Weight Loss Archives

This one really drives me crazy. When it comes to considering which foods to eat or not eat, we should consider all foods on the planet in two ways. First – is the food good or bad for your body and secondly – what is the calorie value of the food?

First question – Is the food good for you? The amount of salt, saturated or trans fat, sugar ect. in any food has absolutely nothing to do with adding or reducing body fat. High amounts of these indicate that the food is not good for your system or that it is an unhealthy choice. In other words, consumption of these foods could lead to health problems such as heart disease, hypertension and many other conditions.

Second question –What is the calorie value of any given food?

 This is the only consideration when it comes to adding or reducing body fat.  It is merely a matter of physics, or heat energy. Any human body, no matter what size or age requires a certain amount of calories or energy to be in balance. Let’s call this your ”maintenance calorie level.” If you eat more than this amount, you will store the number of calories over your maintenance calorie level as fat. If you eat less than your calorie maintenance level, your body will use its storage or body fat to get you back up to calorie maintenance level for the day.

 Here’s an example, Say that your ”caloric maintenance” level is 2000 calories/day.  If you eat 2000 cal today, you will not store any extra fat or burn any stored body fat. You will be in balance. If you eat 2100 cal today you will store 100 calories as body fat. When you accumulatte a total of 3500 extra calories you will have added 1 pound of fat. On the other hand, if you eat 1900 cal,today your body will be forced to use 100 calories of existing body fat and when it uses 3500 over time, you will have lost 1 pound of fat.

Weight Loss and Understanding Nutrition Labels

if you’re like most people, this is how you deal with nutrition labels.

Let’s say you’re in a grocery store and you are looking at the label on a can of peaches. Usually after about 15 seconds you just put the can back without getting the information you’re looking for. This is because, to the general public the standard nutrition label is confusing , plus the deluge of misinformation, relating to sugars, carbohydrates, good fats, bad fats, proteins and calories that we see in the media  just adds to the confusion. Hopefully this blog will make things more clear.

The first two lines on a standard label refer to serving size and servings per container. These are relatively easy to understand in most cases. It usually requires just a little bit of math.

The next line refers to calories. If you’re trying to reduce body fat these first three lines are all you need to be concerned with. Let me explain.

 We all know what the worst or most unhealthy foods are. These include anything processed or fried, greasy, made primarily of white processed flour and in general any desserts and any sugary foods or liquids.

If you are on a healthy diet that includes mostly whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, berries, beans and seeds and is low-sodium and contains adequate fiber you do not need to be concerned with everything below the “calories” line on the label.

This is because you are not consuming unhealthy choices and everything below the calories line (the 2 bottom sections) relates to whether the food item is a healthy choice or not.

I’m trying to provide a way that you can look at a label and quickly get the information you need to determine whether or not you should eat it and if so in what amount.

One less thing to worry about because now, if you’re primary concern is reducing body fat, you need not be concerned with anything below these first three lines. Losing or adding body fat is purely a function of calories in and calories out as I discussed in earlier blogs.

I have included a visual to the right that demonstrates the information in this blog. Again, if you’re primary concern is losing or controlling body fat and you are currently consuming a healthy diet, then the bottom two sections are not important as they are X’ed out. This, as I said earlier will make getting the information you need from a nutrition label much quicker and easier.

Herbal Supplements

 Are you familiar with the term snake oil salesman? In case you’re not,  snake oil salesman is a term used for someone who sells a product or elixir touted to cure or resolve anything that’s wrong with you.

In the 17 and 1800’s this was usually a guy who traveled in a wagon from town to town. When he arrived in your town, he would park his wagon and set up shop selling some sort of potion that would cure all your ills, make you healthier, or help you lose weight, live longer, etc. etc.

Fast forward to today. The majority of supplements you see advertised in the media sort of fit the same category. That’s not to say that all supplements are fakes or forgeries because some have real value when it comes to your health. However, when it comes to weight loss I would say that the majority of products you see advertised really don’t do the job.

Back in the 1990’s ephedra was isolated and sold as a weight loss product. It really worked well, but it came with some health concerns, more specifically heart and nervous system problems. When ephedra was eventually banned from the market, supplement companies scrambled to find other ingredients to stimulate metabolism and weight loss.

Today, most all supplements that claim to create weight loss contain some form of caffeine, nitrous oxide and or some other herb that will stimulate metabolism.

Stimulating metabolism is what this is all about. Let me explain. The average 165 pound male has a resting metabolism of about 1000 calories/day. This means that if he lies on his back, awake for 24 hours with no movement, he would burn about 1000 calories (imagine a car motor at idle speed). Now let’s add the extra calories he burns in his typical day. Every movement he makes creates heat and requires energy (revving up the engine and burning more gas/calories). The average additional calories from movement for a person his size is about 800 to 1000 more for a total of about 2000 calories/day.

