… Other than that is where we store our food.
Weight loss, one of the most frustrating debates out there. It is no wonder many throw their arms up, run to the closest supermarket and dig in to the sugary, dairy, chocolate, cookie dough laden goodness. Wait… is cookie dough ice cream gluten free?
What are we to do? Dietary advice in the early 1970’s telling us all to reduce fat consumption was not based on solid scientific evidence and should not have been introduced, researchers have concluded. Patients still gawk when I suggest they eat more fats, YES FAT, the stuff that gives food that beautiful taste and texture. The stuff that coats our trillions of cells, makes up 60 % of our brain, is responsible for covering our nerves so that messages can literally skip from brain to tissue cell and back at lightning speed. Did you know that breast milk is very high in fat, yes 55%. If you solely breast feed, do not panic you are not predisposing your infant to heart disease. Fat is essential for the development of healthy children, their developing nervous system, immune system and even their IQ.
So this news should be REALLY exciting for you. You may now go and scoop out a WHOLE avocado…. guilt free. Nuts go for it! Eggs galore! Coconut oil absolutely, yes I know it is a saturated fat… but you can put it on and in EVERYTHING, even your coffee. I now have guilt free coffee every morning. Fresh coffee, almond milk, turmeric and a dollop of coconut oil, and I love it. This is AMAZING I know.
I believe the challenge with Fat is that a person who is overweight or obese (is that PC?) and a nutrient share the same name… ’Fat’. It is ever so confusing. Fat is a nutrient, like a Carbohydrate and a Protein. We need all three for normal healthy function. So now we know good natural fat won’t make one ‘Fat’. Why is weight loss so difficult for some. This is where the Fridge and Freezer analogy comes in.
‘Eat Less Move More’. Starvation + Exercise… no thank you, and it is short lived and doesn’t work long term.
This attempt at weight loss is based on a false idea about how our bodies utilize calories. The body is quite complex. We cannot eat our way through the recommenced three balanced meals and constant snacks as recommenced from the food giants and expect those calories to be in a holding cell somewhere waiting to be used. I need two compartments to explain this and I am going to refer to them as the Fridge and the Freezer, just to simplify. Energy is stored in two ways in the body; as glycogen in the liver and as body fat.
Our three main energy sources are; Glucose (Carbs), Fat, and Protein. Only two of which can be stored for later use, Glucose and Fat. Protein that is not utilized is converted to glucose and stored as glycogen in the liver. Glucose is also stored in the liver as glycogen. The challenge is that the liver can only store so much glycogen. What doesn’t fit is stored as Fat. Think of glycogen stores being your fridge. It holds energy for quick and easy energy demands but has limited storage. Unless you have one of those mega American style fridges, those are great. The big freezer in the garage is where you store Fat. It can store lots of it but is harder to access. I mean it is all the way in the garage. Good news is that if you need more storage you can always get more freezers.
Dietary Fat is absorbed directly into the blood stream, bi passes the liver, and what is not used is stored as body fat. In the absence of food, both body fat and glycogen are used for energy, however they aren’t used equally or at the same time. The body prefers to use glycogen… from the Fridge rather than fat… from the Freezer. This makes sense as it is easier to access and an easier fuel to burn. It is much easier to open the fridge in your kitchen than the freezer all the way in the garage.
Here is the kicker. As long as there is food in the fridge, we won’t retrieve any from the freezer. So if you are taking the dog for a walk and need 200 calories, your body will get that energy from glycogen… in your fridge as long as it is available. It won’t go through the trouble of accessing body fat from the freezer. You also need to burn most of the glycogen before you can burn fat. The body can burn glucose and fat but not both simultaneously.
The ease to access the fat stores in the freezer depends on the hormone Insulin (the hormone that controls our blood sugar). When we are not eating, insulin levels are low allowing full access to the fat freezer. With low levels of insulin, you don’t even have to completely empty the glycogen fridge. So as long a you are cutting your calories and keeping your insulin levels low i.e. not consuming sugar and refined carbs it will be easy for your body to compensate by accessing energy from the fat freezer.
With this analogy, it makes it very simple. No calorie counting involved. Eat real foods, which are lower in simple carbs by nature, higher in proteins and fats. Keep your insulin levels low and be mindful on how much exercise you are doing. If you are at a desk all day, you really don’t need a lot of energy from food.
Make sure the fridge isn’t too full or that freezer will be full.