~Weight Loss Strategies Update 2006, Part 3

The Fat Trap

Before carbohydrates became a popular dietary villain, the focus was on fat. Americans were told that to lose weight, they had to dramatically cut down on the amount of fat they consumed. Once again, this simple advice presented an incomplete picture of weight loss. In fact, some kinds of fats (monounsaturated) are essential to good health and should be consumed every day. Other kinds of fats (e.g., saturated and trans fats) should be eaten in limited quantities or avoided because of their close association with obesity and heart disease.

Saturated fats have been shown to worsen insulin sensitivity in overweight individuals. For example, four diets (57 percent carbohydrate, 28 percent saturated fat, and 15 percent protein) enriched with fatty acids were evaluated in 25 healthy men and women over a four-week period. It was found that insulin sensitivity decreased by 24 percent in overweight subjects on the saturated fat diet compared with overweight subjects on the monounsaturated fat diet, but insulin sensitivity was unchanged in lean subjects (Lovejoy et al 2002).

Low-calorie diets that feature monounsaturated fats enhance the beneficial effects of weight loss in decreasing cardiovascular risk factors in obese patients. Foods containing monounsaturated fats include olive oil (73 percent), canola oil (60 percent), hazelnuts (50 percent), almonds (35 percent), Brazil nuts (26 percent), cashews (28 percent), avocado (12 percent), sesame seeds (20 percent), and pumpkin seeds (16 percent) (Gumbiner et al 1998).

Replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or monounsaturated fats reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) during weight loss (Heilbronn et al 1999). Be diligent in avoiding the trans fats found in many processed foods because these fats are especially dangerous. Trans fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation. This process turns liquid vegetable oils into solids at room temperature and extends the shelf-life of the product. Solid stick margarine and Crisco are examples of hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are found in many commercially baked cookies, cakes, and breads. Read food labels!

Consuming foods high in refined carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, cookies, candy, soda, white potatoes, white rice) and foods high in saturated fat (e.g., luncheon meats, beef, bacon, tropical oils) is a poor weight-management strategy. Instead, mixed meals that contain easily digested animal protein (e.g., fish, skinless chicken, turkey), unrefined fiber-rich carbohydrates (e.g., wild rice, yams, broccoli), and foods high in monounsaturated fat (e.g., olives and olive oil, pistachio nuts, avocados) are more effective in achieving a healthy, optimal body weight.

Green Tea Enhances Metabolic Rate

Green tea and green tea extract have shown an ability to increase metabolic rate.
  • A study in mice found that the primary polyphenol found in green tea (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) decreased diet-induced obesity by decreasing energy absorption and increasing fat burning (Klaus et al 2005).

  • Another study in mice evaluated the effects of caffeine, polyphenols, and L-theanine, the three major components of green tea. Additive benefits were found from green tea polyphenols, caffeine, and theanine on fat accumulation (Zheng et al 2004). Furthermore, another study showed that feeding 4 percent green tea powder to mice resulted in weight loss as well as lower concentrations of total cholesterol in the liver, triglycerides in serum and liver, and fatty acids in serum (Sayama et al 2000).

  • A well-known study examined whether or not green tea extract, rich in caffeine and polyphenols, could increase 24-hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. On separate occasions, subjects were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: green tea extract and caffeine (90 mg EGCG and 50 mg caffeine), caffeine (50 mg), and placebo, which were ingested at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The results showed that treatment with the green tea extract (which included caffeine) resulted in a significant increase in metabolic rate, as evidenced by a significant increase in 24-hour energy expenditure (Dulloo et al 1999).

  • An open-label trial demonstrated that after three months, green tea extract decreased body weight by 4.6 percent and waist circumference by 4.48 percent (Chantre et al 2002).
Green tea is available in both caffeinated and decaffeinated forms. For more safety information about green tea, please see “Safety Caveats” at the end of this chapter.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid Increases Metabolic Rate and Reduces Abdominal Obesity

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in ruminant meats such as beef and lamb and in dairy products such as milk and cheese. Many studies support the anticancer, antiobesity, antidiabetic, and antiatherogenic properties of CLA (Lee et al 1994; Park et al 1997, 1999; West et al 1998; Yamasaki et al 2003).

Human clinical trials have shown reductions in body fat from CLA supplementation.
  • Supplementation with 1.8 g daily of CLA for 12 weeks reduced body fat in healthy, exercising humans of normal body weight (Thom et al 2001).

  • Men with abdominal obesity who consumed 4.2 g daily of CLA for 4 weeks decreased their abdominal diameter (Riserus et al 2001).

