February 21, 2012

Made for Famine

Posted in Weight Loss tagged , , , , , , at 9:14 am by Dr Michelle Torrance ND, LAc

The most common problem with weight loss, especially for a person choosing to do a Low Calorie Diet (LCD) or a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) is the reduction of lean body mass that happens along with some fat loss. Lean body mass is our muscle tissue and our bones. Muscle tissue is what keeps our metabolic engine running. Without it, we burn fewer calories than we did before we lost the weight. This is why weight gain is easier after weight loss, especially if a person goes back to eating the same way as they did before they dieted.

The crux of the problem is this: The body will choose to use its protein first before it chooses to use its fat for fuel when in a famine state.

This seems an evolutionary faux pas. Why would you give up your muscle and bone when there is fat available? Muscle and bone are necessary for movement, and our heart beating, therefore, one would think, be more important. But to the body, the opposite is true.

Fat for the body is the last defense against the elements. It is a source of hormone-making substrates. It is the primary matter around our nerves. It makes up the majority of our brain tissue. A minimal amount of fat is necessary for pregnancy and is extremely desirable for lactation. Fat surrounds and protects our vital organs.

To the body, fat is the last thing to be used for fuel. Additionally, fat is difficult to convert to a usable fuel source and creates a lot of metabolic debris that needs to be cleaned up after it’s used. Fat is the last thing the body wants to utilize.

These bodies we have are designed to withstand bad weather, poor nutrition and difficult living. Our bodies are exceptionally adaptable to long periods of deprivation. Over the course of time, this has been a most desirable trait – in lean times, the people who could withstand the most and keep their metabolic rate low, tended to fare better than those that burned out quickly. Over the centuries, there has been far more famine than this world of plenty that we live in now. Our bodies just aren’t made for all this rich living! We have old bodies living in a new world.

We need to acknowledge that attaining food is easy. Even easier is attaining high-calorie, nutrient poor foods that do nothing for our health and weight goals. We don’t work for our food anymore, we just pop into the grocery store or a drive thru. We put very few calories out in order to get more calories in.

It is our responsibility is to be aware of this, and make the best choices possible each and every day. That isn’t to say that we need to be perfect, but it does require us to be realistic with what and how much we choose to eat.