Does it really matter where the source of your calories come from? Are all calories created equal? In scientific terms, a calorie (also known as kilocalorie or kcal) is the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. By that definition, chemically speaking, calories from fat, protein and carbs might be considered equal. When we consider the hormonal, physiological and psychological effect of various macronutrients, however, the results change.
Boost Protein to Reduce Belly Fat:
Protein is a necessary building block for many hormones including serotonin, melatonin, growth hormone, thyroid hormone and dopamine. If we fail to get enough in our diet, we can experience mood disorders, memory loss, increased appetite and cravings, decreased metabolism, sleep disruption, muscle loss and weight gain. Protein triggers glucagon (which maintains normal levels of glucose in the blood while carbohydrates trigger insulin (your fat storing hormone). As you can see, these are two very different hormonal reactions. Protein also stimulates the release of Peptide YY from the gut, suppressing our appetite by acting on our feeding center in the hypothalamus. A protein-rich diet also helps to shed stubborn belly fat, according to a study published in Diabetes Care. Researchers compared a high-protein diet with a low-protein diet in 54 obese men and women with type 2 diabetes. Those on the high-protein diet had significantly greater reductions in total and abdominal fat mass and a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol.1
Can stress cause weight gain? The short answer is "yes." This is one of the many topics covered in the User's Guide to Weight-Loss Supplements (Basic Health Publications User's Guide paperback) and the discussion there explores one of the reasons that weight loss programs often fail. In a 1986 Dutch study, men who experienced many life events in a short period of time — one definition of stress — gained weight. This study also showed the importance of identifying and treating the problem (stress) rather than the symptom (weight gain). In these men the excessive weight had disappeared in almost all subgroups a year later. The exception was the subgroup that had tried to lose weight by dieting. The men who had dieted had gained yet more weight.
- Eat protein at every meal, including breakfast.
- Eliminate wheat- and flour-based products for the time being. And yes, that definitely includes bread and pasta.
- Eliminate “food products.” Ninety percent of what you eat should be food that could have been hunted, caught, gathered from the ground, plucked from a tree or grown.
Americans are getting fatter.
Some have called our creeping obesity a virtual epidemic. They wouldn’t be far off. The figures are staggering: a 60 percent increase in the prevalence of obesity in the 1990’s alone says the October 4, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to 1999 data, the average U.S. man now weighs 187 pounds and the average U.S. woman weighs 151. The “obesity boom” has also helped fuel an increase in type 2 diabetes. According to researchers at the CDC (Center for Disease Control), this increase in diabetes was no accident— type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with obesity. The CDC researchers feel that this association demonstrates that “obesity is not just a cosmetic disorder but a major risk factor for chronic diseases.” The World Health Organization would seem to agree: by their figures, over 300,000 Americans die prematurely from obesity related complications.
If there is one thing that is the bane of a good figure and vibrant health, it is belly fat. I am talking about that stubborn extra roll around the middle that does not seem to disappear, no matter how swift your metabolism, how much you exercise or how many sit ups you do. For some people, belly weight means the dreaded “muffin top” that escapes over the top of your jeans. For others, abdominal weight gain results in a clear round, apple shape. The fat in those love handles also contribute to increased blood triglyceride levels, inflammation and insulin resistance. Carrying extra weight around the middle puts you at higher risk of heart disease, cancers and diabetes.
Last week, we discussed the touchy subject of sugar cravings and artificial sweeteners, and the influence of diet soft drinks on weight. (It increases it.)
According to the Vancouver Sun, obesity is partly to blame for the rise in joint surgery. They were, of course, writing for their Canadian audience, but it is just as true in the US. If that is true (and it doubtless is), it is not difficult to understand. Added weight increases stress on the bones and joints.
In case you think that headline is an unwarranted scare tactic, I didn't make it up.
I borrowed it from an article published in the Houston Chronicle. They got their information from the researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio, who did a study of middle-aged adults who drink soft drinks. Are you ready for this?
Do you drink diet soft drinks, in the hopes it will diminish the circumference of your waistline? Forget it. The study monitored the weight and soda-drinking habits of over 600 normal weight adults, aged 25 - 64. After following the participants for eight years, they discovered that diet soda drinkers were 65 percent more likely to be overweight (with just one soda per day), and two or more calorie-reduced drinks raised the odds of becoming obese or overweight even higher.
We all know about beauty rest but did you know about thinness slumber? Getting those zzzs is another important piece of the weight loss puzzle.
Your carbohydrate addiction may be more the result of your sleeping patterns rather than your lack of willpower.
Have you ever noticed that after a night with little sleep, you wake up ravenously hungry and want to devour everything in sight? Why? Because your lack of sleep actually triggers food cravings.
No one doubts that obesity is a problem in the United States. According to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in January 2010 analyzing the period 2007–2008, the prevalence of obesity was 32.2 percent among adult men and 35.5 percent among adult women. The age-adjusted prevalence of overweight and obesity combined was 68.0 percent overall; 72.3 percent among men, and 64.1 percent among women. That’s right: in 2008 an estimated 68 percent of Americans were overweight or obese! To put this in perspective, from 1960–2 to 2005–6, the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.4 to 35.1 percent in U.S. adults 20 to 74.7 years of age. Statistics for those overweight were in the same range. Within living memory, the proportion of Americans who are overweight and obese has more than doubled. Quite obviously, there has been no massive shift in genetics in the U.S. in the last 50 years, so what has caused such weight gain?
Some of you are finding that despite proper eating and exercise you simply cannot lose the extra weight.
Our research has shown there are a number of metabolic processes contributing to this and when you treat them, the weight will often begin to disappear. This is discussed at length in my book From Fatigued to Fantastic! which teaches people how to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and goes into great detail about how to effectively treat the problems discussed below. In these illnesses, which are characterized by fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, and often widespread pain there is an average 32 pound weight gain. The good news is our research shows effective treatment is available for 91 percent of these patients and a fringe benefit is that not just do they feel great but they also lose their excess weight. One patient I recently treated had lost 50 pounds by her four month follow-up visit, in addition to having no pain and having great energy. She was understandably thrilled. Many of the factors contributing to weight gain in these syndromes also affect the rest of us. These are the most common ones: