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Sustainable Reduction of Calories

May 26, 2009

We all know that part of the formula to losing weight is eating fewer calories.  But anyone who’s ever cut calories would probably say that standing on your hands while receiving an enema is easier.  

The pharmaceutical guys came to the rescue with their appetite depressants, like Fen-phen, which was wonderfully effective at putting an end to hunger–as well as a hole in the heart.  What a disaster.  But the natural supplement industry is here to back this fiasco with plan B: appetite depressants that are mostly central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, which made us eat less but also made us tremble and anxious and paranoid about things like sunshine and generally being alive.  

So we return to something less risky.  Which is to to stand on our hands and receive an enema.  Or, we force ourselves to… gasp… eat less.  

Of course, eating fewer calories must be somewhat (or vaguely, or even remotely) user-friendly, so weight loss wisdom offers dirty little tricks against nature to help us eat less, strategies that fool the body into thinking it’s getting food when it’s really being starved–like chewing gum while watching American Idol, or sucking on an ice cube to keep your mouth busy while your mind trips over and over on the thought of real food.  Sure, many of these tricks work. 

But, for how long can we trick our bodies into eating less?  I mean, for the most part, it’s downright oppressive. 

Hunger is a strong instinct, otherwise we’d all be dead two million years ago had our ancestors decided that hunting the wooly mammoth and gathering berries were too much trouble.  Hunger made the nomads travel vast continents, and hunger made them cross the great tundra; therefore, hunger sure as hell can’t be stopped by an ice cube.

To eat fewer calories, you need behavioral changes.  Yes, most of us knew that.  Stop buying junk food and crap with empty calories.  Don’t go for seconds.  Push away from the table.  Stop eating mindlessly.  Duct tape your mouth.  Blah blah blah.  This doesn’t address the real issue: the low-calorie-induced hunger.        

Eating fewer calories require behavioral changes that are in themselves challenging, and the associated hunger pretty much throws this challenge over the top.  Why not keep this challenge manageable at its foundation:  eat foods that tend not to trigger hunger in the first place?

By this I mean go for fibrous (less starchy) vegetables, and some fresh citrus fruits and berries as the main source of your carbohydrates.  They don’t tend to hi-jack your pancreas into releasing the massive insulin that essentially throws your blood sugar out of whack, which messes with proper nutrient uptake by muscle and fat cells and ends up making you even more hungry.  

Starchy carbohydrates and grain-based processed foods tend to cause a series of hormonal and cellular events that ultimately leave you low on energy and fat on… well, fat.  Ultimately, this makes you perpetually hungry, which is a bad thing on top of the psychological and behavioral hunger that already stem from a reduced calorie intake.  This is not a good start, middle, or end to your weight loss or weight management program.  If you want your low-calorie intake to be sustainable, then reduce or eliminate the foods that trigger hunger.

So it’s not simply cutting calories to lose (fat) weight, but also eating the right food to control the hunger.  This also helps deliver nutrients into their proper places in the body, so that the muscle cells don’t starve and the fat cells don’t get stuffed.  It’s all around a good thing to do.


This entry was posted in Nutrition.

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