After my latest research, I am depressed – or I would be if I weren’t a Buddhist and as such, an optimist. I now understand a lot more about my body. My frustration arises from the knowledge that I have, as suspected, damaged my body through continuous yoyo dieting, allegedly for good. But I still have hope.
In the course of researching this article, I have read many scientific publications, full of technical terms and acronyms. I won’t repeat them here. What I have written is a very short summary of my findings.
First, I researched the hormone Leptin that I mentioned previously. The word Leptin, I was interested to learn, comes from the Greek for ‘thin’. How optimistic.
It seems that although the function of Leptin is to signal the brain to control our hunger, in the overweight person, the mechanism can become corrupted. This, the thinking goes, could be due to a blunting of the body’s sensitivity to it. However, there is still a long way to go before scientists fully understand the mechanisms that affect Leptin levels and their passage through, what is termed, the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). Crossing this BBB enables Leptin to reach the Hypothalamus – the bit of the brain that controls, among many functions, hunger, weight, appetite, thirst and production of digestive juices. Based on the amount of Leptin reaching it, the hypothalamus should control our weight by managing hunger.
My experience, as a dieter, is that hunger soon ceases to be a problem once I have adjusted to eating a reduced number of calories. Sure, for a day or two, I might feel hungry, but then my hunger diminishes. No, my big issue is psychological – missing the food I love, craving BUTTER, wanting a drink to celebrate, for example, England winning at football. I grew up a foodie. Abstinence is not in my make-up – so far.
Next in my reading, I learned that because I have interfered with my body’s system of weight control, my metabolism has slowed, possibly for ever. One study illustrates this perfectly: Scientists measured long-term changes in Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) and body composition in 14 of the 16 original participants of ‘The Biggest Loser’ competition. They took measurements at the beginning, at the end of the 30-week series, and 6 years later. Despite substantial weight regain, RMR remained as it was, six years after the end of the competition: more or less 500 kcal/day lower than expected based on body composition. Depressingly, those with the greatest weight loss and maintenance had the greatest slowing of RMR. I knew it!
The diets I have tried in the past are: Keeping to 1000 calories per day, Weight Watchers (several times in several decades), Slimming World (ditto), Atkins, Metabolic Renewal (of which, more later), Noom, and now, my own diet, adapted from all the above, which is basically as follows: 1200 calories per day (low for my weight), 50g wholemeal bread at breakfast with whatever attracts me, followed for the rest of the day by meals free of starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread in any form) and fruit, which contains sugars. Also, I have more or less cut out alcohol.
Apart from that, I can eat what I like. Haw haw. Great, isn’t it? Light/low-fat everything, zero sugar everything, lots of fish, some white meat and loads of vegetables. No cakes, biscuits, chocolates or alcohol. Good job I am a foodie. I can cook a mean curry, stuff a pepper, in fact concoct low fat but tasty food in general. But whether I can keep it up for life, remains to be seen. So much of my pleasure to date has been derived from food.
The North West Cancer Research organisation found that characteristics common to successful weight-loss maintainers included: eating breakfast, keeping up high levels of volitional physical activity (deciding to take the stairs rather than the lift and so on), reducing their fat intake, watching how much they ate, exercising, eating low or zero calorie beverages, regular weigh-ins, and limiting television viewing time to 10 hours or less per week. Does this sound a little obsessed to you?
My diet mentioned above works for me at the moment. I must continue it for the good of my health, but unless I can maintain it, I now realise, I will very likely be slowing my metabolism even further until I can hardly eat a thing without weight gain.
Future research will be aimed at my carbohydrate resistance, but my next article will be dedicated to Natural Health Sherpa. This is not an advert, but it seems only fair to link to the guy if I am going to investigate him. ‘Natural Health Sherpa – Metabolic Renewal’, is an exercise and eating plan targeting women. The man in charge, Dr Jade Teta, makes a great many claims about the impact his exercises have on women’s hormonal balance. I really hope he is right, because I have been doing his exercise program for weeks. I want to be sure that my sense that I am increasing my metabolism is not confirmation bias. Or that I could achieve the same effect with other types of exercise.
It might take a while – there are a lot of videos and a diet book to accompany them, and there are many claims.
Have a great week and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo if you need a boost.