Foods high in simple carbohydrates produce a quick rise in blood glucose levels that causes the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin to compensate for this fast rise (that is stimulated by the excess carbs) which vigorously alerts the body to build up fat reserves. Not only do increased insulin levels signal the body to store carbohydrates as fat, but they also tell it not to let go of already stored fat cells. This fierce cycle makes it almost impossible for humans to use their own stored body fat for energy. We can lose fat, lose inches and lose the pounds once we understand what the most important factor is when trying to manage fat.
This was written for those who would like to know what stimulates the body to build up fat reserves, and also what tells the body to not let go of already stored fat cells. It's also interesting to note what "insulin receptors" do that produce larger fat cells that cause the body to gain weight. Designed by physicians, scientists, nutritionists, researchers and health care specialists with one object in mind. To develop a revolutionary weight management system that is easy to start and easy to maintain. The benefits derived from successful weight loss and maintenance can affect our overall health, life expectancy, quality of life, our appearance, feelings of well being, energy levels, relationships and even our career.
The reason there are very few people who lose weight by just dieting or just exercising alone is because a lifestyle of diet and exercise together is the foundation of a complete and well-rounded program. A good plan includes a healthy balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. However, not all proteins, fats and carbohydrates are created equally, and therefore it's important that the appropriate proteins, fats and carbohydrates are selected. All have calories and the body uses all three to provide the fuel and the building blocks it needs. Finding the proper balance of these types of foods is the challenge, and any weight management program that focuses exclusively on one at the expense of another may prove ineffective or even dangerous over the long term.
Balances Hormonal Levels
Insulin is the most important hormone in any weight loss plan, but it's not the only one worth mentioning. Frequently overlooked is the balance of testosterone and estrogen, two hormones that are usually thought of as "male" and "female" hormones. They often conjure up thoughts of muscle mass, birth control, menstruation and menopause, but are rarely discussed in terms of weight management. Excess estrogen and insufficient testosterone levels contribute to obesity, depression, cognitive dysfunction and a compromised immune system. Also as we age the ratio of testosterone-to-estrogen (T/E) in our body often declines, which becomes unbalanced even for men. Exercise and resistance training is a very natural way to help maintain proper hormonal balance.
Decreases Size And Number Of Fat Cells
As alluded to above, excess estrogen promotes the growth and regeneration of body fat and influences the rate at which fat is stored in the body, and more fat cells will produce more estrogen. Biologically our body's are probably hardwired this way to protect against famine in the days when hunting and gathering were a necessity and the next meal uncertain. Our lifestyles have changed, but our body physiology has not. By adjusting our diet along with exercising and getting our hormones in balance is how both the quantity and size of our fat cells should shrink and once this is accomplished it's easier to maintain our body equilibrium.
The human body is basically a combination of water, muscle, fat, bone and organ tissue, and it's important to remember that the scale only measures the total weight of all these elements. It does not delineate how much weight is fat (although there are more high tech scales now available that claim to measure body fat). And it's the fat weight we want to lose. The weight of organ tissue and bone is constant for adults and so fluctuation in weight reflects the change in the amount of water, muscle and fat.
Remember long term change doesn't happen overnight because a good weight loss program will not be the product of a quick weight loss diet or a month long exercise program. One cannot gain or lose a pond of pure fat in just one day, nor can one gain or lose a pound of muscle overnight. However, it's very easy to retain or lose several pounds of water, which will affect the number on the scale, but will not make anyone slimmer.
Muscle weighs more than fat and this is why ideal weight charts and formulas do not work for serious weightlifters, high performance athletes and bodybuilders. The amount of muscle they have makes their total body weight quite high even when these individuals have minimal body fat. They would be considered obese according to the standard weight charts and that would clearly be absurd. The key here is not to fixate on the scale, but to use it only as a barometer, and this is why we should consider utilizing a tape measure to gauge our progress because it's inches and not pounds that really matter.
A heightened energy level, which should be experience in the first few days of being on a good plan will not only help motivate us to continue, but also give us the physical ability to get active in whatever exercise program works best for us. More stamina and better circulation should be noticed as exercise gets the blood flowing at a consistent pace throughout our body.
