Obesity scientists in Orlando, Florida, said the secrets to weight loss are low carb diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic diets, cold air and exercise.
Dr. Steve Smith, science director for the Florida Hospital-Sanford Burnham Translational Research Institute, said the discovery could have far-reaching implications for combating obesity and diabetes.
“If we can increase thermogenesis, or the body’s ability to burn calories and stored fat, we could stave off obesity and its many related ills,” Smith told the Post-Crescent Media.
Smith said cutting carbs has proven effective for weight loss, and noted that low carb diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic plans have routinely beaten low-fat diets for weight loss in studies. One such study was conducted by scientists at Umeå University in Sweden and published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Study: Paleo Diet Twice as Effective for Weight Loss
The two-year study tracked 70 overweight, post-menopausal women who were assigned either a low-fat diet or a low-carb (higher-fat) Paleo diet. Study participants were measured for weight, cholesterol and blood sugars after six months on their respective diets, and again after two years.
The results showed the low carb Paleo dieters lost significantly more weight (14 pounds) compared to the low-fat dieters (5.7 pounds).
“Something about eating a low-carb diet causes people to burn more calories in ways we don’t yet understand,” said Smith’s colleague, obesity researcher Sheila Collins, a professor at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. “Go Paleo [if you’re trying to lose weight]. Cavemen didn’t have many carbs around.”
Drastically reducing carbs and increasing the consumption of healthy fats fuels weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for fuel, obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman explained in book Keto Clarity.
The scientific findings supporting the weight loss and health benefits of low-carb diets aren’t surprising to Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University.
“Clinical trials have shown the Paleo diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance,” said Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook.
Exercise and Cold Temps Also Boost Metabolism
Another metabolism booster is a hormone the heart naturally produces during exercise and when the heart muscle perceives high blood pressure. These hormones, called natriuretic peptides, turn on the body’s fat-burning mechanism, said Collins. A natural way to turn on these peptides is to do anything that increases your heart rate, such as exercise.
Finally, scientists identified cold temperatures as a metabolism booster that aids weight loss by increasing the amount of brown fat in our bodies. Brown fat, unlike inert white fat, is a desirable type of body fat that increases the body’s ability to burn calories.
A simple way to harness the metabolism-boosting properties of brown fat is sleep in a cool room or take a cold shower. “When we’re cold, we activate the brown fat we have,” Collins said.
“When we get cold, shivering is the first response. As people adapt, nonshivering mechanisms take over, and that involves the activation of brown fat, which goes into overdrive to keep the body warm.”