Weight loss is a big business. Boston Medical Clinic1 estimates 45 million Americans start dieting yearly. It also says that the money spent on weight loss products—weight loss programs and the like—is $33 billion. Sit on that number for a moment. 45 million Americans. $33 billion. Those who are unhappy with their weight are far from alone in this. Roughly 14% of Americans go on a diet each year because they see themselves as overweight. It’s not that some people have a problem–there’s something systemic about this problem.
Many people attribute body weight gain to overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. This often leads to following the latest fad diet or workout. These can include more physical activity, a healthy diet, low caloric intake, keto, or another fad-type diet. Also, low carbs, better eating habits, intermittent fasting, or meal planning. There are other hot words when it comes to fat loss goals. Things like dairy products, low-calories, lean muscle, calcium, and whole grains. Cholesterol, low-fat, blood sugar, body fat, and fatty acids.
Many of these are talked about when it comes to weight loss diets. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple for most people. Weight gain can come from many factors. Hormone imbalances and a poor understanding of food and nutrition are big ones. As are various other “healthy” choices.
Why Diets Aren’t the Answer
If you have a 10-gallon gas tank in your car, how much gas do you need to give the car to have it run the best it can? Ten gallons. Any less and it won’t get very far, any more and the tank will start to overflow. Your body works the same way. The tank is how much you have to do in a day. If you do an activity like cross-country skiing or swimming laps, you’ll need to eat more. If you do less, you won’t burn that entire tank before refilling it.
Diets try to fit as many people as possible–the general idea is “eat less; do more”. The problem with this comes because not everyone is doing the same amount of work every day. Depending on what you’re doing during your diet, how you feel is going to change. If you’re sitting on the couch watching TV or if you’re packing boxes into a moving truck, for example. You’ll need a much higher calorie intake for one of those activities than for the other.
“Healthy eating” for one will be outright unhealthy for another. It’s just as important to stay away from a calorie deficit as an overabundance of calories you don’t need. A diet plan is not a healthy lifestyle, because one size fits none.
What’s Wrong with it?
What fad diets are essentially trying to do is starve people’s bodies skinnier. There are serious physical and psychological consequences to starving yourself. Far more serious than you may think.
In World War II the United States did a study. 36 conscientious objectors participated in this study.
For three months the participants weaned off of a normal 3200-calorie-per-day diet. In the end, they were down to a 1570-calorie diet. These meals were high in carbohydrates and low in protein. Participants kept up the same sort of lifestyle they’d had with the 3200-calorie diet. This included walking a total of 22 miles a week. The results of this study were published in two volumes titled The Biology of Human Starvation2.
What Were the Results
To summarize, the participants’ strength decreased by 21%, their hearts shrank in size, and their blood volume dropped by 10%. There were many more side effects besides, including slowed metabolism, dizziness, and cold. The participants’ eyeballs grew whiter as the blood vessels shrank. Politics, sex, and romance lost any sort of appeal. They began to read cookbooks and look at pictures of food avidly. The report says they did it with an “almost pornographic obsession”.
One of the participants also threatened to kill one of the scientists putting on the study. Remember, this study was only done on conscientious objectors. These were people for whom not killing was non-negotiable; they would not do it. Once the participant was put back on a normal amount of food, his mental state returned to normal. Apparently, ‘hangry’ is a very real thing.
There were lasting consequences, too–especially mental ones. The participants had started from a 3200-calories-per-day diet. During rehabilitation, their food intake increased to 4000 calories per day. Some of the participants stayed after the study to continue rehabilitation. Their food access became unrestricted. This led to an average intake of 5000 calories per day, with some eating as many as 11,500 calories per day. A “hunger they couldn’t satisfy” was also reported. In 2003, 19 of the original 36 participants were still alive. In an interview, they admitted that there were still after-effects. They were haunted by the fear food would be taken away from them, again.
Food is Fuel–Not Your Friend
Weight loss happens when your body is healthy. Your body doesn’t need to store excess nutrients and water weight. So what does your body need to be healthy? Your body needs to be able to rebuild broken pieces and keep processes working the way they should. It needs what it is made of. The old saying “you are what you eat” is backward. It should be “you eat what you are”.
