Weight management beyond calories

Creating calorie deficit….hmmm right..but this is not it..
Do you know how your appetite and food intake are regulated..lets try to understand this.

Two Brains In One

what are these two brains which regulate our eating,,necessary,,,unnecessary,,,or rewarding.
 The first is our cognitive and emotional brain which get activated when we are stressed. 
Leads to increase in a cortisol in blood, it has a power to enhance your food cravings especially sugary high calorie foods.
That means you may get attracted to a cake kept in your fridge which you were avoiding from past few days.
So now you know that why it is shown in movies that heroines are eating a tub of ice cream after their breakup. It seems to be rewarding for your body when you are stressed.
 The second is our metabolic brain. This one is simpler, it senses and responds to the amount and quality of nutrients in your gut to determine when you are hungry or full 
The third one is hypothalamus, it combines information from both brains to regulate appetite and food intake. However, cognitive and emotional brain can override the metabolic brain signal that you are full. That leads to unnecessary munching,,,

Thermostat setting for your weight

Actually there is something called as SET POINT in our body…
We have built in energy feedback system designed to protect us from getting dangerously under-nourished. This system maintains our weight at particular SET POINT much like sitting on thermostat.
Like there is internal set point for our blood sodium that the kidneys maintain and a set point for our CO2 concentration maintained by our breathing, there must be and internal SET POINT for our weight.
Food high in fat ratchet the set point to where body will defend a weight i.e. in range of obesity.
Ultra processed foods have been changed the most from their natural form and are least healthy. They have added fat, sugar, refined grains and salt. They injure brain cells to raise set point and over stimulates reward from food.
Your appetite and weight regulating systems control your calorie intake and metabolism to maintain your set point. It does by sensing your food intake in the short term and fat stores over the long term.

Why an obese person regains ?

An obese person regains ‘lost weight’ very often, the reason behind this is obesity is the disease of higher set point. When you reduce the calorie intake it leads to weight loss, but the set point remains unchanged. Hence the body tries to regain the lost weight by some physiological compensation eg. Increase in appetite and reduction in metabolic rate. This ultimately results in weight regain because we are no more able to adhere on calorie deficit diet and decrease in ability to match reduced metabolic rate.
There are many chemical messengers which are responsible for our feeling of hunger and fullness. That is complex things so I won’t mention them. I want to convey that there are researches that the hormonal changes are present for at least one year after weight loss leading to persistent increase in hunger.
These findings suggests that suppressing hunger and food modification after weight loss may result in lowering the set point and replacement of hormones. That may help people maintain their new weight.
Hence ,your body actually challenges you when you try to lose weight. Lets try to figure out some of them.

Body challenges

Challenge 1 weight loss causes hunger to go in to over drive. Body has complex pathways for maintaining energy balance. Calories you take in balance the calories you burn. Slightest decrease in calories or fat loss increase Ghrelin (hunger hormone secreted in stomach). So guys listen to your brain not hunger level. You should plan well proportioned meals, making sure they are balanced in calories and nutrients.
Challenge 2 your body will crave for fat and sugar because decrease in body fat leads to decrease in Leptin(hunger inhibiting hormone made by fat cells). Thus your brain is enticed to seek food. Drop in Leptin also intensifies the pleasure you get from food. Your want will be heightened for food i.e. particularly rewarding- fat, sugar, salt like nicotine, amphetamine and sex, these foods cause the brain to release feel good neurotransmitter, dopamine. So select food that don’t overstimulate reward pathway eg vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean chicken and fish.
Challenge 3  metabolism slows disproportionate to weight loss. This is disheartening that metabolism decreases beyond predicted level, called as METABOLIC ADAPTATION. Hence body combats maintaining weight loss. What you can do is increase your resting metabolic rate. Resting metabolic rate increase in proportion to muscle mass. Muscle burns three times more calories than fat. By doing strength resistance exercise at least 2 times a week with weight or yoga can built your muscles to boost metabolism.

Only 5-10 kgs of weight loss can do wonders

  • Cholestrol- only 5 to 10% of weight loss can result in a five point increase in good cholestrol (HDL) and can decrease bad cholestrol(VLDL and LDL) by an average of 40mg/dl.
  • Hypertension- only 5% weight loss reduces 5mm of hg on average both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
  • Insulin resistance-insulin is responsible for keeping the blood sugar levels normal. In obesity like conditions high level of insulin are needed because tissues are resistant to its effects. This results in high level of insulin in blood. That leads to further increase in fat tissue especially in waist area and abnormal cholesterol. Its treatment is daily exercise for 30 min and reaching to your inch perfect body weight.
  • Time for sleep- it is commonly observed in people with obesity that they snore or gasp for air during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea). Only 5 to 50 % of weight loss improves oxygenation.
  • Inflammation- fat cells and especially abnormal fat cells produce large number of substances that cause inflammation of blood vessels results in plaques and clots in vessels. After weight loss of 10% inflammatory substances drop significantly. Hence risk of vascular damage also reduces markedly.
This all indicates that even a small effort can eventually lead to marvelous results. so stay positive and keep up the good work.

About the author

Anju Rai Tiwary

Hi, I am a physiotherapist specialized in neurology. I have also done various certification courses like autism spectrum disorder and weight management. I am here to clarify your health-related curiosities.


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