The following quote does not mean what you will at first think that it means.
My first professional research position was in a basic science laboratory conducting experiments with mice. Soon after starting this work, I became amazed by the beauty and complexity of the systems that control body weight. If we fasted a mouse for a few days, it would, of course, lose weight. Then, when given free access to food, the animal ate voraciously until it had regained all of the lost weight— no more, no less. The opposite was also true. Force-feeding could temporarily make a mouse fat, but afterward it would avoid food until its weight dropped back to normal. Based on these and other experiments, it seemed as if an animal’s body knew precisely what weight it wanted to be, automatically altering food intake and metabolism to reach a sort of internal set point, like a thermostat that keeps a room at just the right temperature.
Ludwig, David (2016-01-05). Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently (p. 4). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
If you are over your desired weight you may read the passage above and think that I, and the author, are saying that you may as well get used to being fat, that there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, if you have ever tried to lose weight by changing your diet and exercise habits you may have already began to suspect that you cannot change your weight this way. All of your life you have heard that if you reduce the number of calories you consume, or if you increase the number of calories you burn, that by simple physics you will lose weight. This has never been true.
Within a week, I felt an astonishing improvement in energy and vitality, and a robust sense of well-being that lasted throughout the day— as if some previously unknown but important metabolic switch had finally been flipped on. Four months later, I had lost 20 pounds and needed a new wardrobe two pants sizes smaller. Most remarkably, all this had occurred with no hunger and no carbohydrate cravings. Previously, I would be famished by late afternoon, and usually staved off hunger in the lab with a four p.m. break for a carb-laden vanilla scone from the local bakery. But with my new diet, I felt full for hours after eating. For the first time in my life, I completely lost interest in bread, which used to accompany my every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And when it was time for a meal, I’d experience a pleasant, stimulating interest in food, entirely different from feeling starved and in desperate need of calories.
Ludwig, David (2016-01-05). Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently (p. 7). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Re-read that last passage…if this sounds like the experience that you get when you are trying to get control of your expanding waistline, then you are already doing it right. Share with us in the comments section below how you are doing it. However, if you are like 100% of the people that are on traditional ‘starvation’ diets, then you need to read on. If you are denying yourself any nutrient, if you are counting calories, if you are working an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill per day for the purpose of losing body fat then you are using outdated instructions on how to operate the human body.
Too Many Calories in the Body, But Too Few in the Right Place
This situation is similar to edema, a condition in which fluid leaks out of the blood vessels and accumulates elsewhere in the body (for example, in the legs), causing swelling. Despite having too much water in the body, people with edema may experience unquenchable thirst, because there’s not enough water in the blood, where it’s needed. Telling people with edema to drink less is no more effective than food restriction for weight loss, because it ignores the underlying cause. Insulin (and other influences, as we’ll discuss later) has programmed fat cells into calorie-storage overdrive. People chronically overeat because they’re trying to keep enough calories in the blood to feed the brain, compensating for those being siphoned off by overstimulated fat cells. But until the underlying problem is addressed, it’s a never-ending battle, and those extra calories cause even more weight gain. The fundamental problem is one of distribution: not too many calories, but too few in the right place. Though we think of obesity as a condition of excess, it’s actually a matter of starvation to the body!
Ludwig, David (2016-01-05). Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently (p. 44). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
It is possible to be obese, packing around more than enough stored energy to last for many months yet to feel famished after missing a small percentage of the normal daily calorie intake. There is a lot to take in to be able to understand why this is so, but it basically comes down to knowing what causes hunger. The same thing that stores fat causes you to feel hungry, insulin. The key to understanding why you can’t lose weight long term is to understand how to control insulin production in your body.
Basically, insulin is released into the blood by the pancreas if the glucose in the blood rises above the safe zone set point. Too much glucose in the blood is deadly, too little glucose in the blood can be deadly. Eating highly processed foods and sugars leads to an immediate spike in glucose, thus a corresponding spike in glucose-lowering insulin. An hour after eating a highly processed, carbohydrate rich meal the blood glucose level, AND the blood lipid (fatty acids–another potential source of energy for all body functions) will have fallen dangerously low. In some cases, if the body does not get more food at this time then there is a true metabolic crisis, sweating, shakes, as the brain releases cortisol and adrenaline to free liver fats for immediate brain energy needs. This happens despite a person being hundreds of pounds over weight, and it happens because the insulin levels went too high in response to a blood glucose spike.
The trick to getting control of metabolism is to get control of insulin production. How? Read more tomorrow….
I’m here! I listen to my body! I’d never had a weight problem then I had a brain anuerism, hospital for over 2 months & went from 102 to 155lbs due to my “hospital” diet & medications. I went to the ER a size 0-2 & came out a size 14. I am 5′ 6″ tall & I have NEVER been on a diet. It was a joke that I could eat 10 lbs of food & loose 5 lbs. I 1000% agree that sugar/insulin had everything with me getting back to what the “Charts” say I should weigh but I don’t believe in those charts. I went back to my regular diet of greens, legumes, fresh seafood, when my body said “Hey! I’d like some meat!”. I ate venison (ground fresh by my father & brother’s butcher. I am a Cajun & diabetes is found on both sides of my family. Here’s the kicker….they ate breakfast, lunch & dinner. All of these were big meals rich in starches… I know you know where I’m going! What do starches turn into? Sugars! When I left home at 18 I weighed 137 sport muscle weight & 3 squares a day. When my diet wasn’t dictated to me & I was able to chose I kept my muscle mass as I was an athlete but immediately lost the starch weight. Cajuns eat bread, rice & potatoes all in the same meal. If you add in meats & dessert your body crashes immediately. I think that’s why when growing up all the adults & children to a degree took naps. I on the other hand always loved to go outside and play. It will be 3 years April 1, 2016 that I had my aneurism. I weigh a very comfortable 121 lbs & for 2 years it has not wavered. I had so many hospital stays from 1996-2013; on so MUCH medication my body bbuttomed out at just over 100lbs. Now! I eat what I want when I want but by “Natural Selection” I automatically watch my starches, carbs & natural sugar intake from fruits & vegetables. A treat for me is a baked sweet potato or orange sorbet! Okay Homemade cookies & fudge during the summer and winter months but I make it from scratch. One of the benefits of growing up in a Cajun household where you learn to stir a pot by age 4-5! We rarely eat out. I find my food taste better as does my husband. He gained 13lbs after we married 20 yrs ago & his pant size has never changed! I changed the way his food was prepared. He was raised in a Jewish household! Their diet though different had many of the same results as ours… a lot of food groups that all turned to sugar! Guess who has cooked Thanksgiving for the past 20 yrs and is in charge of all the side dishes for all of the other holidays! Yours truly! I can’t wait to see your next post! I hope something I wrote made a little bit of sense!
Thanks so so much for the heartfelt reply. Please look at the blog site and check the menu items at top. Look for the chronological posts. In there I go through I think the first year of my heroes journey through the thicket of nutrition knowledge. I am on the side now of real food. I will eat carbs if they are still contained in their natural skins. Comment all over the place and share like crazy. Glad your health is restored and you can help me.