Do you have to be a vegetarian to lose weight or prevent diabetes? Not exactly, but you do need to watch your intake of red meat, especially the processed kind, such as fast food hamburgers, sausage, ham and salami. A 2011 study found that the more red meat you eat, the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). And the risk factors for weight gain and T2D overlap quite a bit, because the causative mechanism behind them are similar, that being inflammation.
This study looked at data collected from two very large, long-term studies, one being the Nurses Health Study, the other was the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. What it found was that for every serving of red meat consumed, the risk for developing T2D increased significantly. One of the interesting points is that the portion size for processed meat was half the size of that for unprocessed red meat. This means that processed meat is much more detrimental when compared gram for gram to regular red meat. The researchers in this study calculated that for each daily serving of meat that is replaced by a nutritious food such as whole grains or nuts, the risk of developing T2D decreased by 16-35%!
Do you cringe at the thought of giving up red meat? No need, because not all red meat is “bad” for your health. Grass fed, organic red meat contains more omega-3 than that of standard, grain- fed cows, so is much less inflammatory, and less likely to cause diabetes and weight gain. But as always with any food, moderation is key.
References: Am J Clin Nutr 2011 94: 4 1088–1096
Are you thinking about trying to lose a few pounds, but aren’t sure where to start? Here’s one easy rule of thumb that will guarantee weight loss, without starvation: Don’t eat junk food!
Of course we all know that junk food is high in calories, low in nutrients, and is packed with lots of offensive chemicals and preservatives. But the little secret that no one mentions, and is quite possibly the worst part about it, is the fact that it upregulates hunger signals, and blocks satiety (fullness) signals, effectively making a you eat even more!
How does this happen? When the body is functioning as nature intends, the process of eating eventually triggers a feedback system. The digestive tract releases signals to the brain that enough food has been consumed, and satiety signals say “I’m full and satisfied” and make you to stop eating. But with high fat and high sugar junk food, (or “palatable food” as it is referred to in this study1) the feedback system is out of balance, and the “stop eating” switch isn’t triggered. This explains why eating junk food can actually leave you feeling even more hungry, leading to a sense of frustration that you can’t control your appetite. But it’s really the fault of the food.
The best way to bring back the satiety signal is by eating a whole-foods based diet. Real food is very effective in letting the brain know you’ve eaten enough. And feeling full and satisfied after a healthy meal empowers you to realize that you can control your appetite, and that weight loss is actually an obtainable and healthy long-term goal. If you aren’t used to cooking with real food, take a cooking class, buy a good recipe book, or go online to learn the ropes. When you learn how to cook healthy and delicious meals, you’ll never want to go back to the junk!
Reference: 1) Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2005 Aug;97(2):61-73