For someone who battled fat and won, long-term, I learned there are many misconceptions about how excess weight is lost. Unfortunately, what we don’t know can cause great harm, with long-term effects.
Naturally, we want quick results and, with no shortage of diets in the world, it’s very tempting to grab onto a diet for weight loss. Unfortunately, that leads to the condition we now see in our culture: DIETING FATTER every year.
But the human body is resourceful and intelligent, and it perceives a diet as an assault. Let me explain why.
The body’s job is to produce the energy to fuel our lives. We cannot survive without energy, which is used for daily activities, running vital systems (think heart beating, lungs breathing, brain functioning, etc.) as well as maintaining itself. Simple body maintenance involves replacing old cells with new ones. An entire new body is created every 2.5 years!
Energy is created from food and, if there isn’t enough due to a diet, it begins to look for other sources of energy. First, it burns the blood sugar in the blood, then the glycogen stored in the muscle.
After that, it turns to the most prevalent element of the body: water.
Most rapid weight loss is actually water loss. Our bodies are 73.2% water and, if you weigh 150 lbs., that’s 110 lbs. of water that can temporarily disappear, then reappear very quickly.
All (read: ALL!) quick changes on the scale are water fluctuations.
Next, the body turns to fat to create energy.
It would be ideal if the body simply burned fat for extra energy and continued to burn fat until the excess stored in the body was used up. Many people believe this is what happens!
But the body is actually hard wired to burn only a very small amount of fat in a given period of time, so it can survive if food is scarce. The body’s intelligence doesn’t have eyes, so it can’t tell if it’s in a famine, lost in the woods, or just self-restricting food.
Have you ever lost eight pounds in a week on a wild and crazy diet? Less than one pound is fat. There is very little you can do to influence the fat-protection process, no matter what you might read.
So, what are the elements of those eight lost pounds? Besides water and a little fat, the body has burned muscle, interstitial and connective tissue (like cartilage), organ tissue (heart, liver, kidney, lung, etc.) and elements of the blood. Finally, it will even leech calcium from bones.
It’s downright scary to think of the damage diets do, mostly to women, who diet more than men.
When muscle is burned, it is broken down very quickly. The body actually cannibalizes itself. High protein diets like Atkins and Dukan rely on this process.
There’s more than one problem with this diet approach!
- Muscle is important because it determines the amount of calories the body needs each day to simply function (the “base metabolism rate”). When we burn muscle with stringent dieting and lose more than 1 pound per week, the metabolism plummets. Hold that thought! We’ll come back to it in a moment.
- Muscle also keeps us young and gives shape to the body. It’s something to be protected, not used up. Extreme dieters lose their shape and sometimes appear thin, but not healthy or shapely.
- Another important fact: high protein diets work by omitting carbohydrates, the element which fuels brain function.
Now, remember that plummeting metabolism? Dieting causes the body to become more efficient. It begins to run the body’s vital systems on fewer and fewer calories.
The body is also smart enough to know that it has been assaulted and is missing part of itself. So, it seeks to replace that lost material. It turns on the hunger cues in the brain. It slows the metabolism even more so it can run the vital systems more efficiently. It narrows the fat-burning phase to a smaller window of time. Repeated dieters actually become people who hardly burn fat at all!
And, when eating returns to “normal”, the body takes what might have been an average amount of calories and makes them into – presto! – fat.
Despite the body’s amazing aptitudes, it cannot replace muscle, bone, organ tissue, connective tissues, etc. from excess calories. The only thing it can make is FAT.
Where is this rapidly produced fat stored? Usually in the abdominal region. That’s why we are seeing so many people with large bellies in relation to the rest of their bodies, and why the influx of “solve belly fat” ads are targeting them. The kicker is, the diet industry made money creating the problem, and they are making money off their “pretend” solutions too.
Scientific research shows that 99% of all diets fail and the average diet results in a 108% regain. That’s just an average. Most diets that show a 30 lb. loss on the scale result in 10 extra pounds – or a 40 lb. regain.
People who diet strenuously are fighting against (and destroying) their bodies every day. Despite what the diet business advertises, no device, supplement or medicine can change this process.
Recent studies even show that women who have liposuction regain the weight and it shows up as abdominal fat. Any excess calories are immediately converted into fat.
Instead of fighting the body’s natural intelligence, working with the body is the path to real fat loss. And, if fat is burned without endangering other elements of the body, there’s a real chance of sustained, permanent weight loss.
Isn’t that what we all want?
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