I found this interesting and helpful.
borrowed from web.mac.com/madland/iWeb/EmergeFitness/Art
What too many people do not realize is that there is a significant and potentially harmful difference between ‘weight loss’ and ‘fat loss’. When you are only concerned about losing weight, the feedback comes from a scale. The problem is that a scale cannot differentiate between lost fat, protein, water, bone mass or brain matter. If you are concerned about losing fat, the most accurate feedback will come from skin calipers, or less accurately but still valid, from how your clothes fit.
Many people get sucked into any one of the myriad of diet centres that dot our countryside. Often these diet centres offer promises of miraculous/effortless/cheap weight loss (Lose 30 lbs in 30 days for $30…sound familiar?). Often, a person will lose weight; they will feel good about it, reach their goal weight…and assume that their work is done. Once the work is done and there is no need to continue with the diet program, the weight very slowly creeps back on. The most common outcome is that the person will end up a couple years down the road weighing more than when they started the diet program. Thus they buy into another program (the last one didn’t work…) and start the whole process again.
The reason that this cycle becomes established lies in the physiology of weight loss. There is only one way to lose weight. You must expend more energy than you ingest. If you do that, you will lose weight. This fact is supported by none other than Albert Einstein who first explained that matter could be converted to energy, and energy back to matter. Combine that idea with Joule’s discovery that energy can be converted to any other form of energy, and that the total amount of energy that exists at the end of the conversion is exactly the same amount of energy that existed at the beginning of the conversion.
So, what does all that mean? Here it is. Energy cannot be created, nor can it be destroyed, it can only change form or it can be stored. The energy that comes into your body from food can only do two things.
1. It can be converted to another form of energy for use in the body
2. It can be converted to matter and stored.
If the amount of energy that you put into your body exceeds the amount of energy that your body needs to live, then the remainder of the energy will be stored. Incidentally, our bodies have almost unlimited capacity to store fat. If the amount of energy that you take into your body does not meet the requirements, then you will have to make up the difference from your stored energy. People who consistently use more energy than they consume will lose weight. People who consistently consume more energy than they use will gain weight.
Unfortunately, that is not the entire story. One way that people seek to change their caloric balance is to decrease the amount of energy that they consume until it is less than their daily requirements. This is what happens with most diet plans. You reduce your calorie intake. Your body’s physiological response is what gets dieters into trouble.
A dieter’s body responds to this new stress by slowing down the rate at which it uses energy. In other words, your body instinctively tries to conserve energy. This is a biological adaptation that served us well when there were times of uncertain nutrient intake. When nutritional intake was sufficient, our bodies were able to utilize available resources, but when nutritional intake was not enough to cover needs, our bodies compensated by conserving resources.
The resources that are available to us are rather limited. Our bodies can use 4 different categories of nutrients to meet energy requirements: glucose, protein, fat and alcohol. I will discuss glucose, protein and fat as alcohol should be a very minor contributor to energy requirements.
The preferred source of energy is glucose, simple sugar. Glucose is readily available from many foods, it is easy to digest and provides 4 kcal of energy per gram quite quickly. One problem with glucose is that we have a very limited capacity to store glucose. We can store a few grams in our muscles as glycogen and a few more grams in our liver, but that is about all. Once our glycogen stores are full, any excess is turned into fat.
Protein is also used to provide energy. It is also readily available from many foods, is a little more difficult to digest and provides 4 kcal of energy per gram, although a little slower than glucose. We also have limited capacity to store protein, and excess protein is turned into fat. However, we can increase the available storage capacity of protein by building more muscle.
Fat is the final source of energy that I will discuss here. Fat is readily available in many foods (often disguised), it is more difficult to digest and provides a little more than double the energy per gram than protein or glucose, 9 kcal per gram. It is a much more difficult and slow process to release energy from fat. We have virtually unlimited capacity to store fat.
Dieters usually deprive their bodies of fat. This leads to their body trying to conserve fat, because it would rather live off glucose than fat. But the dieter still loses weight. The key question here is not “Did you lose weight?” but “What did you lose?”
The answer to this question is critical. If you lost weight through conventional diet practices, then chances are that the weight that you lost came mostly from lost carbohydrate, water, protein and likely some calcium from your bones, and a little fat. Yes, you lost weight, but you lost the wrong kind of weight.
Remember, dieters typically lose some weight during their diet, but then in the next few years, they put it all back on plus a little extra. Here is where the cycle of yo-yo dieting becomes a problem. Dieters usually lose weight from lost protein, glucose, water and calcium. But the weight they put back on is typically all fat! This leaves them with a diminished capacity to lose weight, so they have to try a more extreme diet with the same ultimate results; a fatter waistline and a skinnier wallet.
So how does one escape this cycle?
The key to permanent FAT loss is to train your body to consume fat all the time, rather than store it. The way to do that is to maximize the amount of tissue in your body that requires energy. It costs far more energy to maintain a kilogram of muscle tissue than it does to maintain a kilogram of fat tissue.
If you want to lose fat permanently, you must conserve or increase your muscle mass!!
It may help to consider the analogy of a car engine. If you have a larger engine, it will require more fuel. If you have more muscle, you will burn more fat.
Any weight loss program that does not allow you to preserve lean mass will ultimately fail. Your program must include a balance of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and proper nutrition in order for it to provide long-term fat loss.
As you can well imagine, this is not a simple task; it requires work. But it can be done. Do not try to change your entire lifestyle all at once. Make small changes permanent before making other changes. One thing you can do is begin to incorporate authentic physical activity into your lifestyle. Authentic physical activity is essentially exercise that you must do in order to live your daily life. Buy a bike and ride it to work or school, or take the stairs instead of the elevator (if you live on the 23rd floor, you will get a fantastic workout very regularly). Find a career that will keep you active rather than sitting behind a desk.
The cycle of yo-yo dieting is brutal and dangerous to your health. But there are ways to get out. Live an active lifestyle, eat sensibly and re-learn how to play, and you will reap the benefits.
Edited by: BYTE4D45 at: 4/27/2008 (11:07)
We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.
| current weight: 275.0