Blog By: Konika Luke
Ever noticed that the waist you used to have has been replaced by a thicker middle. Why is it so much harder to lose weight and make gains in the gym as you age?
Storing fat is a feat of evolution and the body will fight to keep it. We needed the capacity to store energy to survive periods of famine. So while fat is demonized, it has also been our friend through millions of years of evolution. But our relationship with fat has changed. While some fat is essential and healthy, accumulating too much body fat increases the risk of chronic diseases. Excess stored fat becomes difficult to lose because we have evolved many processes to protect fat stores once we have them.
The “eat less, exercise more” model of weight loss has not worked. The reason? Calories don’t control metabolism, hormones do. Eat less and what happens? You get hungry. Exercise more and what happens? You get hungry. Stopping weight gain means understanding hormones, not just calories. Hormones are the messengers that tell the body to burn fat or store fat, remain full or hungry, enjoy balanced energy or feel fatigued. Hormones even impact your mood and motivation to exercise. Hormones are like the computer software. They give the body instructions about what to do based on the information it receives. Hormones control every aspect of weight loss including your metabolism, where you store your fat, your appetite and your cravings.
LEPTIN is the master hormone that regulates body weight. It is produced by the body fat cells. It is often referred to as the” satiety hormone” or the “starvation hormone “. Leptin’s primary target is in the brain, particularly an area called the hypothalamus. Lepton ‘s main role is a long term regulation of energy balance, the amount of calories we eat and expend and how much we store as fat in our bodies. LEPTIN SYSTEM evolved to keep us from starving or over eating, both of which would have made us less likely to survive in the natural environment. These days leptin is very effective at keeping us from starving. But something is broken in the mechanism that is supposed to prevent us from over eating.
Weight loss reduces fat mass. This leads to reduction in leptin levels. Reduced leptin levels make the brain think it is starving. It initiates all sorts of processes to regain the lost body fat. This is the main reason why so many people on a ‘yo-yo’ diet or exercise program lose a significant amount of weight only to gain it all back.
People who are overweight have a lot of body fat. Hence they also have high levels of leptin. One would imagine they should burn fat easily. But the problem is leptin signals are not working. There’s a ton of leptin floating around but the brain doesn’t see it. The condition is known as LEPTIN RESISTANCE. Leptin Resistance can cause increased hunger and reduced energy expenditure.
So, what’s the solution?
Just as it is possible to reset your body fat set point to a higher point, it is also possible to lower it. The secret is to work with, not against the body ‘s natural tendencies and lose weight slowly.
THE 10% SOLUTION
Scientific evidence supports not losing more than 10% of your body weight at a time. That’s the amount of weight you can lose before your body fights back. After maintaining the new lower weight for some time, you can repeat the cycle. This way you can reset your body fat set point again by losing another 10%. Through small gradual changes in your daily habits, you will be able to maintain the new lower weight. This prescription is vital to outsmart the bodies natural tendency to regain weight.
Healthy habits like regular exercise, proper nutrition and adequate sleep can go a long way in keeping hormonal levels in check.
Good Health begins with good hormones.
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