Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grok tries to lose weight by following Conventional Wisdom

So when we left Grok, he was fat. Now, he is getting tired of not being able to shop at normal sized people clothing stores. He's tired of being looked at like a fat person and being judged as a glutton and a sloth that has no self discipline. He's ready to make a change in his life and looks to the conventional wisdom (CW) as to how to best make a change, lose weight and get healthy.

And what does conventional wisdom tell him? Well, there is a fair bit of variance in the mainstream advice that Grok can get but the following are the basic commonalities:

1. You must eat less and exercise more to put yourself into a calorie deficit. I mean, duh, eat less and exercise stupid, why do we have to tell you that? So count your calories and eat 500 less calories a day than you burn to lose a pound a week and 1000 less calories a day to lose 2 pounds a week.

2. Eat less fat. I mean you are what you eat after all and if you don't want to be fat, you should eat less fat. Besides, fat contains 9 calories per gram whereas protein and carbs contain only 4 so if you want to cut down calories, it makes sense to reduce the amount of fat you eat. Do this by reducing the amount of animal products you eat and choosing lean versions of meat and non-fat or low fat versions of dairy products.

3. Replace sugar and refined carbs like white bread and white rice with the whole grain versions. This will reduce the blood sugar spikes because they are absorbed more slowly (they have a lower glycemic load) and therefore not cause the hunger pangs so soon after eating.

4. Eat lots of veggies and fruits to get your fiber in.

5. Replace pop with fruit juices or just water.

So Grok follows this advice. He goes online to a calories burned calculator and calculates that at his height and weight with a sedentary lifestyle (he works in an office now) he burns 2450 calories a day. If he averages burning an extra 200 calories a day in exercise (6 days a week he will do a heavy dudy workout) and wants to lose a pound a week for the next year (he figures he's 52 pounds overweight after all) he will have to only take in 2150 calories a day to accomplish his goal.

So he adjusts his diet. He only eats lean meats, lots of whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables. He keeps his intake at around 2150 a day and exercises 6 days a week doing lots of cardio and throwing in a couple resistance training sessions a week.

How does his body react? Well, the diet is better in that it is low in sugar so that it doesn't significantly worsen his insulin resistance, but each intake of carbs (at 60% calories from carbs say, he'll be taking in 322 grams of carbs a day) increases his blood sugar and insulin must be released to deal with it. Sure his eating of whole grains means his blood sugar rises more slowly because the carbs are aborbed more slowly, but that also means the blood sugar is elevated (and therefore insulin is required to be excreted for longer) to deal with it. Besides, the glycemic load of whole wheat bread is 7-9 compared to 10 for white bread. Not a big savings in terms of blood sugar changes. The difference in glycemic load between white pasta and whole wheat is from 18 to 16.

He eats lots of fruit but that adds fructose into his system. Sure the fructose is absorbed more slowly but certain fruits are very high in sugar (mostly fructose) like bananas. The fructose is processed in Grok's already compromised liver so can exacerbate his insulin resistance.

So all this to say, his bodies insulin levels are still high. High at a fasting rate and high while eating. The insulin is slowing or stopping the fat from coming out of Grok's fat cells and accelerating the process of loading up the fat cells with fatty acids.

But CW says, he is eating less than he is burning so he should lose weight but two things are happening. His body reacts to the calorie deficit not by freeing up his fat stores, it cannot, insulin is preventing this. Instead his body slows down Grok's metabolic rate as much as it can and makes Grok hungry. It may be that the body cannot slow down the metabolic rate enough to make up the deficit and some fat does get burned but Grok is fighting hunger all the way.

Now, a quick word about the VERY overweight. Because in these cases, the fat stores are overloaded with fatty acids, insulin may not be able to prevent the release of fatty acids. Imagine a balloon made out of very strong material. Put enough water in this balloon and the pressure could become too much to overwhelm a clamp on the spigot enough to release some of the water. This is why on almost any diet, the very overweight will lose weight. It is also why plateaus can happen once a lot of weight is gone. The pressure within the fat cells to release the fatty acids from being full isn't enough to overcome insulin's action to release the fat.

So Grok sees some initial loss of weight due to the diet and that motivation keeps him fighting through the hunger and tiredness his body is using to compensate for not having enough energy. Now Grok might lose all 52 pounds or he may plateau at a 30 pound weight loss. If he plateaus, he tries to eat even less and exercise even more, blaming himself for not doing enough. Either way, there will come a time when Grok gets tired of fighting his body and starts increasing his intake and starts taking days off the gym.

What does Conventional Wisdom also say? Diets don't work. People lose the weight but cannot keep it off and eventually cave in and often gain back all the weight and then some. I can say from personal experience this is correct. Been there done it.

So what is the final message to Conventional Wisdom to Grok... Grok has two choices, live with being fat or constantly fight hunger, tiredness, temptation to cave to maintain his weight.

Now Grok has an advantage. Remember, he is paleolithic man who experienced what a natural lifestyle is for humans. The lifestyle that humans evolved to thrive while living... He knows that the idea that we should be fighting our bodies hormonal responses is NOT a natural state. He knows that throughout evolution, humans and animals did not count calories to maintain their weight. He knows that our bodies regulate hunger and available energy through hormones that we should not have to fight to maintain a healthy weight. Animals in the wild do not do this. They follow their hunger drives. They follow their urges to move and to rest. What can we learn from this....

Next post... Grok goes back to his evolutionary roots....

No comments:

Post a Comment