Were you inactive during quarantine and gained weight? You can revive healthy habits by identifying the unhealthy ones.
Dr. Len Kravitz PhD and Troy Purdom MS have dedicated research to predicting who is most likely to gain weight based on 6 specific behaviors. Understanding these specific behaviors will help people prevent or manage weight gain.
- Eating High-Calorie Foods
This might sound obvious but certain, specific eating behaviors are associated with progressive weight gain. This includes regular consumption of chips and potatoes (fired, mashed, baked or boiled ); red meat, processed meats (deli), and unprocessed red meats (beef or lamb); Butter, sweets and refined grains (foods like white flour and white rice).
Studies also found that eating foods such as nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, diet cheese and milk (low-fat, skim and whole) appeared to curb weight gain. These foods have slower digestion rates and appear to enhance the feeling of fullness after a meal. These foods can replace other, processed foods, creating a situation where people who eat more fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains may gain less weight over time. Portion control still plays a role, even in healthy foods.
- Consuming Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) offer little nutritional benefit and are the greatest provider of kilo-calories in the American diet. They account for approximately 8%–9% of total energy intake in children and adults. SSBs contain carbohydrates of various forms, such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and artificial sweeteners. SSBs have little impact on satisfying hunger, so people can consume large quantities without suppressing their appetite.
The body’s response to carbohydrates (of equal caloric value) differs depending on whether it is liquid or solid. DiMeglio & Mattes found that people who drank SSBs gained significantly more weight than they did when consuming a comparable amount of carbohydrates in solid form. They also found that the SSBs produced double the fat mass compared with the solid carbohydrate. Both carbohydrate sources were the caloric equivalent to three 12 ounce sodas per day in both groups.
- Too Little (or Too Much) Sleep
Although more clinical trials are needed, several studies suggest that weight gain is influenced by sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours per night. Researchers state that people who sleep too little develop chronically impaired glucose metabolism, steadily contributing to obesity. In addition, sleep deprivation significantly lowers circulating levels of the hormone leptin and increases circulating levels of the hormone ghrelin—both effects that promote food intake. Altering the regulation of these hormones contributes to increased hunger and appetite, especially for carbohydrate rich foods linked to weight gain.
- Quantity of Computer Watching
The length of time spent at the computer, or watching is highly correlated with weight gain, especially in young people.. 58.9% of Americans watch television for more than 2 hours per day. Studies have revealed that such people often snack more while watching, have higher overall caloric intake of foods, and consume more energy dense foods. All these choices lead to weight gain. Other evidence indicates seeing pictures of food in advertisements evoke increases in plasma ghrelin concentrations, thus boosting the hunger/eating response.
- Alcohol Over Consumption
From time to time, we are in situations where alcohol is available. Beware! Alcohol is very energy dense—at 7 kcal per gram, it is second only to fat, with 9 kcal per gram, creating a multitude of health issues. Aside from the pharmacological effects on the brain and on hormone fluctuation, the additional kilocalories from alcohol do not seem to replace energy consumption from other sources. Therefore, energy consumption from alcohol augments overall daily calorie intake. Alcohol consumed before or with meals tends to increase food intake, probably by enhancing the short term rewarding effects of food.
Scientists have noted a relationship between not walking and weight gain. This suggests that the more people walk, the less likely they are to gain weight. The researchers point out that older Amish people who walk an average of 16,000 steps a day have very low rates of obesity. Adding 2–4 hours of walking per week is an attainable movement target for most people.