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Episode 164
The Doctor's Farmacy

The Secret To Losing Weight And Feeling Great

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“We used to eat to fill our stomachs but now we eat to fill our hearts.” This quote from my good friend Dr. Rangan Chatterjee sums up the internal struggle so many people are facing when it comes to weight loss. 

If you stop to look at the real reasons you’re eating certain foods, it’s not a lack of self-control like the stigma suggests. It is a lack of other things in your life, though. 

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. Chatterjee and I break down the factors that contribute to overeating and eating nutrient-poor foods and look at the best methods for healthy and lasting weight loss. 

 Dr. Chatterjee has had great success in helping his patients lose weight and keep it off by avoiding the “eat less and exercise more” trap. He realized that five key elements can help us tune into our hunger cues, emotional needs, and physical responses to food in a way that makes us feel better overall, with weight loss as an added benefit. Stopping to ask yourself what, when, why, where, and how, every time you eat, creates a sense of awareness and sustainable results that are often missing from diet culture. 

That’s because when we regulate the body’s biological systems, we automatically regulate the brain chemistry, hormones, and other factors that can lead to an unhealthy weight when left unchecked. And when we understand that the food industry knows how to hijack those systems at the highest level, we can stop blaming ourselves and start making positive changes. 

Dr. Chatterjee shares some of his favorite tips for eating well, even while home on lockdown, sticking to a budget, or juggling a busy schedule, plus we debunk the exercise myths that lead so many people to overeat. 

We also talk about how our environment can influence behavior change and so much more. I hope you’ll tune in. 

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens, Rupa Health, and Cozy Earth.

Athletic Greens is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners a full year supply of their Vitamin D3/K2 Liquid Formula free with your first purchase, plus 5 free travel packs. Just go to athleticgreens.com/hyman to take advantage of this great offer.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. A personalized and compassionate approach to weight loss
    (7:39)
  2. Why do we eat?
    (14:54)
  3. Eliminating blame and shame around weight gain and weight loss
    (18:21)
  4. Examining what we are hungry for
    (26:30)
  5. Making your environment and home a “safe zone”
    (31:52)
  6. Planning your nutritional week
    (40:48)
  7. The cost, time, and skills needed to cook for yourself
    (42:33)
  8. How close are you to feeling great?
    (54:49)
  9. The role of exercise in weight loss
    (58:24)
  10. The 3 daily habits that Dr. Chatterjee recommends
    (1:08:12)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

Dr. Chatterjee is regarded as one of the most influential medical doctors in the UK and wants to change how medicine will be practiced for years to come. His mission is to help 100 million people around the globe live better lives. He hosts the most listened to health podcast in the UK and Europe, Feel Better, Live More—which regularly tops the Apple Podcast charts and is listened to by over 2 million people every single month. Each of Dr. Chatterjee’s four books have been Sunday Times bestsellers including his latest, Feel Great, Lose Weight, which was just published in the US & Canada.

