October 24, 2013

We’ve heard it for decades. Weight loss is all about “calories in versus calories out – period!”

But do you know anyone who can eat and drink anything and not put on weight?

How about someone who watches everything they put passed their lips and stays overweight? If it is all about “calories in versus calories out” what’s going on?

There have been plenty of studies where volunteers have been asked to consume thousands of extra calories a day. Some put on a little weight (less than predicted) and some did not. Equally, there have been studies where volunteers have gone on starvation diets where some lost a little weight (less than predicted) and some hardly lost any. One of the reasons is that our bodies vary in their ability to self-regulate weight. Eat more and metabolism goes up to compensate. Eat less and metabolism goes down to compensate. Clever huh?

Here’s a new thought… Weight loss is all about “how your own body absorbs, stores and uses calories – which is completely individual”.

Before we go there, let’s reflect on the beliefs we have formed over our lifetimes:

  1. Weight loss is about calories in versus calories out.
  2. To lose weight, eat less (calories) and exercise more (calories).
  3. To eat less calories, eat less fat because where protein and carbohydrate have only about 4 calories per gram, fat yields about 9 calories a gram.
  4. We’re told to avoid or limit saturated fat.
  5. We’re told to eat plenty of serves of (fat free) cereals and grains – preferably whole grains.
  6. We’re surrounded by “low fat” foods and drink, and eat them in the belief that they are “safe”.

Now let’s get yucky. If you’ve ever suffered diarrhoea, you might recall that “anything you ate didn’t even touch the sides”.  Everything you eat or drink starts its journey in your mouth and travels via a long tube towards your bottom. The tube includes the stomach and intestines – your gut – where various digestive processes occur. Unless or until the food or drink is digested enough to pass through the gut wall, it has no effect on the body. It’s like the food is still outside your body.

And so, we know that for food to get absorbed, used or stored as fat there are some steps:

  1. Digestion starts in the mouth and continues in the gut.
  2. The food (now mush) gets absorbed through the gut. Some unabsorbed material passes right through.
  3. The food must be metabolised (used or stored). Be aware that your body actually uses up much more energy metabolising protein than carbohydrate.
  4. If it is not used (for energy and body processes) it is stored as glucose or fat. Our fat storage hormone is insulin – an essential hormone that enables our bodies to self-regulate blood glucose in response to the consumption of carbohydrate. The efficiency of our insulin production and our sensitivity to insulin varies between each of us. The “fat-free” foods and drinks that elevate blood glucose will stimulate insulin production, and potentially fat storage, as well as inhibit fat release. Fat (by itself) does not stimulate the production of insulin.

And so… if you’re keen to lose some weight (body fat), where does all this leave you? Start by recognising that “calories in versus calories out” is a gross simplification. Then recognise that your body might process the components of foods (protein, fat and carbohydrate) and release stored fat differently to other people’s bodies. The rules that work for one person may not work for you. And so you need a process to help you discover the sustainable eating plan that works for your body.

That’s what our Reset Program is designed to do.