The truth Is, if he adds a good herbal weight-loss supplement as directed, his 2000 cal /day total would be increased by about 400 calories to about 2400 (resting metabolism-1000 plus the added “movement “calories-1000 plus herbal addition-400). The increase of 400 cal is caused by two things. The herbal stimulants and caffeine raise the resting metabolism, plus, our subject becomes more energized thereby moving more during the day burning more “movement” calories. So now is total caloric need is 2400 calories/day rather than 2000.

You should know from my earlier blogs that consuming your maintenance calories per day creates neither weight gain nor weight loss. In this case, if his is caloric need is 2400/day per day he can eat 2400 calories/day rather than 2000 without adding body fat. On the other hand, if he continues to eat 2000 calories/day he will lose body fat at the rate of 400 calories/day, or about 1 pound of fat every eight days.

If you really want to increase fat loss you have several tools at your disposal. you can Increase your activity which will raise your caloric need, if you like add a fat burning supplement and thirdly, increasing muscle mass over the long term raises your resting metabolism. If our subject has and uses all three of these tools he could potentially have a daily caloric need of over 3000 calories/day. Then he would really have control of his body composition.

Should I Follow a Vegetarian Diet?

Love a Veggie

There is a lot of controversy as to the health and validity of a vegetarian diet. Let me address this from a realistic and logical point of view.

In graduate school. I took a vegetarian course along with 13 other students. At the end of the course seven of the 13 students converted from omnivores to vegetarians. Why do you think they did this?

During the course of the study we were shown videos of inhumane treatment of animals by large farms and inundated with negative views of meat eating. While it is true that these animals are treated badly, the course was obviously intended to not only educate, but to convert students.

Let me make two points clear. Number one; we have four teeth naturally embedded in our jaws called canines. These are the pointed teeth slightly off center in four positions. You might call them the vampire teeth. Being pointed, these teeth are designed to tear meet. The teeth behind the canines are designed to grind food and the teeth in front being flat edged are designed to bite and separate.

 Number two; there is no vitamin B12 in any plant on this earth. Vitamin B12 is essential for our very existence. It is necessary in the formation of hemoglobin which transports oxygen throughout your system, plus it has other vital functions. If we were designed to be vegetarians, how would we get this necessary vitamin in our diets? The answer is, we would die because he wouldn’t get any vitamin B12.

In a totally natural environment without processed, fast, or engineered foods we would survive on what we could find in nature.

We are designed to eat seeds, nuts, berries, vegetables and fruits most of the time and occasionally, maybe every other day snare a rabbit and less frequently, maybe weekly procure a larger animal such as a deer and then consume meat on these occasions. Just think about the logic here and make up your own mind.

body fat

In this blog I’d like to explain how the body stores or burns body fat, I will use the truth and absolute science of calories to explain this.

The best way to do this is to use a typical person, as an example. Our example is a female that is 25 years old and weighs 140 pounds.

Based on the formula: pounds of body weight divided by 2.2 x .9 x 24, our subject would have a 10% above sedentary caloric maintenance need of about 1400 cal per day. For our purposes, let’s assume this is absolutely correct, not accounting for any extra daily activity level, cost of digestion, etc..

We as humans are designed to be able to store fat in the event of a season without food, a long cold winter, a famine, or the like. Based on my research, I think this is between 10 and 20 pounds of fat. It’s pretty obvious that most of us have much more than this.

Now, back to our subject. If she eats 1500 cal today (100 above her maintenance need) she will store 100 cal worth of fat. Conversely, if she 1300 cal today her body will take 100 cal from storage (her body’s fat stores). We know that it takes 3500 cal to constitute 1 pound of fat. Now just do the math. If our subject eats 1500 cal per day for 35 days, that’s 35×100 or 3500 excess calories over 35 days. She will gain 1 pound of fat in this time frame. If she eats 1300 per day for 35 days her body will use 1 pound of what is stored in her system. It really is that simple.

You may say, why doesn’t she just eat nothing for a few days and she will lose it much faster? This is true. However, if you eat greater than 1000 cal less than your caloric need each day you will begin to burn muscle for energy. This is because the body has a limited capacity to convert stored body fat to energy. It can only convert about 1000 cal per day to usable energy running at maximum efficiency. Also, the less you eat in volume, the less likely you are to get enough nutrition (vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients) in total and variety.

The only situations where this is not valid are when medications are involved that affect the amount of water your body contains (excess fluid or dehydration) or the subject has a diagnosed thyroid or metabolism problem. I will address these issues in another blog.

Can Cortisol Cause me to Store Extra Belly Fat?