Show Notes

  1. Get Dr. Chatterjee’s new book, Feel Great, Lose Weight: Simple Habits for Lasting and Sustainable Weight Loss

Transcript

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It’s about applying the rules of behavior change to everything we want. Whether that’s weight loss, mental health, fiscal, whatever it is, don’t try and think willpower will be enough because in the long term, it rarely will be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, and that’s pharmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you’ve ever struggled to lose weight, well, this conversation is going to matter to you. It’s with a great friend of mine, extraordinary doctor, incredible contributor to health and wellness field, my friend, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, who is one of the most influential doctors in the U.K. and he wants to change how medicine is practiced for many years to come which I hope he does. His mission is to help 100 million people around the globe live better lives. Why just 100 million? Why not a billion? Why not seven million? You’re thinking small, Rangan, you got to think bigger.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He hosts the most listened to health podcasts in the U.K. and Europe called Feel Better, Live More which regularly tops the Apple podcast chart and is listened to by over two million people every single month. Each of his four books have been Sunday Times bestsellers, including his latest Feel Great Lose Weight which will be published in the U.K. and Canada. I’m so excited this book is out. It’s ready to be bought and listen to and read if you want to listen to it or read it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He hosts also his own wellness show on BBC Radio and regularly appears on BBC Television. He’s been featured in so many publications including The New York Times, Forbes, Guardian, Vogue, and his TED Talk How to Make Disease Disappear has been viewed over three million times. Holy cow. That’s impressive.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome. How you doing?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Yeah, I’m good, Mark. How are you?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m good. You’re in London, I’m in Hawaii and it’s morning here and night there. Crazy world we’re living. We’re all hunkered down and sequestered but we’re still doing good work and you’ve just created this new book called Feel Great Lose Weight.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You really tackle one of the most difficult challenges we have because as we have been looking at what’s happening to our population, we’ve gone from, in America, I think a rate of about 2% obesity or 4% obesity to 42% obesity in the time of my lifetime and in the UK, it’s coming close to that and Europe is right behind and yet, we spend billions and billions of dollars as people [inaudible 00:02:32] weight loss industry is billions and billions of dollars and people still struggle on it. What most people try doesn’t work and they tend to drop a few pounds, they gain it back, and it’s a vicious cycle, and over the years, they end up getting into real trouble.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We do see this increasing burden of obesity-related diseases. It’s now killing over 11 million people a year. We’re stuck but you really tackle this issue in the new way in your book, Feel Great Lose Weight. Why don’t you share with us what inspired you to write one more weight loss book because why do we need one and two, one of the some of the key ways that you have reframed things according to we call the four Ws and maybe the one H to rethink the problem of how we lose weight and sustain the weight loss.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It’s a great question, Mark. As you so well pointed out, this is a massive problem not just in the U.S., not just in the U.K., but in many, many countries around the world and we’re all struggling to find what is the best way. Is there a way this is going to work for everybody? Many different people are trying and we’re all trying to contribute in the best way that we can to help tackle this problem.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But the reason I wrote this book, Mark, because I felt that in the common narrative, what I felt was missing was a compassionate approach to this issue. A lot of the approaches are based on deprivation or restriction, punishing regimes, and I think those things can work in the short term for sure.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
You can do any diets or regimen for two or three weeks and you’ll probably feel better but as you know, Mark, most patients, yes, that can be helpful but most patients aren’t looking for short-term change. They’re looking for real transformation in their lives, they want more energy, they want to feel great, they don’t want to lose weight and feel that their life is not going the way they want to. I’ve seen this with many patients, Mark, that they had to really punish themselves to lose weight and yes, they lost weight but they weren’t liking themselves. They didn’t enjoy who they were.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
What I tried to do is, as you say, there’s so many books on this topic already, what can I contribute that might be fresh because I’m not interested in writing a book that’s already been written, I’m interested in trying to contribute maybe a fresh perspective that may help some people who’ve not been helped with other approaches and it’s a very rounded approach.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I split the book up into, yes, what we eat which, of course, what we eat, and you’ve written many fantastic books on this topic about what we should be eating to fuel our bodies but often, what doesn’t get written about also is why we eat, what’s driving us to eat certain things even when we know they’re probably not helping us. So that could be stress, loneliness, boredom, all kinds of emotional issues which I don’t feel are tackled enough so it’s what we eat, why we eat, when we eat, how we eat, and also where we eat.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I thought that was quite a fresh way of looking at this, looking at these five separate areas but the underlying belief, Mark, behind this book is I’ve been seeing patients for 20 years now, I know you’ve been seeing patients for a lot longer than I have, but in those 20 years, I found that you can almost always help somebody lose weight in a sustainable way in one that works them in the long term once you find the right approach for them. I think that’s what my book does, it helps people find what is the right approach for me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s right. It’s funny. I love the way you titled it which is Feel Great Lose Weight, not lose weight feel great. I think that’s a very important distinction because my framework is not actually telling people to lose weight is to get them healthy and as you create health, the side effect is weight loss.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Yeah, Mark, spot on. You’ve just nailed it right there and actually, if I’m honest, there was a bit of conflict with the publisher over this because…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I bet there was. They’re like, “Lose weight, feel great.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Yeah. And I was like, “No, listen, listen, this is the point of the book is it’s feel great first weight loss comes as a side effect of feeling great.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I was very reticent to write a book around weight loss, Mark, if I’m honest, because I feel like it’s a very holistic approach. It’s like take care of the basics, the weight loss comes as a side effect of taking care of those basics.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But actually, what I’ve noticed here in the U.K., and I’m pretty sure it’s the same in America, is that so many people have been conditioned to only pick up a book if it promises them weight loss. I can talk about all I want, I want to promote health, I want to promote wellbeing, and weight loss comes as a side effect but there is a population of people who every January are picking up the latest diet book, the latest workout regime, and I thought, “You know what? I want this holistic, this rounded approach to reach those people and the only way I can reach them is by saying weight loss on the cover.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The approach is not dissimilar to the approach that you stand for, the approach that I stand for, but actually, as we’ve seen in the U.K., in the last six, seven weeks it’s been out, it really is hitting an audience who’ve not heard this stuff before as well as my existing audience so people can, “Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought I had to punish myself and restrict myself.” That’s why I wrote this is to really show people that you can feel great and lose weight. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think that’s what you talked about in the book that’s so important that people understand is that as you regulate your body’s biological systems, as you eat in a way and live in a way and address all those five aspects, what, why, where, when, and how of food, we automatically will regulate the brain chemistry and the hormones that are causing us to overeat or to crave the wrong things or to want things at the wrong time of day. We’re setting our biology straight in a way that makes it not about hunger deprivation or lack or starvation or even calorie restriction.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think most people understand that weight loss is really not about calorie restriction or any of those other things, in some ways, it’s more about those other four things than what you eat. Yes, you have to focus on what but you also have to focus on all these other aspects that you address that most people aren’t really looking at.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s funny, and I just finished my book. It also came out, The Pegan Diet, and afterwards, someone pointed out, “Dr. Hyman, you wrote a whole book on food. There’s nothing in there about weight loss.” I was like, “You’re right.” I think that was semi intentional, semi an accident but eat [inaudible 00:09:42] great for your mood, eat for longevity or eat as a regenetarian or how to personalize nutrition or what different…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s all sorts of different things in there but they’re all about helping the body get reset to its natural factory settings and when you create health, disease goes away, which you wrote in your book, How to Make Disease Disappear, and also, the weight just comes off automatically.