Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Your Body Wants its Missing Fat

Losing weight is hard enough.

Keeping it off is even harder.  And a new study involving a popular reality TV show may reveal why.

Your own body fights your attempts at keeping your weight down!

A six-year scientific project examined the ability of "Biggest Loser" contestants from the show's eighth season to keep off the pounds they lost.  A fan of the show, Dr. Kevin Hall, happens to be a metabolism scientist at the National Institutes of Health, and he approached the show's producers about following the contestants to see what would happen as their bodies responded to significant weight loss.

Hall figured the success of contestants to keep the weight off would depend largely on the traditional metrics we've been taught for years about weight loss:  You know; exercise, balanced diet, yadda yadda yadda...

Instead, Hall discovered that metabolism controls more than science has ever realized.  As a person loses weight, their metabolism will slow down automatically, but when the desired new weight is reached, and a person relaxes their weight-loss regimen, their metabolism often will not return to "normal."  Instead, not only does metabolism stagnate, it continues to slow even further, making weight stability a battle, let alone any efforts to lose more weight.

That's why keeping off lost weight is so difficult!  Have you ever lost a significant amount of weight - even ten pounds is significant - only to regain it?  Plus add a few more pounds as the months go by?  Well, this is likely the reason why.

On the plus side, at least all of the frustrations about not being able to maintain your discipline about exercise and diet can be alleviated!  Keeping lost weight off isn't simply mind over matter.  It's not about commitment to the cause, or weakness in the face of temptation.  It's not all about willpower.

In many people, according to this scientific study by a real doctor at a prestigious medical organization, the reason you can't keep off the weight is biological.

Your body has a mechanism at work whose purpose is to restore what weight was removed.

Weird, huh?  And yet, somewhat comforting.  At least, to a point.

Then you begin to get frustrated all over again:  Well, isn't there anything I can do to win the battle of the bulge?!

Sure there is.  Bariatric surgery can work.  You can increase the time and exertion levels you spend exercising.  You can slice even more bad stuff out of your diet.  Indeed, absolutely no cheating is allowed!  But even then, doctors say that you'll probably always feel hungry.

Doesn't sound very encouraging, does it? 

Obviously, it's best to start early and prevent the weight from adding up in the first place.  But none of us can go back five, ten, or thirty years to correct our poor eating and exercise habits, if indeed diet and exercise were the only reasons people gain weight to begin with.

And to a certain extent, it seems like some perverse trick on God's part, since as our Creator, He obviously is the One who designed our bodies to try and self-fatten themselves after we've lost weight.  Why would He plan out something so apparently counter-productive like that?

Perhaps He did it to help Christians who were being starved for their faith, such as the early believers at the hands of the Romans, or even people who were being starved in Nazi concentration camps?  Slower metabolism would help the body automatically adapt - at least somewhat - when nutrition was being intentionally denied.

Then again, maybe plumper bodies really are more beautiful than skinner physiques, as some cultures claim.  Or maybe gluttony really is more physically dangerous than many of us consider it to be, since our abuse of food isn't as correctable or reversible as we've been led to believe. 

At least this study provides further proof that obesity isn't a sin, although glutton is.

Only two of the contestants studied have been successful at maintaining their new lower weight; one has gained "only" a few pounds, and the other has managed to lose a few more, but she says it's been a royal struggle to do so.  And these are people who were equipped by the show with all sorts of weight loss and weight maintenance strategies, trainers, nutrition experts, and equipment for the task.  Imagine the daunting prospects for success facing the rest of us!

The basic take-away here is that, like many other things in life we'd like to correct, it's best not to start those processes that eventually produce unwanted results.

Because while it is possible to lose weight, your body doesn't make it easy at all to keep it off.

Your metabolism won't even let you splurge on your favorite comfort foods for consolation.

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