"Stubborn" bellyfat

One of the latest products you see advertised on TV relates to Cortisol and belly fat. The commercial tells you that the hormone Cortisol, when released causes you to store fat around your belly.

The supposedly mechanism for this is as follows; when we get stressed our bodies release hormones to cause the sugar in our bloodstream to enter our cells rapidly so that we are able to move quickly as part of the “fight or flight” mechanism, that is we can fight with or run away from whatever is stressing us with a burst of energy. In today’s society we don’t generally respond to mental or physical stress by running away or fighting so we don’t use up this rush of blood sugar into our cells, therefore it is stored as body fat. Is this true? Absolutely not!

While it’s true that the hormone Cortisol is released during stress and is designed to cause the sugar in your blood stream to enter your cells quickly, this doesn’t increase your body fat.

Let’s go back to my blog about maintenance calorie levels. Say you’re an average male that weighs about 170 pounds. Your caloric maintenance level is approximately 2000 cal per day. This means that if you eat more than 2000 cal, you will add body fat, and if you eat less than 2000 cal you will lose body fat. Now let’s say that today you eat 2000 cal and that’s your total for the day. You haven’t gone over 2000 or under 2000 cal today. If you did not eat excess calories today, how could you possibly get fatter.

Even if you had a stressful moment and your hormones created these changes in your bloodstream you still couldn’t get fatter because you didn’t eat excess calories today.

This example represents a tactic that is typical in advertising. It sounds reasonable that if the sugar in your blood entered your cells and you did not use the energy in the fight or flight mechanism, then you would store this sugar as fat but it’s simply not true and not possible.

depressed, fat and old

There are several reasons for the fact that we have to watch our diet more as we age. First of all, as we age we tend to move less. Every movement we make burns calories, therefore if you move less you burn less calories. Secondly, as we get older our systems become more inefficient. Thirdly, we lose muscle tissue as the years go by.

Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat. So if you’ve got less muscle tissue, you’re burning less calories.

We don’t naturally eat less as we get older because the reasons we eat are still present. We still go out on the weekends and eat generally large meals. We still have birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays and we still enjoy the taste of food as much as we did when we were younger. All these societal temptations are still there too. We tend to exercise less because we don’t have time, or at least that’s what we say.

As we age into the workforce we also tend to have jobs that require less physical activity, and finally, to make matters worse, we tend to not be as active at night because either we’re married and settled down or just don’t feel like going out (You could easily burn 600 cal dancing on any given evening).

We probably also consume more calories at night because that’s the time of day that were relaxed, watching TV or just sitting around eating the types of foods that are calorie dense (sweets, chips, cookies, soft drinks, etc.).

What is Junk Food?

bucket o' junk food

Let’s first divide junk food into categories or ingredients. The categories will be; bread, sugar and fats.

Bread–Let’s starts out with wheat grains in a field somewhere. If you take a kernel of wheat and remove the fiber, germ, bran and the vitamins and minerals, what you have left is nothing but the carbohydrates or energy. This is done by the process of milling. Milling is done to improve the shelf life of bread. The bran which has oil in it, is removed because it putrefies rather quickly. White bread is called junk food because it is devoid of nutrients that were stripped during processing. But hold on a minute. White bread does have some redeeming characteristics. In the early 1940’s the U.S. government mandated the fortification of all white bread and cereals to include some of the stripped nutrients. These include B vitamins and folic acid.

Sugar–Sugar starts out generally the same way, as a naturally occurring plant. Most of our sugar comes from the cane plant or corn in the form of high fructose corn syrup or sugar beets. Processing sugar starts with pressing the cane or beets to extract the naturally sweet liquid inside, then allowing that liquid to dry into a loose crumble. The crumble is washed and dried to extract impurities and to pull out the molasses, resulting in the white crystalline structure we recognize as sugar. Molasses can be added back in to make light and dark brown sugar, or the sugar can be sold in the pure white form. The impurities from the crystallising process in both cases are a dark syrup called molasses. Processing cane or beets generally does the same thing as processing a stalk of wheat. You take away all the materials that don’t naturally remain intact for long periods of time and what you have left is a white crystalline substance we know as table sugar. This crystalline sugar is called junk food because it, like white bread is devoid of many of its naturally occurring nutrients.

Fats-Fats are different. There are certain fatty acids (contained in food fats) the body cannot make. Therefore, you must get them from food. There are many functions in the human body that require these fatty acids. The fats to watch out for,  “bad fats” are, saturated fats found in meats, butter, cream, or ice cream, and other foods with animal fat and trans fat, (a man-made fat found in some margarines or packaged baked). Good fats come from fish, nuts, seeds and other plants.  Dietary fat is categorized as saturated or unsaturated. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) should be the dominant type of fat in a balanced diet, because they reduce the risk of clogged arteries. Processed foods that are high in fat contain the “bad fats”. The bad fats are used because they are more stable and have a longer shelf life. Foods that contain a large amount of these kinds of fat are generally called junk foods.