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think when you focus on weight loss it’s also often a punitive thing. I think that’s the thing I love about your book, Feel Great Lose Weight, it’s not blaming the victim. It’s not saying, “Oh, you’re just a glutton. You’re not able to control yourself. You don’t have enough willpower that’s why you can’t lose weight.” That is an incredible stigma that’s put on people who have weight issues.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you look at the data on children, for example, if you’re in a wheelchair and you’re a quadriplegic kid, you’re less likely to be stigmatized and if you’re an overweight kid, that’s pretty shocking.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Tell us more about how we can think about these other aspects. For example, we’re thinking about one of these other aspects about why we’re eating or where you’re eating because I’ve done some of these more subtle aspects of your book.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Why we eat is the second section of these five sections in the book. Of course, it’s my favorite one. I put my heart and soul into the whole book but that one in particular, I don’t think it’s getting enough air time and I nearly started the book with it actually but I chose not to. I went with what we eat in the end because I thought we’re so conditioned to only thinking about that aspect when it comes to our health and weight loss. So I thought let me meet people where they’re at and then move them over into these other areas.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But why we eat? Look, the best way I can describe it is we used to only eat to fill a hole in our stomachs, now we eat to fill a hole in our hearts. When we’re lonely, we eat. When we’re bored, we eat. When we’re stressed, we eat. When we feel disconnected, we eat. That’s okay but you got to understand that. Why? A lot of the time this is going on in the background. We don’t take time to understand that. We keep looking for the latest diet book to give us the solution.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The times in which we’re living, Mark, I guess the perfect way to describe this, in the pandemic with these lockdowns, with these restrictions, many people have put on weights. I don’t know about the American media but the U.K. media have these terms like the Corona Stone, the Quarantine 15. The people recognize that they’re putting-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
COVID-19.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Yeah. I didn’t know that one. But yeah. A lot of people especially when they’re seeing the evidence for what that does to their risk of complications, they’re getting quite stressed and they’re looking for a new diet book to help them get on top of things. But what if that’s the wrong place to look for some people?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The research suggests that about 80% of us change our eating behavior in response to stress, 45% or so will eat more, 35% or so will eat less. That’s almost half the population, eating more in response to stress. If that’s you or me, if we’re eating more in response to stress and we’re putting our weights, do we need a new diet book or do we need better strategies managing stress?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It’s the same with sleep, for example. A lot of people are sleep deprived at the moment. A lot of people are worried. They’re anxious. We know from the data that if you sleep, let’s say, five and a half hours a night compared to eight hours, you’re going to eat on average 22% more calories the following days. Five days of not sleeping well, you may eat a whole extra days’ worth of calories just from not sleeping well.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I’m sure your audience may be familiar with this but what happens when you don’t sleep well. Well, ghrelin, your hunger hormone, goes up so you’re always feeling hungry. Your satiety hormones go down so you never feel full. You’re more emotionally reactive in your brain, you find it harder to say no to temptation.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Some of my patients, Mark, I can remember this 44-year old-lady who every January would go on a brand new diet. She’d have a bit of success then by March, she was back to where she was before. She was even heavier. That wasn’t the worst thing. The worst thing was actually that her self-esteem had gone.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
That’s the funny thing about the diet industry, Mark, it’s the only industry where we don’t blame the diet we’re following, we blame ourselves. We feel like we’re worthless which speaks to what you said before which is why I think the first paragraph in the book says it’s not your fault. Really try and understand that. Hey, you know what? This is not your fault.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
That 44-year-old lady-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
By the way, the message that we all hear which is losing weight is about eating less and exercising more implicit in that statement is that it’s your fault. If you can’t control your hunger and you can’t get your lazy butt off the couch, it’s your fault. That is the biggest propaganda that’s been put on our population that undermines people’s self-worth, like you’re saying, and undermines your ability to actually understand how their body works and lose weight in a way that is integrity with their natural biological systems which they’re not doing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Keep going. I think this is really an important point around the blame not blaming the victim.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Yeah, for sure. Just to finish up on sleep. That 44-year-old lady, I helped to lose significant amounts of weights sustainably without her even trying. I didn’t actually have to focus on her diet. I just got to sleeping eight hours a night and actually, once she was sleeping eight hours a night, it was a ripple effect. She made better choices in every other aspect of life.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Again, the point of this book is to help people find the right approach for them. For someone else, that might be changing what they eat. For someone, it might be why we eat. But if we personalize that approach, we’re much more likely to be successful rather than trying to follow a one size fits all.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But what you said about blame, Mark, there’s another section in the book which I think really speaks to this. I know you know the ACE study with Dr. Vincent Felitti and how he’s shown-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What does ACEs mean?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Adverse childhood experiences. If we have gone through… There’s a list of what these-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Child abuse, beating, emotional abuse, abandonment, all those… Right.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Exactly. Physical, mental, emotional, then were significantly more likely to be overweight and obese later on in life which makes sense if you really think about it. But again, this is missing from the conversation around weight loss.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I did have a case study in the book. I remember really well this lady I saw. I think I saw her when she was about 19 or 20 and she was really struggling to lose weight. She was carrying a lot of excess body fat and she said, “Dr. Chatterjee, what’s interesting is I never used to. This only happened in the last few years. I’m not entirely sure what’s happening.” We tried various things. We weren’t getting anywhere and as I got to know her better, Mark, I started to pick up that there was something else going on here.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
We started to unpick that when she was 16 she was in an abusive relationship with a man. I could tell that there was real unexplored, unresolved emotion with that. I sent her for some therapy. And in those therapy sessions, it turned out that she was being abused when she was 16 and then her strategy to not be in that position ever again was to put on weight. What I mean by that is this, she never wanted to be in an abusive relationship again so her subconscious mind basically thought, “Hey, listen, if I put on weight, I’m no longer going to be attractive to men, therefore I will never be in an abusive relationship again.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It was only when we managed to unpick that in therapy over the course of months and even into years, once she had processed that emotional trauma, the weight started to come off but there was no point beating her up saying, “You’re being lazy. You’re not following the diet. You’re not moving enough.” That wasn’t the right approach for her.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Mark, I tell you one of the most gratifying things because I nearly didn’t write this book because I thought why go into a divisive area like weight loss. You start writing about weight loss and you start getting attacked because, we can talk about body positivity shortly, I’m definitely in agreement saying that we shouldn’t shame people who are carrying excess body fat which is different from not being able to talk about what are the consequences of that from a health perspective is two separate arguments.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But since the book came out, Mark, I’ve had so many messages particularly on Instagram for people saying, “Dr. Chatterjee, I just want to thank you for writing that section.” One lady in particular said, “I can now see why the last 20 years I’ve not managed to stick to anything. I was also abused when I was 16 and reading that section has made me phone up a therapist. I’ve now got a session booked and I’m now going to get back on top of my life.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
