Calories In/ Calories Out Works… BUT what are they not telling you…

Do Diets Work For Weight/Fat Loss

While it may seem like a straightforward question, the efficacy of diets for weight and fat loss is more complex. 

This article explores the nuances of this issue.

The title mentions weight and fat loss for a specific reason – shedding weight doesn’t always equate to losing fat; you may temporarily shed water weight, but rehydration restores it. The primary objective should be long-term fat loss, while maintaining adequate hydration, and preserving muscle mass. 

Muscle plays a crucial role in sustaining strength, a safe guard for bones and joints, preventing falls in the elderly, and functioning as a reservoir for burning excess energy. When we don’t have enough muscle mass we can’t metabolise carbohydrates and fats properly and we can’t lose fat and keep it off. Muscle loss (atrophy) in the elderly, is one of the primary drivers of age related frailty and early death. Eating enough protein and exercising is crucial for building and maintaining muscle mass. 

Studies suggest around  35% of the Australian population is considered obese. In the United States and Australia, approximately 75% are overweight. These statistics are quite alarming, and it’s imperative for governments, nutritionists, dietitians, and doctors to acknowledge that the dietary guidelines, which have remained largely unchanged for decades, are well and truly outdated.

Obesity and being overweight lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease, Type II diabetes, kidney disease, various cancers, gall bladder disease, stroke, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, and gastrointestinal issues, to name a few.

The issue is, discussions about being overweight are often avoided or overlooked. The media and the medical profession often refrain from addressing this health problem to avoid hurting people’s feelings. However, honesty is crucial in educating individuals about the impact of being overweight. 

In many cases, the information given  to individuals is based on outdated dietary guidelines that could not be more misleading. 

People typically rely on their doctors for nutritional guidance because they believe them to be the most knowledgeable. However, most doctors are not nutrition experts, and their advice is based on general population data, which may not be suitable for an individual’s unique physiology and lifestyle. Effective nutrition advice must be personalised for each person.

The “calories in and out” method works to an extent, however, this approach is only a partial aspect of the fat loss equation. Concentrating solely on calorie reduction can lead to short-term success, but when your body detects reduced calorie intake, it can enter a starvation mode, slowing down your metabolism and making long-term fat loss challenging. 

When eating for fat loss, hormone control is crucial to maintaining progress long term. Insulin levels are the key determinants of fat storage or if you are burning fat. Lowering insulin levels improves insulin sensitivity, promotes fat burning, and reduces the risk of metabolic diseases.

Insulin is the master hormone that transports macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) around our body and into our body cells after eating. Insulin regulates body energy, and needs to be tightly controlled. Elevated insulin for extended periods can lead to insulin resistance, preventing blood glucose from entering cells, resulting in health issues like Type II diabetes, obesity and those health problems mentioned above.

Other important hormones that you need to control are Leptin and Ghrelin. 

Leptin regulates appetite and Ghrelin signals hunger. These hormones, along with insulin, interact in complex ways and are intricately associated with obesity. They are both adversely affected by excessive consumption of simple refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Leptin is released from fat cells and tells your brain whether your energy thermostat is set right. It is the master regulator of appetite and tells your brain, “I’m full, stop eating“, at least this is how it should work. As with insulin resistance you also can suffer from Leptin resistance which results in the brain not getting the ‘Im full’ signal, so you keep on eating. 

Note: Both are caused by the continuous elevation of these hormones – Insulin & Leptin

Ghrelin is a peptide hormone and is primarily released from the stomach. It is called the ‘hunger hormone’, and as blood sugar levels decline, rising levels tells us to eat more. 

Leptin and ghrelin regulate hunger and fullness. Leptin signals your brain when you’re full, suppressing appetite, while ghrelin stimulates hunger when your body needs food. They work together to maintain energy balance and influence eating behavior.

Here is a little summary of this article:

 1. Low insulin levels are essential for fat burning, achieved by significantly reducing sugar and refined carbs in your diet. (Not cutting them out completely). Carb timing is important

 2. Leptin signals fullness, but Leptin resistance can hinder this. To lower Leptin resistance, avoid sugar and refined carbs.

 3. Ghrelin increases hunger as blood sugar drops, but excessive Ghrelin can lead to overeating, especially sugary foods. Excessive ghrelin can be caused by consuming high sugary foods. 

Maintain low Ghrelin levels by eating whole natural foods and incorporating both soluble and insoluble fibre when consuming carbs. Add good healthy fats, (this includes animal fats) to your protein to moderate insulin and Ghrelin levels.

What’s considered normal today?

If you’re a typical example of the current population, you likely have some degree of Insulin and Leptin resistance. To improve your physiology, a more drastic approach is often necessary, as merely reducing red meat and consuming more fruits and vegetables may not suffice. This will not work with the vast majority of overweight people, because to undo those years of eating high sugary foods, you need a nutritional plan  that will force the body to use an alternative energy system and allow the body to recover to its insulin sensitive state. Once you enhance your metabolic functioning and sensitivity, you will be able to reintroduce some healthy carbs back into your diet. However, for some, a low-carb, high-fat diet will remain a healthier option.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of nutritional plans for weight and fat loss varies greatly from person to person. Numerous factors, such as age, sex, hormone resistance, physical activity, metabolic rate, overall health, lifelong dietary habits, and muscle mass, influence an individual’s response to different diets. Some individuals might achieve success by making simple dietary changes, while others may require more personalised guidance from professionals who specialise in this area. 

Just take into consideration the advice you receive from professionals and ask the questions needed instead of just taking someone’s word or a random plan from Google stating this is the best plan for you not knowing or finding out your history.