What is your body made of? 45% of your body is protein, 35% is fat, and 5% is carbohydrates. The rest of your body is made up of vitamins and minerals. Your brain is different. It is 61% fat, 35% proteins, and 4% glucose sugar. Your body, then, needs mostly fat, then protein, then carbohydrates and sugars.
How does that measure up against the food pyramid?
It doesn’t. And the history of obesity in the United States has shown that. You don’t have to look hard to find it. The CDC has a record of obesity trends3 from 1985 to 2010, and the difference is staggering. Do you know when the food pyramid was first introduced to the public? Specifically public schools? 1977.
The food pyramid is how we’ve been taught to eat. We’re shown the food groups, and what serving sizes the CDC recommends, from a young age. The thing is, the food pyramid is backward, and real-life evidence shows it. We’re taught that the only solution to staying trim and thin is to “eat less and do more.” Meanwhile, there are studies from over seventy years ago showing that’s dangerous. So why is this the method we use to try to lose belly fat and other weight we are self-conscious about?
Is it any wonder we’ve reached the statistic at the beginning of this article? Our bodies are imbalanced. They’re reacting to it the way they’re supposed to–because bodies don’t make mistakes. The problem is that We haven’t been taught how our bodies work and how to keep them in shape.
The Real Effect Food has on Your Weight
The food you eat does have an undeniable link to your weight, but not in the way you’ve been taught to think. The fuel you take in has a lot more impact on your health and well-being than the amount you eat. The food you take in is what determines how hard and how much your body can work for the next while. If you’re eating food that’s not good for you, then, your body isn’t able to create good energy from it. This is why a lot of people think “eating healthy” is the answer to their weight loss challenges.
Getting to Healthy Weight–One Size Doesn’t Fit All
This is why, here at the Wellness Way, our first piece of advice is to always get your allergies tested.
Say you’re trying to cut down on body weight by eating a whole-grain diet. Or that you’re trying to eat low-glycemic index foods so that it takes your body longer to digest them. This would mean you don’t have to eat as often during the day. Because of this, you eat brown rice.
What happens if you’re allergic to brown rice? The same thing happens if you’re allergic to an apple or celery and you eat it. Even though it’s “good for you,” this food inflames your internal organs. Like a finger becomes inflamed if you shut it in a door. It becomes red and puffy.
When your body has a lot of inflammation, then, where can it go but out? This expands your body and results in undesired weight gain. How do you get rid of this inflammation and the resulting weight? Stop eating foods you’re allergic to, that then cause inflammation.
There are some foods that, even if you’re not allergic to them, help inflammation rather than your body. Sugar and dairy products are some examples of these.
This can be hard. Not because of the food itself that you’re cutting out, but because food is a very emotional thing. We turn to food as a comfort in anger and sadness, and even in celebration. That is why it can be very hard to break a food-centric habit. And it’s why The Wellness Way has multiple allergy-friendly recipes to help you start. There’s also an app that makes cooking and baking with allergies easier.
Why Hormones Impact Your Weight
Hormone imbalances can wreak havoc on your body more than you may think. Hormones are the messengers that tell your body what to do and how to react to something. An organ making too much or too little of a hormone can greatly influence the other organs and systems in the body.
Is too much of a growth hormone is being made? Maybe you’re eating sugar. Or your body could be inflamed. Either way, that growth hormone won’t help you lose the extra weight.
Did you know insulin is a hormone? Yes, like estrogens, cortisol, vitamin D, and testosterone. As described by You and Your Hormones4:
Insulin is a hormone made by an organ located behind the stomach called the pancreas. There are specialized areas within the pancreas called islets of Langerhans (the term insulin comes from the Latin insula that means island). The islets of Langerhans are made up of different type of cells that make hormones, the commonest ones [SIC] are the beta cells, which produce insulin.
If your hormones like insulin are out of balance, your body won’t be able to absorb sugar as well. If your body can’t absorb sugar, it gets stored as fat.
Are you stressed? Stress can knock your hormones out of homeostasis, leading to a vicious cycle. When people can’t lose weight, they get stressed. When they’re stressed, their hormones become imbalanced. This can lead to more weight gain.
Get your hormones and allergies tested. Start your journey back to a healthy weight the healthy way; contact a Wellness Way clinic today.