Friday, February 16, 2007

Bioenergetics

I frequent Fatty's blog and he is currently blowing everyone away in a weight loss competition. I'm going to take a week or two and highlight everything that you need to know concerning weight loss. We'll call these editions, "Sabatage Fatty". If you feel that I'm missed a subject that you want addressed, just comment and I'll fill you in.

Weight loss is all about calories in and calories out. I don't care what anyone tells you about eating at night, eating carbs, eating fat or liquid diets. It's really simple, if you eat more calories than you expend you will GAIN weight. If you expend more calories than you eat you will LOSE weight. Anything contrary to this is a violation of basic laws of nature.

Energy In

When most people think of dieting they think of eating lettuce and carrots. That's it. If you eat less you will lose weight. It's not easy though, as most of us have found. There are many strategies for eating less. Go to the bookstore sometime and look through the diet books. Those are all just tricks to eat less. Everyone is different and you have to find the one that works for you. Beware though, many of the diet books on the shelves are NOT healthy!!

The strategy that I gave Fatty for losing weight was intuitive eating. He seemed to already have a good feel for eating right. He ate lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains and not a whole lot of high fat sauces. Intuitive eating is really simple, you eat when you're hungry, you don't when you're not. The only problem is that most of us have detrained our satiation signal that tells us when we have eaten enough.

So you sit down at dinner with a small plate for dinner. You eat a small serving and then you take 10 minutes to wait, talk or otherwise waste time. Then you ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?" Notice that this is a much different question than, "Am I full?" We experience full on Thanksgiving, it's the feeling of your stomach saying, "if you send anything else down here, I'm going to send it right back up." So you finish your small serving and you determine that you no longer feel hungry, so you stop eating. You don't finish the leftovers so you don't have to store it or throw it away. You don't eat just a little more to show your wife that you really liked it. You don't eat just a little more because you did really like it. You stop when you are no longer hungry. If you are still hungry, have another small portion. After eating it you wait and ask yourself again if you are still hungry. This is not a starvation diet, this is a way to recognize when you are full. Watch a 2 year old eat sometime, they have no problem stopping eating when they aren't hungry. They ignore all social pressures, when they are no longer hungry they leave. You should try it.

Energy Out

There are two parts to energy expenditures, basal metobolic rate and physical activity. Your basal metobolic rate is the energy it takes just to survive. Those are the calories that your body uses to blink, pump blood, and make all of your organs do whatever they do. This number varies based on body size. A 400 pound man has a far greater metobolic rate than a 105 pound woman. You can also decrease your metobolic rate by starving yourself. Your body can become extremely efficient (in the case of weight loss, efficiency is bad). So if you decide that you want to lose weight so you only eat 1000 calories a day, your body will do all that it can to store that because your body doesn't know when it will next get enough energy to carry out all of its functions. Although you would lose lots of weight if you just stop eating, you can't sustain that forever. After a prolonged fast you will actually gain weight fairly quickly because your body has become very efficient to defend against starvation.

In additon to the basal metobolic rate, you will be active which will burn additional calories. Fatty is big into cycling (as am I). He has his coach Lofgran who gives him intense workouts that will expend lots of calories. That is helping him in his weight loss. The more you do (running, walking, cycling, weight training, etc.), the more calories you will burn during the day. Of course you don't have to have an intense workout to burn calories, but it certainly helps.

To lose weight you need to eat less and exercise more. That's it, there's nothing else to it... Except most people know that, but it doesn't help. For the next couple of weeks I will address different foods and how you can use different foods to curb hunger and increase energy. There are lots of ways to make your body feel full so that you eat less (if you're paying attention to when you are no longer hungry). There are also strategies for expending more calories without adopting a sophisticated workout program. Although for some, the structure and accountability of a workout program from a professional like coach Lofgran is the best way to stick with an exercise routine.

9 comments:

Heffalump said...

I did not challenge Fatty as I knew I would lose. I am,however, trying to lose some fat and feel better and more healthy. I look forward to more tips from your blog over the next couple of weeks.

Emily said...

Thank you for this blog. I think it is important that these facts be stated, as i have a tendancy to forget this simple type of solution to weight loss.
Do you have any information about how often a person should eat during the day if she eats only when she feels like she is no longer hungry?
I know it depends partially on energy expenditure, but if you aren't excersising, although using your brain intensively, how often should you eat to avoid the starvation type mode?

Vertigo said...

Fatty is on to something. If more people had to pay a total of about 4 Grand if they didn't lose weight, there would be a whole lot more healthy people around.

I have read somewhere that the best way to get someone to stick to a fitness program is to get them to pay for it.

I wrote an article and posted it to my website last summer. You can find it at http://web.mac.com/madland/iWeb/
EmergeFitness/Articles/
9FB4A0DB-0A16-453B-A4C0-96357984C680.html

Or go to www.emergefitness.ca, click on 'Articles' then 'Weight Loss or Fat Loss'

Anonymous said...

Emily - I took on a trainer at the start of the Fatty Challenge and her advice (step in here Sans if I'm too far off the mark) was to have 6 eating events per day - notice they are events, not meals. Everyone has a picture of a meal in their head and it's often not a healthy picture - either too much bad stuff or just plain too much.

6 events where you eat enough to "not be hungry". There's a focus on protein and GI to ensure no "instant storage" food goes on the plate. These events align themselves with the 3 traditional meal times plus morning and afternoon tea and something at bed time (often low fat yoghurt and raw nuts). If you space them out about 3 hours apart it fills the day perfectly. I prefer to take my first meal after my bike ride in the morning.

3 hours is a good gap even for physically inactive office types.

Big Mike
bigmikeinoz.spaces.live.com

gewilli said...

Good Stuff All of it!

nice blog sans!

Ann said...

Thank you for bringing such nice posts. Your blog is always fascinating to read.

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