That’s why we write these books, Mark, it’s because just for that one person who read that and now it’s going to take action and realize that she’s not a failure, for me, that’s worth it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Amazing. I think just this is why it’s so important. It’s under appreciated. I often joke and I say often we don’t ask the right questions. We ask, “What are you eating?” not, “What’s eating you?” I often would ask my patients when they want to open their fridge or the pantry to get something out, ask yourself two questions. What am I feeling? And what do I need? Am I lonely? Do I need to call a friend? Am I hungry? Do I need to eat? Am I tired? Do I need to sleep? Am I angry? Do I need to get it off my chest? What is really driving it?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s often different for different people but it’s that other layer that we don’t think about which is in our way is those beliefs or those mental obstacles or those missed cues in a way that you’re talking about.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, everybody, it’s Dr. Hyman. Thanks for tuning in to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I hope you’re loving this podcast. It’s one of my favorite things to do, introducing to all the experts that I know and I love and that I’ve learned so much from.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I want to tell you about something else I’m doing which is called Mark’s Picks. It’s my weekly newsletter. In it, I share my favorite stuff from foods to supplements to gadgets to tools to enhance your health. It’s all the cool stuff that I use and that my team uses to optimize and enhance our health and I’d love you to sign up for the weekly newsletter. I’ll only send it to you once a week on Fridays. Nothing else, I promise, and all you do is go to drhyman.com/picks to sign up. That’s drhyman.com/picks, P-I-C-K-S, and sign up for the newsletter and I’ll share with you my favorite stuff that I use to enhance my health and get healthier and better and live younger, longer. Now back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Talk about some of the hunger cues and how we get off track with that and then how we can start to regulate our hunger because what most people say to me is, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this because I’m hungry and I get cravings and it’s hard and I don’t know what to do and it’s really a struggle.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The first thing as you were just touching on there is really identifying what are you hungry for because as I mentioned we’re often eating to fill that hole in our heart not our stomach. I had this really nice exercise in the book that I think your audience will probably really like. It’s called the three Fs or the freedom exercise.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Let’s say someone’s listening to this, Mark, and they’re sitting on their sofa in the evening, it’s 8:30 at night, they’ve got the television on and they feel like having some ice cream, let’s say, because that’s pretty common for people to feel like that in the evening.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The first F is feel. Just take a pause for a minute, you can write it down if you want or just think what am I really feeling? Am I hungry for food? Or am I hungry for something else? It could be, “Oh, actually, I’m really stressed today. I’ve been on Zoom calls all day and I’ve not managed to go out yet.” Or it could be, “I’ve had a row with my partner,” or “The children’s bedtime took too long.” Or as many people are facing now, Mark, “I’m lonely. You know what? I’m not seeing anyone. Actually, that food is providing a bit of nourishment for me.” First step is feel. What are you feeling?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The second F is feed. How does food feed that feeling? “I’m feeling stressed. When I eat ice cream for 20 minutes or so, I feel less stressed.” Now you’re building an awareness. Without that awareness, it can be very hard for some people to change in the long term.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
And the third F is find. Now that you know what the feeling is, now that you know how food feeds that feeling, can you find now a non-food behavior to feed the same feeling? If you’re stressed out, it could be, “Maybe I’ll run myself a bath instead of having ice cream,” or “Maybe I’ll do 10 minutes of yoga from YouTube,” or as we were saying before if you’re lonely, maybe actually you’re better off phoning a friend or phoning your parents.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
For many of us, we use food instead of something else. I’ve used that exercise with patients for many years now and it’s hard to change straight away. You can’t necessarily change it the first time but you just start to build in that awareness, day after day, week after week.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I was actually doing an interview last week and the journalist said to me, she said, “Dr. Chatterjee, that’s so interesting because two days ago, I was driving home from work and I went into a fast food restaurant and had fried chicken and fries even though I’m trying not to, I had it. That exercise now really makes sense to me because I enjoyed it in the moment, I felt disgusting afterwards, I didn’t sleep well, I woke up with a headache the next day. Now that you’ve just told me that exercise, now when I’m in that position next time, I’ll just take a pause and really try and figure out what’s going on.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
As you said about hunger, the first thing is what do we truly hunger for? Now, if we are hungry for food, that’s okay. If we’re hungry for food, it’s going to be very hard to resist eating if you’re always hungry. Very, very hard if you’re fighting hunger, which I know, Mark, you’ve always spoken about in your books is let me help you eat in a way where you’re not constantly fighting hunger, where you feel satisfied and full.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
In the book, I write about something that I call blissy food. Blissy foods, these are the food products that are about as far away as possible from the real foods that both you and I like to promote people can eat.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Say, what are these blissy foods? These blissy foods are products that have been designed by the food industry with these clever combinations of fats, sugar, and salt to be quite literally irresistible and a lot of people don’t really understand that the neuroscience of this and what’s really going on, our brain is wired to uniquely respond to certain properties and food. Certain kinds of carbs, starch, sugar, protein, fat, even the umami flavor that you get in cooked meats and broths and seaweeds, when you eat these foods and certain combinations, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine and dopamine is the learning molecule.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Dopamine does many things. It creates these feelings of intense reward in your brain, these really feel good, intense feelings of rewards so much so that if you keep eating those foods, very soon that dopamine starts to get released in anticipation of eating those foods and not even when you’re eating them. The sights, the smell, being in the same location as you were before when you ate them.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Actually, I find it useful to explain this to patients because then they understand, “Oh, my biology is changing. My neurochemistry is actually starting to change.” That’s why it can be so hard to resist when you’ve been exposed to those foods.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Mark, I had this patient in her 30s who was trying her best to eat well. She would buy cookbooks. She’d be motivated in a kitchen to cook. But you know what? It’s really interesting. In her job, she’d often finish about 7:30 PM. This is pre-pandemic and she would drive home. At one of the roundabouts… Do you guys call them roundabouts like we do in the U.K?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, roundabouts, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
She would drive and at this roundabout, there would be a very well-known fast food restaurant there and the smell of that food would permeate the air around that roundabout and she said, “Dr. Chatterjee, I’m trying my best but at least two times a week, I’m tired, I’m stressed out after the day, that smell hits me and I have this overwhelming feeling that I have to eat it. So I stop and eat it.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I explained to her about dopamine and then I said to her, I said, “Listen, is there an alternative route for you to drive home?” And she said, “Yeah, but it will take me a good 10, 15 minutes longer.” I said, “You know what? For the next few weeks, I honestly want you to try this as an experiment. Take the other route home.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
She started taking the other route home, she doesn’t pass the junk food store. Temptation is not there. I promise you that was the only change we have to do because suddenly she’s no longer having to fight temptation. She gets home, cooks a healthy, wholesome meal and over the next few months, she lost significant amounts of weight and she didn’t feel as though she was even trying.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Again, with this personalized approach, Mark, that was the right approach for her. It may not be for me, it may not be for someone else. But for her, understanding dopamine allowed her to take a different route home.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Most of us don’t really realize that the food that we eat has effects on our brain in ways that control our behavior and then if not, a moral failing or some problem with your psychology, although sometimes it is a trauma, but sometimes it’s just damn biology that hijacks you and doing the things you said literally can stop and end all those hunger cravings. That’s just great.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
One of the things that you also talk about is our environment. I think this is something that most people don’t understand is you can self-sabotage by having the wrong environment. For example, if I’m trying to get off coffee and I have coffee in my house, probably not a good idea. Or if I’m trying to get off ice cream and I got a freezer full of ice cream, probably a problem.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Talk about how do we structure environments for making our lives more effective in terms of achieving our goals whether it’s weight loss or anything else.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Environment is arguably the number one thing to try and influence because our environment influences our behavior so much more than we think. We feel we’ve got some super willpower that we can resist all this temptation but it’s simply not true.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Our environment influences our behavior so much. We know there’s so much data on this. There’s research showing that if you live within a half mile radius of your house that there are six fast food restaurants compared to three, I think it’s 40% more likely you’re going to be overweight or obese. I think in schools if they ban snacking in classrooms and in corridors, the BMI goes down on average by 11%. No one’s telling people what to eat but just saying, “You can only eat in the eating space, in the canteen, you can’t eat everywhere else.” Our environment really influences us massively.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
