Thursday, 23 January 2014

Weighloss explained. Buckle up.

We all want to lose weight. But what's the most effective  way to do so? To understand weight loss we first need do understand weight gain.  So let's talk about our body as if it was a car.

 Why you gain weight.

Your body needs fuel to live. Being alive, breathing, moving, blood circulation: All this takes a certain amount of energy. This energy is gained in the form of calories. Sort of like a car gets its energy to drive from gasoline. Let us take this allegory and go a bit more into detail.
Imagine your body as a car. 
You are at the gas station and plan on filling the tank with the fuel it needs to drive your every day route. You stand at the gasoline pump until the tank is full. So far so good. But once the tank is full you don't stop pouring in the gasoline. So the tank overflows and you take a canister, fill it with the overflowing gasoline and put it in the trunk.
The day goes by, you run your daily errands and after a while the car runs out of gas. At the gas station you fill up the tank again - and once more you just keep pressing the gasoline pump after the tank is full. You get a second canister, fill it up as well, and put it back in the trunk. Day after day this continues. You pump too much gasoline, fill canister after canister, put it all into your car, until your car is loaded with gallons and gallons of gasoline - and one day, eventually, the car will break under the weight.

This pretty much sums up what happens when you overeat. You fill your body with energy it doesn't need, and instead of storing that energy in canisters in your trunk your body stores it in fat cells on your body.

It's a simple truth: If you're overweight it's because you're eating too much. (Unless you have a health condition, of course.) Saying you have a lower metabolic rate might play a part and plays a huge part in the yo-yo effect BUT it is NOT the reason for obesity. Sorry to break it to you.

How you lose weight.

The only way to lose weight is to empty one canister after the other.

You get into your car and drive - but instead of driving your usual route you take a detour and drive a longer way. The tank of your car doesn't hold enough gasoline for those extra miles - but the extra gasoline the detour will need comes from the full canisters in your trunk. Day after day you take the longer route - and day after day you fill the car with the extra fuel from the canisters until they empty.

This is what happens when you exercise. If 2000 calories is what your body burns to stay alive and 2000 calories is what you consume, exercising means you may burn 400 calories extra or 600 calories. The energy needed for this will be taken from the fat cells on your body. This is where you will lose weight.

There's three easy ways of getting rid of the canisters of gasoline in your trunk: Number one is driving longer routs and using the excess gasoline to refuel your car on the way. Number two is driving your regular rout but reducing the amount of gas you put in your tank a bit and balancing the lack of fuel out with the gas in the canisters. Number three is a combination of both: Tanking less fuel and driving more miles.

The best way to lose weight is to reduce your calories bit and exercise. I must confess I'm not really rigorous when it comes to exercise but I do walk a part of my way to work every day since I started my diet, sometimes I go for a walk during lunch break, ride the bike on the weekends or after work and even went swimming before work for a couple of months.

It's also important to think about the fact that everyones body is different. There's a reason Weight Watchers gives more ProPoints to "spend" to a heavier person. A 200 pound person obviously needs to consume more calories to sustain that weight than a 120 pound person needs to sustain theirs. If both wanted to lose weight though, both could reduce their regular calories by, let's say, about 400 calories. The 200 pound person would still consume way more than the 120 pound person but would still lose weight healthily. Keep that in mind.

How you should not lose weight.

Here's the twist. You need to consume calories in order to lose weight healthily. All too eagerly we start starving ourselves to lose weight. It may work, no doubt about that, but what happens when you starve yourself is this:

You drive on your regular rout, but this time you have not filled the tank before you started. And wouldn't you know it: righr after you leave your house your tank goes empty. So you stop, get out, take a canister from the trunk and refuel your car with the little gasoline that is in it. You go for some miles and you're out of gas again. So you stop, take another canister and pour the gasoline into the tank - just to get stuck in the middle of the road after a few miles yet again. The canisters in your car slowly empty - but not only will this constant stopping get on your nerves after a while, your car will most certainly not stay in a good condition if you keep this up. 

I think you get where I'm going with this. Losing weight by starving yourself may help in the beginning, but your body will not thank you for it in the long run. Your body needs energy. And just because you have a huge storage of energy on your hips doesn't mean you can run on that excess-energy alone. Ask yourself this: How can you expect a machine like your body to run and perform an its regular capacity - or even on a higher capacity since you're probably exercising as well - without fueling it? You will feel tired and malnourished, probably get a headache (at least I do) and chances are you will get cranky, too. Seriously: Don't put your body through this. Yes you will lose weight, but your goal can never ONLY be to lose weight. You also need to set a goal for yourself to KEEP that weight. And how can you keep  a certain weight when the regime to do so is so time consuming and so different from what an every-day life should be? I always encourage people to go slow, to incorporate a better diet and exercise into their lives without hitting the gym 7 days a week while eating an apple and a can of tuna a day. Do you want to keep that up forever? I don't like to think of a diet as a diet. I want to think of it as a life style change. Change is something that will stay with you. A diet is something you start and end. And when you end a hard diet-regime that's so different from your usual life, chances are that you will get into the Yo-Yo Effect.

The Yo-Yo Effect.

Here's the thing about the Yo-Yo effect. Some people tend to think of it the wrong way. One might assume that Yo-Yo-ing means you start over-eating after a period of reducing your calories because your body and your head craves the food. But it's more accurate to say Yo-Yo-ing can already happen by eating normally after eating too little for a longer period of time. If we look at our car-allegory, it goes like this:

You started pumping less gasoline than you need to drive your usual route. The canisters in your car have already been emptied and you don't plan on refueling the car along the way. So what do you do? You slow down. Driving more slowly burns less fuel. And after a while you get used to driving slowly so you go slower and slower and slower. You need less and less fuel and go longer periods without driving to the gas station - and then the unthinkable happens: Your tank shrinks. It's like magic. Your car learned to be effective with the little fuel you give it - so there's no need for a big tank. That's great, isn't it? No, it actually isn't. Because it also means that once you go to the gas station and tank your regular amount of fuel: It's too much. Your tank is now smaller, so you fill the excess gasoline into a canister. And even though you used to need that certain amount of fuel on your daily route, now that you drive slower and your tank shrank, that fuel is just too much. And one by one your the gasoline canisters in your car start piling up yet again.

Yo-Yo-ing is basically a reaction of your body to the drastic reduction of energy it had to deal with during your hard diet. The metabolic rate goes down because your body is in crisis and it learns to survive on less energy. Once you start eating normally again the calories you used to consume are now too much - and your body starts to store the excess energy as fat like it did when you overate. This is why it's important to eat on a diet if you want to sustain the weight loss. You don't want your metabolic rate to go down, you want your body to use up its stored energy, not go into panic-mode. You want to consume just enough calories to get and keep the weight loss going.

Wow, that was a mouth full! I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I had fun writing it.

Bye and be sexy,