After coming home from work the other day I found my mom watching a typical television show while she was enjoying her day off from work. After sipping on her coffee and seeing some guy preach about a “Healthy” lifestyle and tips and tricks to help typical American’s get into shape I figured I better sit down and have a listen. This individual named Dr. Oz had a TV show regarding nutrition and dietary lifestyle changes that could improve an individual and their health towards losing weight. As I continued to listen I started to shake my head at some of the information he was spitting out on the TV screen and how the crowd was sitting there dazzled like what he was saying is 100% true. Kind of like how if you read a typical fitness magazine you may catch some things that are not true for everyone in there but are still preached.
The power of research
Science has evolved greatly over the last few decades in regards to meal frequency, food sources, and understanding minimum’s when it comes to protein, fat, and fiber. Research is constantly being done on these topics and other things such as post-workout nutrition are simple carbohydrates really necessary? What factors would show us that we do not need these things? All of these topics could make for some amazing articles, but after looking over the TV show and then reading on Dr. Oz’s website I have to put my stance on this because some of the information I heard him preach was not 100% true. I am not saying this guy is full of it, but he may be misinformed on a few things. Overall the guy is very popular, but sometimes is stretching the truth regarding some of his claims.
Meal Frequency Misconceptions
One of the biggest claims you read in magazines or preached by most trainers is that you should eat more often to help with losing weight and controlling your appetite. This was one of the first statements I heard Dr. Oz preach while on his television show to his audience as they were discussing fatloss and how this is the optimal way to diet. Now while I do not 100% agree with eating more often is more effective, it may be a good thing to teach those who have a hard time with understanding calories and portion control. Most Americans eat the typical 3 squares a day. Wake up a breakfast meal that could be a mix of nearly anything from pancakes, orange juice, poptarts, cereal and milk, and the choices could go on and on. Next most american’s (typically thinking adults here) will order out lunch somewhere or gather fast food due to their work schedule or lifestyle, and then for dinner it will either be a meal eaten out or a meal cooked a home. Not to mention most Americans have a pretty vicious sweet tooth and may on occasion dig into dessert quite a few times a week.
Now how many calories does this really add up to? Is there something wrong with eating 3 times a day? Not really, the major thing to put into context here is overall calories. If an individual is trying to diet the #1 thing to preach here should be a caloric deficit. Not every American is a bodybuilder or someone who is looking to be into fitness or working out, but for most Americans they are taking in several thousand calories perhaps every meal they eat. Think about a Double Whopper or a Big mac meal deal at McDonalds/Burger King, talk about packing away the calories in a heart beat. How about 2 poptarts? That alone is almost 500 calories and how does that make you feel after eating 2 poptarts? Still very hungry and an individual is usally going to pack something down after.
Martin Berkhan did some interesting research regarding breakfast and hunger on his website (www.leangains.com) and his correlation between cortisol on breakfast hunger.
“The early insulin response to a meal is higher in the morning than in the afternoon, and this fact can only partially be explained by a moderately increased secretion of incretins. Rapid non-genomic effects of higher cortisol levels in the morning might be, at least in part, responsible for this finding.”
Optimal Meal Frequency
Lets get back to the meal frequency topic because we can talk about breakfast hunger another day. Is eating 5-6 times a day more optimal than say 3-4? Well as science does continue to evolve it is starting to show us through experiementation that less meals may be optimal for greater muscle protein synthesis which was discovered and aided by Layne Norton and his studies. He has showed through his protein research (since he does research protein and BCAA’s for a living) that meals spaced 4-6 hours apart with BCAA’s between them can be shown to allow protein to reach its refractory stages before being spiked again. This can go to show you that protein is often spiked too often and has a negative side effect in regards to muscle protein Synthesis.
Intermittent Fasting Research
Lets also factor in the research of Intermittent Fasting again which Martin Berkhan is very responsible for in which individuals are mostly eating in an 8 hour window with at least fasting for 16 hours each day. Now how is this possible and is there any science to back this up? Absolutely there is. A study was done in Ottawa Canada at the Behavioral and Metabolic Research University showing the difference between individuals eating 6 times per day to 3 times per day given they are eating the same CALORIC INTAKE. And the end result was what? There was no difference between the lower meal frequency or the higher meal frequency groups. The increase in meal frequency does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions that you are eating the same caloric intake and meeting the same macro nutrient totals (which should add up if you are eating the same calories). Another study was done regarding appetite control on the lower meal frequency compared to a higher meal frequency and yet again the lower meal frequency shined through as the clear-cut winner.
