For a good decade a year or two before the birth of my third child, I experienced this bizarre phenomenon of my weight yoyoing. It was even worse after her birth. Every New Year I get on the scale after a great December holiday, and I’m overweight (very overweight). That is when I pulled in the reigns, reduced my calories, cutting fat, eating beautiful salads with lean meats and exercise like a madwoman. I lost the weight, but it was not long before a pang of hunger overcame me, and I could not stomach salads anymore. Gradually the weight went up again and settled somewhere in between New year’s fat weight and March’s thin weight. Then I cruised along until September, cut calories and eat salads because we are working on our summer body. Lost a bit of weight, but after that summer holiday on 1 January, it all just started over again. I just kind of stayed a little bit overweight with a tummy and some love handles.
By now, you will know I am a great Jason Fung fan, and once again, he made me understood what happened. Once you understand, you know how to fix it. Our human bodies are fantastic, it has a negative feedback loop and that is how it maintains our weight. You have a set weight, and the body defends that weight vigorously. If you get too fat, over that set weight, it automatically ramps up metabolic rate and burns more energy to get your weight back to your set weight. If you are too fat, a lion might catch you, and you can’t hunt. If your weight falls under the set weight, the body makes you hungry and slows down your metabolism to once again get you back up to your set weight. If you are underweight and weak, you also can’t hunt and will die of hunger.
When you cut your calories, you are constantly fighting yourself; instead, you should alter your set weight. The key is not to look at calories; if you read my blog about counting calories, you will understand that the body has no way of measuring calories, it is all about a hormonal response.
When you eat, insulin spikes. It is insulin that you make you store fat. If your fat cells expand to a certain point, leptin is secreted. The leptin tells your brain “Hey, listen, we are too fat!” And the brain turns down your appetite, you don’t eat, the insulin goes down, and in the absence of insulin, your body can access your fat stores and burns it for energy. An excellent mechanism supposed to keep us all in shape.
But why are most us not in shape then? We hi-jacked the mechanism. Somewhere in the 1980’s new dietary guidelines were set, and mainstream started to tell us we have to eat more carbohydrates, cut fat out of our food and not eat just three meals a day, but three meals with snacks in between. We started to stimulate insulin ALL the time. Every time we eat, we are just telling the body store fat, an hour later, store fat, store fat. With insulin high all the time, the cells become insulin resistant, the fat cells get big and stimulate leptin all the time. Guess what happens, we become leptin resistant as well, the brain doesn’t respond to the leptin anymore to turn appetite off, there is just no response. We busted our negative feedback loop, and we are pushing our body set weight gradually up. Every decade, you get a little bit and a little bit fatter.
How do we reset our body set weight to what we want it to be?
It, unfortunately, takes a long time, it was set upwards gradually over the years, it will be a long-term process. It is a balance between insulin and leptin. You can’t do anything about leptin, but you can target insulin. You have to keep insulin low for a significant time that you can become insulin sensitive again, which in turn will get leptin low and get the brain responsive to leptin again. To keep insulin low, you have to stop eating constantly, stick to your 3 meals a day and don’t snack in between. If you can Intermittent fast, even better, you have at least 16 hours where you don’t eat, and insulin is low. If you combine that with a low carbohydrate diet, it gets even easier to do.
I personally eat a low carb diet, intermittent fast every day and I do at least an extended fast of 48 hours once a month, sometime twice a month. Since having long periods of low insulin, it is easy for me to keep my weight down, and I’ve noticed my body set weight is coming down every year.
1 January 2020 was the third New Year in a row where I did not have to go on a crash diet to just fit into my pants. I find this lifestyle easy and easy to do every single day.