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Weight management has become the trend in our population, for the reason of health or shaping. This has correspond to the emerge of hundreds of fad diets, and weight loss programmes with the promise of quick and easy weight loss, and look fit, gain muscle in a short period of time. These days, individuals are on demand for instant results in every aspects of life, including weight loss. Many weight loss programmes have claimed to be effective with the back -up of scientific theory.
Yet, there are insufficient scientific evidence to support the significant effect of these weight loss programmes. One of the trendiest weight loss programme is the Metabolic Factor, which is pioneered by Dr. Jonny Bowden ( year). In the article “Weight Loss Doctor and Best-Selling Author Says:”Eat Pizza, Not Kale!” “, Dr. Jonny Bowden introduced this metabolic theory and its relationship in losing weight. While this approach is supported by certain scientific evidence and testimonials, showing that the successful stories within 22 days in weight management, there are strength and limitations related to this weight loss plan.
The author introduced a weight loss programme that focuses on increasing human metabolism through the activation of the youth hormone: Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). This in turn activates metabolically active tissues to burn more fats, and results in weight loss. The approaches to activate this hormone include by eating right food, having simple movements, proper sleep, stress management, and detoxification. He claimed that this programme is suitable across the age group, and weight loss can be achieved within 22 days of programme.
The followers are allowed to consume the feast carbs, however only at certain time. The materials provided in this weight loss plan are The Metabolic Factor Blueprint, 10 Minute Meals, Quick Start Guide, Progress Tracker, and Metabolic Motivation Emails.
The author stated the simplest way to lose weight is by activating the metabolically active tissues (MATs). In fact, it is not as easy as mentioned, as it needs a holistic system approach to activate these metabolically active cells, through intrinsic and extrinsic regulations. These metabolically active tissues contribute to the resting energy expenditure (RER). In general, there are three components of human total daily energy expenditure, which are resting energy expenditure, thermic effect of food, and activity-induced energy expenditure (Westerterp, 2017). These MATs contribute to the resting energy expenditure, and they are brain, kidney, liver, and lung (McClave & Snider, 2001). However, the energy expenditure of these organs depends on the organ size, and is not much variable among humans. In spite of this, the most variable component of the total energy expenditure is the thermic effect of exercise, which accounts for 8-15% of total energy expenditure( Ravussin, Lillioja, Anderson, Christin, & Bogardus, 1986), and the changes in resting energy expenditure and thermic effect of food are considerably small( Galgani & Ravussin, 2010), unless individuals in malnutrition or in clinical problems. Therefore, it can be said that increase in physical activity can help in increase the total energy expenditure.
In this article, the author stated that these MATs (brain, heart, liver, lung, are fuelled most efficiently by fat. This statement is misleading, as our body will only utilise fatty acids when one is in starvation. In normal human metabolism, glucose is the preferred substrate over protein and fat. Glucose is the sole fuel for human brain, except during prolonged starvation. In fact, fatty acids cannot be served as the fuel for brain, instead ketone bodies is generated to fuel the brain during starvation. For heart, the main source of fuel is fatty acids. The liver utilizes ?-ketoacids, derived from the degradation of amino acids (Berg, Tymoczk, & Stryer, 2002). The author only allows certain types of food in this weight loss plan, with the purpose of changing the energy metabolism, enabling the body to use fats in preference to glucose. When there is scarce of glucose in our body as a result of restricted intake of carbohydrates, this will put our body in ketosis state, which induces to utilize fats as the primary source of fuel. Ketone bodies are alternative fuel source, which are produced in the liver in response to limited carbohydrates availability, as commonly found in prolonged fasting, starvation or ketogenic( low carbohydrates and high fat intake). In the state of glucose deprivation and concomitant increase in circulating free-fatty acids, ketone bodies are produced to replace glucose as the main fuel for brain and others peripheral tissues such as the brain, heart, and skeletal muscles)(Evans, Cogan, & Egan, 2017).
The main reason of reducing the insulin hormone level, as mentioned by the author is to induce the ketogenesis process. Ketogenesis is an adaptive response during an energy crisis, with the primitive role to provide a substrate for brain, which cannot utilise free-fatty acids as a fuel source. The main substrate for ketogenesis is the free-fatty acids released from adipose tissues. The reduced carbohydrates availability is characterized by decrease in plasma glucose and insulin. When this happens, it stimulates the lipolysis, whereby the fats in adipose tissues are broken down into free-fatty acids, giving the rise of free-fatty acids in blood circulation, and serve for ketogenesis to produce ketone bodies ( acetoacetate, acetone, and ?-hydroxybutyrate)(Evans, Cogan, & Egan, 2017).
In the article, it stated the disruptor of insulin- growth factors are the soybean oil, natural sweetener, and family foods. The real reason behind of avoiding soybean oil, is actually to avoid the fried food, and fast foods. Overly processed food is also one of the food to be avoid, as mentioned by the author. These three ingredients identified are actually the raw ingredients involved in most of the processed foods. The sugar-contained sauces should be avoided as well. It is well-known that westernized diet is a type of obesogenic diet (Paes,Ong,, & Lakshman, 2015, which are characterized by high processed meat and unprocessed red meat, burgers, French fries, sugar-sweetened beverages is the culprit of weight gain. Therefore, by avoiding these foods with high sugar and high fat content, this has actually preventing an individual from an excessive energy intake.