What can we do? I’ve always said control the environments you can control. I’ve heard you say this for years as well, Mark. Let’s not use willpower out there. It’s hard out there. Make sure your house is a safe zone.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I have a rule that in our house we don’t bring in the foods that I’m trying to avoid, by and large. If they ever do come in, you know what? I’m human just like everyone else. I can know the science, I can know about dopamine but you have that stuff in the house if I’m tired and stressed and the TV’s on in the evening, I’m going to open the packet of chips or crisps or biscuits just like anyone else.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Biscuits means cookies in the U.K. for those listening. Biscuits sound healthy. Biscuit sounds healthy and you mean cookies?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I mean cookies. I mean cookies. Yeah, but what is the food you are going to expose yourself to in your environment. Make sure it’s fruit that you’ve got out. Make sure it’s chopped carrots and hummus or whatever it is you want to inputting signals into your brain. I’m not encouraging people to overeat more than they should be eating but if you aren’t going to have food around, make sure it’s the food that’s really going to help support your health and promote health and longevity not the one that’s going to take away from that.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Your toaster. If you have a toast habit, put your toaster in a cupboard. Don’t have it on the counter. It’s a super-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Forget it. Don’t have the bread for the toaster. That’s the big problem.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Don’t bring that into the house in the first place. The behaviors that you’re trying to avoid, make it harder to do those behaviors. But then the behaviors you do want, make it easier to do them.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
We spoke about this when I came on your show last year, Mark, with my last book on habit change in Five Minutes Snacks. One of my favorite tips at the moment, frankly, for anyone, here in the U.K., we’re in a third complete national lockdown so pretty much everyone or most of the population are working from home and it’s really affecting people’s mental health and wellbeing especially in the dark British winter. Now it’s not like last March and April when it was springtime. It is dark, it is cold, people are really struggling.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But one of my favorite tips, and it’s also in the book, is that in your kitchen if you have a kettlebell or you have a dumbbell and many people do these days because in the lockdowns they’re all sold out everywhere. I say keep it next to your coffee machine. I can see you’ve got a coffee machine in the background there, Mark, in the image. Keep a dumbbell by your espresso machine.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Here in the U.K., many people will have at least three hot drinks a day, a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. I’m saying every time you go into your kitchen to make a hot drink, if all you do is lift up that dumbbell and do five bicep curls on each arm, if you have three hot drinks a day, you will lift that weight 30 times. In a week, that’s over 200 times. In a month, that’s nearly 1000 times.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
And the beauty is, Mark, in the moment it will feel like nothing. Why that’s so powerful is it helps to build your self-esteem, your resilience, you feel better about yourself. It’s not a 40-minute workout. Great if you can do that. But these small things is that feel great lose weight. Do that every day, you’re going to feel better about yourself and that’s going to ripple into other areas of your life. You’re going to want to make better choices around your food.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I love that I use that tip myself and I don’t have to lose weight. I do it because it helps improve how I feel about myself.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’re talking about these tiny little steps that seem like nothing but add up and this is really the science of behavior change. I know you’ve studied with BJ Fogg. He’s been on my podcast there really is a science around incorporating simple changes that you want to do, that you’re motivated to do, you have the ability to do and you need a trigger to do. What you’re talking about [inaudible 00:34:29] you’re motivated to do the exercise, you have the ability to do the exercise, and the trigger is having your drink, having a little cup of hot tea.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But it’s also about having the weight visible. Let’s make the food we don’t want to [crosstalk 00:34:42].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s the trigger.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
My wife and I for years have had a debate whether the dumbbell and kettlebell should be visible in the kitchen or it should be packed away tidily [crosstalk 00:34:52].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you want me to be buff, if you want your stud husband, let me have that out there in the kitchen on the counter.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Listen, from a health and safety perspective, I’m not asking people to have an accident but I have to trip over my dumbbell to put my kettle on which means even if all I do is lift it up to move it, I’m still lifting the weights. It’s about applying behavior change to everything. It’s about applying the rules of behavior change to everything we want whether that’s weight loss, mental health, physical, whatever it is, don’t try and think willpower will be enough because in the long term, it rarely will be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s interesting. [inaudible 00:35:36] how much we’re getting from the book but one of the challenges I find with people is that they spend days and hours and hours, weeks researching their vacation spot and rental and what the restaurants they’re going to go to and the rare plans they’re going to do and what they’re going to bring and what they’re going to pack and everything they need. Most people don’t give five minutes of thought to planning their nutritional week. What is my weekend look like? Where’s my food going to come from? What do I have to get? How do I have to prepare it? How do I not end up in a food emergency? How do I have the things around that actually work?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I do it now automatically but I understand it’s not something that people normally have. For example, morning, I’m doing a shake now. I’m trying to put on some muscle. I’m just focusing on the super shake that I’ve been creating. But I have all the ingredients on the counter and I make sure I have my bananas or my frozen fruit that I buy and it’s in the freezer and I have everything ready. I buy extra jars of the macadamia milk. I have everything just all there so it’s super quick and easy for me to do. But if I had to go shopping and I forgot this, I didn’t do that, it would be very difficult.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think sometimes it’s even as extreme as people organizing their fridges with Tupperware with precut vegetables and precut fruit and all these prepared things that are easy to make. I see people who do that. It’s like, “Wow, that’s the next level for me.” I just make sure that…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You have to think about what you’re doing. You have to plan what you’re doing to plan your activity. I think we don’t schedule ourselves first, we schedule ourselves last then eating is an afterthought and it just becomes, “Well, I don’t know. Let me go get some this and something quick or package this or just eat crap whatever’s there.” I think that’s a challenge for people. I think it’s important that the environment, as you say, is structured to succeed as opposed to fail. I think that’s the take home.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The other thing I really want to get into, and this is challenging because right now during COVID, people isolated alone, they may not have been great chefs or cooks before or you can’t go out to restaurants, sometimes not even takeout anymore, and people have been, I think, taught that cooking is difficult, that eating healthy is expensive. Is this true? And how do you address the issues of cooking and cost in Feel Great Lose Weight?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
There is a section on cooking and explaining just how important it is. It’s that basic life skill that until recently I’m pretty sure all families or humans or tribes would have had that ability and it’s something that is now optional.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It can only have been optional because we have the ability to buy all these food products so quickly, so cheaply, and our lives are so busy. They’re stressed out, a lot of us feel we don’t have time to cook, and certainly in certain socioeconomic groups, I think we have to accept that actually it’s not about money so much, it’s about having the luxury of time to cook which a lot of people will say, “If I’m working two jobs, I don’t have time to cook.” I think cost and time poverty is something we should be absolutely aware of.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I think the research… I think, Mark, we spoke about this when you came on my podcast recently is that it’s simply not true that eating well has to be really, really expensive. Of course, there are certain things that are more expensive. There’s no question. Wild salmon, for example, is probably more expensive but a can of sardines is dirt cheap here in the U.K. Do you know what I mean? There are ways that actually we can eat in a way that actually is whole foods but isn’t super, super expensive. I think where you live can really influence what’s available, what you consider normal…

