Eat Less, Move More Weight Loss Theory – in theory it makes sense, and i do talk about this a lot because it is one of the topics that i am most passionate about (along with weight loss in general, positive mindset/relationships, sustainable heathly lifestyles and health management).
Your body is very responsive to dietary and exercise interventions – obesity is a very complex and challenging condition.
Here is the thing about your weight; our weight is genetically predetermined, our body composition is genetically predetermined, our genes play a massive part in how we look, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. Our eye colour, skin colour, hair colour, all of these things are genetically predetermined, so then does it not make sense that our body composition or how much fat that we carry is genetically predetermined? How easily we put on body fat and lose body fat, also has a genetic influence.
We have this thing called somatotypes, and somatotypes are our body shapes. We have 3 types:
- ectomorph; a person who is quite slender, finds it difficult to gain body fat,
- endomorphs; a person who gains body fat easily and
- mesomorphs; a person who is able to easily put on muscle tissue and have quite athletic builds.
Now all of us have our own unique combination of endo/meso/ectomorphic characteristics, but we are always more strongly aligned with one of the three somatotypes. I tend to be mesomorph, i find that i can put on muscle tissue quite easily, but i am also an endomorph so i can put on weight very easily. Whereas, Matt is an ectomorph, so he is tall and very slender.
Now, we also need to talk about metabolism, we all know that person who can eat anything they want and not put on any weight simply because they have a fast metabolism, and we all don’t like that person because they are so “lucky.” However, we all know that person who struggles with a slow metabolism, but we cast off that comment and say “there’s no such thing as a slow metabolism, they just eat poorly and they don’t exercise”
That’s so unfair, so unfair that you can say someone has a fast metabolism, but someone cant have a slow metabolism. Because we know that some people have faster metabolisms, they’re called ectomorphs, they can eat really what they want to eat and they can get away with it quite easily. Whereas, an endomorph can just look at a piece of cake and they start to gain weight. There is true metabolic qualities to our body composition and that is genetically driven.
Lets have a look at some of the other contributing factors to body composition:
- our genes (take a look at your mum and dad, there’s a good chance that the way they look, you are going to as well – but that’s not a definitive indication, genetics are a funny thing, you can have throwbacks on all sorts of things),
- your age – as we get older there is propensity to start gaining weight – part of that is disease, part of that is the ageing process and part is that we increasingly become sedentary, less physical activity and we don’t have as much muscle tissue on our body that we used to, and we tend to eat more of the wrong types of foods. So unfortunately the sedentary behaviour goes hand in hand with eating more.
- if you have ever been pregnant, this increases your risk for obesity, unfortunately.
- being a woman also increases this risk – women naturally have more body fat than men, unfortunately that means women are at risk of having too much body fat.
- endocrine factors (hormones) if you have problems or issues with your hormones, you are more likely to gain weight, for e.g. PCOS where there is high levels of insulin and testosterone, with that a whole host of medical problems including, unfortunately infertility.
- smoking status – smoking interferes with many systems in our body and increases our risk for being overweight/obese.
- socio-economic factors – education, finances, where you live, all those sorts of things, does contribute to your risk of being overweight/obese, unfortunately low socio-economic areas there is a higher rate of obesity.
What’s important to understand here, is that there are so many factors that contribute to being overweight, it is not just food.
Yes, obviously the food you do eat plays a part – if you eat Macca’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then yes there is a huge chance that you are going to be overweight BUT we have all seen it, we all have that friend that we know that does eat like that, they do eat a junk food diet, they don’t exercise and they’re not overweight and they’re not obese. Of course these people are not healthy, but they’re also not overweight.
So we know it is NOT.JUST.FOOD. When we really think critically about it, we know there is more to being overweight/obese than just the food that you are eating.
We need to understand that when we are talking to someone and suggesting that they just need to exercise more and eat less for weight loss, we are actually making the situation worse. Because now we’ve put the blame back onto them. The person who is eating well and exercising but not losing weight. Now they feel like they are an idiot, and you have basically just told them that they are lazy and they are gluttonous. There are so many factors to obesity, and we have to understand that it is a very complex condition.