It is also confusing as the author didn’t state the method to determine the type of fat burner.
While most of the followers of this plan claimed that there was a significant weight loss, however it was unclear whether is due to the adaptation of body to utilize fat as the substrate for energy metabolism, or there is really an increase in the metabolism rate. There should be an objective measurement for the metabolic rate to determine whether this weight loss plan is working in a way to increase the metabolic rate, and to evaluate the effectiveness of this plan. Ketosis state should also be evaluated by using ketone urine strips, as this plan induces the ketosis state in body , in order to maximize the fat burning.
Another limitation of this weight loss plan is it is restrictive as the followers need to follow the rules as stated by the author, for example the food that are allowed to eat and to avoid. Although there is no limit in calories taken, there are certain types of foods that need to be strictly controlled, for example the portion size and the timing to eat. The cost of this weight loss plan is expensive, as people need to purchase the related materials to follow this plan.
A study showed that there was no significant weight change among individuals on healthy low-fat or low-carbohydrates group in 12 months. Besides, there were also no significant association between the diet, baseline insulin level, and 12-month time. This signifies that there is no weight loss approach which is superior to another one (Gardner et al., 2018). Another study stated that there is no difference in weight loss among overweight and obese adults with or without type 2 diabetes, who underwent low carbohydrates weight loss diet or isoenergetic balanced weight loss diets ( Naude, Schoonees, Senekal, Young, Garner, & Volmink, 2014). However, we can notice on these weight loss approaches did share the common characteristics. In fact, all of the diet programmes share the things in common, which is the avoidance of refined sugar. It is zero calorie food, which contributes to additional calorie without providing any nutrients. Cutting back on added sugar has been identified as a consistent advice across all weight loss programmes. Decreased intake of free sugar has been associated with an average 0.80kg reduction in weight, while an increased intake of free sugars resulted in 0.75kg weight gain( Morenga, Mallard, & Mann, 2013).
Processed foods that are higher in refined grains, fats, and sugar can lead to weight gain ( Mozaffarian, Tao, Rimm, Willett & Hu, 2011). Encourage whole foods instead of processed food- eating whole food increases the thermic effect of food as compared to processed food, thus contribute to higher energy expenditure (Barr & Wright, 2010).
The habit-formation advices are simple and easy, which are in response to the daily cue in most of the individuals’ environment, such as sleeping, and walking. These simple actions will lead to quicker habit formation as compared to more elaborate routines (Gardner, 2012).
In my point of view, this weight loss plan is a lifestyle modification which incorporates three important components: diet, exercise, and behavior therapy. For dietary intake, it emphasized on whole foods, and avoid processed, fried foods, and sugar intake. Although the author stated there is no exercise needed in the programme, however it does include walking as the must-do thing to lose weight. Walking is a form of physical activity, and can be a type of exercise when it is planned in a structured form. Next, adequate sleep is important as sleep deprivation has been associated with increased hunger, food cravings, food reward, and portion sizes of food, lead to higher energy intake, and consequently, weight gain (Yang, Schnepp, & Tucker, 2019). Stress management is necessary to prevent increase production of stress hormone, such as cortisol, which may lead to obesity ( Van der Valk, Savas, & Van Rossum, 2018).
Some strengths of this weight loss plan have been identified. Firstly, this weight loss plan is the motivation and monitoring components, which serve as an important factor in sustainable weight loss. The author provides the motivation emails and phone calls for the followers, to keep the followers on the track to weight loss. The effectiveness of this approach are evidenced in several studies, with significant maintenance of weight loss by the participants( Donnelly et al., 2007; Perri et al., 2008; Digenio, Mancuso , Gerber, & Dvorak, 2009; Appel et al., 2011)
Besides, the strength of this weight loss plan is it includes meal preparation as one of component of healthy eating behaviour, which encourages the followers to prepare easy and healthy snacks by using whole fresh foods, instead of taking the processed foods. Thus, the calorie intake and ingredients used can be controlled. The author also mentioned that each individual has a unique metabolism and need a customized planning to lose weight. It is true that each human’s metabolism is different due to multiple determinants, such as genetic, lifestyle behaviours, as well as environmental factors. Therefore, an individualized plan should be customized for those who want to lose weight.
It cannot be denied that the author is utilizing the psychological approach in promoting this weight loss plan. The author is persuading the consumers to buy his products by using his pronounced education background in both nutrition and psychology. The author manipulated people mindset by affirming that exercise and starving were not necessary in losing weight, which were the selling points of this weight loss plan.
While instilling healthy lifestyle may help in increasing the body metabolism rate, but the studies on the metabolic factor in weight loss still lacking. More studies are warranted to evaluate its effectiveness and efficacy. People with medical conditions should be cautious, and seeking for expertise advice before trying on this diet.
Overall, this weight loss programme is a healthy behaviour lifestyle modification programme, which is beneficial in losing weight, perhaps in long-term, provided with sustainable behaviour changes. In simple terms, those followers with long-lasting changes in the dietary behaviour and lifestyles shall be able to maintain their weight, and in contrast weight gain will be seen as the result when they go back to their initial habits.
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