Weight Loss, How to Lose Weight: My Learnings, Hints and Tips

Weight loss, from a conceptual viewpoint is actually quite simple, but there are so many nuances that make it quite difficult to achieve and maintain an ideal weight. Your body is designed by evolution, with vestiges from long-past times. Your body will do all it can to not allow you to diet down and die because you ran out of energy. To understand how this mechanism works will help you reduce down to a healthy weight.

In most modern societies we have an excess of food and caloric energy. There is very little to no chance that we will be without of food for a long time, such as one month or two. Usually we can eat like kings every single day of our lives. While eating well daily is good for staying alive, your body still uses fat storing mechanisms that stores any excess consumed energy as body fat in anticipation of a time when we have no food. This time never comes.

Excess body weight, and specifically excess fat stored in the belly area, can lead to a whole slew of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and others.

Critical Concept: lose weight = calories in < calories out
The critical concept of weight loss is that you must consume less caloric energy than you burn off. To lose weight = calories in < calories out. This oft heard saying continues to be true. So why is this so very difficult? If the answer was easy, most people would not be overweight. This is where the explanation gets quite complex.

Cravings: Hormones will overcome your Willpower
Reduce your caloric intake and all of us will feel hungry and have food cravings. Even without caloric restriction we all usually have sugar cravings. The battle between our willpower and cravings is legendary and is most usually lost, leading us to feel bad, dejected and prevents us from reducing weight. It is best to not solely rely on willpower and motivation for such long-term endeavors such as weight loss.

Cravings are reduced and eliminated by:

  1. burning of body fat for internal body energy and
  2. satiety from the foods we do eat.

This combination is critical for your success.

Burning of body fat for energy
The body has three energy sources it can burn for fuel. These are:

  1. Sugars and carbohydrates from eaten food. This is the easiest to digest and the most readily available source of energy. Sugars and carbs, converted to glucose, are quickly digested into immediate body energy
  2. internal body fat, stored when we previously ate an excess of food. This is the fuel source used when there are no sugars or carbs eaten for the last 8-12 hours. The body has in excess of 100,000 calories of stored body fat, even for those that are lean. This is the alternative fuel source and is always on hand, but only available to burn when there is no sugars or carbs (glucose) available.
  3. Muscle mass: This is the last resort energy source, when all other food sources are exhausted. The body works hard to preserve this at all costs.

Our Carb-centric Society and Carb Addiction
Logically if you wish to reduce weight you would want to burn body fat as fuel, as less body fat will result in weight loss. There are three main obstacles to burning body fat:

  1. Sugars and carbs are addictive. Our body is designed to grab these high energy food sources when it can, because it knows they are easily digested and used as fuel. Our hormones do not allow us to turn off this addiction. There is also no internal automatic mechanism to restrict sugar and carb consumption. This is beneficial when sugars and carbs are in short supply, which is almost never. Any excess consumption of sugars and carb will be stored as body fat. Further, when sugars and carbs are readily available, body fat burning is turned off.
  2. Our society and health organizations promote the consumption of sugars and carbs eaten on a daily basis, often in excess of 300g of carbs each day. Carbs are thought of as healthy and necessary. Much of our social eating and family meals is centered around carbs.
  3. Mankind has developed ultra-processed carb-based foods that are extremely delicious and therefore addictive. These may come in boxes or in the form of highly sweetened but natural fruit, below-ground vegetables, cereals, grains and legumes. There is almost no food commercial that does not have sugar and carbs prominently featured.

It is therefore extremely difficult for anyone to not eat sugar and carbs, in any social or family setting. It is socially unacceptable to not eat carbs like everyone else. Almost all world societies’ food consumption is centered around eating carbs. In more agrarian societies people do eat a lot of carbs but do not gain weight because they would burn off glucose during the day. This does not happen in a modern society where most people work at their desk.

Eating sugars and carbs made much more sense when humans were hunter gatherers, where sugar and carb sources were very scarce. When they were found, which was rare, we could eat them for a fast and efficient fuel source. Carbs could be eaten in order to stock up for the long winter. With our global network of imported foods, this need not occur today.

