Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Exercising More Did Not Bring About the Desired Results

This year I thought I would do a little experiment.  A couple years ago, I remember cycling 25 or more kilometres every day for 30 days in a row.  I thought that I would drop a few pounds.  It didn't work.

When I went to see my doctor, I brought up my frustration.  She told me that my body was extremely efficient stocking fat.  In other words, I have a thrifty metabolism.  She went on to say that I would have to give up most carbs.

Thanks a lot doc.  I think that I would rather stay heavy.

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Well this year, I thought I would try something different.  I had already cut back on a lot of carbs.  I was avoiding bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, and pastries.  Moreover, I was cycling again, around 100 kilometers per week.  This was over and above, the 10 kilometers a day I was walking.  Taking into consideration, the calories in, calories out prescription, the pounds should have melted off me.

No such luck.

I must say that I did let a few carbs slip back into my diet, a third of a cup of oats in the morning and some flavoured yoghurt (I know that the yoghurt has sugar added).  But hey, with the amount of exercise I was doing, that shouldn't have impeded my progress.

But it did.

Before hopping back on my bike, I had already reached a plateau concerning my weight loss -- I had lost 30 pounds in the previous 6 months.  I could rationalize and say that the additional exercise produced more muscle mass that negated the weight I lost from losing fat.

Maybe, just maybe there was something else at work.  Indeed, perhaps the whole calorie in, calorie out approach is a sham.  In fact this is the claim made by Jonathan Bailor in his wonderful book, The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better.  I highly recommend that you give it a read.

Bailor asserts that our bodies are not calculators, adding and subtracting calories incessantly.  Instead, our bodies are genetically programmed to seek homeostasis and to maintain our body set weight.

Try as we may, our bodies will fight off any attempt to lose body fat that simply focuses on eating less and exercising more.  Losing weight? Well let's just lower the basal metabolic rate to compensate for the reduced caloric intake.  And if that's not enough, let's increase the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower the effect of the hormone leptin, which tells you that you are full and to stop eating.

For Bailor, it's not about calories in and calories out.  It's all about the hormones, and in particular, it's 90% about what we eat and how it affects our endocrine system.  In summary, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you are going to have to undo the damage, otherwise known as metabolic syndrome, that your bad eating habits have brought about.

Essentially, you need to change what you eat and how you exercise, focusing on quality instead of quantity.

What do you have to lose? Give it a try!

I have and in the first five days of adopting Bailor's suggested regime, I lost two pounds and broke through the 255 pound barrier for the first time.

At the moment, I am concentrating my efforts on eating very well, more protein and non-starchy vegetables.  I am refocusing my energy so that I am even more disciplined regarding what I eat, knowing that pressing on this lever brings about better results than increasing the distance that I cover on foot and on my bike.

So far, so good.  You know that I will keep you posted.

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