What Makes A Good Plan
Managing a desirable weight for most people requires a change in lifestyle because gradual changes are typically the ones people are most likely to stick with. Any modified lifestyle must be both healthy and enjoyable. Most traditional diets fail because once people lose weight is when they go back to their former (maybe enjoyable, but nonetheless unhealthy) habits.
Traditional dieting is often unsatisfying and leave people feeling deprived because they are not only monotonous, but also require following rigid guidelines that are too stringent and inconvenient for busy lifestyles. A good plan does not promise unrealistic overnight solutions because quick weight loss is neither safe nor permanent. And because it's not permanent is part of the reason why we hear so many people talk about "yo-yo dieting, which happens when we gain and lose, and then gain and lose again.
One can gain fat as they continue on a yo-yo diet cycle because the body will lose both muscle and fat when weight is lost without the necessary exercise. And then when the body gains weight without the help of a good exercise program is how it will gain only fat. This is because it's easier for the body to increase fat weight rather than to increase muscle weight. This is one good reason why yo-yo dieting fails because when we gain and lose, and then gain and lose again, is how we increase our total body fat even more because muscle loss is being lost each and every time.
Magic pills and special foods simply cannot be sustained because once we finish such a plan is when we will have nowhere to go but back to where we came from originally. With any good plan one should learn how to eat properly, exercise and manage their weight to lose pounds gradually and safely, while determining their ideal body size. This long-term approach doesn't mean one will not start to look and feel better right away because they will, but nobody should be promised overnight success and nobody should expect that from any plan.
Diet Pills Or Starvation
Diets that promise instant gratification are usually pushing diet pills, low calorie eating plans or harmful stimulants. If these types of programs or products work at all it's usually because they help people lose water weight through dehydration and sometimes starvation. Others promise pills to "boost the metabolism" so we can "eat more" or "lose weight while we sleep." Dieters often use diet pills to assist in weight loss because many of us think they will result in dramatic and permanent weight loss. The reality is that it's often temporary if weight loss does happen and can be accompanied by rapid weight gain, headaches, dehydration, nausea, severe mood swings and depression. The loss of fluids is misleading because diet pills do not help people lose fat pounds.
Low calorie diets can actually halt the weight loss process altogether because when meals are skipped the body will burn fewer calories to compensate for the lack of calories coming in. When this happens the metabolism slows and the body adapts to operating on a smaller number of calories and weight loss subsequently plateaus. At the same time the body begins to burn muscle and organ tissue for energy, which is not only dangerous, but will also leave the body "soft" because it's that very muscle tissue that makes the body firm. When we inevitably resume eating the healthy amount of calories that the body requires is how we will gain weight because the starvation diet has altered our metabolism.
Speaking of stimulants and other amphetamine like diet products, ephedra is a well-known example of an herbal stimulant. Since it's an all-natural substance is why many people make the incorrect assumption that it's healthy. Also called ma huang, ephedra was used in the United States in many weight lost and energy enhancement supplements. In recent years, the safety of ephedra-containing dietary supplements has been questioned by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the medical community as a result of a high rate of serious side effects and ephedra-related deaths.
The FDA banned the sale of ephedra-containing supplements on April 12, 2004 in response to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths. Unfortunately, many diet products are using other "natural" stimulants and ingredients in place of ephedra and making claims such as "Ephedra Free" or "Contains No Ephedra." Many of these ingredients should be carefully researched to ensure their safety before consuming.
Miracle Diets And Mass Market Products
Most weight loss pills, powders, potions, and meal replacements sold in supermarkets, warehouse clubs, drug stores, magazine ads and television commercials aren't affective because they don't adequately address the basics. For example, many widely sold liquid meal replacements and weight loss snacks have sugar listed as the first ingredient. Other products are high in fructose and fructose corn syrups, which are considered by many researchers to be a major cause of weight gain. To make matters worse, these products are often low in protein, which is the main structural ingredient of our cells and therefore is an absolute necessity for life.