Note that no matter that sugars and carbs come from a box or are considered natural, all are treated equally by the body when digested. This includes “whole foods” such as most fruit, grains, below ground vegetables, and legumes. Modern breads should be considered a highly processed food made from wheat grain.

By eating sugar and carbs on a regular basis we train our bodies to rely on them for fuel. Yet there is only a limited supply of stored glucose from food in the body, roughly 2,000 calories. All remaining glucose is stored as body fat. When sugars and carbs run out, and you are not “fat adapted”, you will feel hungry and have food cravings. This prompts you to eat more sugar and carbs, and the cycle begins again.

Enter the Ketogenic Diet: Combat your Carb Addiction and Body Fat Storage
There is another way to eat, an alternative that is designed into our human bodies. Sugars and carbs are not necessary for humans to live. The body is very capable in using eaten proteins and fats to produce glucose, or internal body sugar, for fuel. In the absence of carbs the body will also break down body fat into ketones, the alternative energy source for the body. Micro-nutrients can come from above-ground vegetables.

This diet is called a ketogenic or keto diet, where you train your body to become “fat adapted”. By reducing consumed carbs to no more than 50g each day (a medium apple contains 15g net carbs), your body will rely on fat storage for energy. In this way you will gradually use up your excess body fat and therefore lose weight.

An advantage of the keto diet is that because your body can easily burn body fat for fuel, you do not feel hungry. This makes a lot of sense, because if you have over 100,000 calories of fuel from body fat at your disposal, and you need a mere 2,000 calories each day, there is no need for your body to crank up hormones that cause you feel hungry and to have cravings. Your body can, at its leisure, use as much fuel as it needs, all day and all night, for a couple of months. You therefore do not get hungry.

You must admit that the body’s dual fuel energy system is both useful and elegant. That said, you must resist our social norms and eat in a way that takes advantage of your body’s dual fuel system.

Feeling Full After a Meal: Satiation
If you eat enough meat protein in a meal you will feel satiated and then naturally feel full and stop eating. Meat protein includes red meat, chicken, fish, eggs. This is critical because without enough protein and fat, you will continue to eat, and even over eat, and thus store these extra calories as body fat.

Sugar and carbs do not give you a full feeling, a property that food companies exploit. You will continue to eating your favourite highly processed snacks until they are finished.

Specific Diet Advice
What diet you choose is up to you. Choose one that is suitable for your lifestyle and one that you can sustain. It will be much easier if it was a low carb diet, but how low is your decision.

Whatever diet you decide, remember that in order to lose weight caloric intake must be less than how many calories you burn. Sugar and carbs can be eaten, but should be thought of more as a treat food rather than a daily staple. Sugar and carbs in moderation, but eaten daily will result in weight gain, as people’s definition of “moderation” does vary.

Consider Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is when you extend the time you do not eat and restrict the times you do eat. If you do not eat, you will not consume sugars and carbs, and your body will be forced to use ketones for energy, thus promoting weight loss. This is irregardless of if you eat sugar and carbs or not.

The Role of Exercise
While exercise will make you stronger and fitter, you cannot rely on exercise to reduce weight. In fact, doing long periods of cardio exercise might actually increase your appetite and therefore cravings and caloric intake. It is much easier to rely on dieting to restrict caloric intake.

The subject of weight loss is complex and greatly influenced by social norms, governments and food companies. With rising obesity rates the problem is only getting worse. Obesity is now normalized and accepted, which negatively affects the health of society in general and individuals in particular. A new way to think about eating is required.

Why Fructose is so damaging
Fructose is a different sugar than glucose. While Glucose can be readily used by all cells in the body, fructose can only be used by the liver. When eating reasonable fruit and vegetable, this should be ok. What is problematic is that many foods now contain huge amounts of high fructose corn syrup HFCS, which overloads our liver. Blood glucose and H1C tests do not detect fructose, and therefore it is vastly undercounted as a danger.

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