WHY IT IS SO EASY TO PUT ON WEIGHT AND SO DIFFICULT TO LOSE IT?

WHY IT IS SO EASY TO PUT ON WEIGHT AND SO DIFFICULT TO LOSE IT?

It’s actually not easy to put on lean muscle mass or bone mass.  It’s even difficult to maintain lean body mass as one ages.  But that’s the subject for another blog.  More correctly stated: WHY IS IT SO EASY TO GET FAT AND SO DIFFICULT TO GET LEAN? The very simple reason is that we are designed to do just that.  Through natural selection, we are genetically disposed to store fat reserves easily and to use energy efficiently making it hard to lose the accumulated fat. 

Why are we designed like this?  The human genetic makeup is a result of homo sapiens evolving as hunter-gatherers for 200 000 years and before that homo erectus being hunter gatherers for over a million years.  This compares to farming that was only invented 12 000 years ago. The hunter-gatherer way of existence meant that food was not always plentiful. There were no refrigerators and no man-made preservatives either. Regional and global trade was non-existent.  This meant that humans were restricted to eating what they could find or hunt locally.  Sometimes food was abundant, such as after a successful hunt.  Sometimes food was very scarce.  So, humans would not be around today if our genetics were not adapted through natural selection to store excess calories as fat easily and to use this excess efficiently when food was in short supply.

In contrast, food is now available 24/7/365 in most parts of the world – certainly those parts with the highest obesity rates.  It also does not help when much of this food is highly calorific and bereft of nutrients such as seed oils, processed flours and alcohol.  Further, it does not help that we expend little energy “gathering” and “hunting” these days.

So, one sure way to get leaner is to follow a lifestyle that is more suited to our genetics.  This would involve:

  • EATING NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS ONLY
  • EXCERCISING REGULARLY and;
  • INTERMITTENT FASTING

The first two are quite obvious and are the subject of separate blogs, but WHAT IS INTERMITENT FASTING?

Simply put, it is the voluntary restriction of calories over a period of time to imitate what our ancestors would have had to endure and hence what our genes are adapted to.  There are a number of practical ways to do this either individually or in combination:

  • Consuming calories only in an 8 hour window every day – skipping breakfast or having an early dinner and late breakfast/brunch – resulting in a daily 16 hour fast
  • Fasting for 24 hours once a week – skipping breakfast and lunch or only eating lunch
  • Restricting calories to 600 a day for two days of the week and eating normally for 5 days
  • Fasting for 5 days in a row once every 3 months.  One can modify this to eating a light broth and bullet proof coffee (black coffee with butter) during the 5 days

Some of the reported benefits of intermittent fasting may include:

  • Weight and Body fat loss
  • Improved mental clarity and concentration
  • Reduced blood glucose and insulin levels
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Reversal of pre-diabetes and possibly diabetes itself
  • Lowered Blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced Cholesterol levels
  • Increased Human Growth Hormone levels thus promoting muscle growth
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased cellular cleansing or autophagy

Intermittent fasting is simple, cost effective (actually saves money), can easily become a habit and is very powerful.

The main downside is that it requires a move away from the habitual eating of 3 meals a day and in between meal snacking.  You may also feel hungry which can be avoided if one eats a low carbohydrate diet.

There are some dangers though, especially if pregnant, breastfeeding or taking diabetes medication.  It is not recommended for children under 18. In fact, everyone should seek medical advice prior to embarking on major dietary and exercise changes. 

Remember, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to diet and exercise.  Intermittent fasting is one of many tools that may work for you as it has done for many others.

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