When it comes to diets most people don't understand how the body works!
How many times have you heard that a calorie is a calorie and as long as you take in less calories than what your body uses for energy every day then you will lose weight?
Yes, it is true that in order to lose weight that you must expend more energy than what you take in on a daily basis from foods based on your current metabolism. However, different foods have different physiological effects on the body and eating 300 calories from a doughnut might be like eating 600 calories from nutrient dense foods because the way it effects the metabolism.
For example, if a person has a high blood insulin level, their body may take all 300 calories and shuttle them right into fat stores especially if they are a sedentary person. Whereas you take 600 calories from nutrient dense foods and your body utilizes those calories to rebuild and repair muscle, hair, skin, nails, blood, and so on, and none of those calories get stored as body fat. In other words the calories from the doughnut is referred to as empty calories providing absolutely no nutrition whatsoever so the body looks at those calories and treats them differently.
I've seen a person's metabolism drastically drop from one day to the next just by overindulging on foods high in sugar. I know this for a fact by measuring body temperature and using a MedGem Indirect Calorimeter which is an instrument used for measuring resting metabolic rate. I will say this doesn't happen in everyone, but I've seen it on several occasions. It really depends on how efficient your body is at utilizing glucose from simple sugars.
One thing for sure though, eating foods that contain no nutritional value whatsoever is counterproductive when it comes to losing weight and improving your overall health. Notice how I said, and improve your overall health.
Some professionals say that metabolism has nothing to do with weight loss and they stick to their guns by stating that it's all about calories in vs calories out.
Well, if you have a lower metabolism it effects outgoing calories, so if someone says that metabolism has nothing to do with weight loss they are contradicting themselves! One thing I know for a fact is that if you eat calories from junk food long enough your metabolism will decrease due to the lack of nutrition and you will burn less calories at rest which equates to less outgoing calories.
Also, if you're a sedentary person your body will convert excess glucose and store it as body fat because the liver and muscles can only store so much glucose in the form of glycogen.
Because of this you end up gaining more weight if you continue eating the same amount and types of foods because you have less calories going out due to the lower metabolism, and because of the excess glucose the liver and muscles cannot take on. Not only that, but your long term health will suffer in a big way!
The ultimate goal should be to achieve healthy weight loss while maintaining a high metabolism by eating nutritious foods and combining that with proper resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. You will sleep better at night, have more energy during the day, and just feel better overall.
If you follow a program that continuously puts your body in a calorie deficit no matter where the foods come from, you may lose weight, but eventually your body will compensate and reserve fat stores by lowering your metabolism putting you on a vicious cycle of having to deplete your caloric intake even further. When this happens your energy levels will plummet! You will have restless sleep, be grouchy, crave sugar, and just feel tired all the time.
Since a calorie is nothing more than a unit of energy/heat, it only makes sense to increase your metabolism so you can actually eat more good foods and still lose weight so you can increase or maintain your energy levels.
You'd be surprised how many people came to me in a calorie deficit and felt horrible. They were no longer losing weight and their body was storing more fat in their mid-section on a weekly basis. Some were eating less than 1000 calories and exercising up to one hour per day. So much for calories in vs calories out to lose weight!
Your body is an intelligent machine so to speak and if you continuously cut calories it will hold onto body fat at some point. One exception to this is if you have a significant amount of body fat to lose in which case it will rely on fat stores to fuel it's needs in a calorie deficit. However, even then, at some point the fat loss will come to a screeching halt. Some people get stuck on the last 10 pounds and others get stuck on the last 50 pounds or so.
Is alcohol bad when it comes to weight loss and health?
Well, it depends on what type of alcohol. Red wine is okay in moderation for some people. If you're diabetic I would think not.
I once had a client many years ago that was on my program and while he initially lost weight, he wasn't losing the body fat that I had expected him to lose. After having him do some blood work it turned out his triglyceride levels were sky high as well. I asked him week after week to write down all the foods he was eating, including all the drinks he had been drinking, and all looked fine with his diet.
I was honestly beginning to think he had a tumor of some sort growing in his body because he failed to lose any more weight after a few more weeks. I tried everything in the book to lower his triglycerides as well, but to no avail.
One day I just happened to be visiting with him and I noticed a smell of alcohol on his breath and he was carrying around a large mug. I asked him if he had been drinking alcohol and he replied yes. As a matter of fact he told me he had been drinking alcohol for months a few times per week. He said he didn't think it was a big deal since the alcohol was a vodka that contained 0 calories.
I explained to him that even though the alcohol had 0 calories it caused serious adverse reactions in his body that not only inhibited weight loss, but also caused his triglyceride levels to sky rocket.