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
We mentioned the environment before but our friend circle, our own network of tribes, that’s important as well. The research by Nicholas Christakis has shown that someone in your social circle is obese, you’re 45% more likely to be obese. If a friend of a friend is obese, you’re 25% more likely to be obese and if it’s a friend of a friend of a friend, you’re 10% more likely to be obese which just shows just how powerful these social connections are and the environment even our friends and family environment is at influencing us.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But it really isn’t, Mark, as expensive as we think or some people think it might be to eat well but you have to be able to cook. That is a basic, basic skill and if you cannot cook, that’s okay recognize that and learning to cook may be one of the most important things that you can learn to do whether it’s from one of your cookbooks, Mark, whether it’s to go on YouTube. There are so many free and cheap resources now to teach people how to cook some basic meals.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The truth is that the pandemic, for some people, not for everyone, Mark, there’s been a lot more time at home, a lot more time with family, and I know many people who have got into cooking during lockdowns, during these restrictions, suddenly they’re not commuting for two and a half hours a day and they’re actually buying cookbooks and they’re learning how to cook recipes.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I’ve got to say, Mark, my new routine on a Sunday afternoon which really has come in the last year. I love nothing more than this. On a Sunday afternoon after lunch, I clear out the kitchen. I’m a bit old school. I put on a CD and then I’ve got a cd player in the kitchen. I put on one of my favorite CDs and I cook a big batch of butternut squash soup to last us for the week. I’ve got lentils in it, butternut squash, it’s got leeks, onions, ginger. I’ve tried to think about the price of it but lentils are dirt cheap, two or three butternut squash is not that expensive, and apart from that, it’s stocked leeks, onions, and ginger.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Not only is it not expensive but those one and a half two hours are some of the most enjoyable times I spend the week. I’ve got some great tunes on, I’m chilling, my daughter may be there drawing on the kitchen counter, we may be chatting at the same time, and at the end of it, there’s the smell, there’s the feeling that you really connected with the food and then you know that’s going to go in the fridge so in the week if we ever need something for a meal, we can just go and heat that up.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I really encourage people to find what works for them. Where is that moment in your week where you can actually find a better time to batch cook? If you are trying to cook something from scratch three meals a day, seven days a week, that’s where it can become really challenging. Not only is that a huge cognitive load, 21 times now I need to think about what I’m going to eat in just one week. Batch cook. Cook more.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
One of the tips in the what we eat section is eat dinner for breakfast. It’s such a simple thing that people haven’t thought of before it’s like eating… You know what it’s like, Mark. The breakfast foods that we often start our days with are literally setting ourselves up for-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, it’s terrible.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Hunger, for mood swings. If you cook a bit extra at night, heat up in the morning, have some salmon, sweet potatoes, and broccoli in the morning sometimes if that’s what you have the night before and often people find that they’re just not hungry until lunchtime.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
There was this case I had this exactly someone who was having what he thought was healthy granola every morning, sugar-filled granola-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
He thought it was healthy and he didn’t need to lose that much weight but he found that his concentration was going, his focus was going, he’d get a bit shaky by 12:00 and he started having… This guy was vegetarian. I remember it so well. He said, “What should I have?” I said, “What do you have in the evening?” He goes, “I love roast vegetables.” I said, “Okay. What do you have with this?” He says, “Goat’s cheese.” I said, “Why don’t you start there?”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The next morning, he has goat’s cheese with roast vegetables and he said he got to 2:00 PM before he was even hungry. He said, “I didn’t realize before that my concentration wasn’t good, my energy wasn’t good. It’s only when I had a real food breakfast that I realized oh, wow I’ve been functioning suboptimally for years.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
You know this as well as I do, Mark, there’s plenty of tips on how people can do this inside the book but I really want to encourage people to take this rounded approach. If you have tried already and focused on one area and it’s not being sustainable for you, let me help you figure out why that is. Maybe there’s something else that you’ve not tackled that’s actually the underlying root cause.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so important because we just stay on the surface and don’t really figure it out. I just love your story of cooking. I think most of us feel so disenfranchised from it but with COVID now it’s an opportunity for us to really dig in and try new things and to be with family and to be with the people you love and we have more time. I think people can reclaim their kitchens. It’s really the key to weight loss.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I always tell the story of this family I worked with in South Carolina who was living on food stamps and disability in a trailer with a family of five and were massively overweight. The father was diabetic, on dialysis. The mother was 100 plus pounds overweight. The son was probably 100 pounds overweight and was diabetic at 16 years old.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All I do was cook a simple meal with them, showing how fun it was to do it together. They didn’t even have cutting boards and knives. I had to get them that afterwards and they ended up losing 200 pounds together as a family in the first year and the son actually went back and gained weight because he had to go work at Bojangles which is the only place that kids can get work which is a junk food fast food restaurant in the south. But then he went on to lose 138 pounds, went to medical school.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It was really all through the simple act of cooking one meal. If you can imagine if we could go into everybody’s home and show them how to shop and cook one simple meal, the basic cooking techniques, how to cut things. They don’t know how to peel an onion, they don’t know how to peel a garlic, they do not make a salad dressing from simple olive oil and vinegar, they don’t have to stir fry. It was stunning. Everything they’d had was from a box of packaged or canned. It was either heat in microwave, in the oven. It was terrible.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Mark, can I-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it made me really realize how powerful it is just to empower people for the simple act of cooking real food at home and it’s much, much cheaper. I gave them a guide on good food on a tight budget which is how to eat well for less and they were able to do it within the budget that they had for five people on disability and food stamps.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
That’s so powerful, Mark, stories like that. When I filmed the first series of BBC One’s Doctor in the House where I’d go and live alongside families for four to six weeks, it was a common theme, I’m going to say, in at least half of the families that I went and stayed with, they didn’t know how to cook or it was something they used to do and they’ve lost the habits.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I remember in the first season the lady with type 2 diabetes. I remember just again cooking them a meal, a basic meal, chopping things together. These guys were used to getting McDonald’s several times a week. You mentioned cost. I can remember that so well in 2015 my first day filming ever, Mark, I go to this family’s house in Shrewsbury in the U.K. First day, I meet them and we start off because I’m going to stay at their house that night for the first night which they didn’t know, I didn’t realize that, and the father said to me, he said…

