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Diet And Nutrition June 5, 2016

The entire idea and theory of fat loss isn’t new to the world. Looking good mattered in every age. The ideas and tricks to lose fat and look slim have been always experimented and recommended over the years. And the subject of fat loss never ceases to lose attention. Expert suggestions that we read in the media – like lean individuals live longer, look younger and have more energy have caused a mass movements of sorts with people of all ages and backgrounds desiring the lean look. Lean bodies are an aspiration that many strive for. Losing fat and following a certain diet that is tuned to one’s lifestyle is fast becoming an inseparable part of building a lean body with muscle mass.

Getting Lean and Looking Good

Looking good is important for most of us. No wonder weight loss is a part of conversations almost everywhere. “Hey you’ve lost weight”, is by far the best compliment to just about anyone and sounds like music the ears of the recipient! Millions of people are constantly on a weight loss program. The crusade against weight loss has been going on for ages. Years ago, armed with little information people may have chanced upon weight loss by fasting accidentally. While different communities fast for a variety of reasons it was apparent that fasting was causing weight loss. Abstinence from food was a way to relax the system and achieve spiritual gains.

When people back in the days started fasting, they noticed weight loss as a result of the fasting. And so was born the idea that fasting can be used to cause weight loss. But fasting comes with its cons too. Food is fuel. Not consuming food means the body will use the energy it already has to create fuel and run the bodily functions and keep itself alive. Most of this fuel comes from the fat reserves the body stores which will be used later. And further ahead, the body starts breaking the tissues down for survival. While fasting, the body chooses both the fats and the lean mass. It starts using both causing muscle loss. While it is burning fat, it also starts tearing down the muscles and the vital organs. Yes, you read that right, the vital organs too! So be very careful of starvation diets because you could be doing not just your outer appearance but also be causing irreparable harm to your internal organs.

The Calorie Breakthrough

As science progressed, ‘calorie’ was discovered. Calorie is nothing but a unit of energy. As calorie was discovered, it became more clear about how many units of calorie could be consumed and how many can be burnt. This paved the way for diet charts categorizing the presence of calories in each food item and creating calorie deficits with exercises and workouts. This made it easier to watch what one ate and also follow more focused workouts. And it also became the reigning trend to lose weight by keeping a calorie count. 1000 calories a day became the norm and many a scientist approved this number. Do remember though that – Lower calorie consumption may lead to fat loss but the body is smart and soon adapts and the weight loss progress plateaus.

Also Scientists discovered that calorie restriction was leading to fat loss. However this kind of weight loss wasn’t limited to just using fat reserves. The body starts to use muscle mass too in order to meet it’s daily energy requirements. To combat this, dieters changed their eating style to a high protein diet and consumed the 1000 calories. The body could then use proteins from the foods to burn while keeping the muscle mass intact. Out of the calories that come through food, 20% of calories are burned off as heat by the body.

Weight Loss, Science and Diet Pills

Around the 1900’s, came the diet pill as a result of scientists working to find a solution for burning fat. Initially diet pills were suppressants that would curb hunger and shrink the appetite. Benzocaine was a common ingredient in these pills. With the administration of amphetamines, stimulants were created. Amphetamines would stimulate the brain and suppress the appetite. This drug creates speed, energy and brings down fatigue.

There are a variety of diet pills available in the market that work on different techniques and causing fat loss. Fat burners are common in the fitness parlance for those who are following a body sculpting routine. However, manipulating the nervous system with heavy dosages can prove harmful. There came a time in the medical industry when artificial thyroid hormones were consumed to affect the rate of metabolism.

A fast metabolism burns calories faster. Supplemental thyroid speeds the metabolic rate and hence it became a trend to increase the metabolic rate. The body adapts to this change and starts shredding the fat and its natural ability to produce thyroid is suppressed. Overuse of artificial thyroid hormones has the exact effect that a fast has on the body. While the body will use fats, it will also burn muscle mass and organs.

The Process of Thermogenesis

Thermogenesis is nothing but another word for heat. Food is the real source of energy. When food is eaten, it is broken down to be used as fuel; it is stored as glycogen that is muscle energy and later as fat reserves to be used in case of starvation. The body is like a furnace. It keeps generating heat. When food is eaten 20% of it is burned of as heat. Therefore, if you eat protein, a lot of it is simply burned off. And that’s the reason dieters increase their protein consumption to give the body ample protein to burn and store as muscle mass and bring the ‘thermogenic process’ into an overdrive. 

However, Psychologists claim that people eat food based on their emotional state. To maintain any diet or eating habit an individual needs to be emotionally balanced and ready to sustain the process. And therapy or emotional motivation may be a good help to eat an emotionally and physically healthy meal with the essential nutrients. The world is crowded with diets. There is a new trend that comes along almost every day – Fruit diet, Water diet, Low Carb Diet, High Carb Diet, High protein Diet etc. All these diets work on reducing calories and aiding weight loss.

The only challenge for most people is sustaining diets. That is why in the fitness routine, there is a single day called the cheat day. On this day a dieter can eat whatever he or she likes and give the regular diet a break and a little shock to the body, helping the taste buds and the mind fulfill all cravings. Fat loss is an idea that never ceases to lose life. Vanity, youth and a desire to stay disease free in this age keep most people on the path to fight fats and get fit fast.

Author – Krupa Parekh

NutritionistKrupa is a dietician and nutritionist based in Mumbai and consults at our Andheri West Centre for our clients in Diabetes and Obesity Management, Detoxification therapy and specializes in creating bespoke Nutrition plans for kids, teenagers and adults by integrating correct food habits around one’s lifestyle. Read more about Krupa here – http://www.krupaparekh.in/.

Atin is the founder of Wellintra Fitness.
Atin Dasgupta
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