by Mary Howard, RN
You hear so many tips and trick about weight loss that it may leave you wondering which tips are the best and which tricks are really tricks? Let’s look at how food and exercise affect metabolism and weight loss to help us understand why some of these tips and tricks work or don’t work.
Lately you may have heard a lot about low carbohydrate diets and claims that they are working and that people are getting healthier without paying attention to the amount of fat they are eating. You may have even heard that the USDA is looking at changing the food pyramid.
There is a major flaw in the low fat diet plan and scientist are finally having to admit to it. Very little of your bodies Cholesterol comes from diet. Your body manufactures most of your Cholesterol from Carbohydrates. The culprit of turning these carbohydrates into fat is Insulin.
Insulin is vital to life because it regulates blood sugar, controls the storage of fat, regulates the liver’s production of cholesterol, functions as a growth hormone, is important in appetite control, drives the kidneys to retain fluid and much more. It is absolutely essential to life, but too much of a good thing can sometimes cause problems. Too much insulin can cause fat storage, cholesterol production and is caustic to the blood vessels. Insulin, by activating or inhibiting various metabolic pathways, can make us sleepy, hungry, satisfied, dizzy, lightheaded or bloated.
As you age your insulin receptors become less sensitive to insulin so your body overproduces insulin to meet what it thinks is it’s need. By carefully monitoring the types and amount of carbohydrates we eat we can clean up our insulin receptors. Decreased insulin receptor site sensitivity is frequently the problem that Type II Diabetics (Adult Onset Diabetics) have.
Not mixing certain food types is a dietary concept out there now that actually makes some sense. For example it is a fact that if you eat only a fat and a protein together the fat goes right through you. Dietary fat by itself is not the culprit but when you add a carbohydrate to the mix the body will turn the dietary fat into body fat. If you eat a little protein and carbohydrate (Low Fat Diet) together your body will make fat to either store or use for energy depending on your activity level at the time. But why? You didn’t eat any fat?!
As an example: After that fat free ice cream cone, your body produced more insulin than it needed because of your plugged insulin receptors. The insulin does what it is supposed to; it lowers your blood sugar level but then there is extra insulin circulating around so it goes to work and turns some fat into cholesterol and stores some fat somewhere else incase you decide to skip supper tonight.
By decreasing your intake of concentrated sweets, like sugar sweetened food and not overeating starches like breads, pasta and potatoes you may keep your body from the overproduction of insulin. Carbohydrates actually have a metabolic affect that make any fat you eat worse for you. Carbohydrates affect the hormone balance in your body to add to depression, lack of energy and mood swings.
Exercise really is the key for healthy weight loss. By increasing the strength and mass of your muscles you are better able to burn calories. Exercise makes the rest of your everyday activities easier therefore burning up more calories not only from the exercise but from having more energy to complete your daily activities. Having that energy is more likely to keep you busy so you think about eating less often.
Not eating 3 hours before bedtime is something you may have heard that will help you loose weight. There is much truth in this too, for more than one reason. We know that if you go to bed shortly after a big meal you don’t sleep as well and you also don’t have a chance to “work off” your meal but their is also another big factor.
Human Growth Hormone (hgh) is produced at night to help our body build and repair muscle. If you eat a carbohydrate within 2 to 3 hours of sleep time your body will not produce near as much of this hormone.
Exercise first thing in the morning now makes some sense too. If you have not eaten after your evening meal your body in the morning is fasting. If you exercise before breakfast it forces your body to burn fat. It looks like if you followed that exercise with a protein breakfast it would keep you in the “fat burning” (glycogen dominant) phase a little longer.
Quality protein sources like that found in meat, eggs, fish, and nuts is the best and quickest way to build lean body mass when you are part of an exercise program. Lean body mass (muscle) will help you burn calories. Because carbohydrates are what turns dietary fat into body fat it is healthier to avoid the carbohydrates than to avoid the fat because frequently by avoiding naturally occurring fats you also avoiding good quality protein sources.
Protein requirements are figured based on lean body mass so it is difficult to state the requirements. An average sized adult female (about 140 lbs) requirements are 50 grams protein a day but may need to be as high as 75 grams when very active during an exercise program. For an average adult male (about 175-180lbs) is 65 grams and could be as high as 90 grams a day during an exercise program.
Tip on foods to eat and foods to avoid:
- All sugar sweetened foods if you are serious about a weight loss program.
- As often as possible foods that are all or almost all starch content like potatoes, white bread, and pasta.
- Processed foods often have unhealthy fat sources and chemical additives that drag your system down.
- All vegetables especially green vegetables raw vegetables and salads.
- Meat, eggs, nuts, fish, tofu and beans.
- Whole grain cereals, pasta and breads.
- The carbohydrates you do eat make them from whole foods in their natural state fresh fruit with the skins because the extra fiber will help with the carbohydrate digestion.
- Fresh fruits to get your vitamins needed to make you feel good while exercising and taking care of your health.
With this we have come back to the basics again. Eating whole foods in their natural state is always your best bet. Now we can see why our grandparents could eat bacon and eggs for breakfast and still be in great health. By eating certain foods at certain times and with some moderation in what we eat we can eat well and feel great doing it. We can improve our health and emotional well-being while improving our physical body.
Mary Howard is a Registered Nurse, mother of two, and enjoys natural gardening. She hosts this Site: www.Powerlinehealth.com