10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight

An interesting programme on BBC1 last week about the science of losing weight.

At any one time in Britain, around 10 million people are trying to lose weight. This programme, fronted by doctor-turned-journalist Michael Mosley, investigates the latest scientific breakthroughs in slimming, uncovering 10 of the simplest ways to shed those pounds. The programme was backed up with research and practical demonstrations.

Don't skip meals. A CT scan of the brain showed the brain lighting up when a volunteer who had skipped breakfast was shown pics of high calorie, high fat food and little reaction to low-cal food. The volunteer who had eaten breakfast scan showed no difference between pics of low cal food and High cal food. The area of the brain lighting up was one associated with appetite so the brain was guiding choice towards calorie laden food (think pastries at morning break)

Eating a protein rich breakfast (or any other meal) keeps you satisfied for longer because it triggers the release of more of the chemical that tells the brain you are full. At last someone questioning the value of breakfast cereals.

Eating low-fat dairy products helps the body to excrete more unabsorbed fat than usual. Dairy calcium binds with fat in the small intestine and passes through without being absorbed. So skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt, cottage cheese, fromage frais etc all help to carry away fat in the gut. To prove it, Blur guitarist-turned-farmer Alex James sportingly agreed to follow a high-dairy diet for one week, while sending off regular poo samples to a lab in Holland. He followed this with a week-long low-dairy diet, which contained exactly the same number of calories. Amazingly, Alex excreted more than double the amount of fat on the high-dairy diet.

The 'burn' from exercise carries on well into the next day. The volunteer ran at 4mph for 90 minutes and his fat burn measured. It wasn't that impressive but next day showed how it had carried on. The body accesses carbohydrates easily during exercise and has to use stored body fat to run everything over the next hours - impressive

Building small amounts of 'activity' into daily routine significantly increases heart rate and calorie expenditure. The volunteer was Aimee Lamee, US comedienne and broadcaster. She was more active at home, spent less time sitting at lunchtime and more time walking and talking, she did her radio show standing up and moving around. It made a significant difference.

People generally under-report their intake by 40 to 60%. Count and record everything, including every snack and calorie laden sauce.

Change your plate size from 12 inches to 10 inches. And choose low-calorie options of all your favourite foods.

Soup fills you up for longer it's all to do with the particular way the stomach shrinks and expands and was demonstrated using ultrasound scans of Territorial Army recruits. The same food was served to two groups of soldiers. Half ate chicken, rice and veg on a plate with a glass of water. The other half ate the identical food and water liquidized and served as a soup. Stomach scans showed the soup still in the stomach long after the other group's stomachs were empty and calling to be fed

Here are more tips on the science of weight loss from Herbal Vitality. Why protein shakes for breakfast help someone to lose weight.