During the study participants were monitored for 2 weeks and were given either 3 or 6 meals and had to fill out a survey on hunger and satiety with regular intervals throughout the day. There was also blood samples used to obtain hunger hormones and ghrelin (the body hunger hormone), and also glucose/insulin levels.
What was found during this study? The individuals on 3 meals per day had perceived fullness, and frequent eating led to an increase in cravings for more food/meals throughout the day. Elevated hunger singles were observed with higher vs normal meal frequency (normal being around 3-4 meals per day). Also the individuals who ate fewer meals were far satisfied, and that those who are overweight may find themselves eating less meals with a higher protein intake (given the same calories) to curb hunger due to increased satiety on their system. Putting both of these clues together the main thoughts behind this research showed that a higher protein intake with calories the same and less frequent meals would help produce satiety and keep cortisol at bay which would lead to less hunger signals throughout the day and help control appetite. Perhaps there is a strike against Dr. Oz and eating more frequently after all and that 3 squares a day does have some advantage? That research was conducted at The John Hopkins University, inside the Laboratory of Neuroscience, by Matt Mattison.
After skimming over Dr. Oz’s website I started to raise my eyebrow quite a bit more when he had several articles on there that made me shake my head a few times to consider that the information he is pushing is 100% true. Dr. Oz had an article published about a 7 day crash diet which would aid any individual in losing the last couple pounds when they were struggling. The outline of the article went like this
- Eat a light and lean breakfast
- Eat a Belly Blasting Bean Lunch
- Lean Green Skinny Supper
- Use Secret Weapons (invest in the BOM (berries, onions and mushrooms)
- Detox with Shakes ( Ice, Pomegrante Juice, Fruit, Squeeze of Lemon)
Now we do not need to touch on the whole breakfast and meal frequency issue as we have already touched base with
that, but eating a light or lean breakfast will not make a difference in the big picture regardless if the individual is over calories for their weightloss goal. The individual alone could skip breakfast and start eating at lunch and have a better advantage given they find that it suits their preference/schedule. Another thing I wanted to note is that you do not need to eat the derived foods that go along with his 7 day crash diet in eating eggs and a very high protein breakfast, eating a belly blasting lunch full of beans and lentils, how about not eating a lean green veggie dinner that is full of lean protein? Secret Weapons such as berries, onions, and mushrooms will aid in helping keep the individual satisfied due to fiber content and caloric amount in each item but blueberries can be caloric dense compared to strawberries so he may have to go back and re-write his thoughts.
In the end if the individual did decide to eat this diet but made changes and had a very high carbohydrate breakfast, ate fruit for lunch, and ended the day with a salad if they were still under their caloric allotment for the day and took in less calories than their body burned would they still lose weight? Absolutely. His outline may be a good premise for people, but his rationale behind the whole crash diet is not 100% true and it can be done in may ways, and not just the typical way outlined above.
Another thing the individual could do is save all their fruit and carbohydrates and eat them prior to bed. Studies have shown that eating carbohydrates later at night may have a role in greater weight loss. A study done in 2011 in Israel regarding the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture showed greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months of a diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner (at night) while keeping calories again the same throughout the day. This would go against what Dr. Oz was talking about with keeping meals the same throughout the day in his crash diet. Regardless the outcome of the study showed that carbohydrate distribution appears to have additional benefits to a diet that has carbohydrates spread throughout the day due to individuals who may suffer from insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Lets also look at the point that eating the majority of carbs will aid in the neurotransmitter serotonin before going to bed and aiding in overall sleep! Take that Dr. Oz.
Before I continue to keep ranting about Dr. Oz and what I saw on his television show and his website articles I have just nearly touched base on what I saw and read, I could go into a lot more detail but perhaps we could have a Part II regarding Dr. Oz in the future. For now I leave you with my thoughts regarding Dr. Oz and his claims off what I experienced. There is research and science to back his standing on increased meal frequency and his crash diet, but in the end there are many ways to lose weight you just have to find what suits you and your personal preference. There is nothing wrong with eating 5-6 meals a day as Dr. Oz would recommend, or eating the same foods over and over in his fashion, but in the end some people prefer to “Skin the Cat” a different way and eat in a different fashion. My advice to you is try something out weather it is Dr. Oz’s recommendation or try a lower meal frequency and shift around your macro nutrients and see how it suits your body!
Click here for Part 2 (coming soon)!