Roy’s story is about his body’s protection of fuel reserves by avoidance of physical activity. Roy suffered a heart attack. His doctor put him on a low-calorie, low-fat and low-salt diet. In addition, the doctor prescribed a workout regimen.
After two weeks, Roy quit the workouts, although he tried to stay with the diet. He quit exercising in spite of the advice of his doctor, who said, “If you don’t exercise, you could die.” When he quit going to the gym, he told his wife, “If I do keep exercising, I probably will die!” Roy’s body won over his doctor’s advice—he wasn’t able to keep the work out regimen going on so little fuel.
The drop in metabolic rate and the reluctance to move around are related. When the metabolism drops, energy drops, too. This might be subtle but its influence is always significant. People with hypothyroidism, whose metabolisms are below normal, experience a common symptom—fatigue. It makes sense that tired people are less likely to be active. So it is with dieters.
Perhaps the dieter doesn’t notice the impact of the diet on her metabolism She just joined a club and enlisted a trainer, so how can you say that she’s avoiding physical activity? It’s possible to trump the body’s adaptive responses—for a while. This is why dieters tend to stop and start their workouts. But, keep in mind that there is a battle going on between dieters and their bodies. Unfortunately for dieters, they are unlikely to win in the long run. The statistics are woefully against them.
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Bodies protect fuel reserves by fighting weight loss and preparing to regain by
1. Increased appetite
2. Cravings for sweet andfatty food
3. Preoccupation with food and eating
Bodies resist weight loss by increasing the appetite.
Obesity researcher Aaron Altschul said, “Your body doesn’t know you’re dieting. It thinks you’re starving, and in response mobilizes every hormone, every brain chemical, every mood, any craving it can manipulate to make you restore the lost weight. As a result, many dieters gain back all the weight they lost, plus a little more.”
Most dieters will readily admit that their appetites tend to increase and, sometimes soar when they start a new eat-less plan. But, not all dieters experience this, at least not at first. Some swear that they are “never hungry” and that the food limits don’t pose a problem for them. This is another great example of the adaptive potential of the human body. Some don’t experience extra hunger in spite of the deprivation because their bodies are adjusting to the limited food supply. These bodies take the logical route, as if to say, Why send hunger signals when this is all we’re going to get anyway? So the dieters may not feel hungrier—yet. But, there comes a day in all dieters’ lives when the hunger catches up with them. Sometimes, it is all of a sudden, and sometimes, it just creeps up. When it does, the diet goes to waste.
It’s obvious that increased appetite combats dieters’ efforts to lose weight by self-imposed famines. Increased appetite, often experienced after a period of “good dieting,” may lead to overeating or bingeing. This is why some diets include “cheat” days. Dieters need to have a day or two off to catch up on their eating. Sooner or later, the body accomplishes efficient fat storage, in part, by an increased appetite. This is an important part of the battle, and you know who’s going to win.
Bodies resist weight loss by shifting cravings to fat-producing foods.
Dieters eventually experience this phenomenon when they embark on a food-restricted diet: Their cravings shift to sweeter, higher fat foods. Dieters don’t, as a rule, crave broccoli. Why?
Remember that bodies in famine adapt to the low availability of food. This creates a biological need to store fat when possible. So, bodies get the signal from food restriction to eat more food that is calorie-condensed, in an attempt to increase overall fuel intake. Besides an increase in appetite, dieters usually crave foods made from concentrated mixtures of sugar and fat—excellent fat producers, perfect for bodies recovering from famines. Vegetables and fruits aren’t especially calorie rich and consequently not good fat producers. So, dieters don’t fantasize about broccoli. They don’t need broccoli. They need fat, so naturally, they crave foods like chocolate and ice cream.
The director of human nutrition at a major university, Adam Drenowski, found that yo-yo dieting creates cravings for a calorie-dense mixture of sugar and fat. Now we know why this shift in cravings goes in the direction of fat-producers.
Bodies resist weight loss by preoccupation with food.
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