Wooo has finally posted again -- YEA! I always look forward to reading new blog entries from her; you can never predict what it will be, a rant or a detailed description of hormone or neurotransmitter function, but it's always either educational, entertaining, or both. I disagree with her from time to time, when my experiences contradict something she learned in college or when her young-body observations are different from what this old body finds, but it's a good thought exercise nonetheless.
She speaks today of scales and calories and CICO.... All these things are red herrings in the world of LOSING FAT through dietary intake and physical behavior. Mere "weight loss" IS illusory -- starve awhile, and you'll lose "weight" all right, including heart-muscle tissue. No, I prefer to work on losing my subcutaneous FAT, not my organs and bones.
One thing she did NOT mention was the usefulness of the scale in keeping an eye on maintenance, as Karen finds valuable over at the Garden Girl blog. We regain-control veterans find weight monitoring to be very useful -- we can see when we start to slip. It's also helpful when those of us with food intolerances reintroduce something -- one easily-observed phenomenon is that some inadvisable items in our diets can manifest themselves through how much water they cause us to retain. If scales do nothing else, they REALLY point out the amount of water we hold onto -- nothing else will make the reading fluctuate by POUNDS from day to day.
When we feel waterlogged and bloated, losing superfluous water is a good thing, but by and large it's FAT we want to lose. And fat-loss is indisputably hormonally regulated. If there's too much insulin floating through your veins, your fat cells WILL NOT turn loose of their cargo (unless your metabolism is so FUBAR you've got bigger problems than mere swimsuit-readiness). If your system is so malnourished or sick (think infection) it thinks it's starving or otherwise threatened, your thyroid WILL gear down to the point it MAKES you rest to conserve resources. Leptin's actions are STILL being ferreted-out. Intestinal microbiota, too, exert their effects in ways that only recently have been appreciated. Innumerable other hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters et al are involved in this chemical stew, minutely adjusting uncounted processes all the time....
But certain simple, black-and-white minds all around us can't seem to get past that lowest-common-denominator concept that we abbreviate as CICO, or ELMM. Eat less ... and your body slows down its processes so energy expended is reduced to match the fuel available! Move more ... and your appetite increases, your cortisol rises, and chance of injury skyrockets, especially if you're like me and you have an aging body with accumulated damage.
No -- to lose FAT, you need to learn to manipulate the hormones that encourage fat storage AND usage!
Lower fasting insulin. Peter (at Hyperlipid) describes FASTING insulin as the leading partner in the fat storage/usage dance. Lowering it is done through a continuing low-carb diet.
Encourage healthy thyroid function. This means being vitamin/mineral/protein replete, eating ENOUGH (because low-CAL diets cause a slowdown) non-toxic foods, minimizing omega-6 PUFAs while maximizing saturated dietary fats, being as stress-free as possible, and ... a continuing low-carb diet.
An incredibly-huge flood of verbage has washed through recently, talking about feeding those good gut-bugs!!! ... :-P I think all those starch-lovers need to go back and read Peter's series on FIAF! "Whose fat is it, anyway?" Theirs, when it comes to allowing YOU to burn it or not. What makes them send the signal to let it go? You guessed it ... a continuing low-carb diet.
While "what makes us fat" AND "what makes us lose fat" are intensely complicated formulae, there's a simple work-around -- a reduced-carb diet. HOW reduced is a purely individual thing -- some do great if they drop carb grams to under 100/day, and others need to be much more restrictive. It depends on activity level, your sex-hormone status, the condition of your mitochondria, your genetic heritage, your liver's capability of gluconeogenesis ... LOTS of things! "One size fits all" is the epitome of the bad joke, in clothing as well as dietary regimen.