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I said to them, “Hey, guys, I’d love to find out a little bit about what you guys eat normally.” The dad said to me, “Look, why don’t you come along and I’ll show you.” He points to his car seat. I get into his car. We drive for 15 minutes out of town, one, five, 15 minutes out of town. We go into a McDonald’s drive thru.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
This is a family of four. Husband and wife, I think the daughter and the son were teenagers 15, 16, 17 something like that, he ordered four double meals from McDonald’s and the cost was 48 pounds. Let’s put that in perspective, 48 pounds, I don’t know what the exchange rate is at the moment, must be at least 65 to $70, dollars, and he said, “We do this…”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
What was interesting, Mark, is as we were driving there he said to me, “Hey, doc, this is actually really embarrassing you coming with me but this is what we do four to five times a week.” What’s interesting is several things. He’s spending 65, $70 on four double meals from McDonald’s which when they ate they were hungry 30 minutes later and they were moody afterwards.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But the second thing is, and this speaks to what we were talking about before, that when he’s driving there with me sitting next to him he suddenly says, “Hey, doc, you know what? This is really embarrassing.” But he only realized that with me sitting in the car next to him because if it’s just him and his family, he can do it. No one’s questioning him. I wasn’t judging him, I wasn’t questioning him but the simple act of me being there was a mirror to him and he goes, “Man, we do this four, five times a week.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
That’s really interesting from an emotional viewpoint, isn’t it, what’s really going on there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s so powerful. I think we don’t realize how much we get into habits unconsciously and just do those things without thinking and then that leads over the course of our life to just dramatic changes in our health and our wellbeing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What kills me and I think you experience the same thing is how close people are to feeling good. The lose weight part, it’s slow. You can do a pound a week maybe but it’s more depending on what you’re doing. Initially, you might lose more. But the feel great part can happen pretty quick. I think most people when they start to shift their diet and they start to change their habits, they start to understand how to reprogram their biology for wellbeing and health that then they’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know how quickly I could feel better. I didn’t know I was feeling so bad till I started feeling so good.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so rewarding for me to see that the simple act of eating real food and regulating your life in a way that supports health has such dramatic downstream benefits on mental health, on mood, on relationships, on work, on productivity, just parenting, on everything that you care about in your life. If you don’t have your biology well-regulated, you’re a victim to the whims of all these influences that are outside of us which is the food we’re eating is information as we learned from your mentor, Jeff Bland, and it is an instruction manual that is telling everything in our body what to do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We often think that our emotional states, our psychological states, or our relationships are not triggered by food but it can be really dramatic and just to recap a little bit about what our friend, David Perlmutter, wrote about in his book, Brain Wash, when he was on the podcast.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He talked about how people are eating the processed food that we’re all eating now, 60% of our diet, it disconnects the frontal lobe from the limbic brain which means the limbic brain is the reptile brain that is reacting, responding, is angry, fight or flight, all that, it disconnects that from the frontal lobe which is the adult in the brain, that’s the higher self, and all of a sudden, you’ve got this dysregulated reptile in your brain, it’s not being supervised by an adult, and it leads to all this disordered behavior.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Part of me wonders if our societies become so divisive, so conflicted, and there’s so much rancor because of our diet in part because how it affects our brains and our functioning.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Yeah. It’s so powerful to hear that. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. I think it’s not just going to be one thing. It’s all these multiple inputs coming from all the way around.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
That’s the whole thing about food, isn’t it? It’s so reductive to talk about it just in terms of calories and energy into the body and energy out. As you say, food is information that’s so much more than just those calories and actually, we’re doing food a disservice by just talking about it in terms of energy, it is more than that, genetic expression hormones, as you say, with the brain, what it might be doing. Absolutely incredible.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
We mentioned emotions before but again, it goes both ways, doesn’t it? You can feel stressed and want to eat more but actually eating the wrong kinds of food consistently can make you more hungry and cause you to overeat and could cause you to crave more of those foods. It feeds it in both ways and I feel that the right approach for each person is going to be slightly different but I think we can absolutely agree that I don’t know anybody who won’t benefit from eating more real food in their diets. I can’t see the downside of doing that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No. Let’s talk about the other boogeyman in the room around weight which is exercise. Part of the equation is eat less, exercise more which implies that you’re not thin because you don’t exercise enough or you don’t move enough. I think there’s some really fundamental flaws with that idea. Not that exercise isn’t important but that in the hierarchy of weight loss, it really is not as important as what you eat, where you eat, when you eat, how you eat, why you eat in determining your metabolism. Can you talk a little bit about some of the myths about exercise and also what the role of exercise is in metabolism and weight?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
For sure. You’re absolutely right. That’s one of the biggest myths out there and it makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s just a simple equation that you just add up and at the end of the day that determines are you going to put on weight or put off weight. If only it was that simple.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
What is the deal with exercise? There’s some new research from Herman Pontzer which has come out in the last few years and he’s been studying the Hadza tribe in Tanzania and he’s been measuring their energy expenditure.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It’s super fascinating, Mark, because what he’s shown is that these hunter-gatherers are moving a lot more than the average sedentary Westerner. They’re moving a lot more. But you know how many calories they’re burning off? Roughly the same, two to 3000 calories a day, which is roughly the same as the average sedentary Western burns off even though they’re moving more. What is going on there?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
This is one of those big myths. We think that if we go for a run and we burn off 400 calories on our run, let’s say, we feel that that number is additive. We just add it on to the number we would have burned it off and we’ve got 400 extra calories there.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But it’s simply not true. Our body is a complex system. Your body will compensate. If you burn off more calories running, it will reduce how many calories that burns off in other areas and there’s multiple ways it will do that or reduce NEATs, non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Toe tapping and fidgeting, it will reduce that. It can change how many calories it burns off in other departments in the body. The point is that we are this complex system.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I think this is where it gets really misunderstood. Going back to what we said at the start, Mark, people are not only depriving themselves and restricting themselves with foods, they’re putting themselves on punishing exercise regimes. We all know when we see that person really struggling in the gym who’s pounding the treadmill three, four times a week for an hour wondering why the fat is not coming off without realizing that for some times, you’re actually stressing out your body even more and raising cortisol which can actually make the weight loss harder in the first place.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It’s not that moving more is necessarily going to burn off more and I think that is brand new information for some people. I think that science is really, really fascinating. It reshapes everything we’ve been told for the last 20, 30 years that you’ve got to move more, you’ve got to move more.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Now, what role does it play? I think exercise is really important. Can you lose weight without doing any exercise at all? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Absolutely not. I feel that the reason to move is not to burn off calories but it’s to make yourself feel good, it’s to build your self-esteem up.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Now, when we are moving regularly, we’re showing our body that we’re an active, thriving human who is engaging with life. Humans or animals were designed to move. I think movement is very important but it’s about feeling good not burning off calories.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Like I said before that tip about the dumbbell by the kitchen, what’s that going to do in isolation by the kettle lifting that several times a day? It’s not the 30, 40-minute workout we’ve been told for years that we have to be doing to losing weight. But what it will do is it changes the signals in your body, it just keeps giving you these little inputs that actually you know what? I’m alive, I’m engaging with life, I’m an active human who is able to lift a heavy weight or a mediumly heavy weights and it really boosts self-esteem which helps you engage in other behaviors in a much better way.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Actually, Mark, I’ve been thinking recently that for many people, weight loss is actually a self-esteem issue. It’s about how they feel about themselves. Once they start to love themselves, have compassion to themselves, they no longer want to punish themselves with highly processed sugary foods. They no longer want to punish themselves by sitting on the sofa all day watching TV not getting up and moving.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I feel that compassion part, that self-love is also a part of this equation that we’re not speaking about enough because when you truly love yourself and value yourself for who you are, you don’t want to beat yourself up, you don’t want to engage in lots of unhealthy behaviors. I think movement has a very important role to play but it’s not the role that we’ve been taught. You don’t need it to lose weight. I just think it helps you boost how you feel.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, it’s true. I’ve had people lose 100 pounds changing their exercise. But the other thing is that you cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet. If you have one cookie, you have to walk four miles. If you eat one supersize meal, you have to run four miles a day for a week to burn it off. And if you eat that every day, you have to run a marathon every day just to keep up. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. That’s really important people to understand.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
On the other hand, what you’re saying is really important that it is about, one, just improving your overall wellbeing, your mental health and the side effect if you do certain kinds of exercise like high intensity interval training and strength training, you will literally increase your metabolic rate so that you burn calories all day long as opposed to just when you’re exercising. There is a strategy to including it but you can exercise all you want if you’re eating poorly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My weight trainer, the guy who was my trainer in New York, was incredibly fit. He has big muscles but he had this big layer of fat on him as well and within six weeks, he lost 20 pounds just by shifting his diet and this is a guy who worked out hours and hours a day. I think even somebody like that who has an extreme level of fitness still can have a lot of body fat if they don’t understand how to eat in a way to regulate their biology.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
But it also speaks to what we were chatting about before, Mark, about this. It’s so reductive to talk about food in terms of energy and movement and exercise in terms of energy.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I remember one patient I had who said, “I still remember, Dr. Chatterjee, I think when I was nine years old, I was on holiday with my parents and I was in the hotel gym with my dad, we were on the treadmill and at the end of our run, my dad said to me, ‘Look, son, you just burned off 300 calories. You’ve earned yourself a Mars bar,” and off they went to buy a Mars bar. This guy, literally, that sets off a problematic relationship with food and exercise because in his head, it’s just energy. It’s like, “Whoa, that’s the only value it has.”

