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BOOK REVIEW: Interval Weight Loss – How to Trick Your Body into Losing Weight the Scientific Way – One Month at a Time by Dr Nick Fuller

BOOK REVIEW: Interval Weight Loss – How to Trick Your Body into Losing Weight the Scientific Way – One Month at a Time by Dr Nick Fuller

Random House Australia
August 2017
Paperback, $32.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Non-Fiction / Family & Health / Fitness & Diet

7/10

The world is dieting itself fat. This is an assertion that obesity researcher, Dr Nick Fuller, makes in his book, Interval Weight Loss – How to Trick Your Body into Losing Weight the Scientific Way – One Month at a Time. Dr Fuller has worked with hundreds of patients over the years at Sydney University and he explores the proliferation of fad diets and the growing rates of obesity in this volume. In Interval Weight Loss the doctor advocates a wholistic approach that is slow and steady because this has been scientifically proven to ensure effective long-term weight loss.

This book is aimed at clearing up the misconceptions and confusion, and to arm you with the latest science so as to lose weight and keep it off, using my interval weight-loss approach. It’s easy to follow, won’t break the bank and is based on scientific research and my experiences with hundreds of patients. This is not a book about a diet – it is factual information that you can use to trick your body into losing weight, and to create a plan that will bring structure and routine into your life for a healthier you. So if you’ve tried every diet under the sun and still put on weight, give it a go – you have nothing to lose but the kilos.

This book is short and divided into two main sections. The second one is dedicated to a seven-day meal plan and various recipes for breakfasts, soups, salads, main meals, sides and treats. These follow the advice from earlier in the book and emphasise the use of whole foods and making things like sauces from scratch. It also includes a short spiel before every recipe and this sometimes includes extra tips and tricks, such as the following for the pumpkin and lentil curry:1

This is a quick and simple curry utilising many of the store cupboard essentials that you should have in stock. The herbs and spices bring out the flavour and texture. The pumpkin can be replaced with sweet potato or with potato, if preferred.

The other part of this book consists of six different chapters where Dr Fuller addresses fad diets and discusses reprogramming the body using his interval weight loss method, which employs the idea of alternating between weight loss for one month and having a period of maintenance (i.e. no weight loss) the following month so that the body can adjust to its new weight. He offers tips for tracking your weight loss, getting organised and exercising as well as describing different foods you can eat at home and the ones you can eat when you dine out as a once-a-week treat. The latter part is useful for people who may be wanting to choose the lower calorie options when they dine out.

Some of the advice in this book is about stuff that some people would already know. Most of us would be aware of the fact that we need to drink more water, exercise regularly and treat foods like chocolate as a rare treat. Dr Fuller’s most useful chapters are where he comes to dispelling myths about food and exercise. He assures us that carbohydrates are not the enemy (provided they are wholegrain), that eggs are an essential part of a balanced diet and that there isn’t an ideal time to exercise, you just need to ensure that you actually get out there and do it.

Do you need to restrict your carbohydrate intake? No, as I’ve said, carbs do not make you fat, unless you are including a lot of processed, refined carbohydrate foods, such as white bread, pastries, bakery goods, re-packaged foods like muesli bars, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, noddles, bagels, pretzels and corn chips. Anything that is not processed is okay…And eating carbs at night is also fine. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you are eating carbs, what matters is the type of food you are eating and how many calories you are putting in your mouth over the course of the day. Food intake is only bad at night if you are comfort eating. There is no evidence that restricting carbs after 2pm or not eating carbs at night help with weight loss.

This volume describes how many people manage to lose weight from a diet, but that they ultimately struggle to maintain the weight loss in the long term. This is due to the fact that the body has evolved in such a way that it experiences distress from a restrictive diet and it works hard to maintain its body weight in order to keep a bout of future starvation at bay. It does this by lowering our resting metabolism and increasing our appetite hormones so we regain the weight we lost.

The reason the scales keep going up is because we are tuned to a set body weight – a weight that the body feels most comfortable being. When you take your body out of that comfort zone through dieting or a reduction in energy intake, your body works to counteract the weight loss, and in a state of stress the body’s innate response will be to store rather than offload weight. This is part of the fight or flight response (in this instance, the energy restriction is the acute stress our body is responding to) and is core to the survival of the human species. This weight regain comes with a greater initial increase in fat mass. However, our body weight will often keep going up until our muscle mass stores are restored and what you end up with is a body that has a little extra fat storage to survive the next ‘starvation’ (otherwise known as a diet) it has learned it needs to prepare for.

Interval Weight Loss does not go into great detail about the science behind this approach or its efficacy. Instead, Dr Fuller uses a knowing, doctoral tone in his prose. Dr Fuller’s weight loss method suggests that a person lose no more than four kilograms a month if they are obese or overweight and even less if they have fewer kilos to loose. This is then followed up by a month of maintenance where you seek to have no weight loss at all. In doing this, Dr Fuller states that you trick the body into thinking it has a new set point (i.e. a new weight the body can be comfortable with) and that this is the key to maintaining long-term weight loss.

This weight loss method sounds quite useful in theory but one can’t help but wonder how practical it is for people to maintain the motivation over such a long period, especially when they have to constantly shift focus between a month of weight loss and a weight-maintenance month. One could also argue that people with weight issues already find the equation between calories consumed and energy expended quite a challenging one to comprehend and that this would be further complicated by switching approach every month. It would also have been useful for Dr Fuller to describe how this approach impacts people with conditions like insulin resistance, thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome or other health issues that may impact a person’s weight in the first place.

Remember we want to do all we can to increase our metabolism or prevent it from slowing down, which occurs when you restrict your food intake. We also want to prevent an increase in appetite hormones associated with energy restriction, telling us to eat, which results in regain. So, eat before the hunger pangs set in. Focus on eating more at the start of the day and eat small, frequent meals, to prevent a situation where you overeat at the next main meal (see the meal plans in Part 2 of this book.)

Interval Weight Loss is a short and sweet guide that contains some useful information about weight-loss, exercise and nutrition but it is by no means definitive. Dr Fuller has experience in this field and he approaches this with some of the science to back his claims up; it’s just a pity that there wasn’t more of an explanation about this side of things. Interval Weight Loss should help some people on their weight loss journey because it does contain realistic solutions and information about what is ultimately a complex problem. It is also a timely reminder that when it comes to obesity there are no quick and easy fixes because it seems that slow and steady wins at this particular race.

 

We sat down for a chat with Dr Fuller to learn more.

BOOK REVIEW: Interval Weight Loss - How to Trick Your Body into Losing Weight the Scientific Way - One Month at a Time by Dr Nick Fuller

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  1. […] researching and testing the best methods for weight loss and these findings have informed his book, Interval Weight Loss. This volume outlines a new approach for people to employ with respect to weight loss and one that […]

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