Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fewer Calories In More Calories Out. Is that simple?

We have been told for some quite long time that the issue of weight management (either maintaining it or losing weight) is really simple: Eat less and Exercise more. That is the general advice. And it is coming from the government officials and the medical establishment. So it must be right.
Well, if it were that simple, why do we have an obesity epidemic? After all, you want good health so when you see packing those extra pounds you would probably consciously restrict you calorie intake and exercise more.  Are we then not self-disciplined? Are we ridden with gluttony?
Myself and a many of who I know have tried his approach, and some have had temporarily good results but the truth out there, when you see the overall picture, is that we are not getting any leaner despite the good intentioned advise. On the contrary, the majority of the people in many countries are NOT getting leaner. They are getting heavier.
The Fewer Calories In More Calories Out medical mantra has one main problem. It looks at the human body as static thermodynamic black box where only inputs and outputs are important. It looks at the human body as a machine in which if you decrease energy input (fewer calories) and increase energy expenditure (more exercise) the difference must come from the body mass. After all, the supreme first law of the thermodynamics (the energy conservation law) applies.
The problem here is that the human organism (or even one cell) is not a static system. It has millions of biochemical processes engineered to maintain hundreds of functions for appropriate maintenance and growth. Failing to recognize this is a great mistake.  Let me explain in simple terms.
One day you decide to do more exercise. You go for a run for 3 miles. Great. What happens next? You get hungry. This hungriness is the built in mechanism the body has to compensate for that extra energy expenditure you had. There is a study that scientifically proved that people who exercised where stopping afterwards at Starbucks to indulge themselves and reward them for that extra exercise they did.  It also happens if you decide to restrict calories intake. There is a complete hormonal change that will induce yourself to make somehow for those calories you did not take with your food. Your fatigue will increase, you muscles will work in a way to waist less energy, you will get hungrier, etc.
I think that weigh management is a homeostasis issue in which the body tries to defend a body weight set point, and more specifically a body fat set point. The key issue here is to reset this body weight or body fat set point towards a lower value so you can decrease your body weight.
Somewhere along your lifetime your body lost the control of the body weight set point and shifted towards a higher value, and that is why you gained weight. Your own homeotic regulator system was bypassed. Then, it will need to be reset, and a simple Fewer Calories in More Calories Out approach will not do it as it has been seen and proved in the modern biomedical literature

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