A common myth that I always try to dispel is that if the foods you like caused you to gain weight then only the foods you hate can help you lose weight. This myth also helps perpetuate the belief that diets don’t work. Suffering through a diet of foods you hate and then going back to your old habits won’t work, but it is possible to lose weight and keep it off. To have long-term success, you need to adopt habits that you can stick to for the rest of your life, and the only way to do that is to have foods you enjoy on the menu.
A new mouse study wanted to examine if improving the taste of the test subject’s chow with the noncaloric sweetener sucralose and mineral oil (to simulate fatty foods without providing extra calories) would lead to increased consumption. After six weeks they found the group eating the tastier chow did not gain any more weight than the control group. They also added additional flavor to a high-fat food that was known to cause obesity in rats and once again, the additional flavor did not cause additional weight gain.
So what does this mean?
The big take away from this study is that taste does not independently lead to increased consumption. The problem isn’t from enjoying your meals, the problem comes from eating foods that fire your appetite up again too soon, the infamous carb roller coaster.
When you eat easily-digested carbs, your blood sugar spikes which then causes your insulin to soar in response. Your insulin does too good a job pulling sugar out of your bloodstream causing your levels to get too low. The quickest and easiest way for you body to normalize your blood sugar levels is to fire up your appetite and your desire for more sugar and the cycle repeats over and over.
Worse yet, insulin tells your body to store any fat you eat so the sugar can be dealt with first. This means hundreds of calories of nutrition are basically ignored by your appetite-control mechanisms as your body shuttles it into your fat cells. It’s a nasty combination that quickly leads to weight gain.
Sugar is in far more than you ever imagined because it’s a cheap and tasty preservative that increases shelf-life, which reduces manufacturers’ costs. They don’t care that it causes you to overeat, in fact they just see it as a sign that you really like their products.
Plan for the long-term
Diets don’t work, except when they do. If you try to suffer through a short-term diet with foods you hate, then you won’t succeed. Check out my guide on how to structure your diet with foods you enjoy so you can learn how to create a plan you can not only live with, but enjoy. I would also suggest reading the article on the 5 surprising reasons why diets fail to help you avoid some of the emotional pitfalls that trip people up when they first try to make positive lifestyle changes.