Excerpt from Chapter 6 – Build, Don’t Burn
Too Much Focus on Just Losing Weight Will Lead To Aging
If we want to fight aging and stay young, focusing on losing weight alone will cause us to achieve the opposite. Sacrifices that you put into dieting in this way will bring diminishing returns in the long haul. Conventional diets for losing weight commonly include one or more of the following regiments:
- Calorie deficiency (eat less)
- Fat deficiency (low-fat diet)
- Protein deficiency (very strict vegetarian diets)
The principle behind these diets is to consume fewer calories and/or fat than we need in an effort to “burn fat.” The benchmark for progress is often measured by the numbers on the bathroom scale. If we lose some pounds on these kinds of diets, we think we’re successful. But what do we really want to achieve? Are we going to concern ourselves with a number on the scale at the expense of everything else? We should not do that because the numbers make only little sense. What we really want to achieve is not weight loss but excess fat loss. What happens when we narrowly focus on “fat burning” during exercise or through dieting is lean body mass loss while fat loss is only temporary. Lean-body mass loss means deterioration of muscles and other organs in the body. While we try to “burn calories” by consuming less food or doing more exercise, the body will draw its deficit energy from storage. This storage, we often hope, will come only from the fat cells in the adipose tissues—the cells that lie under the skin and cause us to look flabby. The problem is that this burning process isn’t that precise. Depending on what kind of weight-loss regime we put ourselves on, the body may burn fat along with proteins from muscles, skin, blood, and other organs. Getting thinner in this way leads to the deterioration of organs, which ages the body. This is the reason why we often observe that
- individuals who go on extreme diets for long periods of time may be thin, but they look haggard and seem to age faster;
- individuals who do extreme cardio exercises for many years may have low body fat, but they also look drained, develop joint problems, and seem to age more quickly; and
- individuals who are thin don’t necessarily live longer or healthier.
The sad truth about long-term deficient diets is that these fat-loss effects don’t last. The body reacts to the lack of energy input and excess energy consumption by going on starvation mode. The RMR will decrease, while fat will be spared, stored, and locked up. When the dieter starts eating “normally” again, the fat piles back on with a vengeance, leading to the impulse to go on another diet. This is an example of a yo-yo diet phenomenon we know so well. As explained in the last chapter, eating the right foods—in other words, whole foods that are rich in micronutrients and macronutrients, with low or no refined carbohydrates and sugar, is the only way to lose the excess body fat. Take simple carbohydrates and sugar out of your diet, and your hormonal profile will change. The body will gradually adjust to choosing fat over glucose as the main fuel of choice. The good news is that eating to build means freedom from calorie counting and starving. It works synergistically with the right exercise regime and makes you lean in the long term. It is about ensuring that every meal you have is rich in nutrients that will feed the tissues in your body so the organs stay rejuvenated and in full function. It also makes your exercise more effective by allowing your muscles to grow with the effect of natural growth hormones. A body that is well fed cannot go through the devastation of aging through deterioration. It will, in fact, be stored up with a lot of dynamic energy. Not the latent energy stored in fat cells but the energy that comes from strength of healthy cells in the organs, bones, skin, brain, and immune system. Eating to build is eating to live, thrive and be forever young, forever fit.
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