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Weight gain, control and loss are governed by all kinds of mechanisms. Some are understood in great detail, some are not at all. (The effects may come from the brain, intestinal reflexes or hormones, a circadian rhythm of intestinal bacteria or wall cell inclusions or enzymes.) But a lot of such mechanisms can be described and grasped without any details.
I (re)discovered the below rules afresh, if I didn’t learn them in University or RC already. This is not a matter of philosophy. This is pure empiric science. What one finds when one studies the situation. As in most natural science, there is little why and much how to be had here.
We will not address all kinds of unhealthy states, people not sleeping or drinking enough, eating too much salt or a lot of animal products or non-foods like white-flour products, or with hormonal or metabolic problems and other illnesses. Nor will I deal with substance abuse manipulating or damaging the innate machinery of the body, like taking drugs (Ritalin, caffeine and alcohol), laxatives, or excessive chewing gum chewing, sending a faulty signal to the body that food is coming, etc.
This is a piece of general information and therefore can’t replace specific care from one’s family doctor or any specialist one may need to see.
The below rules may not work for everyone. In any case, whether their trouble is physical or psychological, do not over-judge anyone who seems overweight, including oneself. It is not just and doesn’t help.
In the first place, we see that the body tries to maintain its weight. How do we see that? Generally, people don’t need to eat exact amounts of calories to stay the same weight. We eat what we eat and most of the time, somehow the body maintains its amount of energy reserve.
When I studied for physician at the University of Amsterdam, one of the best teachers (who told us that she was a life-long day-long dieter) said that if we eat one slice of bread too much all of our lives, we would end up bloated. No one protested but it’s obviously not true. Why do I say that?
1. Every parent knows that when we embrace our small kids waking them up in the morning, they’re steaming hot (so to speak). Fresh and hot from the over, it seems. They’ve been burning calories at night.
You may have a spouse whose night temperature is like the sun’s surface in an attempt to get rid of too much energy intake.
You may help this burning up redundant fat by underdressing (not only at night) but don’t if you drank alcohol (or you would just lose heat).
You may have to drink water before retiring to not dehydrate.
But the opposite I’ve also seen too, namely: waking up heavier. Medical experts taught me that one reason the body stores large amounts of calories in fat rather than sugar is that the former is lighter than the latter. Yet, apparently, fat tissue may be heavier than sugar. Is that a rational for some people’s claim “I gain weight from the air” (like trees)?
2. Most foods we eat need to be digested, pulled apart into components and separated in products to incorporate as building blocks, used as fuel or stored as future fuel. It seems hard for the body to burn at night any excess calories when we also just have eaten (0.5-1.5 kg/night). So, don’t eat at night. If you don’t, the body can lose weight without any effort.
3. No matter how much I exercised, including unbelievable amounts of walking or lifting weights, it just gave more hunger, slower metabolism and less calorie burning at night, with no influence on my weight loss at all. (Which does not prove that not exercising our muscles would be healthy or natural. Just, it is meaningless for weight control.)
When we overeat, the body has several ways to ignore the surplus.
4. First of all, an intake of much more food than normal, makes the intestines speed up the pace at which the food passes through them. Just like a train speeding up, there is less chance to unload the wagons.
5. Also, if only once, we eat food that our body is not used to, it will be ill-equipped to take it up.
6. But if we continue to eat food that we were not used to, the opposite happens. The body is not used to this food but already can take it up, and the mechanism to stay on weight may fail. We may actually first gain a few kilos until the body is used to the new food. So, if we change our diet every so often for a longer period than a day, we will gain weight every time.
7. Most of us seem to have a limited amount of fat cells. We can eat as much as we want but will never store more than we can. (Which still doesn’t make overeating healthy.) They are created when we are still babies. So don’t overfeed babies – instead of letting them cry. Also don’t starve babies, because hungry babies tend to grow up being ever-hungry grownups. (Overeating doesn’t help; crying does – delayed tears.)
8. Don’t just believe what dumb traditions, untrained physicians and alternative food fads preach. Is whole-wheat bread really bad for you? Lots of animal products are. For weight loss, do you really need to exercise and have certain foods or supplements? Will it stay off or keep making money off of you? Are chocolate and wine beneficiary (not)?
9. When we eat unfamiliar foodstuff or amounts that we’re not used to, the body is not ready to take up the new supply. So, eating x amounts of calories every day but once every seven days three times as much, will not lead to weight gain. (Sometimes we gain weight for a few days, but it won’t stay.) Yet, if we continue this overeating into the next 24 hours, the body is ready to begin storing the surplus. And once we overate for only one day, it may be hard to stop. This rule of free sporadic calorie intake, my parents heard just after WW II, from a secular Jewish expert in diabetes in the Rotterdam Bergweg hospital where they worked too.