Long story short, I asked him to cut back slowly on the alcohol to avoid a stress response from his body, and after a couple of months he not only dropped a significant amount of weight, but his triglyceride levels decreased by more than 50% and the only change that he made was eliminating the 0 calorie vodka!
This is just one example of how even a 0 calorie drink can impact how your body functions. So, next time someone tells you that a calorie is a calorie, tell them this story!
Not only that, but if the body looked at all calories the same, then you could eat high trans fats and fried foods daily along with some beer and pizza and you'd have perfect cholesterol levels! Yeah right!
Another one is bread. I've had clients that would eat a couple slices of low calorie bread per day and not tell me thinking that since each slice only contained 40 calories it would be okay to eat. After a couple of weeks or so I noticed their weight loss had slowed down dramatically and after finding out they were eating bread I asked them to stop.
Bread is bread and if you want to gain weight then any kind of bread regardless of calories, whole grain, vitamin bread, or whatever you want to call it, it doesn't matter as it will hinder your weight loss progress! Period!
Long story short within a couple of weeks of eliminating the bread their weight loss progress nearly doubled with absolutely no other changes!
So, to all the professionals out there that think calories in vs calories out is the answer to weight loss, then tell me how my clients cut approximately 1000 calories from bread over the course of two weeks and with no other changes dropped an average of 4 pounds. Considering that most professionals will agree that each pound contains approximately 3500 calories, I'd say this is very significant. It's like the 1000 calories from the bread prevented them from losing 14000 calories. As a matter of fact new research is showing that you have to burn far more than 3500 calories to lose just one pound. Wow! Can you see how bread can totally flip the scale upside down if you simply leave it off your menu?
So, once again, calories from one food may have a totally different effect than calories from another food. One food may cause your cholesterol levels to spike, while another may lower them. One food may give you energy, while another one will make you feel fatigued. One 100 calorie food may induce weight loss, while another 100 calorie food may induce weight gain!
So there you have it and this comes from nearly 30 years of experience, so I don't care what physiology teaches or what someone may say about how weight loss revolves around calories in vs calories out! I know from experience that there's much more to it than that and the 0 calorie vodka really put a nail on it! Gaining weight on 0 calories just doesn't seem likely. Well, my client thought the same thing until he saw for himself how a 0 calorie vodka kept him from losing one single pound over the course of several weeks!
So remember this, what's most important is how your body reacts to a particular calorie based on your current metabolism and overall health. Your body will react differently when eating a calorie from a doughnut vs a calorie from a high fiber vegetable and as I stated above, it's more likely to take empty calories from a doughnut and store them as body fat than it is to take nutrient dense calories and utilize them to repair and rebuild!
It's that simple even though I just stepped on the toes of thousands of people who might believe otherwise, and to them I say, have a slice of low calorie bread along with a shot of 0 calorie vodka! Okay, so that's a bit much, but proof is in the pudding and I have over 50,000 clients under my belt over the course of nearly 30 years and I can honestly say with extreme confidence that I have this fat loss thing down to a science!
What does my body do after I eat
If you eat a doughnut that contains 300 calories like I talked about earlier, that food will digest very quickly and your body will release a hormone called insulin. Without getting too technical, insulin is responsible for the transport of nutrients and glucose out of the blood and into the cells of the body. Notice how I said insulin is responsible for transporting nutrients. In this regard it's your best friend and you need it.
However, when you eat a high sugar food by itself, your blood sugars spike quickly and your pancreas responds by releasing insulin, and then insulin does it's job by regulating where the glucose is stored - in muscle cells to be used for immediate energy, and the liver which will store the glucose as glycogen.
However, the liver can only store so much glucose as glycogen and when the liver is full, it starts to convert glucose into fatty acids which is then stored as body fat. Think of the liver as a short term energy supplier where it will release and convert glycogen back to glucose when blood sugar levels drop, such as between meals, during exercise, and an overnight fast during sleep.
The body is on constant alert of when blood sugars rise and fall and the pancreas is the primary organ that regulates the entire process by sending signals to the liver in way of insulin and glucagon, and then the liver responds accordingly based on which hormone is released by the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for lowering blood sugar levels and glucagon is responsible for increasing blood sugar levels. The body does this to maintain a perfect state of what is referred to as glucose homeostasis.
So, what does this have to do with calories? It's simple! Calories from high sugar foods are easily absorbed and they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels causing your pancreas to release a large amount of insulin. One thing I need to mention is that insulin is called the fat storage hormone and during sudden spikes of blood sugar, the body tends to convert excess glucose to fatty acids and then those fatty acids will be stored as body fat. Why? Because in the presence of insulin the body will not release fatty acids as it inhibits the breakdown of fat stores.
Think of it like this. Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere, left the house, and then realized you forgot your cell phone, purse, keys, etc. at home? Well, the body senses a state of urgency when a sudden spike in blood sugar levels occur from eating a food that is high in sugars, and it tends to convert more of that glucose into fatty acids to be stored as body fat due to the sudden surge and overcompensation of insulin.
