Healthy weight loss is not just about what the scale says.
It’s about what your body fat percent is (see yesterday’s post). That’s the only stuff you want to target and get rid of. That’s what’s causing the problems. To accomplish this you need 2 things (put very simply) working properly: your metabolism and healthy muscle mass. These are the things that burn excess fat. Without them it’s just not going to happen, unless you starve yourself and that’s not smart because it starts a whole lot of health problems.
Most diets contribute to the exact opposite of what the you’re trying to accomplish.
*Skipping meals, consuming too little calorie, protein or essential nutrient intake, wrong food choices, poor blood sugar metabolism, and not enough exercise all work to lower your metabolism, resulting in a decreased ability to burn fat.
*Consuming too little calorie or protein intake, too little exercise or too much exercise result in loss of muscle mass, resulting in a decreased ability to lose fat.
The Vicious Diet Cycle
You decide to start a diet. You decrease your calorie intake because this makes sense. We’ve all heard eat less = lose weight, right? Yes, but with a slight catch.
Famine Response – the body’s natural survival mechanism.
You’re now eating less than your body is used to having. Your body says, uh, oh, something’s up. There’s not as much food coming in as usual. We better be careful because we don’t know how long this shortage will last. But, we know how to handle it. We’ll just slow down our metabolism to save energy; we’ll store as much as we can from the food we do get and we’ll hang on to our fat stores for dear life (literally), for as long as we can. We will lose some of the fat, but unfortunately we’ll also have to sacrifice some muscle tissue along the way. This just can’t be helped in times of famine.
As we learned earlier, improper dieting results in decreased metabolism and decreased muscle mass, the 2 mechanisms the body uses to burn fat.
Feast Response: the body’s natural mechanism after times of famine.
You finish your diet and start eating normally again. But your metabolic rate has decreased and you’ve lost muscle mass (due to the famine response) so you aren’t going to use your calories at the same rate as you did before the diet. And now it’s even easier than before to gain weight. Somehow you gain even more back than what you lost. And the really bad news is the weight you’ve just regained is now pretty much ALL fat. Yep, you’ve just replaced your old muscle with new fat. Your Body Fat Percentage has just increased, making you fatter than you were before the diet.
Now you need to go on another diet. Around and around you go. Before you know it, it seems like you just have to look at food and you gain weight. And you’re getting more tired, more health issues, more fed up, more discouraged. Sound familiar?
Tomorrow we’ll talk about a solution to this!
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