  • Supplementation with 3.4 or 6.8 g of CLA daily for two weeks decreased body fat mass in overweight and obese people, and the trans-10, cis-12 CLA isomer inhibited the activities of the fat-storage enzyme lipoprotein lipase (Pariza et al 2001).

  • The cis-9, trans-11 isomer, a specific isomer of CLA, increases metabolic rate and energy production (thermogenesis) (Ryder et al 2001; Brown et al 2003).
Evidence from a short-term study (12 weeks) has suggested that treatment with CLA may worsen insulin resistance (Riserus et al 2002). However, a long-term study (one year) in overweight and obese men and women has shown that CLA is effective for weight loss with no adverse effects on insulin sensitivity (Gaullier et al 2004). A 36-week toxicity study in animals given CLA at doses far exceeding those given to humans also showed CLA to be without toxicity (Scimeca 1998).

Enhancing Metabolism and Fat Burning with Guarana

Guarana is a South American shrub traditionally used by Indians to help maintain energy levels. Today, Brazilians use guarana as a health tonic.

Guarana seeds contain 4 percent to 8 percent caffeine, as well as trace amounts of theophylline and theobromine. These chemicals are believed to account for guarana's energy-stimulating and fat-burning effects (Carlson et al 1998).

Toxicology studies assessing guarana's effect in mice and rats demonstrated high doses of guarana (1000 to 2000 mg/kg) had no significant toxicity effects while low doses (1.2 mcg/mL) actually had an antioxidant effect (Mattei et al 1998).

In animals, guarana has been shown to increase physical endurance under stressful conditions to a greater extent than do comparable doses of caffeine or ginseng (Espinola et al 1997).

In another study, Guarana extract in an herbal formulation given to overweight human patients for 45 days was associated with an 11.2-lb weight loss in the guarana group compared with less than a 1-lb weight loss in the placebo group (Andersen et al 2001).

Guarana is well tolerated. However, adverse side effects, including heart palpitations and anxiety, have been reported when guarana is combined with powerful CNS stimulants such as ephedra and bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) (Pittler et al 2005). Therefore, guarana should not be taken in conjunction with CNS stimulants.

Fish Oils Promote Fat Burning

Essential fatty acids (omega-3) found in fish oils promote thermogenesis, the process by which foods are converted to heat. Because of this, the body burns calories instead of converting them into fat for storage (McCarty 1994). Another benefit of essential fatty acids is to make cell membranes more sensitive to the effects of insulin (Storlien et al 1986, 1987, 1996; Borkman et al 1993; Vessby et al 1994; Pan et al 1995).

Eating fish is an excellent way to promote weight loss. Many people also choose to take essential fatty acid supplements that are high in EPA and DHA extracted from fish oils.

Consuming cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, herring, and mackerel) and fish oil supplements favorably influences hormone-like substances in the body known as prostaglandins, specifically PgE1, conferring a protective effect against chronic inflammation and vascular disease, common in overweight individuals (Maachi et al 2004).

The Premise behind Eating Early in the Day

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study reporting that food eaten early in the day generated more energy (diet-induced thermogenesis) than food eaten later in the day. This study provided evidence that the body's basal metabolic rate is highest early in the day, burning off calories as energy, whereas these same calories consumed at night are more likely to be stored as fat (Romon et al 1993). Based on this evidence, some physicians advocate that overweight patients should not eat anything after 7:00 p.m.

At the 43rd Annual Conference of the AHA (March 5, 2003), a study was presented reporting that people who eat breakfast every day are less likely to be obese and diabetic. In contrast to subjects who ate breakfast twice a week or less, subjects eating breakfast every day had 35 to 50 percent lower rates of obesity and insulin resistance (Pereira et al 2003).

Dr. Mark A. Pereira, a scientist involved in the study, stated that breakfast may reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by controlling appetite and reducing the likelihood of overeating later in the day. The study included 2681 young adults who were followed for eight years. Those who ate whole-grain breakfast cereals had a lower incidence of obesity and insulin resistance than those who ate refined-grain breakfast cereals (Pereira et al 2003). The study did not evaluate the nighttime eating habits of the subjects.

LE advises against consuming large amounts of food late in the day, when insulin sensitivity is lower. Eat the majority of your food earlier in the day, when insulin sensitivity is better. Severely obese people should consider consuming the bulk of their calories for breakfast and avoiding any food after 7:00 p.m.

Another strategy is to consume daily six small-calorie meals containing small amounts of protein, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat, and unrefined, low-glycemic carbohydrates. These small meals should not exceed 250-300 calories each.

