A quick science lesson today on the ins and outs of weight loss and how a person’s actions will have an effect on how much is lost.
First of all – let me clarify. This is the science, and only the science. Some things which these points allude to are not particularly healthy, and others may not suit a certain individual’s lifestyle. However, the principles are overall correct, and should be researched with a little more care before making any decisions. If you have any questions, refer to your medical practitioner.
Often pegged as “The most important meal of the day”, breakfast does have its benefits for weight loss. After a night asleep, your metabolism, just like the rest of your body, takes a hard earned rest. To encourage a quick startup with great efficiency, breakfast is ideal. Furthermore, as breakfast encourages stable blood sugar, it reduces the overall production of insulin, which stores sugars as fats. In addition to this, a study by Imperial College London did find that people who skipped breakfast were more attracted to high calorie foods at lunchtime.
Sounds quite easy, kick start metabolism by eating breakfast, cut down the cravings, win! Not so fast. Another study, this time in Glasgow, found that by exercising before eating anything in the morning, a higher proportion of fat was burnt in comparison to carbohydrate. Logically, this makes complete sense. After a night of sleep, your body has happily burnt off all carbohydrate left in your system, just, you know, staying alive. By waking up and getting moving, you are not giving your body the food that it desires so, making it resort to burning off the stores it is holding on to. This also has the added benefit of giving your morning metabolism something meaty to work on, forcing it to hit the ground running, keeping up a decent rate of burn throughout the day. By holding off eating for at least an hour after exercise, your body can residually continue to burn fat, removing heat, keeping cells oxygenated and overall recovering. If you feed it, fair enough you may not put more fat on, but you also will not lose it!
Eating Too Little
Surely by eating less, your body will resort to burning fats? No, sorry. Unfortunately, the human body is not designed to prioritise weight loss over survival, and it really shows up in this case. If you do not eat enough to fuel the fires, the fire will turn to embers, and eventually go out. By maintaining the flames, at least at a low level, you can keep them burning without losing the flames. Relating this to the body… starving yourself means that your body will progressively turn off systems until the expense is equal to that which is eaten. You will burn fats, at least to begin with, but eventually, your body will hold on to any form of fuel which it can use to maintain survival. It will reduce the amount of energy sent to the brain, muscles, pancreas, liver, skin and hair, gradually reducing the function of the body.
The simplest way is to eat what feels comfortable, and brings a steady weight loss of no more than 2lbs per week (after stabilising). Look at the guideline daily amounts of calories and find a guideline there.
Eating at the Right Time
Continuing the fire analogy, eating at the right time is vital to encouraging good weight management. Why build up a fire when there is nothing burning? By eating high calorie foods during sedentary time, your body will convert everything which is not used in staying alive into long storage sugars and fats. Focussing on eating higher calories immediately before or after exercise means that energy will be spent on the exercise itself rather than being stored. Furthermore, eating after exercise means that the fires will continue burning for a little longer, overall increasing calorie burn.