Food & Fitness After 50: Mind the Gap

Mind the gapVisitors to London who ride the subway system see or hear a familiar warning, “Mind the Gap.” The warning began appearing in 1969 to caution passengers while crossing the gap between the station platform and the train. But, when it comes of losing weight, we should all mind the gap.

Sharing Weight Loss Success Stories

In the past few months, weight loss success stories have been featured from Debra, Brad, and, Bill. All of them lost weight using different means, but when it comes to keeping it off, there are some patterns that they share. They all have learned to mind the gap; the energy gap that is.

What’s New in Obesity Treatment

Last week I attended a webinar developed by the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and sponsored by Conagra Brands. The webinar, “What’s New in Obesity Treatment,” was conducted by Dr. James Hill, professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Hill is also the expert interviewed for Food & Fitness After 50 in the chapter on weight management.

During the webinar, Dr. Hill described his interactions with hundreds of obese patients and their common complaint that their “metabolism is broken.” At first, he didn’t believe that someone’s metabolism could be broken, but the more he and his team studied obesity treatment, he realized that there are metabolic changes after weight loss that make it hard to keep the weight off. Anyone who has lost weight will recognize the challenges:
• Energy expenditure declines (that is, as your body weight decreases, you need fewer calories to support the new body size so you must cut more calories to continue to lose weight).

• There are compensations in hormones that facilitate and/or process fat storage (our bodies want to hang on to fat!)

• Hunger increases (that is so unfair!)

The Energy Gap

These changes led to what Dr. Hill calls the “energy gap.” That is, there is gap between the pre-weight loss metabolic rate and the post-weight loss metabolic rate. To fill the “gap,” a person needs to further reduce food intake (hard to do) or increase exercise or a little of both. Dr. Hill and his colleagues developed  The National Weight Control Registry in the early 1990s; a registry for people who’ve lost a significant amount of weight and have kept it off. To date, over 10,000 people who have lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off over 6 years are included. A common pattern emerged from those who are successful at weight maintenance after losing weight. They report:

• Counting the calories, especially the fat calories

• Monitoring their weight

• Practicing restraint with food intake

• Eating breakfast

• Having high levels of physical activity

Fixing a Broken Metabolism

Dr. Hill believes that the high level of physical activity helps “fix” the broken metabolism. Based on this work, Dr. Hill and his team have developed a 16- week program called State of Slim to help people transform the way they think about weight.

For those of you who have been on the treadmill of losing weight then gaining weight, don’t fall for the next fad diet, but instead learning how to mind the gap. The resources in State of Slim can help you do that.

Disclosure: The webinar sponsored by Congra Brands was free to health professionals; I do not consult or work with Conagra Brands, The Rippe Institute, or State of Slim. I was not compensated nor was I asked to write about the webinar.