While we cannot change others, we can change ourselves. And, hopefully, inspire others to follow in our footsteps.If you are overweight, this article is for you. But, even if you aren’t, you can use these recommendations to help the people you care about that are currently trying to lose weight.
Unlike common belief, obesity is a complex and multifactorial condition. In other words, obesity can be a consequence of many factors; not only our diet. Some you cannot control, but the majority can be manipulated in our favor.
So what can’t we control?
Some people claim that excess weight runs in their blood. And, it is true that there are some genes in our DNA (or ‘our biological code’) associated with a predisposition for easier weight gain; or with more difficulty in losing fat. There are some examples of syndromes that cause obesity, like Prader-Willi syndrome.
Recent technologies have allowed us to uncover more about the genes directly associated with obesity. However, these genes vary depending on ethnic groups; meaning that we can’t pinpoint obesity to a single one. Nonetheless, there are certain regions of the DNA that may show a predisposition for obesity.
It’s important to note here that a predisposition is not fate or a life sentence. A predisposition only indicates a natural tendency. But, ultimately, it’s just a propensity. We still have full control over our choices and our lifestyle.
This brings us back to the concept of epigenetics. We already mentioned epigenetics in other articles. But basically, we can think about epigenetics as the phenomenon in which your lifestyle activates or deactivates certain genes.
Epigenetics is to our genes what a maestro is to an orchestra. Depending on the maestro’s instructions, some musicians are more active and some stay silent. They are all there, but the maestro decides which ones are going to be an active part of each symphony.
Going back to the example of someone who claims that being overweight is in their blood. Sure, they may have some predisposition. But, most often what they call “genetic predisposition” is just a series of lifestyle habits created in childhood with their families. These are actually what is conditioning them from an early age to be overweight.
Instead of focusing on their “gene theory”, they would benefit more from shifting their approach and adopting a new diet and habits; with which they can optimize their epigenetics, lose weight and become healthier.
The 3 Principles of Weight Loss
To be successful in a weight loss journey, we should focus on three essential principles: Mindset, Quantity, and Quality.
We are genetically drawn to eating high-calorie foods. That is why we perceive them to be tasty and even addictive. This is, in fact, our brain tricking us. Before our modern era, we had several periods of scarcity. So, our physiology was programmed for us to feel attracted to high-caloric foods (since these would allow us to pack some extra weight for when food was not available). It was a survival mechanism.
The problem is that (fortunately) today, most of us live in an era of abundance of food. In other words, a time when we don’t usually need to access those reserves for survival. This is an issue because even though the world around us changed a lot, our brains and our genes did not. We are programmed to be physically active: walk, run, hunt, and play. Yet, the modern lifestyle promotes a sedentary way of living. It has become more common for us to play Madden NFL than actually go outside and play it for real with our friends.
Nowadays, we don’t even have to go to the kitchen to cook something. We can order everything online while sitting on our couches watching TV.
Think about it. Most of us in the western world are not nearly as active as we should be. And, to make matters worse, we fall for the easy choice of just grabbing a snack whenever we need some comfort (or have the slightest craving).
The good news is that we can all be conscious of the tricks that our brains play on us and do better: We can have discipline and self-control over what we eat. Sometimes it is easier said than done. Yet, it is worth trying, right?
Decide what you want and go for it. Stay consistent and keep your eyes on the prize.
– Quantity and Quality
When we want to control our weight, we have to look at the quantity of food we consume. This is the only way to ultimately regulate the number of calories we ingest. If we want to lose weight, we need to stimulate our bodies to use their reserves or to burn fat. For that, we need to eat fewer calories than our body needs for its normal functions.
No matter what you hear or read online, please remember. At the end of the day, if we want to lose weight, we need to consume fewer calories than what our body requires. That is the only way to force it to go into the reserves (aka: fat).
What is that caloric amount?
That depends on how active we are and on our current physiology. At any time, we have a given amount of energy that we need to live. This is called resting metabolic rate (or ‘basal metabolic rate’). In general, it amounts to 50-80 percent of our daily energy needs. And as you may guess, it is highly variable from individual to individual. For example, you may have noticed that some people are generally warmer than others, right? This correlates to our metabolic rate. Because this process produces energy that we release as heat.
At any point, our resting metabolic rate can change. It can change depending on how much exercise we do; how optimized our hormones are; if we are facing an acute disease; or even depending on the foods we eat.
That is one of the reasons why the quality of our food is also essential. Not only for our overall health, but especially for those of us that want to lose weight. It’s like a math equation. You can increase fat burning by putting yourself in a caloric deficit; or by increasing the calories your body regularly needs to function.
Ideally, you do a combination of both.
Think about it. Who is going to be more successful? The person that eats nourishing foods (that help optimize their hormones and metabolism) in the right quantity (staying in a caloric deficit)? Or, the person who is just focusing on the number of calories, but is ingesting toxins that can cause inflammation?
Continued ingestion of “toxic foods” will promote ongoing inflammation that can then become chronic inflammation. This chronic inflammation (or low-grade inflammation) is responsible for physiological changes in our bodies that trigger a less efficient metabolism. Some of the possible consequences of these changes are increased fatigue; reduced willingness to be physically active; or disturbed sleep.
You would be surprised to see how many of our clients lose fat just by removing the toxic foods from their diet alone.
Quantity is important but quality is equally crucial in this weight loss path.
– Measuring Our Efforts
You can only improve what you measure. Thus, during this journey, it is essential to keep track of some important data.
Probably the most important piece of data to obtain is our current resting metabolic rate. How can you know how much to eat if you have no idea how many calories you are burning? Most smartwatches and digital scales are able to give an estimate of these values. However, their accuracy is frequently questioned. It’s best to find a Resting Metabolic Rate (aka: RMR) Test from a specialized medical provider. This will be much more accurate and will allow us to better plan our diet.
Our ultimate goal should be to lose body fat while maintaining or increasing muscle mass. That is why some scientists begin to raise the importance of other measurements; besides the body mass index (aka: BMI) as the sole predictor of overweight and obesity. BMI is a very simple calculation that does not take into consideration muscle mass; just weight and height. By BMI alone, most bodybuilders (even the ones with just 5 percent body fat) can be considered overweight because of all of the muscle they have.
We need something better. We need exact information on how much fat and muscle we have in our bodies.
All of these measurements can be obtained using a modern digital scale. But once again, accuracy may not be the best. However, you can opt for doing a DEXA scan (aka: bone density scan) to obtain exact measurements of your progress.
Still not sure how much or what foods to eat? Not sure where to do a resting metabolic rate test; or even a DEXA scan?
Fear not. That’s just one of the many things we can help you with here at BIOHAX.
Contact us so one of our team members can guide you in your health optimization journey.
Have questions? Need more guidance?
Contact us and one of our team members will provide you with some one1-on-one1 support on how you can address some of these issues ASAP.
Marcos de Andrade MD, MBA
Chief Executive Officer