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Want to lose weight? Try eating like a pig

Energy balance is the greatest arbiter of weight gain. Embrace the "oinker diet."

BIG THINK – Pigs are generally thought of as smelly, dirty, and fat. That’s why comparing someone to swine is considered a biting insult.

But as Theo van Kempen and Ruurd Zijlstra, both agricultural scientists specializing in swine nutrition, pointed out in an article published in March in the journal Metabolites, pigs don’t deserve this unflattering reputation. Rather, it is we humans who could learn something from them, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.

Although pigs may appear pudgy to most of us, they generally don’t have obesity problems. Even when given unlimited access to food in studies, swine don’t “pig out.” They usually elect to eat smaller meals numerous times throughout the course of the day, concentrated mostly in the early morning and late afternoon.

“Pigs are smart enough to eat when it fits best with their metabolic needs,” van Kempen and Zijlstra wrote, “but humans appear to have lost this ability.”

Sadly, pigs can’t share their wisdom with us about exercising self-control. But we can study their behaviors and diets to try to discern weight lessons that might apply to us.

Eating like a pig

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Pigs, after all, are very similar to humans in a variety of ways. We both historically ate an omnivorous diet, sharing many of the same tastes in foods. Both our species have remarkably similar digestive tracts.

Pig-derived insulin was primarily used to treat human diabetes before we synthesized the human version in the lab. Scientists are even working on transplanting genetically modified pig organs into humans.

Moreover, unlike most nutrition studies conducted on humans, studies conducted on pigs are quite rigorous.

There’s no nonsensical, misremembered, self-reported data taken from lengthy surveys, capable of only showing correlation, not causation.

Instead, we have many long-term dietary studies in which the animal subjects’ nutrition is tightly controlled.

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From these experiments, we have learned a variety of useful things … READ MORE. 

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