London South Bank University's (LSBU) Human Performance Centre featured in a programme investigating the success rates of particular diets on the UK's Channel 4.
Presented by Dr Xand van Tulleken and dietician Hala El-Shafie, the series How to Lose Weight Well asks people to road test some of the most popular and talked about diets. In this week’s episode Dr van Tulleken debunked some slimming myths in a series of controlled tests, with the help of LSBU's Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader in Sport and Exercise Science Steven Hunter.
In the episode Dr van Tulleken is seen entering an ice bath at the University's Human Performance Centre, filled with 30K gallons of freezing water topped with ice. Mr Hunter showed that as the human body shivers it activates brown fat tissues, burning more energy and helping weight loss. Shivering for just ten minutes in an ice bath proved to have an equivalent effect to an hour’s workout, but an easier way to benefit from this effect might be to join the coldwater swimmers at your local lido.
As well as an ice bath, Dr van Tulleken also tried out the popular idea that extreme heat will just "melt away" fat. Mr Hunter showed that Dr van Tulleken lost 100 grams by sitting in a sauna for 20 minutes, but this was caused by water loss through perspiration rather than actual fat loss.
Mr Hunter also debunked two products which claimed to mimic the effects of the ice bath and sauna. The ice vest, a jacket lined with cool packs, is designed to encourage weight loss through thermogenesis. Yet, Dr van Tulleken found no noticeable difference after wearing the jacket and similarly, the sauna pants were equally unsuccessful, mainly reducing water weight.
Mr Hunter studied human movement at Leeds Polytechnic from 1985-88, before he obtained an MPhil from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1994. The focus of his MPhil research was the influence of low intensity exercise training on cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure and body composition.