Weight Loss: It’s Almost Rocket Science

 

So many people have trouble losing weight. The world is full of products and regimens that promise easy weight loss. Diet advice is everywhere. Every day there is a story somewhere that proclaims the success of celebrities who lost weight or improved their physique. It seems like it should be easy to lose weight if so many people do it quickly and easily.

First, the bad news: weight loss is a complicated and evasive thing. I propose that even the notion of losing weight is flawed. It should not be a goal in and of itself. If you try to lose weight and have difficulties it is because your aim is not true. How could it be? You are shooting at the wrong target. Instead you should be trying to repair your metabolism.

What is your metabolism anyway? Think of all the things which your body needs to accomplish on a microscopic, chemical level, every second of every day in order to stay alive. Although this definition is enormously understated in terms of its detail, I think it is a sufficient approximation of metabolism.

There are thousands of chemical reactions occurring in the trillions of cells in your body at any given time. That requires fine regulation and balance to keep the cells from descending into a chaotic mess. Just look at a cancer cell to see what happens when regulation is lost.

The overall regulation requires communication between individual cells of the same type as well as cells from one organ to another. This is where hormones come into the picture. Hormones are essential. They are the chemical messengers which instruct cells how to behave. The intake of energy sources as well as the use of and/or storage of energy sources are governed by hormones. You may already know the hormones such as: insulin, estrogen and testosterone, which regulate fat storage and distribution, but there are a host of others that you may not know about. I can mention leptin and ghrelin as two key players in the metabolic game which are newly discovered and not as well studied.

Here’s where it gets interesting. What you eat effects your hormone balance, and your hormones effect how much you eat and where the energy gets shuttled. We know that eating a diet low in carbohydrates and high in certain fats tends to lessen the amount of insulin circulating, thereby reducing the, “Store Fat,” message. This same diet promotes the “Burn Fat” signal to the tissues. The complete mechanisms involved are not yet fully understood, but the important point is: what you eat determines how your metabolism functions because of the hormonal balance that you strike.

Remember to consider all of the vitamins and minerals necessary for your metabolism when considering what you eat. These are generally referred to as micronutrients. There are numerous vital cellular functions that require daily intake of these micronutrients on a daily basis. If they are not met, your metabolism will shift in some way to compensate, and again you are working with a damaged metabolism. Many times the compensatory adjustments made do produce immediate symptoms and are not apparent.

More bad news here, exercise does not help weight loss to any large extent. While there certainly are benefits to exercising that we can talk about in future discussions, it does not provide weight loss by itself. You cannot eat pizza and donuts and expect an hour at the gym will cancel it out. In fact, the kind of exercise that you were taught to do is likely deleterious for your body in the long run (no pun intended). The hour long cardio sessions on the treadmill may deplete your glycogen stores and make you crave carbohydrate laden food. Many people who adhere to this type of regimen end up as the “skinny-fat” person. I know you have seen the person with skinny arms and legs, but they still carry a decent amount fat around their middle. They are exactly as fat and as muscular as their metabolism has instructed them to be.

How come some people eat as much as they want of whatever they want and don’t get fat? It has to do with their genetics. These people have a particular metabolism that allows them to do this. Again, they are exactly as fat and as muscular as their metabolism has instructed them to be. This is just a manifestation of the genetic diversity in our world.

It’s not fair. It just happens naturally for them, because they are gifted with a metabolism that does not store fat. Eons ago, they would have been the first to starve in hard times, and we would have considered them very unlucky. Fair or not, it is senseless to dwell on this subject. Your effort needs to stay on target – repair your own metabolism.

Weight loss is only a consequence of an improved metabolism. Better health is also a consequence. They will come to you naturally if you aim at the proper target.