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How to Beat Fat: Channel 4 on dieting for weight loss.

October 05, 2020 by Samuel Anthony

Nutrition Film & TV

A metal fork with a white tape measure wrapped around to show the association with dieting and body size.

Channel 4 documentary How to Beat Fat took a modern look at dieting for weight loss, and why it doesn't necessarily always work out

Hosted by Kate Quilton and Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, How to Beat Fat proved that managing weight and achieving better fitness is all about a longer-term lifestyle change instead of crash diets.

Please note: the vegan supplementation advice was inaccurate and brief, see the end of this article.

How to Beat Fat: Unhealthy Foods are Addictive

It was noted that our addiction to food is physiological - something physical and chemical controls our addictive eating habits and behaviours.

Hormone levels were noted as having significant impact on eating habits - Satiety hormones were linked to a feeling of fulfilment and lack of hunger (try adding in more chia seeds, coconut and broccoli to boost this).

According to How to Beat Fat we understand that our addiction to food is very real, we should never punish ourselves when things go wrong.

Instead, focusing on changing behaviours and making lifestyle changes over time will have better success.

It is widely accepted that plant-based diets are hugely successful for weight management. "How to Beat... Fat" showed new studies into the impact of vegan food for strength, fitness and health.

The Channel 4 documentary featured a study that saw two control groups placed on different diets; one group on a meat-eating diet (omnivorous), the other group on a plant-based diet (herbivorous). The participants were then put through fitness and health tests to explore differences across the two groups.

While the fitness tests were inconclusive, the group placed on a vegan diet benefitted from lowered-cholesterol (due to plant-based foods containing none) and reduced blood pressure.

Though the study was too simplistic to carry any weight, as it did not compare the same individuals on both diets, it did prove that plant-based diets result in controlled weight loss. In the short space of the trial, the participants all lost weight on the vegan diet.

My advice: "weight loss" is a term we must lose. Instead, focus on finding your own ideal weight and size where your health is at its best and you feel happy and focus on achieving that. Additionally, many are so focused on weight loss, they actually have begun to require weight gain to be healthy through too much weight being shifted. Channel 4's How to Beat Fat is, however, clearly addressing an obesity crisis that cannot be ignored.

Peas may be the secret to weight loss with a plant-based diet.

Plant-based foods assist weight loss - How to Beat Fat

Every single participant given the vegan diet plan lost weight. This could be explained by 0 cholesterol, less saturated fats from meat and dairy, faster metabolism as a result of less fat-clogging, low-inflammatory plant proteins, all achievable health benefits going plant-based can bring.

The Channel 4 documentary demonstrated a direct correlation between more plant foods and better health with a breakthrough urine test - which can accurately distinguish what foods you have eaten based on what metabolites (broken down food) your body disposes of.

This test gave a nutrient balance score, based on how well the individual has been eating, with the best score achieved on the show exceeding 100%! The participant that scored this had noticeably changed in appearance, had significantly more toned arms, looked and felt well. He had stuck rigidly to increasing plant-based food.

The individual who scored lowest, gave up more frequently and consumed alcohol and sugar at an excess rate.

Therefore, it was conclusive that more fruit and vegetables, around 7-8+ a day, can have serious health benefits and is best stuck to when introduced as a lifestyle change.

It is all about a lifestyle change

How we think, how we feel, how we eat.

The simple truth is, plant-based may be one of your best bets for weight loss.

Higher fibre content and lower saturated fats paves the way for healthier insides.

However, if you ever find your diet restrictive you will run into problems so try to incorporate vegan foods the right way, let a vegan nutritionist help.

Aim to change your lifestyle over time for the better. Aim not to see results instantly, but to respect your body and rework the way you nourish it.

A second study in the Channel 4 documentary, How to Beat Fat, showed that when people understand how much energy they would need to exert in physical activity to counter high-calorie foods, they had greater success in losing weight through changed attitude.

Meaning when someone is aware of how much energy they consume compared to how much they burn, this awareness leads to better eating decisions and sustained results.

The show's supplementation advice was unhelpful

When following a vegan diet, it is completely possible - I would argue more common than with meat-eating diets - to meet nutritional requirements soundly.

However, certain nutrients are important to understand and supplement where necessary.

This need for supplementation is not unique to vegan diets, livestock is often supplemented before it makes its way onto plates - so meat-eaters should not believe they are free from the need for supplementation.


You can ask me and read questions here.

Sources & Further Reading
The following articles, resources and studies have either been used for research purposes in the writing of this article or as suggested furthering reading.

1 - Loughborough University 'How to Beat... Fat on Channel 4'

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