Ok, this has been bothering me for a while now!
I keep reading and have seen lots on social media recently about the ONLY way to lose weight is by creating a calorie deficit.
In fact some of the arguments seemed so convincing, it got me questioning my own knowledge!
However I wanted to share my thoughts as to why it’s PART of the equation and not the whole, despite people being very divided on the issue, and here’s why!
The theory goes that for you to lose weight (let’s not confuse it with fat/muscle differences at the moment), there needs to be a calorie deficit ie. eating less than you expend.
Now yes, that is of course true, BUT it’s way to over simplified for it to be JUST that. There’s WAY more to it, especially for long term loss.
Traditionally, if a person wants to lose fat, they would eat less, and exercise more.
Now this can be very effective (in the short term) but doing it long term or pushing a bit too much on the exercise, or restricting the diet, then the body starts to fight back.
The metabolism is reactiveand is likened to a see saw – react hard one way and there’s a resultant force the other way.
Too much restriction and body can not only slow the metabolism down but adjust hormones to cause an increase in hunger and cravings, and a lowering of energy/increased tiredness. Genius really!!
This of course tries to bring the body back up to its equilibrium ie fat stores back up!
NOT what you want!
(Hence why the 5:2 can work well)
This is why resistance training is crucial alongside a long term programme of activity, because it helps to increase the metabolism by increasing muscle mass, with the resultant factor of a naturally increased metabolism.
(Each pound of muscle burns an extra 30-50 kcals a day, without doing anything!!)
Now, dietary wise, if we look at our Macros – carbohydrate/protein/fats, that carbs and proteins are the same (approx 4kcals) and fats higher at 9 kcals.
Now, if it’s just calories that matter for weight loss, then we’d assume using this logic, as long as there’s a deficit, it doesn’t matter where the calories come from?
My argument here, from my learning, is that different macros have different effects on your metabolism and hormones.
So if I ate 400 cals in chicken it would have a different affect on the body than 400 cals in doughnuts? Yes?
Interestingly I chose the Doughnut because it’s the perfect fat storing food – high in fat and high in sugar. It’s that combination together that increases the likelihood of storage.
The chicken is high in protein and is more effort for the body to break down, is lower GI (slower blood sugars release), has a greater satiety effect and has a less an effect on cravings. (Generally speaking).
It’s very hard to over eat protein in terms of satiety, not so much the doughnuts!!
The combination can switch on fat storing and hunger hormones to send eating and cravings skyward.
The fascinating thing about carbs vs proteins is that despite them being the same in calories, the body captures differentlevels of both heat and energy.
When the body burns proteins it doesn’t take up as much calories compared to carbs!
(Worth reading again)
So more of it’s energy gets lost as heat, as opposed to more energy in movement from the carbs.
Another argument relates to P.O.P.S, persistent organic pollutants, which are basically within the air we breathe, the food we eat and the fluids we drink.
These build up in our system (fat) and can cause a disruption in our metabolic hormones increasing fat storage.
These are released more when we lose weight and have major issues with things like the thyroid. (The suggestion is obviously to choose carefully what you eat and drink and the environment around you).
Lastly, but by no means least we cannot forget to mention our gut flora and biome. It’s been found that if this is sub optimal, then it can limit both our absorption and digestion food.
So whilst I wholeheartedly agree with simplifying and cutting the bullshit, we cannot ignore the fascinating research that highlights crucial factors.
Hope you’ve stayed here to the end because I think you will agree it’s a fascinating area.
Until next week, best wishes,