A good plan looks at the USDA Food Pyramid and re-balances it to support healthy weight management. A good plan does not place the emphasis on bread and cereals, but will focus on certain meats, fish, fruits and vegetables that are consistent with the diets of early humans and the physiological make-up of the human body. And remember healthy fruits, vegetables and fish should form the larger portion of our dietary plan. Think of dairy foods if at all possible along with nuts, seeds and meats from healthy organic sources. For the meat we should buy local when possible and treat it more like a side dish to those other three.
The problem for many is they eat just the opposite by overdoing on the heavy fat-laden foods doctored with hormones and antibiotics along with processed carbohydrate fake-foods as they skimp on the heart-healthy ones. Thereby feeding into those grim statistic-making killers. All those processed carbohydrates just push us into insulin resistance and hasten the onset of diabetes. They also increase inflammation and change our cholesterol levels that increases our risk for heart disease. There are no overnight solutions, but rather simple principles regarding carbohydrates, fat, protein, exercise and balance. Such a plan is designed to work at a safe rate minimizing excess body fat, increasing energy, improving immune function and assisting the body in finding its natural state of balance.
Understanding Weight Control And Obesity
It's helpful to understand why we gain weight in the first place if we are trying to successfully lose the pounds. It's tempting to write about a multifaceted and complex scientific explanation of everything we know about obesity, weight gain, weight loss, body mass index, hormonal influences on fat metabolism, metabolic rate modulators and two dozen other factors influencing the human body's size and shape. Scientific understanding is important, but lets focus on how to lose extra pounds successfully and keep them off for life. So let's begin with a general understanding of what makes us fat. Being overweight comes from mostly just three known factors:
We have all heard we can get fat by eating too much food. Unfortunately, it's a little more complicated than that because simply counting and reducing calories, which is a popular and long practiced dieting strategy isn't enough. It's true that one of the ways extra pounds come is from overeating, but it doesn't take excess food to keep us that way once we are overweight.
The Glucose - Insulin Cycle
Eating the wrong kinds of food can also put on unwanted extra pounds, which is believed to be the most important factor in weight gain. As previously mentioned, simply reducing daily caloric intake is not the most effective way to lose weight. Did you know that 300 calories from meat are not the same as 300 calories from potatoes or bread? Meat (which is a mixture of protein and fat) is processed quite differently by the body than potatoes. Potatoes, like bread or rice (which are almost entirely carbohydrates) are metabolized quite differently because they convert to sugars in the body, whereas protein and fat do not.
Protein breaks down into amino acids before it gets sent to the liver. When the liver cannot send amino acids to the muscles (because perhaps we are not exercising or do not need muscle growth or body maintenance) is when those amino acids will be converted to glucose. And that glucose will get converted to fat when the body realizes it cannot utilize the glucose for energy. Why is this so important? Because sugar (glucose) in the body is the single most important factor when trying to manage fat and excess weight. When sugar enters the body it's absorbed quickly and then it's directed to the liver and it's the liver when it's in the digestion process that tells the body to turn sugar into fat when it cannot be utilized immediately for energy.
All fat accumulation in the body is the result of the hormone insulin, which plays several roles in our body. It's important to know that insulin is the body's primary mechanism for storing fat if we want to understand its role relative to weight management. Here's a quick review before we go any further. Foods high in simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta and potatoes produce a quick rise in blood sugar (glucose) levels. The pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to compensate for this fast rise (that is stimulated by the excess carbohydrates) which alerts the body to release the carbohydrates so it can be converted to sugar in the bloodstream. This means if the body cannot use the sugar that is being released it will be converted to fat.
Not only do increased insulin levels signal the body to store carbohydrates as fat, and not let go of already stored fat cells, but they also tell the body that it's hungry and requires food. This vicious cycle makes it almost impossible for the human body to use its own stored body fat for energy. The bottom line is when we eat too many simple carbohydrates we are basically sending a "Store Fat" message (via insulin) to our fat cells while simultaneously sending a "Feed Me Because I'm Hungry" message to our brain. Another way to say this would be that glucose from a diet rich in simple carbohydrates stimulates insulin, which stimulates hunger, which stimulates carbohydrate cravings, which results in fat storage.
