Diet Is A Four Letter Word!
by Jeanne Rhodes
More and more people go on crash diets to lose a few pounds that always come back with interest! There is a way to stop the endless cycle of weight loss and gain according to Dr. David Levitsky, a professor in the nutritional-science department at Cornell University. Dr. Levitsky has researched the physiology of weight loss and he contends that eating less for a long time dooms the dieter to defeat from the start because of a decrease in metabolism.
Your metabolism - the rate your body burns calories for energy - is designed to slow down the burning rate to protect you from starvation, as in times of famine. When you go on a diet, the body reacts as if there were a famine. Even 800 - 900 calories a day may not result in weight loss in seasoned dieters whose metabolism has slowed down. The bad news is that the diet-related weight regain averages a 5% increase over the pre-diet weight. Why is this? The metabolic drop along with many other diet-induced changes in your body’s hormones, enzymes, etc. will literally insure this increase in weight. If you weighed 200 pounds when you began your diet, you would end up 210 pounds after the diet ended. If you diet again, the 210 pounds would increase another 5%, another diet, another 5% as weight creeps up, up, up with every diet attempt!
This outcome is unavoidable, not only because of a drop in metabolism, but because of many other biological changes that are triggered by the diet to help your body adapt to the restricted food intake (famine). There are enzymes produced by your body that will increase fat production and fat storage. During a famine, these enzymes act like squirrels storing away nuts for the food shortage that winter brings, and will automatically become more active during a food shortage (diet) to increase storage of fat. One such fat-storing enzyme - adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase (AT-LPL) - increases in activity as much as four or more times as a result of dieting! And, if you’re overweight ATLPL is already overactive even before the diet!
Brown fat is a good fat to have because it actually helps you lose weight. Brown fat is found in very small amounts around internal organs and functions solely to insulate internal body organs. This fat burns a tremendous number of calories to do its job of keeping the internal organs warm, especially during exposure to cold temperatures, and in this respect will assist with weight control.
Dieting has a negative effect on brown fat activity. In many studies, dieting decreased brown fat activity dramatically, and in some cases there was no detectable brown fat activity at all!
Glucagon, a hormone that works in concert with insulin, is one of your greatest allies in losing weight. Food restriction (famine) has a very negative effect on this helpful little hormone. Even your fat releasing (lipolytic) and fat collecting (lipogenic) enzymes located on fat cells, are altered to hold onto the fat you have and to increase it as much and as quickly as possible! All this and more happens automatically during food restriction to protect you from starvation.
The bottom line is that restrictive diets sabotage weight loss! We must learn to work with the body, not at cross-purposes. Dieting is not a natural state. It threatens the body’s energy stores, causing automatic reactions that sabotage any weight loss you may have. Even worse, problems with weight control will only increase with each dieting attempt. Combining a healthful diet with the right kind of exercise is still the best approach to losing weight and keeping it off. Adopt a wellness lifestyle strategy or find a professional who can assist you with lifestyle strategies that will work for you.
Rhodes, B.A., M.A., Nutritionist, is a Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author, Owner and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute.