Modern dieting methods typically encourage us to eat less by controlling our portion sizes. This often leaves people feeling tired, hungry and unsatisfied which may then lead to compensatory over-eating later on.
A negative cycle of restrictive and surplus eating ensues. No purposeful progress in health goals are made.
So surely there is a better way?
A Different Approach
What if we could eat until we were full, lose unwanted weight whilst reaping in additional health benefits?
This actually sounds too good to be true… until it was put to scientific study in Hawaii.
As a means of combating chronic diseases (particularly cardiovascular) in Native Hawaiians, a study group was trialled on a “pre-Western-contact” Hawaiian diet. The study diet was plant-based, consisting of unprocessed whole-grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Participants were encouraged to eat ad libitum (as much as desired) for a period for 3 weeks.
At the end of the 3-week study, participants actually lost an average of 7.8 kilograms (17.2 pounds) of weight and reduced both their cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Despite having no restrictions on what they could eat within the study, their daily caloric intake actually reduced from 2500-2600 calories to 1500-1600 calories. That’s approximately a 40% drop!
This was actually achieved eating more food than average (greater than 1.8kg / 4 lbs of food per day). But how was this possible?
It is because whole plant-based foods are not calorie dense. In fact, the opposite is true. So, participants could eat ad libitum until full without reaching high calorie counts. Thus, weight gain actually became difficult and, as you know, weight loss was actually achieved instead.
If the same was performed with highly-processed and calorie-dense foods, an extreme calorie count would ensue and surplus weight gain would be inevitable.
Our Positive Change
If we change our restrictive eating patterns into a healthier and more positive approach, we too can accomplish similar results for weight loss and long term health.
We can do this by changing our diets to unprocessed whole-foods and plant-based options so that we can enjoy meals to satiety without restrictions, stress less about calorie counting and portion sizes and reap the benefits of wholesome meals both physically and mentally.
- Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, et al. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell Metab. 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31105044
- Shintani TT, Hughes CK, Beckham S, O’connor HK. Obesity and cardiovascular risk intervention through the ad libitum feeding of traditional Hawaiian diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;53(6 Suppl):1647S-1651S. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2031501