10. Also, when we ate a lot of refined sugars or white flour, something else happens. They are quickly translated into blood sugar. But the body protects against too high blood sugar levels, so it pumps in the hormone insulin to drastically normalize the sugar level. However, the sugar then disappears quicker than the insulin, so soon, we start having a lack of sugar in the blood, leading to feeling hungry. The amount of hunger does not represent the amount of weight loss we’re accomplishing.
After eating refined sugar and flour, we quickly feel very hungry again. If again, we’d eat a quick fix, this sugar is also stored as fat. This way, we can gain weight while feeling hungry all the time. And while we eat sugar, we withhold all kinds of nutrients the body needs, and when we pause, we will feel satisfied, neither taking them in, and so we may gain weight while eating poorly. This installs an addiction, to overeat.
11. To be satisfied after craving food, we tend to eat a lot. But generally, that’s not helpful. When we overeat, even if not on refined stuff, we end up hungry too because of the release of too much insulin. Eating too much leads to eating too much. This vicious circle can be broken in two ways.
A. Eating food that needs a lot of chewing gives a feeling of satisfaction.
B. Pay attention to a humble feeling of satisfaction. After we stopped at that, we can fast many hours easily.
Try to find out what healthy food or eating pattern leaves you satisfied. When I was a beginning vegan, I needed an avocado a day. Of late, if after a meal I’m still hungry, eating mushrooms really helps me.
12. If we eat extra calories all the time, the calorie-flooded body can’t burn enough at night (if at all), and we’ll constantly gain weight. To reverse this, we need to stop overeating, probably stop eating poorly and start learning what is eating well and apply.
13. When you’re hungry but don’t need food, a glass of water is superb. Nash on veggies that you like and need chewing (no shakes or smoothies). I find a solid plentiful breakfast good for most of the day. Your diet must have all the essential oils, vitamins and minerals.
14. I found that if I cheated a bit against these rules, I wasn’t always “punished” with a terrible weight gain. Often it was nothing or I just lost my chance to lose weight that day. Sometimes it meant gaining an amount which I would lose the next day again. I call this very livable.
15. After losing a certain amount (in my case, 10 kg), it could get harder. Not because the rules change but because you cheat more. You may be tired of going hungry. You won’t eat so much that you regain all the lost kilos but it seems hard to get below a certain weight. It’s a fake limit. Don’t get discouraged by the days you didn’t lose and continue with the program.
16. Have a rational target weight. For many, that is the weight you had as a young adult. But not for all. (I was underweight.) Don’t go by norms around you or ideas by doctors who are not specialized in the subject.
17. You need a scale for feedback. Measure before and after the night. Don’t believe what I wrote. See for yourself and improve on my rules.
18. It really helps me to plan to eat far less than I should. When I eat more on days of weakness, I don’t lose weight but also don’t gain. Better than having a precise target and every failing showing up in weight gain.
19. Some people can’t eat when they’re nervous, other people eat just not to feel upset (stressed, lonely, bored, angry). Who likes to suffer? Well, you don’t need to. No hypnoses, benzodiazepine drugs or stoic character is required. The trick is: eat less, cry more. Overeating makes you feel stuffed and miserable. Crying cleans away any unhappiness.
20. No matter how little you plan to eat, make sure that you get your daily dose of vitamins, minerals, fibers and protein from a varied diet.
21. Enjoy your colorful, varied, tasty and wholesome food. Marvel at our bodies’ built-in wisdom. Enjoy being in charge. Great not to carry too much weight around, to live better and longer.
I really enjoy that my clothes from the days of yore fit again.
Here’s a summary of the above guidelines for weight loss:
Eat when you need to, not because you feel like it.
Always eat wholesome foods only that requires chewing well.
Stop eating when you feel sort-of satisfied.
Eat so well that you don’t need to snack afterward.
Overeat maximally once every seven days.
Eat at night maximally once every seven days.
Eat each unusual food maximally once every seven days.
When you need to lose weight, eat less for many days.
Don’t worry too much about lost changes and cheating.
Set a rational target weight, don’t give up and have a scale for feedback.
Eat less, cry more but do get your daily need of the nutrients.
Keeping track of the results of my eating and the above mechanisms, I just lost 15 redundant kilos, mainly by simply eating less and letting the body burn calories at night. It’s free, painless and effortless.