What I am about to tell you will change your perspective on losing weight. Although many diet companies have made a fortune on the guilt and vanity of the general weight-conscious public, the concept of losing weight is actually quite simple. Here are the facts:
What is your SET POINT? – Basically, the set point is the weight at which your body is happiest. This means that your body will consistently do what it can to keep you at that weight (through a variety of natural mechanisms). For example, if your set point is 200 lbs, once you hit 190, your metabolism decreases and your hunger increases dramatically. Although your set point is generally genetically determined, here is the catch: Over time, your set point can INCREASE but CANNOT DECREASE. Ever wonder why people who lose weight gain it all back?
Fab Diets don’t work – 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back within 3 months. The remaining 5% will have to continue to DECREASE the amount of calories they consume on a daily basis just to maintain their weight. Why? – SET POINT. Of course, diet companies don’t want people to know this fact because all they care about is making money. Sure, some programs will help you lose some weight, but you can be SURE that these effects are temporary unless you are moving towards a DRAMATIC change of lifestyle. Have you ever read the fine print during weight loss commercials? The say things like “results are not typical” or “in addition to proper diet and exercise”!!!!! DUUUUHHHHHHH. To cap it all off, here is a final startling fact: Out of those 95% of people who gain their weight back, almost 100% experience an INCREASE in their SET POINT by 10% leaving them heavier than they were before they started!!!
It’s all about input and output – i.e. If the amount of energy (calories) you burn a day is greater than the amount of energy you consume, you will lose weight. Vice versa and you will gain weight. This is the basic principle of growth. The fact is that our bodies need energy ALL THE TIME to keep us warm, mobile, and our brains working. Obviously, this energy has to come from somewhere so if we can’t get it from food, our bodies quite literally digest themselves, thereby losing weight.
Starving yourself doesn’t work – I have said it over and over again – our bodies are adaptive systems. If you go off of food for a long period of time, your body will defend itself by doing 2 things – slowing down your metabolism and craving calorie-rich foods. Let’s face it, eventually you are going to eat something and when you do, you will regret starving yourself. What’s going to happen is when your hunger eventually becomes unbearable, you are going to give into your desire and reach for fatty, sugar-rich foods with a high GI to get your blood sugar up. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to stop at just 5 or 6 twinkies. Remember, because your metabolism is LOW, the foods that you eat are getting absorbed much slower and thus, you actually tend to eat much, much more. The result – your body doesn’t use the majority of what you just ate and instead, stores it as FAT. Batta bing batta boom – you gain weight by starving yourself.
SKIPPING BREAKFAST is the worst thing you can DO – When we sleep, our bodies slow everything down – our heart rate, our breathing and consequently, our metabolism. When we wake up, our metabolism increases momentarily letting our brains know that we need food. If we consume food, then our metabolism steadily increases throughout the day hitting a peak at around mid-day. Now, if you decide to SKIP food in the morning, our metabolism goes back DOWN and stays low for the ENTIRE day! The result is everything you eat that day is stored more readily that normal and you end up gaining weight. This of course is in addition to the impairment in cognitive function that day resulting from the systemic effects of a slow metabolism.
THE HORMONE PROBLEM – What exactly IS hunger? How do we know to stop eating? The answer to both of these questions is physiological. Unfortunately for humans, our brains can only use 1 form of energy – glucose. That’s it. Without a constant supply of glucose (and oxygen of course) to our brains, we die. So, when our blood glucose (blood sugar) level gets low, our brains release hormones to tell us that we need to eat. Once our blood sugar level literally levels off after a meal, our brains release another hormone to tell us to stop eating. This hormone is called leptin and it is very important because if our brains don’t release it, we can quite literally eat ourselves to death. Imagine eating and eating and never feeling satisfied. Unfortunately, when it comes down to weight loss, our hormone levels are hereditary so there is nothing you can do about them. This means that if you are hungry all the time regardless of a sedentary lifestyle and knowing that you’ve had enough, you’ll just have to deal with it. You may have heard of weight loss clinics that give people injections. Well, this is exactly what they are doing. They are injecting individuals with hormones that will keep them from feeling hungry and therefore, keep them from eating.
WATER KEEPS OUR BODIES RUNNING SMOOTHLY – Just like a car engine, our bodies need oil except that our oil is water. Many people don’t understand that our bodies have difficulty distinguishing between hunger and thirst. When in doubt, reach for a glass of water and not a granola bar. Bottom line – if you want to keep your metabolism up and your hunger down, stay HYDRATED all the time.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – This cliché, although technically inaccurate, makes an important point. The fact is that everything that we eat and don’t use right away is stored in our body as glycogen or fat. This means that you can get fat by eating too much of pretty much ANYTHING. You are asking yourself – but WHY FAT? Well, fat (adipose) tissue is a remarkably effective method of storing energy. If you take into account that you can get 12 times the energy from a single fat molecule than you can from a glucose molecule you begin to appreciate why our bodies would want several mechanisms to convert all forms of energy to fat. The bottom line is that our bodies are lazy. They would much rather take the fat already in a twinkie and store it right away than take the excess glucose from an apple and convert it to fat and then store it. Eat right and keep your body working.
IT’S MOSTLY ABOUT FOOD, NOT EXERCISE!!!! – The misconception is that changing one will do the trick. WRONG. If you keep your diet the same and increase your exercise, you will surely become more tired, but you probably won’t lose much weight (besides water weight). BUT, if you starve yourself and train your mind to cope with the hunger, your weight will decrease dramatically (not to mention dangerously). The key is to have a balance of both but to design a program primarily around the food you eat. See point #3.
Although this may have been a lot to digest (pun intended) the principles to weight loss are simple:
BE HAPPY WITH YOUR GENETICS – everybody is different and responds differently to changes in lifestyle. Know thyself and plan accordingly.
Choose the right foods and don’t increase your SET POINT
Make sure you burn more calories than you consume each day – EXERCISE and EAT RIGHT (not necessarily less)
Don’t starve yourself
Don’t skip breakfast
Stay hydrated all the time
STAY FOCUSED on your goal – Mind power is key to overcoming adversity
And now for a glass of water…
Magic Bullets Do You Know What Your Cusomers Want
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