By David Arenson, B.H.Sci., Naturopath
Too many people have failed too many times at losing weight. What is the secret missing ingredient, beyond calorie reduction and a change in diet?
New research by Oregon Health & Science University scientists reveals that simply reducing calorie intake is not sufficient to promote significant weight loss.
If you want to lose weight, the best way is to increase your metabolism. Dieting is not enough! Starvation is fairly efficient too – the body then goes into conservation mode which minimizes fat loss. What usually follows is binge eating out of desperate hunger. The additional calories are then converted into even more fat and this is why the majority of diets fail, and this supports a massive industry.
The formula is simple – what we eat is our energy intake (calories). What we consume for maintaining life, digestion and all metabolic functions (anabolism and catabolism) is referred to as our metabolism. Energy in versus energy consumed is the net result – i.e. what we currently look like!
Calories are how we measure the energy in the food we eat and the energy our body uses. A calorie is actually based on a scientific measure of the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 °C (4.2 joules). A food calorie is 1000 times greater than this, hence the use of the term kilojoule in some countries. The recommended calories per day for a normal healthy adult are: 2000 Calories for Women; 2500 Calories for Men.
Just maintaining your posture requires energy. The body is constantly burning the energy produced by respiration to maintain life, and all the associated metabolic processes. The average person requires 20% of their energy for brain functions, and the rest is mostly used to maintain the metabolism of the muscles, organs and tissues.
In the cold, the energy usage of the body will need to increase to maintain core body temperature at a constant of 37 degrees. Physical activity is a powerful way to increase body temperature, thus using more energy from respiration. Resistance training (weights, resistance machines, climbing stairs, kayaking/rowing, or swimming, boxing) is the most effective, as it not only burns fat, it also increases the production of Growth Hormone. Growth hormone has an anabolic action in the body – it builds bone, muscle, breaks down fat, improves protein building, stimulates the growth or organs, stimulates the immune system and helps maintain the pancreas. It even promotes the generation of glucose for energy.
Growth hormone is boosted via intensely exercising fast-twitch muscles for brief periods of 10 – 30 seconds. Cardio, aerobics and even many strength-training exercises do not increase growth hormone, thus minimising their efficiency for weight-loss. For growth hormone to be activated, you need to work out intensely, and sweat profusely!
The great news is that the latest research coming out is showing that we are not victims of our genetics. The fact that your genetic makeup may predispose your body to put on excess weight does not mean you’re destined to be obese. We are not slaves to our genes; your habits alter the genetic expression of your genes!
There is no “quick fix” solution – those who lose weight and keep it off maintain a healthy lifestyle and form permanent habits of staying active and eating healthily. For each 1 kg of muscle that you gain via resistance training, you burn approximately 100-150 calories in addition per day (5 kg of muscle equates to burning 500-750 calories)!
In summary, to lose weight you need to be more active and burn off more calories than you eat. If you increase your metabolism, you increase your calorie-burning capacity.
Good luck with your journey to getting fit, and most importantly, have lots of fun whilst you’re at it! If you can’t find something active you enjoy, invent it!
Weight Loss Tips that Work during Winter:
- Visit a sauna regularly to get a good sweat (stimulates the lymphatic and immune systems and a great winter detoxifier)
- Find a personal trainer and commit to regular training at least twice a week. Make sure you work out intensely with short bursts of energy, and lots of sweat!
- Keep your immune system in great health – my favourite immune herbs are Echinacea and Olive leaf extract.
- Instead of sugar-laden, over-processed hot chocolate, invest in raw cacao – available in your nearest health shop – an amazing food source of muscle-relaxing Magnesium and antioxidants for muscle recovery.
- Shower immediately after your work-out, and dress warmly for your trip home.