When it comes to dieting most of us have been educated on the oversimplified idea that to lose weight it simply means to ensure your body is in a caloric deficit, generally by consuming less and burning more. This is only a portion of the real picture and in truth can really bring your weight loss efforts to a halt. It may be hard to believe but a common concept (one responsible for the majority of our repeated success) in our personal training facility is the idea of eating more to lose weight. Don’t put the paper down now. I’m about to share one of the biggest secrets to making weight loss easy and automatic.
Let’s take you behind the scenes in an effort to teach you how this works and why what you are doing now may not be working. Food, in its simplest form, breaks down to calories. Calories are simply a measure of heat. Heat in essence is a by-product of the production of energy and therefore food is a fuel for energy production. If we associate our bodies to a machine, like the engine in your car, we know that energy produced by the engine makes the car do all its wondrous things and your car engine won’t run without fuel. Two problems are created when you restrict the amount of fuel to your body.
First, your body must adapt to little fuel. When we consume too little food our body doesn’t run right, just like a car running on diluted gas. The exception is our body is so amazing at adaptation for survival it may already be running poorly and you haven’t even noticed. Our body adapts to little food by slowing down our metabolism. This is accomplished by shutting down portions of metabolic systems like the immune system, like production of digestive components like enzymes and stomach acids, like the fat burning furnaces in muscle cells. So ask yourself if you could be eating too little next time you feel the signs of indigestion, seem to fall ill as often as everyone else, feel fatigued at certain points throughout the day, or find it difficult to focus at work or otherwise, chances are your factory only has half its workers.
The second problem is you are missing out on a huge opportunity to burn body fat. Most people don’t realize this but every single one of us possesses a far better fat burning tool than a treadmill. It comes factory installed at birth; that is the stomach. Breaking down food to its basic components of amino acids (protein), glucose (carbohydrates) and triglycerides (fats) is hard work. It gets even harder when food is denser like whole natural meats and especially vegetables. These dense foods require a number of enzymes and stomach acids to do their job to process the food and get it ready to be used by cells. In fact, it sometimes takes so much work and energy to breakdown this food that more energy is spent than is actually gained from the now digested food. It’s this mechanism that we use to make permanent weight loss a reality.
Statistically I can tell you with confidence from the thousands of people I’ve seen that the average female consumes about 1,000-1,200 calories per day and the average male somewhere around 2,000. If you completed a simple BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) equation, adjusted for activities of daily living you would learn that the average female should be consuming about 1,800-2,000 calories per day and the average male 2,800-3,000.
Ok back to fat loss. If you didn’t already know a pound of body fat is the equivalent of 3,500 calories of energy. On the most basic understanding we could suggest that expending this much extra energy in one way or another we should lose a pound of body fat. An hour of walking utilizes about 300-400 calories on average; comparatively digestion of one good meal of dense whole vegetables can create a caloric deficit of 100 calories or more. So for every hour you spend on the treadmill you could accomplish the same watching TV if you made a point to consume dense foods at least four additional times per day. I’m not advocating not exercising, but rather suggesting you make your whole day more efficient by using your body’s natural systems to your advantage.
Eating dense food frequently takes advantage of using digestion for weight loss, additionally ensures a steady stream of nutrients to enhance the many metabolic systems making us healthier, and as habits are established provides the foundation of permanent weight loss. If you doubt this at all just consider that most major weight loss centres preach portion control and meal frequency and listen carefully and you soon also note that one of the largest, longest running, most well known weight loss centres has recently re-written their whole plan increasing caloric intake and educating people why calories may need to be adjusted based on activity.
Cabel McElderry is the director of One-to-1 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-341-4041. Also check out www.personaltrainingreddeer.com for more information.