Avoid Food Cooked at High Temperatures

Diabetics were studied to assess the difference between consuming a diet high in foods cooked at higher temperatures compared with foods cooked at lower temperatures. After six weeks, diabetics consuming the foods cooked at lower temperatures lost weight, and their blood glucose levels dropped. The group eating foods cooked at higher temperatures did not lose weight and had increased blood glucose levels. The number of calories and amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats consumed were the same in both groups (Vlassara et al 2002).

Foods cooked at high temperature were fried, barbecued, broiled, or cooked in the microwave. While the worst culprits in the study were animal products, any food exposed to extreme high heat can scorch the natural sugars in food and create fat-inducing toxins. Foods often cooked in this way include many prepackaged foods that have been preserved, pasteurized, homogenized, or refined, such as white flour, cake mixes, dried milk, dried eggs, dairy products including pasteurized milk, and canned or frozen precooked meals (Vlassara et al 2002).

While it may be impossible to totally avoid foods cooked at high temperatures, it is possible to reduce exposure by changing the way food is prepared. Consider steaming, boiling, poaching, stewing, stir-frying, or using a slow cooker. These methods not only cook foods with a lower amount of heat, but they create more moisture during the cooking process. Water or moisture can help delay toxic reactions associated with higher-temperature cooking. Marinating foods in olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and dry wines can also help. Finally, consider making small dietary changes by adding more fresh fruits and raw and steamed vegetables to your diet.

In addition, eating foods cooked at lower temperatures was found to reduce the levels of other potentially harmful substances in the blood, including LDL, C-reactive protein, and pro-inflammatory cytokines. A six-week diet cooked at low temperatures caused a 33 percent reduction of LDL, while a diet cooked at high temperatures increased LDL by 32 percent (Vlassara et al 2002).

You Are Now Ready to Begin

If you have tried to lose weight in the past and failed, you now understand why. When there are hormone imbalances, food restriction (or dieting) may have only a minimal effect. For optimal fat loss to occur, hormones must be restored to youthful levels. Otherwise, you are fighting an uphill battle.

If you are deficient in nutrients such as magnesium and chromium, the effects of hormone imbalances can be exacerbated. Eating foods at the wrong time of the day can negatively impact your attempt to shed fat. If your metabolic rate is not maintained, then weight loss can become virtually impossible.

What is critical to remember is that following only certain portions of the following program and neglecting others will not produce optimal results. For instance, you should lose some weight if you faithfully take enough soluble fiber before each meal. You should also experience some fat reduction in response to taking 7-keto DHEA early in the day.

To see meaningful benefits, however, you need to follow every step outlined in this chapter. Remember: Your body is programmed to store fat. That is how your ancestral genome survived the mass starvation that has plagued humankind since its inception.

Amid the food abundance we enjoy in the United States, our bodies are behaving as they are programmed to do. In response to abundance, ingested food is stored as fat awaiting the next famine. The problem comes when there is no famine. Food is plentiful. Fat-promoting meals are affordable and convenient. Is it any wonder that the United States is now experiencing the worst obesity epidemic in its history?

In order to prevail against your body's innate propensity to store fat, you must restore fat-reducing hormones such as DHEA and testosterone lost to aging, and suppress hormones such as insulin and estrogen, which promote body fat. You'll want to enhance insulin sensitivity and maintain a youthful metabolic rate so that your cells are able to release stored fat.

Americans have been misled for decades about what causes them to become overweight. Physicians have failed to provide the complete solution needed to induce significant long-term reductions in body fat. For the first time, a comprehensive program has been designed to address all the factors that scientists have identified as causing or contributing to age-related weight gain and obesity.

The Importance of Blood Testing

The LE weight loss plan begins with comprehensive blood testing to help determine which hormones are low and whether thyroid function needs to be supported. In the past, many people have found it difficult to obtain proper hormone blood tests and a cooperative physician to work with. A new program makes this both simple and cost-effective. You can order the suggested hormone profile blood tests over the telephone, (800) 208-3444. You will also have an opportunity to speak directly with a knowledgeable health advisor over the phone. You will be sent filled-in paperwork that will enable you to go to a convenient blood-drawing station in your area. After your blood is tested, the results will be mailed to you.

Life Extension members also have the opportunity to discuss the results of these tests with one of the organization's knowledgeable doctors. If a hormone imbalance is identified, these results, as well as a prescribed hormone replacement program, should be discussed with your personal physician.

If you do not have a cooperative physician, you may be referred to a physician in your area who regularly prescribes hormones for both anti-aging and weight loss purposes.