When this occurs you can have what is known as a sugar crash and the more sensitive you are to sugars the worse you'll feel the crash.
The exception to this rule would be someone who works out and just left the gym and they ate sugars. Well, in this case the body needs glucose, so it would convert the glucose into glycogen to replenish any lost glycogen stores in the muscles and liver and maybe very little, if any, as body fat depending on how much sugar was ingested.
No, don't think you can workout and then go home and eat sugars because this will defeat the purpose of working out, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Besides, a person who regularly exercises and is somewhat lean, their body is more efficient at using sugar for energy because they are more insulin sensitive than someone who is more sedentary and overweight because those people would be more insulin resistant.
So basically if your primary goal is to lose weight, the idea would be to keep insulin levels stable by not eating foods that will cause significant blood sugar spikes, and exercise when insulin levels are at their lowest.
Insulin is considered a fat storage hormone and when it's present in the body at high levels it's impossible to burn stored fat.
The ideal time to exercise is when blood sugars are normal or first thing in the morning so your body will release glucagon during exercise. In the presence of glucagon your liver can break down glycogen to be released back into the blood stream to be used as glucose for fuel, and most importantly it can be used to break down stored fat into fatty acids so your body can use that as fuel as well. However, in the presence of glucagon, your body tends to burn more fat for fuel and spares the glucose unless the intensity of the exercise becomes too great then your body will tend to burn more glucose.
If this whole process sounds confusing, just remember this. Glucose is in it's active form and can be used by the body for energy. Glycogen is glucose when it's stored in the muscles and liver. The muscles can store approximately 300-500 grams of glycogen in an average person depending on how much lean muscle the person has, their activity levels, and a few other variables I won't mention here to keep this as simple as I can.
Using the example above would put the average person capable of storing approximately 1200 to 2000 calories in their muscles and approximately 100 grams in their liver which is equivalent to about 400 calories.
How are people different when it comes to eating calories
Lets take two people who we will refer to as Person A and Person B, and we'll say they weigh exactly the same, same body type, and so on. There will be many factors that will determine how well Person A and Person B utilizes calories from the foods they eat. To keep it simple, we'll say they both eat the exact same foods and their lifestyles are exactly the same.
However, Person A has a sluggish thyroid and their insulin blood levels are 8 on a scale of 2.0 to 19.6 ulU/mL. For reference, the higher the insulin, the more insulin resistant the person will be and the less efficient their body will be at burning calories from carbohydrates. In this case, Person A can eat the exact number of calories as Person B and Person A will gain more weight because of the higher insulin and sluggish thyroid.
There are many other things that can contribute to how well a person burns calories as well. For example, the more muscle a person has the more efficient they will be at burning calories from carbohydrates. There are also countless health issues that can inhibit weight loss or even contribute to weight loss. This is why no two people are alike and just because one diet and exercise program can work for one person, doesn't necessarily mean the same diet and exercise program will work for another.
So, is a calorie a calorie regardless of what foods they come from? Yes and no!
Yes, once you figure that particular person's current metabolic rate factoring in any health issues, you can just about figure out how many calories they should be eating in order to lose weight. No, because they won't be able to eat just any type of calories because of the sluggish thyroid and the high blood insulin levels which causes their body to respond differently to certain foods than say someone who has an insulin level below 3.0.
Make sense? Now you know why your best friend can eat all the junk food he or she wants and not gain one pound, and if you eat just half of what they eat you wake up 5 pounds heavier by morning. Okay, so maybe that's a bit exaggerated, but you get the point.
So what do you do if your insulin blood test comes back a little high?
A person with a high blood insulin level should eat carbohydrates that are lower than 70 on the glycemic index, incorporate good fats, eat low to moderate plant based proteins, or lean meats, fish, etc. and incorporate a resistance training workout combined with anaerobic and aerobic cardio exercise. Doing this will increase thyroid function and increase insulin sensitivity in the muscles making that person more efficient at burning calories from just about any foods, including carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index considering they're eaten in moderation.
One last thing to point out. If you do indeed eat a low calorie diet, make sure you increase your protein intake. Failure to do this and you'll lose muscle weight and that's something you never want to happen. Weight loss is about losing body fat and nothing else!
How do you gain muscle and lose fat
Remember how I talked about insulin being an enemy when it comes to weight loss because of it blocking the release of fatty acids from fat stores? Well, in the case of gaining muscle, it's one of your best friends and I will explain all the details in an upcoming article!
There's a lot more to this and I am writing articles on a daily basis so people can understand more how the body works when it comes to eating a variety of different foods whether you have health issues or simply just need to lose weight, or both!
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