The body is made up of billions of cells, most of which have "insulin receptors" that receive messages from the brain telling the cell to store fat when insulin levels in the body rise. With an unbalanced diet is how these "insulin receptors" work less efficiently as the body roller coasters between high and low glucose and insulin levels in the blood. This cycle and the resulting degradation of the "insulin receptors" will cause the body to produce more and larger fat cells that will result in gain weight along with preventing the body from losing fat.
The abundance of simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice and white sugar recommended in many diets actually work to spike insulin levels because of the food's high glycemic index (how quickly glucose enters the bloodstream after eating). We probably ingested too many carbohydrates with our meal if we are hungry or craving sugar or sweets only two or three hours after eating.
Managing Our Metabolism
Our metabolism is the body's process to derive energy from the combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that we eat in order to perform all of our bodily functions. These functions include creating various substances such as body heat, muscle, skin, hair and bone along with also breaking down others such as food, bacterial intruders and stored fat. Both the creation (anabolic) process and the breaking down (catabolic) process occur simultaneously and food is the fuel for all the chemical reactions that make up the metabolic process. The metabolism is primarily determined genetically, but we can make lifestyle changes to affect it. Our metabolism affects weight loss and weight gain because it determines how many calories we need to maintain our ideal weight.
The slower our metabolism becomes means fewer calories our body needs, and the slower metabolism will make it more difficult to lose weight using a typical calorie controlled weight loss diet. This is why we will have to increase our level of physical activity because this is the only effective way to safely raise our metabolic rate. Products that claim to "boost our metabolism" are usually synthetic or herbal stimulants, which many consumers incorrectly assume are effective and healthy. Products like ephedra and ma huang are examples of stimulants that have recently been banned due to significant health issues.
Carbohydrate - Protein And Fat Specific Diets
Carbohydrates, protein and fat are processed quite differently because fat and protein are primarily "building blocks" and carbohydrates are almost exclusively "fuel" that breaks down quickly into glucose molecules that are the major form of fuel the body burns as a first option. Only when carbohydrate supplies are used up will the more complicated process of using protein and fat "kick in." The important principle to understand is that refined or simple carbohydrates such as all white flour, white sugar, potatoes, pasta, processed grains and white rice products are absorbed rapidly from the intestine and quickly become glucose in the bloodstream. Fat and protein are processed quite differently and do not cause these rapid infusions of glucose into the bloodstream.
Since the brain runs exclusively on glucose is why the body has a method to keep glucose levels within a certain range in the bloodstream and that range is important for optimal brain function. To accomplish this, our body has two hormones that regulate glucose levels, which are insulin and glucagon. And again the insulin suppressed glucose levels that are too high are either pushed into muscle cells to burn as energy or into fat cells to be stored as fat, and so insulin is the fat storage hormone and people could essentially stop gaining weight if they could learn to control its release.
The only way to do this is by limiting the amount of refined carbohydrates consumed, which for many of us is seventy to eighty percent of our diet. The more refined carbohydrates means more insulin and for most of us that means more fat. So now we should understand the rationale for decreasing the amount of carbohydrates in our diet and why people who go with high protein, moderate fat and minimal carbohydrate diets lose weight. By reducing carbohydrate consumption is how the other hormone (glucagon) can come into play, and when the blood glucose levels drop because there are fewer simple carbohydrates entering the bloodstream is when glucagon starts breaking down fat cells to convert fatty acids into the fuel needed by the body.
In other words, less carbohydrates means less glucose, which allows for more glucagon that results in less fat because it's the glucagon that is "the fat releasing hormone." Therefore, if we are trying to release fat it would be best to stay away from high-fructose corn syrup, simple sugars, enriched, bleached or refined flour. Focus on consuming more whole grains, vegetables and colorful fruits along with eating smaller portions. It's not always true that when we get older it's harder to keep the pounds off. However, it might be more true that when we get older we require less food, and by that I mean not less meals, but less food at each meal.
