Obesity among children and adults dramatically increases the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. What are the contributing factors that lead to being overweight? In this seminar, Harvard Medical School doctors and researchers will address the stigma that surrounds obesity and discuss concrete methods, including changes to sleep and diet, that could help scale back this growing problem. Each spring, Harvard Medical School's Office of Communications and External Relations organizes a series of four free "mini-med school" classes for the general public in the heart of Boston's Longwood Medical Area. At the end of the seminar series, participants who attend three out of the four sessions receive a certificate of completion. Topics are selected for their appeal to a lay audience and have included the human genome, nutrition, sleep dynamics and health care access. Faculty from Harvard Medical School and its affiliate hospitals volunteer their time to present these lectures to the community. More »
Starvation mode is when you restrict calories over a period of time and lose weight quickly, causing your body’s metabolism to slow down. This is a natural side effect of just about any type of weight loss. The less you weigh, the less body tissue your body has to maintain and so your metabolism may drop a bit. Think of it this way: if you carry a backpack up a hill, you burn more calories than if you walk up without a backpack. Extra weight that you carry, even if it’s some extra fat, causes your body to work harder and burn more calories. Another effect of starvation mode is that your body prefers to preserve fat and consume muscle in an effort to help you survive. However, the Military Diet minimizes the effects of the so-called “starvation mode” by including plenty of protein intake in the form of eggs, cottage cheese, tuna, meats and peanut butter. Research supports this strategy, saying that you can preserve both your muscle and metabolism while dieting. In addition, because the diet is only 3 days, after which you return to a more acceptable caloric intake, your body, muscles and metabolism won’t suffer too much.
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of occurrence of belly fat. If you don’t indulge in any physical activity, and spend most of the time sitting, watching T.V., reading, etc., it is known as a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of regular exercise, or not exercising at all can lead to fat storage around the belly area. In other words, being a couch potato will make you fat.

To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.

One downside to a ketogenic diet for weight loss is the difficulty maintaining it. “Studies show that weight loss results from being on a low-carb diet for more than 12 months tend to be the same as being on a normal, healthy diet,” says Mattinson. While you may be eating more satiating fats (like peanut butter, regular butter, or avocado), you’re also way more limited in what’s allowed on the diet, which can make everyday situations, like eating dinner with family or going out with friends, far more difficult. Because people often find it tough to sustain, it’s easy to rely on it as a short-term diet rather than a long-term lifestyle.
Going gluten-free may be a popular trend, but unless you're actually gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease, plenty of reasons exist to continue eating whole grains. They're a tasty way to fill up on both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help you feel full for longer and keep bowel movements regular (oats, barley, and bulgur are especially high sources). Whole grains can also help prevent weight gain: in one study, women who ate whole grains like wheat germ and dark bread had a 49% lower risk of "major" weight gain over time.
You can drink water and black coffee or tea, but no soda, milk, juice, or alcohol. Stick to the menu as much as you can. You’re allowed to switch out some foods if you have food allergies or other dietary needs. But only make swaps that the diet approves. For example, you can have sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter or a tofu dog instead of a hot dog. But don’t switch the grapefruit to an orange or the vanilla ice cream to a scoop of mint chip or cookie dough.
I've learned that if I am around food for long enough, I will eat it. It doesn’t matter if I am hungry or if the food even looks good; I'll just start nibbling out of habit. When my husband would get home late from work, I would typically eat a dinner by myself and then eat more with him when he got home. I tried to sit with him at the table and not eat, but eventually, I would start picking at his plate. Over time, I realized that I needed to sit either across the table or on a nearby couch to avoid the thoughtless habit. He didn’t mind either way and moving away from the food actually allowed me to focus more on him.
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