The Perfect Diet and the LochNess Monster
What is common to dear old Nessie and the perfect diet?
Well, both of them don’t exist. Everyone claim to have seen one but ask for proof and ‘POOF’ it vanishes into thin air.
Keto, GM, Atkins, Zone, Vegan, Vegetarian, South Beach, Mediterranean, Rawfood, Liquid, etc etc.
If you’ve followed a fad diet from any of the above, you have plenty of company. But have you been able to stay on these deprivation diets for a long time? And if you did lose weight, did the kilograms stay off once you went back to your usual way of eating or did they pile up with a vengeance?
Why don’t diets work?
Imagine we can space travel but are yet to invent a diet that works. Surprising!
At the heart of the matter is a little thing called “set point weight”. Body weight is regulated by the brain. So whenever our weight changes too much, our brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for us. And most of the time we do not prefer the same weight our brain prefers. Another thing to factor is that our brain measures the level of individual body fat using leptin (the hunger hormone), a hormone that’s secreted in our bloodstream in proportion to the amount of fat we carry. Higher levels of leptin in our bloodstream mean more fat on the body. And here’s where things get tricky. Everyone has a certain level of body fat that their bodies are happiest at. As we lose weight, the amount of leptin in our bloodstream drops — and that’s where the trouble starts. It sends a signal to the brain to help fight to bring that fat back. And that’s how all the hard work goes down the drain. Because, it’s hard to beat out biology and years of evolution teachings.
The brain goes all out attack mode, a classic starvation response. The brain responds by upping hunger, making those pastries/doughnuts/sweets look actually yummy, and ensures cravings are impossible to ignore. Physiologically, the metabolic rate slows so energy can be conserved and sent right back into building up fat stores.
So now we know why it’s so hard to lose weight — and even harder to maintain that weight loss. You can do it for a time, but eventually your brain will win out and you’ll stand in your kitchen eating straight from the container of Haagen Dazs ice-cream.
Featured image: Bill Oxford/Unsplash