The Cruel Truth About Fat
The following is an excerpt from my book, Fit For Free Forever. You can obtain a .PDF file, pre-formatted for printing or reading on-line by contacting me at Slrman@zoho.com for only $4.95 USD.
The Cruel Truth About Fat
It may not be what you want to hear, but you need to learn this. By the time you are 3 or 4 years old, your body has developed all of the fat cells it will ever have. Partly, this is due to genetics and partly to how you are fed when very young. Fat babies and children may have weight problems all of their lives. There can also be other effects such as early onset of puberty*. Fat cells can grow larger or smaller, but they are always there. They may not become evident until after age 40, but are like a little fat bomb ticking away.
* Journal Pediatric, Feb 2007
So is there nothing you can do if you have a lot of fat cells? Are you doomed to be overweight no matter what you do? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding NO! Weight loss is a very simple mathematical problem. If you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Your body is programmed to store the excess as fat against a possible famine. For most of us, that famine never arrives before heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and organ failure kill us.
One of the unfortunate facts about fat is that we tend to put it on in certain areas first. But when we take it off, it comes off more or less evenly over the entire body. That’s why it seems to be “first on, last off.” That’s also why “spot reducing” is a fraud.
If you consume fewer calories than you use, your body is again programmed to make up the difference by converting your fats to fuel and burning that. You can see that this is not complicated. Eat less, move more, and everything gets better. Eat more, move less, you die sooner and need a larger coffin. That may sound harsh, but would you rather have facts or fantasies? Very few people have “glandular problems” other than salivary glands. If someone has a true medical condition making them overweight, they should be under close medical care in the first place.
Speaking of that, the usual disclaimers apply here about starting any exercise program. Consult a physician to be certain you have no heart or other condition that would prevent you from performing mild exercise for 20 minutes a day. Because many people are put on similar programs after heart attacks and strokes; very few will not be able to do this. In fact, the main reason for not doing anything is many people simply don’t care enough to be bothered. Excuses are easier than effort.
Below, along with my own thoughts are citations from medical studies that confirm what I will be telling you, so this is not the ravings of just one “fitness nut”.
Diets Do Not Work
Read the topic header several times. Diets do not work. None of them work, ever. There is one simple reason. Do you want to live on watercress and toothpicks the rest of your life? Me neither, so forget about whatever diet plan you were contemplating. You may lose weight, often dramatically. But when you return to your normal eating habits, and you will, the weight comes back. The following articles confirm that diets can even be counter-productive and dangerous to your health.
Many Dieters ‘Finish Up Heavier’ *
Dieting is unlikely to lead to long-term weight loss and may put a person’s health at risk, a study says.
US researchers found people typically lose between 5% and 10% of their weight during the first six months of a diet.
But the review of 31 previous studies, by the University of California, said within five years, up to two-thirds put more weight on than they had lost.
Losing and gaining weight is linked to heart disease and stroke, the American Psychologist journal reported.
“Keeping weight off is a life-long challenge.” Dr Ian Campbell, of Weight Concern
Lead researcher Traci Mann said: “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more.”
“Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people. We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all.”
“Their weight would have been pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear of losing weight and gaining it all back.”
And she added some diet studies relied on participants to report their weight rather than having it measured by an impartial source while others had low follow-up rates which made their results unrepresentative.
She said this might make diets seem more effective than they really were as those who gained weight might be less likely to take part in the follow-ups. In one study, 50% of dieters weighed more than 4.99kg (11 lbs) over their starting weight five years after the diet. The study did not name any diets in particular, but looked at a broad spectrum of approaches.
Professor Mann said in her opinion eating in moderation was a good idea for everybody as was regular exercise.
Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of Weight Concern, said too many people approached dieting as a short-term measure.
“Keeping weight off is a life-long challenge. It is just like heart disease or mental health problems, if you stop taking your medicine you can get worse.”
“People who are overweight often don’t have a balanced lifestyle and after losing weight too many stop keeping active or eating healthily.”
* http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6540493.stm 10 Apr 2007
Published: April 11, 2007 at 1:11 AM
By JULIA WATSON UPI Food Writer
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2007 (UPI) — How many of us who are overweight or just looking to fit into some favorite clothes have endured a miserable diet only to find, several months later, that we are heavier than we were when we began?
Inside of five years, two-thirds of dieters will gain back more weight than they had carried when they started dieting, a University of California review of 31 studies found. The diets initially worked: In the first six months of a long-term regimen, the average person will generally lose somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent of his or her weight.
But such yo-yo dieting can do damage to your health, experts say. The study in American Psychologist has linked this behavior to heart disease and stroke, brought on by the stress dieting this way can cause to the body.
In one of the studies the researchers reviewed, half of the dieters had put back more than 11 pounds on top of their original pre-diet weight five years after completing a regimen.
It just confirms further the best way to keep a good weight is to eat moderate amounts of fresh foods, avoiding processed and ready meals as much as possible and exercise regularly. But that seems to be our least favorite advice.
No particular diets are mentioned in the research. But you may remember the “grapefruit diet,” when people believed eating the citrus fruit before meals would somehow burn up your fat.
Another study published this week reveals the serious benefit of grapefruit and other fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C may be nullified by fat in the stomach.
Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is valuable for good general health. But it is also thought to have an effect in preventing stomach cancer.
The nitrate in our saliva and our diet may be responsible for activating gastric cancer. Apparently, Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) can render benign the cancer-causing compounds that are produced when food and saliva get churned up with stomach acid.
