Apr 10

“Secrets from the Eating Lab”: Tips From Traci Mann

Diets don’t work. Big deal. You don’t need them to work. You need to not go on them. Traci Mann, author of Secrets from the Eating Lab

In Professor Traci Mann‘s new Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again she declares what many already know, at least on some level, but few want to believe: “Not only do diets not work; they often result in weight gain. Americans are losing the battle of the bulge because our bodies and brains are not hardwired to resist food—the very idea of it works against our biological imperative to survive” (from the official book description).

Allie Shah, Star Tribune, quotes Mann on this topic: “People yell at me about this, but the data are so strongly on my side it’s crazy,’ she said. ‘When I say diets don’t work, I say they don’t do what people want them to do.’ That is, lose weight and keep it off.”

From the book: “The most rigorous diet studies find that about half of dieters will weigh more for 25 years after the diet ends than they did before the diet began.“

None of her words are just theory, it needs to be noted; they’re representative of a couple decades worth of scientific research conducted at the Health and Eating Lab she founded at the University of Minnesota. Research that’s completely independent of the dieting industry.

Several more important quotes Mann offers on her website and in Secrets from the Eating Lab:

  • “Your body is set up to make it nearly impossible to keep weight off.”
  • “Regardless of your weight, exercise will make you healthier.”
  • “Stress cannot be avoided when you are dieting because dieting itself causes stress. Dieting causes the stress response that has already been shown to lead to weight gain.”

And from the book blurb: “Mann argues that the idea of willpower is a myth—we shouldn’t waste time and money trying to combat our natural tendencies. Instead, she offers 12 simple, effective strategies that take advantage of human nature instead of fighting it—from changing the size of your plates to socializing with people with healthy habits, removing ‘healthy’ labels that send negative messages to redefining comfort food.”

Using Mann’s non-willpower-fueled “regulation strategies,” people who want to lose weight can meet realistic goals, she believes. Key word realistic. Mann talks about reaching “your leanest livable weight–the weight at the low end of your set range,” which is the range, for whatever reasons, your particular body is meant to inhabit.

What determines this range? Your genes apparently are responsible for 70 percent. Twins raised in separate homes, for example, tend to have similar weight.

Jonathan Bailor, author of The Calorie Myth: “Secrets from the Eating Lab exposes the flawed logic and faulty science upon which the diet industry is founded. It’s time we all look at the facts: diets are ineffective. Traci Mann’s innovative research reveals a better, more effective path to sustainable weight loss.”