So, it’s 2017, and you have decided it’s time to get healthy. It’s time to lose some weight, eat better and exercise. What is your plan? The first thing to understand is a little bit about human physiology. We have been on the earth for some 2 million years. During this time, we had to maintain jobs to mate and to survive. During the spring and summer, humans have been traditionally active, and food has been plentiful, so activity and small frequent meals, predominantly a little bit of protein and vegetables, promoted the accumulation of muscle and the loss of fat for the purpose of becoming an attractive and competitive mate. Conversely, during the winter, our activity was sharply curtailed, and food became scarce, which directed our bodies to hold onto any fat stores which would help us survive during times of low food availability. These genetic signals continue to control how our bodies reaction to food and exercise in today’s modern world. When you are active – doing aerobic, strength and flexibility exercise combined with small frequent meals, consisting of approximately one-third protein and two-thirds vegetables, your body responds by utilizing fat for energy and growing muscle mass. When you are sedentary and consume fewer larger meals, including processed carbohydrates, your body will respond by using muscle for energy and building fat stores. This genetic reality has promoted the level of obesity in our society today, which is approaching 45%.
To promote wellness, it is imperative to understand this human genetic programming. So many people try to starve themselves in an effort to lose weight only to become hungry, which results in overeating of frequently bad food choices. This strategy can result in weight loss, but it frequently results in muscle loss in the process of becoming “skinny fat “, which is terribly unhealthy. In our medical practice, we utilize the InBody body composition analysis scale, which measures muscle mass, fat mass and total body water. These measurements are more important than your overall weight. If you are not tracking what type of weight you are losing, fat or muscle, it is very difficult to understand how your dietary and exercise habits are affecting the outcome of your weight loss strategy. There are scales available at reasonable cost that can measure these important components. So, by all means, get to the gym, start moving and really think about what you’re eating. After 40 or so, 90% of weight loss is going to come from alterations in your diet. Small frequent meals of the right food components and consistency of this eating style will pay huge dividends later in life. Good luck. Get to good eating. Get moving.