Why am I not losing weight?

I am continually amazed by the human body’s intricate and efficient design. When it comes to nutrition the body has the amazing ability to store energy.  This energy is stored as fat and is actually a good thing. Let me explain. If we lived in a primitive society, it would be to our advantage to have some storage energy. You never know when a crop might fail, or there could be a drought or some otherwise extended period of time when food would not be available. Unfortunately, in today’s culture with our diets including fast and engineered foods we seem to be storing a lot  more than we need to last one season of drought or famine.

The body also is designed to protect body fat and use it as a last resort in time. There are two lines of defense; blood sugar and stored sugar in the muscles and liver. In order to get to your stored body fat you must burn through these primary and secondary defenses. This is typically why it takes about 5 to 7 days to begin to lose body fat (low-carb diets notwithstanding-rapid water loss). Once you begin to use your body’s fat stores for energy, you can process or burn about 2 pounds of fat per week. If you try to do it any faster you will lose muscle mass.

Now to answer your question. When you burn body fat the end products of the burning are carbon dioxide and water. Sometimes the  water released will be retained in your system for up to several days. This can cause you to not lose pounds on the scale even though you have less fat. After these several days pass you will typically lose 2 to 3 pounds in one day when the water is finally released. This is the primary reason you can go as long as seven days or so without losing anything and all of a sudden you lose three pounds.

Also, remember that water is the random element that can change your body weight, moment to moment. If you drink 16 ounces of water. You just drank on 1 pound of weight and until you either breathe it out, it is eliminated through waste products or sweated off, it’s inside you.

Here’s the best method for eliminating water as a variable factor. Take your body weight in the morning right after you wake. Go to the bathroom first and be sure to weigh with no clothes on. Pick a day, like Monday, weigh seven days in a row and then divide your total weight for the week by 7. This way you get a weekly average, which will almost always surely drop week to week in a predictable and consistent fashion.

Why am I Hungry all the Time?

 

 Let’s start with a definition of two terms, hunger and appetite. Hunger is physiological meaning your body senses that you’re not eating enough,and tells you this by signaling your brain to cause you to eat. Appetite, on the other hand is a learned lifestyle or habit. There is a huge difference.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re sitting around the house with nothing to do so you make a decision to eat something. This is an example of appetite. You don’t need to eat, you decide to eat. Another example of appetite relates to set meal times. We generally develop the habit of eating at a certain regular times whether we really need to or not e.g. “It’s lunchtime, it’s time to eat”.  

 The trick is to learn to tell the difference between appetite and real hunger and then act on your new knowledge. In most cases when you say you like to eat all the time it’s psychological (appetite) rather than physical (hunger).

Here’s another example of appetie, not hunger. Ever wonder why desserts are always especially sweet or fatty and contain lots of calories? By the end of a typical large meal your body recognizes that you are full and turns off the hunger switch and activates the fullness feeling. Basically, there are four ways it can do this. Your stomach wall has stretch receptors that detect when it is full  or distended and these signal your brain which in turn turns tells you you’re full. The time you spend eating a meal is a factor also. Usually about 20 minutes into a meal your body signals your brain that you’re full. Your body monitors blood sugar level as well and when it reach a level of saturation, it sends a signal your brain to tell you to stop eating. Lastly your brain monitors nutrient levels and unless something is missing in your diet your brain will not direct you to consume more food.

Let’s go back to our examples. Now that your body has turned off the hunger switch, because of one of the four previous reasons tyou will eat more on;ly because you think something will taste good. We know from one of my earlier blog that small amounts of sweet fatty desserts are very dense in calories and therefore taste really good plus they contain lots of calories in small portions.

Try this sometime. Eat a full meal and then decide to eat vegetables or fruit for dessert. It’s not the same.

I have a couple of suggestions that will help you work your way through this. The Number one suggestion is to stay busy. This could be a hobby a job or something you particularly like doing. This will keep your mind off eating, plus activity will burn more calories. Staying busy also will give you a sense of accomplishment and therefore a better sense of self worth. If you have a good self-image you will also have a greater resolve to watch and limit what you eat making it easier to reach your goal.

The Number two suggestion is to start exercising. This not only burns extra calories but puts you in a mindset that strengthens your resolve to control your eating  As a side benefit exercise also creates a sense of well-being beyond anything else you can do physically.

Our bodies are equipped to tell us when were hungry and tell us when were full. When the system works we don’t add extra weight. So listen to your body. Eat slowly, and be aware of your body’s signals. You’ll find that this way you’ll be happier and healthier.

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