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Like food, movement is information. Movements send your body signals that you’re alive, you’re thriving, that actually… We’ve reduced these concepts down to just these dry scientific equations but there’s so much more that they help create the vitality and the vibrancy of life. I think we need more of that in health. We need to talk about these things that can help you feel amazing and feel good. Do you know what I mean?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Just to close, I think your whole concept of your book, Feel Great Lose Weight, is so key because when you feel great, you will lose weight automatically. And the title of your book is Feel Great Lose Weight: Simple Habits for Lasting and Sustainable Weight Loss. You don’t want to be on a roller coaster up and down weight loss and you understand how to work with your biology. A lot of your work is informed by functional medicine. You don’t always say that up front but it really is informed by the science of functional medicine which is what we’ve been doing for decades.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I feel we’re in a place where the message you’re giving is so needed. We’re in such a desperate state in terms of our metabolic health globally and your book is just a great contribution to helping people understand how to unlock the key to weight loss, unlock the key to health, unlock the key to feeling really great which is what we all want.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Rangan, in summary, what would you tell people who are listening about where to start if they’re struggling, if they’re frustrated, if they’ve been on the yoyo, roller coaster weight loss track? How do you get them to think differently about what’s ahead?

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I understand, Mark, that many people are struggling all over the world right now not just with trying to lose weight. They’re struggling with their physical health, their mental health, how they feel about the world. Will the world that they once used to occupy is that world going to return? I get people who have got all kinds of anxiety and worry in them at the moment.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
I would say you know what? Keep it simple. Don’t try and overhaul your entire lifestyle. There’s three daily habits that I have in the book that I recommend people do and I think that’s the best advice I can leave people with. They’re very simple in isolation but they’re very, very powerful. The three habits are everyday lift, connect, and reflect.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
Lift is lift something heavy every day. That could be a dumbbell or kettlebell by your kitchen. There is this core three workout on the book if people want to actually see what more they can do with it that only takes five minutes, actually less than five minutes. But lift something heavy each day.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
The next one connect. Connect with another human being in some way, every single day. Often, when we’re trying to snack, when we’re trying to eat foods that we don’t want to be eating, we’re just lonely. I know many people are feeling lonely at the moment so that can be a connection on a phone call, on a Zoom. If you’re lucky enough to meet in person, great, but if you’re not, there are other ways to do it. That’s lift, connect.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
And the final one I’d say is reflect. Now, there’s a simple exercise in the book which is every evening ask yourself two questions. What went well today? And what’s one thing I might want to change for tomorrow? So simple but very, very powerful because as I said before, awareness of your own behavior is so key to make change.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
It could be something simple like this. It could be, “You know what? I was really tired and stressed out today but I still made time to cook my children and me a home cooked meal.” That’s what went well today.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
What didn’t go so well that you might want to change tomorrow could have been, “You know what? I was cranky today. I was craving sugar all day and I was up till midnight last night watching Netflix. Tonight, I’m not going to stay up till midnight watching Netflix because I know an extra hour sleep means tomorrow I won’t be craving sugar and I won’t be as cranky.” These small things are so powerful when you do them consistently. You don’t need to overhaul your whole life.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
My closing thoughts people is you can always, and I mean always, improve your health and almost always help people lose weight in a sustainable way once you find the right approach for them and that’s what your work aims to do, Mark, that’s what my work aims to do is to help people find this is the right approach for me that works for me with my lifestyle with my friends, and with my ethical beliefs and my cultural beliefs.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
There’s always a way, Mark, but I say to people, start small, be consistent, and watch the results start to come.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There you go. That’s such great advice, Rangan, and thank you for all your work and being tireless and pushing for the agenda of getting people healthy and getting to the root of problems and giving people simple, clear solutions in your books. I’m sort of jealous of them. It’s just so beautifully done. They’re so well laid out. They’re so chunked up and easy to digest in bite-sized pieces and they just provide a really simple inspiring roadmap for people to reclaim their health. So thank you for everything you do, Rangan, and really appreciate it and thank you for being on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you’ve been listening to these podcasts, you love it, make sure you go pick up a copy of Rangan’s new book Feel Great Lose Weight: Simple Habits for Lasting and Sustainable Weight Loss. You can go to drchatterjee.com/feel-great-lose-weight, with dashes in between each word, and you can learn more about it. It’s pretty awesome. It’s out now. I promise you won’t be sorry if you have a chance to look at Rangan’s work, he’s really a master of communication and inspiration. Thank you so much for everything you do.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:
You too, Mark. You’re doing great work and thanks for having me on the show.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you love this podcast, please leave a comment we’d love to hear from you what have you learned about weight loss. Maybe we can learn from you. And subscribe wherever you get your podcast and tell your friends and family, share this with everybody on social and hopefully, we’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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