When I wrote about the weight loss case study I was doing for my Weight Loss class, I received so many e-mails from readers volunteering to be my experimental client. This made me realize how important weight loss is to so many people. The class is very interesting because we talk not only about the standard approach to weight loss (burn more calories than you consume each day), but also the holistic approach. The holistic approach takes into account each person’s biochemical individuality, recognizing that a diet that works for one person may not work for another.
I want to provide you guys with some information on weight loss, so those that are interested can start to understand the entire picture better. I believe that in nutrition, education is key. When someone understands what certain foods are doing to their body, they are better equipped to make decisions about their health and lifestyle.
- The body must have glucose to fuel red blood cells and the central nervous system. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, which is necessary for life; the central nervous system is basically our brain. Glucose comes mainly from carbohydrates. So, those who eat a no-carb or very low-carb diet may feel great for a few weeks as their body starts to lose weight, but once all their stored glucose is used up, they may start to experience low energy, cloudy thinking, fatigue, and other things.
- We OBTAIN energy from macronutrients: fats, proteins, carbs. We are able to actually USE the energy because of the micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. This is why a varied diet is so important!
- Overweight people tend to store fat more efficiently. They contain a higher amount of a certain enzyme that promotes fats storage in the body. Men tend to have this enzyme concentrated around their midsection, and women have more of it around their chest, hips and thighs. After weight loss, this enzyme’s activity actually increases, which is partly why it’s so difficult for people who lose weight to keep it off.
- Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Therefore, muscle increases our resting metabolism, helping us to stay leaner. This is why strength-training exercises such as pilates, yoga and weight lifting are so important. Over the past few years, I have actually decreased my aerobic exercise (mainly running) and increased my strength training, and I have noticed huge differences in how I look and feel. But, that doesn’t mean aerobic exercise is not important too – it’s very helpful for weight loss. Both can work together to create a healthy body.
- It takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain that it is full. For this reason, some people say that putting your fork or spoon down between each bite, and chewing thoroughly and slowly, is an important key for weight loss.
- Being underweight is just as dangerous as being overweight, as far as what it does to your body.
- 10% of the calories we consume at a meal are used for digestion of that meal. So, if we eat a 500-calorie lunch, 50 of those calories are burned up as our body works to digest that lunch.
I hope some of you find these things interesting and/or helpful. The weight loss picture is so much bigger than calories in vs. calories out. Once people start to understand all the different components of weight loss, I believe they will have an easier time adjusting their eating habits and will be able to feel good about the healthy changes they are making for their body.