How Weight Loss Really Works: Understand the Process
There always seems to be new diet plans, weight loss programs or slim belts claiming rapid weight loss in just a few days. These methods are enticing as they seem really simple. However, understanding the actual process of losing weight is important to begin with the actual weight loss process as it will help you design a regimen that works best for you!
When we think about weight loss, the assumption is that we’ll be losing fat, but it is much more complicated than that since not all weight loss is necessarily fat loss. In an ideal world, the body would only burn fat, we’d lose belly fat and it would be easy to look fit. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Your weight is determined by the rate at which you store energy from the food you eat, and the rate at which you use this energy for your body functioning. Remember that when your body breaks down fat, each fat cell gets smaller but the number of fat cells still remains the same.
Confused? Well, let us dig deeper into the science behind weight loss and stored fat, to make it easier for you to understand.
How do we store fat?
When we eat sugars and starches, our body breaks them into glucose, which is the easiest fuel for our cells to oxidize for energy. Now, if we eat too many calories, our bodies convert the excess glucose into fatty acids and lock them away as adipose tissue for later. Excess amino acids from protein can also be converted into fatty acids.
As long as we have excess energy from food in our bloodstream, regardless of the form, the fat cells keep growing. This process of handling excess carbohydrates in the blood and the inhibition of the breakdown of fat is controlled by a hormone signaling system, which includes insulin as one of the primary signals. After a meal, the elevated blood sugar triggers insulin release, which tells the fat cells to hold onto their energy stores, and tells the muscle and other tissues to absorb and burn the glucose first.
How do we burn fat?
Once the level of glucose in the blood drops, insulin levels drop as well and then the body starts to mobilize energy from your fat cells. This is a complex process triggered by a number of hormones, and carried out by enzymes and coenzymes, first by unlocking the fat cells, transporting fatty acids into cells, and finally breaking them down into smaller units for consumption. Remember that fat cells will not release their energy stores if insulin is present. So, a diet that can keep your blood sugar stable is the key to fat loss which means you need to avoid sugar, refined carbs, and other fast-digesting packaged foods.
Does crash-diet help?
When you get started on a diet plan and reduce your calories, the body can burn fat, but it can also burn the lean muscle tissue if you starve yourself and get too hungry. This is a cruel trick of nature, and one of the major reasons why crash dieters tend to regain the weight. Losing your lean muscle mass can lead to a slow metabolic rate. When you are not eating properly or crash-dieting, your body is not absorbing food and if your body is not absorbing food, the insulin amount in the blood is very less and the energy required for body functioning is then consumed from internal stores of complex carbs, fats, and proteins. Under these conditions, some organs of your body secrete hormones:
pancreas — glucagon
pituitary gland — growth hormone
pituitary gland — ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone)
adrenal gland — epinephrine (adrenaline)
thyroid gland — thyroid hormone
These hormones act on cells of the liver, muscle and fat tissue, and have just the opposite effects of insulin.
So you should be suspicious of any fad diet promising extreme weight loss in a very short time period as it is not a sustainable solution and is likely stealing from your future for the illusion of results in the present. To lose weight safely and sustain that weight loss over time, it is important to make some gradual, permanent, and beneficial changes to your lifestyle.
Let’s now move on to some quick tips that could help you with your healthy weight loss journey!
1. Calculate Weight-Loss Calories
We know that no one likes to count calories, but weight loss really requires you to be conscious of the energy balance going in and out of your body, which is measured in calories. You need to burn more energy than you consume in order to create the energy deficit required for weight loss. The amount of deficit depends on how quickly you want to lose weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it should be a gradual process in order to be safe and long-term. The CDC recommends aiming to lose 1–2 pounds/week, which can be achieved by cutting 500 to 1,000 calories in a day since one pound of fat contains 3,500 calories.
Subtract the caloric deficit from your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, that is the sum of calories used by your body for bodily functions plus additional energy expenditures.
Now, subtract 500 to 1,000 calories from your TDEE to determine your daily calorie intake goal.
2. Cut Back on Sugars and Starches
Cutting back on sugars and starches (carbs), keeps your hunger levels low and you end up eating fewer calories. And instead of burning carbs for energy, your body starts feeding on the stored fat.
Cutting carbs also lowers insulin levels, causing your kidneys to shed excess sodium and water out which reduces bloating and unnecessary water weight. Simply put, cutting carbs puts the fat loss on autopilot.
3. Eat More Protein, Fat and Vegetables
Each meal you consume should include a protein source, a fat source, and low-carb vegetables. This will automatically bring your carb intake into the recommended range of 20–50 grams/day.
The importance of including plenty of protein in your diet cannot be overstated. This has shown to boost metabolism by 80–100 calories/day. High-protein diets also reduce cravings and the desire for late-night snacking by making you so full that you automatically eat 441 fewer calories in a day.
In a nutshell, when it comes to weight loss, protein is the king of nutrients. Period.
4. Consider Your Metabolism
Apart from calorie intake, both muscle mass and metabolism play a huge role in determining your rate of weight loss. Your metabolism is generally determined by the following factors:
- Body size and composition — Larger or more muscular people burn a relatively higher amount of calories at rest.
- Gender — Men burn more calories than women since they have more muscle and lower body fat.
- Age — Older people burn fewer calories since they lose muscle mass with age.
The metabolic rate can also be determined by hormonal controls, diet composition or environmental factors impacting lifestyle, sleep, stress, and physical activity.
According to a study by JISSN review, the metabolic rate adaptively slows in response to weight loss. This makes long-term weight loss difficult, requiring you to lose weight in an incremental fashion by avoiding extreme energy deficits to ensure a slow and steady rate of weight loss.
5. Include Physical Activity
Exercising regularly is vital for both physical and mental health. Increasing the frequency of physical activity in a disciplined way is crucial for successful weight loss.
People who are not into physical activities should slowly increase the amount of exercise they do and gradually increase intensity. This approach will ensure that regular exercise becomes a part of their lifestyle.
Keeping track of your physical activity is also a good idea to understand your progress better.
If the thought of a full workout still seems intimidating to you, here are a few activities you can begin with to increase your exercise levels:
- Say no to elevators! Take the stairs
- Take your dog to a long walk every day
- Dance your heart out
- Don’t be lazy, play outdoor games
- Try parking your car farther away from a building entrance
Strength training like weightlifting should be included in your workout routine at least twice a week because muscle mass is critical in increasing metabolic rate. Moderate strength training exercises during weight loss can help maintain prevent deceleration of the body’s metabolic rate and maintain muscle mass.
Weight loss is complicated and is controlled by a lot of different factors like food composition, hormone signaling, calorie balance, and your lifestyle. Achieving all your fitness goals can be tough because, in this fast-paced world, we have so little time with so much to do. So, you can make GoSLIM your companion, a solution to your weight loss goals. Made of 24 natural ingredients which helps in managing weight, controlling appetite and gives that much-needed boost of energy.
Remember, weight loss is a gradual process and you should not feel discouraged if the pounds do not drop at the rate that you expected. A successful weight-loss program requires you to not give up when self-change seems too difficult.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is to keep a positive outlook and be persistent in working towards overcoming the barriers to successful weight loss!