Healthy fat and good quality protein are hunger-satisfying foods that don't produce constant craving for sweet or salty treats that heavy consumers of carbohydrates notice and what is usually their downfall. It's also interesting to note that modest amounts of high fiber carbohydrates like old-fashioned oatmeal, whole grain breads, slow cooked brown rice, spinach, broccoli, collards, romaine and dark green leafy vegetables metabolize slowly in the gut and are wholesome additions to a good weight loss program. We should notice after being on a good plan that we lose our craving for sweets within two weeks and we should not always feel hungry. That would be a sign that significant metabolic and hormonal shifts are taking place to return our metabolism to a normal state, which is a first and critical step for effective long-term healthy weight management.
The best influence one could have on their levels of cholesterol and the size of their waist is to keep an eye on the fat they are eating. It's best to avoid saturated and trans fats, but no more than four grams per serving of those two combined if you must. They are most associated with not only weight gain, but also the clogging of the arteries. There are some good fats we can put in our body, but "trans fat" is not one of them. Someone once said the stuff was originally designed to be used for candle wax. Many believe it's true that good healthy foods make us younger and bad foods make us age faster. Perhaps this is true because we will be putting calories in our mouth when we eat something like french fries that perhaps taste good, but will probably have the same amount of nutrient value as the cardboard box it came in.
A good diet is about nutrients that help our organs and systems to function in the way they were designed to function. By focusing on good ingredients and nutrients is how we will be helping our body's chemicals and hormones to do what they should be doing, and that is to get us to our ideal weight size with good food that will make our body burn fat and therefore not store it. Calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and fiber all have a place in our diet and a balanced approach to eating includes them all. Balance is the key and therefore what so often gets lost in translation is how much. Eating fat does not make us fat. Eating carbohydrates does not make us fat. Eating protein does not make us fat. But too much of any of them will make us fat if we exceed our body's caloric requirements.
Start By Getting Our Body Working Correctly
Significant research has been done and much has been learned about the importance of the immune system and its interaction in almost every aspect of our bodily systems and overall health. Obesity for example is strongly linked to a compromised immune system and this is why so many people who suffer from obesity share numerous health challenges associated with an imbalance immune system. Health challenges such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, joint pain, gastrointestinal discomfort and many more.
Improve The Health Of Our Digestive Tract
The body's digestive system will begin to improve as we begin to address the proper balancing of the immune system, and this means the body can more effectively absorb the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we are consuming from our diet. Remember changes in digestive tract health may affect the way our body reacts as it processes food. Therefore, we should carefully monitor the affects of increased protein or fiber in our diet because excess gas, bloating or other symptoms may be temporary side effects as the body adjusts to eating and processing healthier food.
Increases Feelings Of Well Being
As our body achieves balance and immune health is when we should begin to feel the benefits of increased energy and better absorption of nutrients, and this is why we should begin to experience a feeling of total well-being that may not have been experienced for years. It's documented that a healthy balanced immune system along with proper diet and exercise will change the way we psychologically approach our day. This new positive attitude will not only help us stay committed to achieving our target weight, but will also provide long term motivation so we can maintain our weight and lifestyle.
By understanding the basic fundamentals of good nutrition and selecting the food that help us achieve and maintain our ideal weight and body shape will create a legacy of good health and happiness. I would like to also note that a balanced and strong immune system is the primary force that allows us to stay alive and healthy, and that it will prevent or hold the effects of all infectious diseases to a minimum. Our immune system is the core of optimal health because it's our first line of defense that protects our body against pollutants, toxins, viruses, disease and bacteria.
It's also what helps us feel and function at our best along with keeping us ready to take on each new day full of energy, excitement and clarity. All auto immune diseases, which includes Diabetes, MS, Lupus, Parkinson's and Arthritis are caused by an out of balance immune system because it's the immune system that allows or causes our disorders. The immune system is the caretaker of our health and wellness, which involves so many functions of our body's physical, emotional and sexual pathway, which also includes anti-aging. Even cancer can only get a foothold through a weakened immune system.
Make The Commitment To Succeed
A good plan can only work for us if we are committed to our own success. The commitment to a healthy balanced lifestyle that includes smart eating decisions and exercise is ours alone whether we have tried other plans and failed or succeeded only to gain the weight back. Now is the time to make the decision to succeed so we too can be healthy, live longer, look better and feel great.
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