The recommended blood tests include:

Thyroid blood tests. Several blood tests assess thyroid function. If any of these tests indicate a thyroid deficiency, a physician should consider prescribing the appropriate dose of the drugs Cytomel (T3) or Armour desiccated thyroid to bring the thyroid level into the normal range.

TSH. If your blood test shows an increase in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), this indicates your pituitary gland is over-secreting a hormone to stimulate thyroid function because of an apparent thyroid deficiency. The normal range for TSH can vary from 0.2 to 5.5 mU/mL. However, if TSH levels are above 2.0 mU/mL, you may be deficient in thyroid hormone and could benefit from Cytomel ® or Armour ™ drug therapy. The higher the level of TSH, the more likely you are to be thyroid deficient (Braunwald et al 2001).

T4. A total thyroxine (T4) test measures the actual hormone being secreted by your thyroid gland. If T4 is deficient, most physicians will prescribe Synthroid ®, a synthetic T4 hormone. However, LE recommends Cytomel ® (T3) or Armour ™ desiccated thyroid instead of Synthroid ® (T4) because T3 is the more metabolically active form of thyroid that aids in fat burning. Further, LE believes the T4 blood level in men who want to lose weight should be in the range of 8.5 to 10.5 mcg/dL. In women under age 60 who want to lose weight, the range should be between 9 and 11 mcg/dL. For women older than age 60, optimal T4 should be within a range of 8.5 to 10.7 mcg/dL. Excess T4 is a sign of hyperthyroidism, which should receive immediate medical treatment (Tietz 1995).

T3. Measuring the level of triiodothyronine (T3) is a way to determine how much metabolically active thyroid hormone is available to tissues. Normal T3 range is 2.3 to 4.2 pg/mL (LabCorp 2005), but to lose weight, LE believes you should consider a range of 3.2 to 4.2 pg/mL. If your level is below this, Cytomel ® drug therapy is suggested. Most individuals begin at 12.5 mcg of Cytomel ® twice a day. The dose can be increased if blood T3 levels do not return to a normal range or if symptoms of thyroid deficiency persist. Above-normal T3 levels can indicate an overdose of drugs such as Synthroid ® or Cytomel ® or suggest hyperthyroidism (Bralow 2004).

Thyroglobulin. A less frequently used blood test to assess thyroid function measures thyroglobulin (normal range, 0 to 55 ng/mL; LabCorp 2005). If thyroglobulin is decreased, hypothyroidism is indicated.

Thyroxine-binding globulin. Another less commonly used blood test to assess thyroid function measures thyroxine-binding globulin (normal range, 13 to 39 mcg/dL). If thyroxine-binding globulin is increased, an individual is usually deficient in thyroid function (hypothyroid) (LabCorp 2005).

Some physicians think it is more accurate to assess thyroid function by measuring body temperature in the morning before getting out of bed. This method, known as the Barnes Basal Temperature Chart, is thought to be especially useful in the treatment of obesity (Broda et al 1976).

Every morning, as soon as you wake up, and before getting out of bed, put a thermometer under your tongue and let it remain there for three minutes. If your under-the-tongue temperature is less than 98.2 degrees F (Fahrenheit), you are likely to be hypothyroid. For the most accurate results, repeat this test every day for at least two weeks. Write down the date, time, and temperature and bring the readings with you when you go to your weight-loss physician. Chronic morning basal temperature readings below 98.2 degrees F might indicate a need for thyroid hormone replacement (Broda et al 1976).

Blood testing for men

Male hormone imbalances may be detected through proper blood testing and are correctable with currently available drugs and nutrients. The following blood tests are suggested:

1. LE panel for men
  • Chemistry panel/complete blood count (CBC)
  • Free testosterone
  • Total testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) sulfate
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
  • Estradiol
  • Homocysteine
  • C-reactive protein (cardiac; high sensitivity)
2. Thyroid panel
  • TSH
  • Tri-iodothyronine (T3), free levels
  • Thyroxine (T4)
3. Fasting insulin

Blood testing for women

Hormone imbalances in women can be detected through proper blood testing and are correctable with currently available drugs and nutrients. The following blood tests are suggested:

1. LE panel for women
  • Chemistry panel/CBC
  • Free testosterone
  • Total testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) sulfate
  • Estradiol
  • Progesterone
  • Homocysteine
  • C-reactive protein (cardiac; high sensitivity)
2. Thyroid panel
  • TSH
  • Tri-iodothyronine (T3), free
  • Thyroxine (T4)
3. Fasting insulin

Continued . . .

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