It's amazing how many people go about the process of losing weight all the wrong way!
Some people focus on extreme dieting, cutting back on their calorie consumption until their bodies are almost starving.
Some people focus on lifting heavy weights, hoping that increasing their muscles will burn all of the fat around their midriff.
Some people focus on high intensity or long duration cardio, expecting that they'll burn a lot of fat – when all they do is cannibalize muscle.
The key to losing weight is to combine a good aerobic (cardio) workout with weight training and a healthy diet. Only by doing these things will you actually lose weight.
Or will you?
The Damage is Already Done…
The University of Adelaide has shed some interesting light on our body's reactions to diets. PhD student Stephen Kentish is the one responsible for this study, which provides a fascinating insight into how a high fat diet affects the human body.
A large percentage of Westerners – with Americans leading the way – have a high fat diet. The fat consumed isn't the healthy unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, and plant sources, but it's the saturated fat from animal products and the trans fats in artificial foods. These types of fat go straight to the waist line, where they increase body mass by adding fat weight.
Now, when the time comes to lose weight, exercise and dieting are used to shed those pounds. The body fat is eventually burned, but there's no way that the body can return to the way it once was.
What has changed? The way our stomach signals that we're full.
Your stomach can tell when it's full, and it sends a signal to your brain saying, "I'm all done!" Your brain then triggers the release of appetite hormones – named leptin – to shut down the appetite and stop you from feeling hungry.
However, a high fat diet causes your stomach to demand more food than normal to feel full, and that increased demand remains constant even after you've returned to a regular diet.
You basically have to eat more food to get that feeling of fullness, and it's all thanks to the fat that you've been consuming – the fat that made you obese.
The research done by the University of Adelaide shows that roughly 5% of people that diet are able to keep their weight loss consistent, and many people that do lose weight often regain that weight within a few years. A large part of the blame for this rests on the high-fat diet and its effects on the appetite hormones in the body.
Understanding Your Appetite Hormones
Leptin is the hormone that signals to your stomach that you've had enough, and it helps to regulate the amount of food that you consume. However, a high fat diet will cause leptin to desensitize the nerve endings located in your stomach that are responsible for detecting that you're full. The desensitizing of these nerves means that you have to eat more just to get that feeling of fullness, making it harder for you to maintain weight loss.
Leptin also helps to regulate ghrelin – the hormone that increases your appetite. The problem is, levels of ghrelin are lower in obese people, but the levels of leptin remain high. This leptin desensitizes the nerve endings in the stomach that signal fullness, leading to an increased food consumption – making weight loss even harder!
Obesity Causes Hormone Misfires
Obesity doesn't just affect levels of leptin in the body, but it also affects the way your body processes glucagon – the hormone that regulates your appetite by increasing uptake of glucose into the bloodstream.
Glucagon is secreted by the pancreas, and it's a hormone that prevents your blood sugar levels from dropping too low. It also helps you to feel full. However, obesity causes your body to become less receptive to glucagon – similar to the insulin-resistance that leads to diabetes. This means that glucagon can no longer cause those feelings of satiety and satisfaction that signal that your meal is at an end. This causes obese people to eat even more.
Obesity truly is a problem that affects the body long-term. Dieting and exercise are the key to weight loss, and only by combining a healthy fitness program with a good low-fat, reduced-calorie diet will you be able to counteract the myriad negative effects obesity has on your body!
About the Author:
Andy Peloquin is a consultant for Rep Fitness (http://www.repfitness.com/), a martial artist, a runner, a bodybuilder, and a lover of all things health and fitness. His passion is both for writing and sharing his wealth of knowledge on dieting, weight loss, working out, and training hard.