounts of damage to our weight loss attempts. They are (1) our need for instant gratification, (2) our limited willpower, and (3) ‘all or nothing’ thinking.
Instant gratification is the desire to see a result soon after an action. Imagine that you’ve started a calorie controlled eating plan. After one day of disciplined eating you jump on the scales and, to your shock, see that your weight has barely budged! All of that work for practically nothing! Soon after, you give up on your diet because your efforts weren’t rewarded with visible results.
Most conventional diets provide you with slightly less calories than you need each day. The theory being that eating slightly less than you need requires little extra effort, and those small daily calorie deficits will add up over time and result in weight loss. However, in practice cutting out even a small amount of calories requires a large amount of mental effort, especially because the daily results are practically impossible to see.
This is where BODi Meal Replacements differ. Like conventional diets, on your BODi days you will eat less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. However, instead of eating only slightly less, you will consume substantially less, multiplying your fat loss several fold. On top of this, the mix of macronutrients in BODi Meal Replacements keeps your energy levels high and will leave you feeling full (see BODi: The Biology). The end result being you will require no extra discipline to do a BODi day versus a day on a conventional diet, but you will lose several times the weight.
The second factor that can sabotage our weight loss efforts is our limited willpower. Take the following example; you’ve been on a health kick for a while and you are doing pretty well. You come home one day and find that your partner has bought a block of your favourite chocolate… You know you shouldn’t eat it but it’s just so tempting! How many days do you last before you give in and eat the chocolate? 1 day? 3 days? Eventually you will most likely give in as we all have limited willpower.
The interesting part of this example is not that you gave in, but that for a period of time you showed strong discipline and didn’t give in. Conventional eating plans don’t take this very important point into account. They require you to eat differently than you would like to every day for months on end. The light at the end of the tunnel seems a long way off! BODi Meal Replacements only require you to be disciplined (if you call drinking a chocolate-nut flavoured shake disciplined!) for 1-3 days per week. For the rest of the week you can continue eating as usual.
This brings us to ‘all or nothing’ thinking. Imagine you wake up one day inspired to lose some weight. You make yourself a healthy breakfast, choose a salad for lunch, and avoid the evil work vending machine throughout your afternoon. You then arrive home absolutely starving! You think to yourself, “I’ve been so good all day; I’ll just have a small biscuit before dinner”. So you have a few biscuits, what’s the harm, right? This is when the “you’re out of control, you can’t even eat healthy for one day” thoughts start to kick in. You begin to feel disheartened and out of control. You start to think “what’s the point? I’ve ruined today so I may as well write the rest of the day off!” Next thing you know you’ve eaten the whole packet of biscuits!
This black and white, ‘all or nothing’ thinking is really common in people who are trying to lose weight. Instead of thinking that snacking on two biscuits is a minor setback; people see it as a total failure and give up completely.
Like limited willpower, ‘all or nothing’ thinking is only a problem when you combine it with a diet that requires you to be disciplined all the time. On the BODi Meal Replacement program, most days are not “diet” days and so there will be no guilty feelings when you decide to have a little treat… and therefore no resulting binge!
So there you have it. Given our limited willpower, need for instant gratification, and ‘all or nothing’ thinking, it’s not hard to see why most of us struggle when presented with a diet that requires us to control our calorie intake all of the time, or only results in a tiny bit of weight loss each day. Because of this, BODi Meal Replacements have been designed to provide substantial weight loss while only requiring a small amount of willpower for a few days per week.
The Biology Behind Weight Loss
The science behind weight loss is a fascinating area that has attracted a mountain of academic research. These studies can be pretty boring to wade through, however they do shed light on some very interesting questions like: what’s the most important meal of the day? Does eating fat make you fat? What is the meaning of life? Ok so maybe not that last one, but if you’re feeling inquisitive then put your lab coat on and let’s get started!
