Magazines tell us how we can look better, stronger and younger. There’s always something more to work towards (or work backwards, with regards to looking younger) and this can induce the false perception who we are now is not good enough. This becomes dangerous when we start to buy into ‘fad’ diets and develop unhealthy habits. Let’s understand how rapid weight loss is a flawed thinking in itself and not sustainable.
Weight loss vs Fat loss
When we severely reduce our caloric intake, our weight would definitely drop. The question is – what exactly are we losing? For each gram of glycogen stored, three grams of water is retained. As we cut carbohydrates, we lose water weight. This loss of water weight contributes to our ‘weight loss’ and it quickly regained when we go back to our usual eating habits.
Furthermore, carbohydrates is the main source of energy for our brain function and muscle movements. Without carbohydrate stores (or glycogen stores), our muscles start to look towards protein and fat as a source of energy. This process is known as gluconeogenesis – the making of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, which also results in catabolism of our muscles – breakdown of our muscles. And here’s the difference between weight loss and fat loss. When we see the numbers on the scale dropping, some of this drop is due to the breakdown and loss of muscles – not fats.
Fasting and Metabolism
I’m sure it’s not new to you – our bodies adapt. When you feed your body regularly with fuel and water, your body learns that it is safe, not deprived and it can function normally. However, when you start to starve yourself, your body recognises that minimal and inconsistent fuel is being provided. It activates your body’s survival instincts, which may cause the body to slow its resting metabolism in order to store enough fuel. This reduction in metabolic rate would also mean that the next time your caloric intake is slightly increased, your body would store all these calories more greedily in order to ensure its survival.
That’s why the much celebrated methods of fasting and caloric restrictions are ineffective. It also affects mood, performance and basically, our daily lives!