What happens when you gain weight, and this happens over a period of years, and you hold onto that amount of weight for a period of years, your brain goes “oh i quite like this higher weight, i am going to reset your weight to this now” – when you body does that reset, it becomes very difficult to lose the weight.
What they (scientists) have found in research is that over a year after someone loses a significant amount of weight, there is hormonal dysfunction still from that weight loss. Especially the hormones that make you full (leptin), so when you eat your food and think “hmm not hungry anymore” they’re too low. So, in people who have lost weight, your satiety hormones are really really low, and this is over 12 months and up to 2 years post weight loss. Then the hormone that makes you hungry (ghrelin) it stays really high – so you’ve got your hunger hormone really really high and your satiety/fullness hormones really really low, so you are hungry all the time, and you gain the weight back.
They also found that your metabolism is significantly suppressed by up to 800 calories post weight loss. That’s huge, that is a meal and a bit, that’s a lot of energy that the body is now, not burning. So if that person was to go back and eat anywhere near the volume of food that they were consuming before, they are always going to gain weight and gain weight quite rapidly.
Unfortunerlty, post weight loss, our body wants to regain that weight and it actively fights against further weight loss, so the problem is that we can’t keep it off. Your hunger hormones, your satiety hormones, your brain all try to make you regain the weight. Your metabolism slows down, so you feel very tired, lethargic and your body isn’t burning as much energy anymore, so you need to be very conscious about how much energy you are putting in to your body. Its very challenging.
BUT there is GOOD NEWS – there are several things that you can do when you lose weight to ensure you keep it off long-term:
- Increase lean muscle tissue – you need to be doing weight training, you need to be getting fit and strong. The maintenance of that lean muscle tissue is crucial for you to safeguard your metabolism the maintain weight loss.
- Adequate protein consumption – ensuring you have enough protein in your diet helps to offset any lean muscle tissue degradation or loss. Make sure you are have about 20-30g protein in every meal that you have, but your protein intake is based on the amount of physical activity that you do and how much you weigh. So i always recommend that you go and see a really good nutritionist (ahem!) so you can put together the right nutrition plan for you to make sure that you are getting adequate protein.
- Our hormonal system (endocrine system) loves fat, one of the best diets that you can have is a diet that has adequate fat in it. Make sure you are eating food that has a good fat supply. Go for foods like fatty fish, fat in your meat, eggs, dairy (cheese, butter, cream – if you can tolerate it), these are really good fats for us and our endocrine system loves that!
- Another thing that helps with your hormones is intermittent fasting – there are SO MANY benefits; you don’t have to eat every few hours, you are not a slave to your hunger, especially when combined with low carb healthy fat (LCHF), you are not constantly hungry. When compared with a low fat, high carb diet, i was hungry every couple of hours, having insatiable cravings, and crazy energy highs and very low lows. And its not just me, we have clients doing our Fit Food Re-Start and find that are amazed at the change in their appetite and cannot believe at how hungry they are NOT, when they are eating the LCHF way. After a fast, you need to ensure that your nutrient intake is suitable. You need to make sure you are getting enough protein/fats/micronutrients during your feeding window, otherwise it just ends up being a low calorie diet and we don’t want that.
Those things are really important to help in the long term success of weight loss and most certainly keeping the weight loss off.
I hope that now you understand that weight loss is not just a matter of eating less and moving more. It has never been that simple, it is far to simple explanation for the complexities of trying to lose weight and keeping it off. No more calorie theory of weight loss. Let’s try and encourage people that are really struggling with their weight loss, that it is a complex condition and it doesn’t have a simple solution for some people.
It is also a long-term plan. If you are going to lose weight, it is a long term plan, its something that you have to be working at for a really long period of time. It involves a huge psychological, mindset, attitude change towards food and life and everything. We are all in control of our own health.