Written by Team MD
22 August 2018


Latest on Fat Loss - Six Research Findings


1) Drinking Water Before Meals Promotes Weight Loss

An easy way to lose weight is to drink a pint of water before major meals— according to a study led by Helen Parretti from Oxford University in the U.K. Thirty minutes before each major meal, people drank a pint of water (water group) or imagined their stomachs were full (think group). After 12 weeks, the water group lost 5.3 pounds and the think group lost 2.6 pounds. Drinking water before meals is a simple, safe and effective way to lose weight. Weight loss from drinking water before meals three times a day was similar to that achieved with commercial weight-loss programs. It is not known if pre-meal water consumption will cause long-term weight loss. (Obesity, 23: 1785-1791, 2015)


2) Melatonin Helps Cut Fat

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that promotes sleep. It is produced cyclically in response to darkness and light. Supplementing melatonin might promote weight control— according to the results of a study on mice by Italian researchers. Lean and obese mice were given melatonin or a placebo in their drinking water for eight weeks. Melatonin reduced weight, fat storage area and reversed fat tissue enlargement in the obese mice, but not the lean mice. It worked by decreasing inflammation and normalizing adipokines, which are important fat-signaling chemicals. It also activated brown fat and enhanced energy expenditure. Melatonin supplements help promote sleep and weight control. (Nutrition Research, 35: 891-900, 2015)


3) High-Intensity Interval Training Promotes Appetite Control

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves repeated repetitions of high-intensity exercise lasting 10 to 120 seconds, followed by rest or reduced exercise intensity. HIIT produces rapid improvements in endurance, maximal oxygen consumption, glycogen storage and muscle cell mitochondria (cell powerhouses) in less time than traditional exercise training. Its effects on obesity and weight control are not totally understood. Aaron Sim and colleagues from the University of Western Australia found that HIIT practiced for 12 weeks reduced appetite in overweight, inactive men better than continuous exercise. The HIIT program consisted of repeated bouts of exercise on a stationary bike for 15 seconds at maximum intensity, followed by one minute of rest. Traditional training involved 30 to 45 minutes of continuous exercise on a stationary bike at 60 percent effort. Appetite was assessed during test meals. The HIIT group showed improvements in appetite regulation during the test meals, while there were no changes in the traditional exercise group or controls. HIIT also improved blood sugar regulation. HIIT is a good training method for weight control and management of insulin sensitivity. (Medicine Science Sports Exercise, 47: 2441-2449, 2015)


4) Dairy Foods But Not Calcium Supplements Promote Fat Loss

Several large population studies found that dairy food consumption was linked to lower body fat. As expected, the dairy industry jumped on these findings to promote their products. These studies didn’t find that eating more dairy foods will make people thinner— only that dairy consumption is related to lower body fat. Alison Booth and colleagues from Deakin University in Australia performed a meta-analysis that pooled the results of studies on the effects of dairy consumption and calcium supplements on bodyweight and body composition. Calcium supplements had no effect on weight or fat loss. Dairy consumption as part of a reduced-calorie diet, on the other hand, caused fat loss but not weight loss. The researchers concluded that in the short term (four months), including three daily servings of dairy might promote fat loss. (British Journal Nutrition, 114: 1013-1025, 2015)


5) Low-Fat Diets Don’t Work

During the past 35 years, nutritional experts have advised people to cut down the amount of fats they consume. The origin of this recommendation was the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs Committee chaired by former U.S. Senator George McGovern (1968 and 1977). This productive committee established reduced intake of fats and increased consumption of carbohydrates as national goals. Americans took this advice to heart, and obesity rates went through the stratosphere. Deirdre Tobias and co-workers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University conducted a meta-analysis that pooled the results of 53 randomized trials on the effects of low-fat diets on long-term weight loss. Low-fat diets do not cause more weight loss than diets higher in fat. Fat has been demonized for nearly half a century, based more on political considerations than scientific fact. (The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 3: 968-979, 2015)


6) Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Success in many sports requires minimal body fat and maximal muscle mass. Intermittent fasting might help athletes achieve this goal— according to an article by Grant Tinsley, Joshua Gann and Paul La Bounty. Athletes must make weight in sports like weightlifting, powerlifting and martial arts. Constant dieting can sap energy and trigger glycogen depletion in the muscles and liver, which makes it difficult to train hard. Intermittent fasting, involving periods of fasting and non-fasting, might help athletes lose weight and maintain energy for intense training. Fasting every other day or even once a week results in a calorie deficit over time that promotes fat loss. Modified fasting allows athletes to consume some calories, which might be more realistic and palatable. Short fasts are best for athletes because they don’t cause significant muscle loss. Athletes can fast on non-exercise days so they have plenty of energy for physical activity. We don’t completely understand how intermittent fasting affects performance. (Strength and Conditioning Journal, 37: 60-71, 2015)