Eating fewer calories than you burn has been an accepted weight loss formula for decades. However, the process is not that simple and the traditional calorie counting model no longer works for sustained weight loss and health. Eating less and exercising more will produce short-term weight loss, but the resulting slowing of the metabolism and the increasing feelings of hunger often result in failure to lose weight.
Individuals have unique responses to foods and unique blood glucose responses to the same food, regardless of calorie content. Groundbreaking research shows the human body does not recognize all calories as equal and eating the right kinds of food and exercising to a higher intensity is now the generally accepted formula to put the body into fat burning mode. (*)
Insulin is a key hormone involved in removing glucose from the blood to maintain glucose balance. As glucose is an important energy source for the body, any excess glucose is stored first as glycogen in the liver and muscles and then in the fat cells. When insulin levels spike it lessens the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.
Increased insulin levels over prolonged time can also lead to insulin resistance where the cells no longer respond sufficiently to insulin. This results in the need for our bodies to produce more insulin to get the glucose into our cells.
Another hormone, leptin, plays a key role in regulating appetite. Fat cells secrete leptin in response to eating and signal the brain to stop eating when we are full. An increase in fat cells should lead to increased levels of leptin. It is thought that some individuals may suffer from leptin resistance which prevents the natural messaging back to the brain to signal satiety. Without proper leptin messaging to the brain, individuals may find it hard to realize that they are full and potentially over eat.
Keeping to a low Glycemic Index (GI) diet of good quality foods and avoiding the high-sugar, low-fiber, addictive foods help our bodies to naturally maintain a balanced blood sugar response. This results in better regulation of our metabolism and key hormones, helping to support a healthy weight.
Simply limiting calories is not the answer to healthy weight management. Implementing lifestyle changes such as a whole foods diet, reducing stress, improving sleep, and increasing exercise helps to keep a healthy balanced blood sugar and supports weight loss.
- Ludwig DS. Always hungry? Conquer cravings, retrain your fat cells and lose weight permanently. New York: Grand Central Life & Style; 2016