Not, however, if there is a lot of fat in the stomach, researchers at the University of Glasgow said.
People regularly eating fatty meals not only gain weight, but they are having an effect upon the environment inside their stomachs.
Again, the message is, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables — the prime source for vitamin C — exercise well and keep off fatty foods.
Exercise Alone Does Not Work!
Another sad fact is that no amount of exercise by itself will make you lose weight. If you spend hours a day exercising, you will become more fit. But you will not lose weight if you continue to consume more calories than you burn. So you must adjust your eating habits to match your activity level. If you burn 10,000 calories a day, but eat 12,000 calories, you will continue to gain weight. It’s that easy, it doesn’t even require long division, does it? Fortunately, this plan shows you how to make this adjustment, easily and painlessly without resorting to special foods or trick diets.
So What Can I Do?
The solution is to change how much you eat. This is not to say that healthy eating habits should be ignored. But remember what was said before. “Eat less, move more, and everything gets better.” So how do you do this? Very easily; simply by outsmarting your food. A truism among entertainers for centuries has been “Always leave them wanting more.” Apply this same principle to eating. It is not necessary or desirable to eat until you are satiated. Start by taking a little less food on your plate than you normally would. If you finish your meal thinking “I could stand to have a little more,” you’re on the right track. With time, you will become used to the smaller amount and you can reduce your intake a little more. Gradually, you will be eating the proper amount for yourself.
Eating Less, Little Exercise Can Work*
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May. 11 (UPI) — University of Alabama researchers found reducing calories is an effective way to keep weight off, especially if it is difficult to find time to exercise.
In the study, published in the May issue of Obesity, the researchers report that 80 percent of EatRight participants — a University of Alabama at Birmingham program to lose weight — maintain their weight loss after two years. Most do it primarily by sticking to a low-calorie, low-energy-density diet, according to Tiffany Cox, program coordinator for the EatRight follow-up study.
Researchers followed 89 former EatRight participants for two years. The 80 percent who had successfully maintained their weight loss consumed fewer calories than those who gained weight and tended to eat a diet consisting of low-energy-density foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A low-energy-density diet means an individual can eat more yet take in fewer calories than with high-energy-density foods, according to Cox.
“This calorie control led to successful weight maintenance despite the fact that these individuals did not meet recommended exercise levels,” Dr. Jamy Ard, director of EatRight Weight Management Services, said in a statement.
Make no exceptions to this. No, “It’s the holidays” or “just this once”. People that urge you to eat extra food are not helping. A polite but firm, “No thank you,” is all that is needed. If someone is so rude as to actually place food on your plate without your permission, you are entitled to throw it on the floor. In their face is justified, but that could result in assault charges.
Taking this approach means you can eat some of everything you like. This doesn’t mean that you should exist on steaks and cakes. A rational, healthy diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables in a greater proportion than meats. The human body has a digestive system more like that of the omnivorous pig than that of the great apes or other members of the primate family. None of these are strict vegetarians in any case. It is a fact that they do not eat very much meat because they are not equipped to get it. Humans evolved in much the same manner but have been more successful as hunters. Even so, most people did not eat as much meat, especially red meat, as the average person does today. Fish and poultry were a much more common item because they were easier to obtain. If you had to catch and kill your own food, would you rather tackle a cow or a carp?
Vegetarians often do very well but they are careful to include proper items in their diet to ensure that they receive all the nutrition they need. This obviously works for some but requires more thought, effort, and trouble than most people want to expend. Nor do most care to give up a nice steak or pork chop now and then. You don’t have to do that; just don’t make them the center of every meal. Far less self-discipline is required to think “I won’t eat this right now,” than to decide, “I’ll never eat this again.” It also makes the steak that much better when you do have one, even if it is a small one.
This has been said in many diet plans, but it is so important it’s worth repeating here. You are eating less, so eat more slowly, take smaller bites, chew thoroughly, and enjoy what you eat. Isn’t that better than living on grapefruit the rest of your life? Be happy, eat well, and love it. Most people can live with that, so can you.
Cut back on sugars. Diet sodas are really very good and, after you drink them for a short time; sugared drinks do not taste right. Similarly, diabetic (non- or low-sugared) foods are nearly indistinguishable from other cakes, candies, and desserts. Remember, refined sugar is simply empty calories that do your body no good at all. Forget about the “quick energy” hype. Your body cannot use refined sugar but must convert it to natural sugars. It first must become fat. Is this what you want?
But I Get Hungry!
Hunger is a natural reaction of your body to signal an empty stomach. That doesn’t mean the signal has to be obeyed immediately. Think of it like this. It’s a sign of success. If you feel a little bit hungry between meals, it means your plan of eating less is working. You can quiet that signal by drinking some water or juice. Many people do not drink enough water in a day anyway, so here’s a chance to fill two gaps at the same time.
Another great natural snack is a few seedless grapes. A few means six, not sixty. Those are quick, delicious, and no trouble to prepare. In hot weather, you can freeze them to make a cool snack. It’s almost like grape sherbet without the mixing and mess.
Cheating on your eating plan with snacks is easy and comforting to do. As long as food is in the reward category for you, cutting back will be very difficult. It is also guaranteed to cause your plan to fail. Be honest with yourself. Think about everything you want to eat and consider whether it is helping or hurting your plan.
A complete fitness and eating plan is available in my book Fit for Free Forever of which this is a small part. You can obtain a .PDF file, pre-formatted for printing or reading on-line by contacting me at Slrman@zoho.com for only $4.95 USD.