Ok first up an easy one; what’s the most important meal of the day? Breakfast right? That’s certainly what my mum always told me. And there is a very well publicized study backing this up. Participants in the study were broken into two groups. One group ate a big breakfast and the other group ate a big dinner. After 3 months both groups were weighed and surprise, surprise the big breakfast group lost the most weight!  Mum was right all along, case closed! Well, not so fast. Tucked away within the paper is the revelation that although the big breakfast group lost the most weight, this was actually due to a substantial loss of muscle mass, not fat! So what’s going on?
It turns out that when you wake up in the morning your body is in a fat burning mode due to the interaction between your hormones, cortisol and insulin [2-6]. A normal breakfast containing carbohydrates reduces the fat burning effects, but when you don’t eat carbohydrates in the morning you extend the fat burning process . And to complicate things further, eating a large amount of protein first thing in the morning can actually mirror the effects of eating carbohydrates and reduce the fat burning process too. Eek!
So I can’t eat carbohydrates and I can’t eat too much protein. Then where do I get my energy from? Fat! That’s right, eating fat doesn’t interrupt the fat burning process at all. In fact studies have shown that people eating higher fat diets lose more weight than people on low fat diets! [8-15] Even more amazingly, some kinds of fats, like medium chain triglycerides, which are included in BODi Meal Replacements, have been shown to increase the rate of fat burning in your body [16-20]. On top of this, there are many other health benefits to eating fats, especially the monounsaturated variety that are also included in BODi Meal Replacements, like shinier hair, plumper and younger looking skin, reduced risk of breast cancer and strengthening of your bones.
This research probably explains why the big breakfast group didn’t lose as much fat as the big dinner group. Strangely many diet programs, including numerous meal replacement shakes, contain either too much protein or carbohydrates in their breakfast meal, which brings an end to your body’s fat burning mode. The BODi breakfast, lunch and dinner meals contain the optimum mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat to maintain your muscle mass, keep your energy levels high and extends your fat burning mode throughout the entire day.
So when it comes to fat loss, breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. Pancakes are out! However, there is something that is great to have at breakfast... caffeine! Studies have shown that caffeine is also a great fat burner, and caffeine’s effect is further increased in the absence of carbohydrates! [21,22] For these two reasons the BODi breakfast meal contains 100mg of caffeine (approximately the same as a latte). Not only does this enhance your morning fat burn but it will also give you a big energy kick!
It’s all good and well knowing what to eat to achieve optimum fat burning, but if eating like this leaves you so hungry that you can’t stick to it then this method is no good, right? So what does the science say about satiety (how full we feel)?
Research into satiety has found a hero in protein. Once thought of as the food of choice for muscled-up gym junkies, numerous studies have shown that people eating a high protein diet are fuller than people on a high carb diet [23-25]. As well as keeping you full, protein intake is essential to maintaining muscle mass, which is crucial for keeping your metabolism high [26,27]. Finally, the breakdown of protein requires more energy than that of carbohydrates, meaning a diet high in protein will likely lead to less fat gain than one high in carbohydrates [28,29]. For these reasons BODi Meal Replacements contain high levels of protein strategically spread across the day to keep you feeling full but without ending your fat burning processes.
Finally there have been some thought-provoking studies into energy cycling. We’re often told not to skip meals because it’ll make us so hungry that the next day we’ll end up on a binge. But is this really true? You can probably already guess the answer to this one! Studies have actually shown that women who fluctuate their energy intake from day to day, just as they do on the BODi Meal Replacement program, achieve greater fat loss than women who eat the same amount of calories every day . There is also some very important psychological reasoning behind why BODi Meal Replacements cycle your calorie intake in this way, which you can read above.
It’s been said that conventional wisdom is often long on convention and short on wisdom, and when it comes to weight loss this certainly holds true! Breakfast isn’t necessarily the most important meal of the day, eating fat doesn’t make you fat, and the meaning of life is... well we’ll leave that one to you!
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