The fact that a new “popular” diet (that is, one written for the real world and for real people) has been studied so extensively for several years comes as quite a surprise to most of my colleagues. The typical course of events is for some diet “guru” to write a book with lots of miraculous claims (lose weight and eat all you want!), for the author and publisher to hook up with a marketing outfit, and for the book to ride the top of the best-seller charts until people figure out that it doesn’t really work as promised. In the case of SENSE, I was prepared to put my money where my mouth was so that when my colleagues said, “Show me the data,” I could do just that.
When we look across the last five years of conducting the SENSE program on approximately one thousand subjects, we generally find the following results:
- Individuals lose about one-half to one pound of fat each week. I say “fat” instead of just “weight” because it’s important to know that our participants are losing the fat and keeping the muscle—meaning they are thinner and healthier, but they maintain their metabolic rate, which helps them keep the weight off.
- Cortisol level drops and testosterone level rises, resulting in a rebalancing of the cortisol-to-testosterone ratio toward one that favors fat loss and muscle maintenance. Our SENSE participants generally see a change in this C:T ratio of 15–20 percent, and it is one of the major biochemical effects that makes them feel so good, experiencing elevated mood, abundant energy, and clear thinking.
- Metabolic rate stays exactly the same, meaning that SENSE prevents the drop in metabolism that you would expect with a standard weight-loss diet. This happens because the participant’s hormones are balanced and his/her muscle mass is preserved, whereas on many other diets, hormones become disrupted and the person loses muscle.
- Cholesterol (both total cholesterol and “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol) falls by about 20 percent. This is partly due to better eating, partly due to hormone maintenance, and partly due to a gradual loss of body fat.
- Mood and energy levels increase and depression and tension levels decrease, often by an astonishing amount (15–50 percent), due to the maintenance of hormone profiles and the fact that participants are losing fat without depriving themselves.
Perhaps the most striking statistic from our studies of SENSE—even more exciting than the fat loss, the maintenance of hormones and metabolism, or even the significant drop in cholesterol levels —is the extremely high compliance rate (indicating how many people actually finish SENSE and lose weight). Our compliance rate of 91 percent is higher than any other program I have ever encountered. Most of the popular “diet book” programs, from Atkins to South Beach to Zone, and even Weight Watchers, have compliance rates of around 50 percent.
The data from our various offerings of SENSE have been presented at some of the top nutrition-science conferences in the world, including the International Congress on Nutrition and Fitness, the American College of Nutrition, Experimental Biology, the American College of Sports Medicine, the International Society for Sports Nutrition, and the North American Society for the Study of Obesity. Attendees at these research conferences generally find that the most interesting feature of the SENSE Lifestyle Program is not any single aspect of the program, but rather that the synergy between the component parts is so effective when melded into a single approach. For example, we’ve known for years that regular exercise and a balanced diet are the foundation of a healthy weight-management program, but what SENSE shows is that by building on the diet/exercise foundation with attention to balanced metabolism (of cortisol, testosterone, HSD, and the rest), the “standard” weight-loss results of diet plus exercise can be optimized, much to the delight of SENSE adherents.