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Keeping a lean body is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. While some people are already doing this, others are struggling with it. Many people do not know enough about the biological changes that happen during weight loss and are very important to know before going on a weight loss journey.
When you are losing fat, some mechanisms in your body are activated and start working against you. You know that something is wrong, but you do not know what it is. Therefore, this article will not address how to lose weight per se but help you understand how your body reacts during the weight-loss process so that you will be aware of what you should and should not do. Here are five biological facts about the weight-loss process which you need to know before starting a weight loss plan.
What is metabolism anyway? It is the process through which your body turns food into energy to run cellular processes. Basically, there are two types of metabolism: Catabolic and Anabolic metabolism.
On the one hand, catabolism is the process through which your body uses enzymes and hormones to break down organic molecules into smaller molecules. The food we eat has to be turned into nutrients to give us energy, so catabolism is the in play in this process. It is also responsible for producing the energy needed for physical activity and for our body organs to function. Maintaining stable body temperature is one of the catabolism tasks as well. On the other hand, anabolism is the process of storing energy for the future. It is a key process when it comes to muscle growth.
When we exercise, we cannot burn a certain number of calories beyond what our biology allows. That’s because energy expenditure is distributed in our body in three ways. 50% to 70% of energy is used to keep the organs working, 10% is used to digest food, and 30% is burned through physical activity.
Therefore, when you manage your calories or work out excessively to lose weight, your body tries to compensate for the calorie burn by slowing the metabolism process to preserve energy for the future. Well, it is just one of the human body’s natural reactions.
If you want to lose weight, set long-term goals and make changes you would like. If you are following a strict program, and you stop due to certain circumstances, you will regain the weight. Your body remembers its original state because it is used to it. Once you stop, it will be hard to keep the weight off. As doctor Kevin Halls, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, points out, “Your body does persistently fight back and try to make you regain the weight that you’ve lost.” You need to do your best to sustain weight loss, not stop once you notice that you have shed some pounds.
He goes to add that exercising and managing calories to lose weight is like pulling a spring. Once you let up the tension on the spring, your metabolism will spring back to regaining weight. Hence, any changes you make should be part of your general lifestyle and kept forever to avoid gaining weight again.
When you lose weight, your body makes changes to your appetite. It is a hormonal reaction this time. Leptin is one of the important hormones produced by fat cells and is responsible for telling your body when to eat and when to stop. When you’re full, this hormone is released to tell your brain to stop eating.
When you lose weight, fat cells shrink, and thus leptin level drops, which triggers starvation signals. People who lose weight become hungrier more than ever; their cravings go wild. They may lose control and go crazy on high fat diets. Hence, you should be aware of these hormonal changes to deal with the situation without freaking out.
Exercise is important to weight loss but only if accompanied by a healthy diet. Eating habits are an equally important factor. It is hard to burn 600 calories at the gym. It may take up to an hour of running, while it can be easily done if you skip a Starbucks muffin.
When people do a great workout at the gym, they find excuses to reward themselves by eating pizza afterward instead of small amounts of healthy foods, or they just sit home for the rest of the day. A reward should not be the reason to exercise. Exercise has other health benefits, such as improving mood, reducing anxiety levels, and sleeping better, balanced diet.
The National Weight Control Registry is a research study that collects information from people who have lost weight and kept it off. Data from the registry tells us that exercising for an hour on average per day is a common practice among the participants in the study.
Still, it does not have to be extremely demanding. The kinds of exercise these people do are basically walking, resistance training, and other activities. Studying people on the registry, Dr. Holly Wyatt points out, “It’s not specifically one activity that’s associated with success … I think it’s the volume of the activity.”
Studies show that exercise is important in the weight-loss journey because it creates a balance after some biological changes kick in—decreased leptin levels and increased appetite.
For example, a study published in 2019 studied people who were 58 pounds and were successful at keeping their weight off for nine years. It shows that exercise plays an important role in maintaining weight loss. According to this study, the participants burned 2,500 calories per day while earning the same number of calories from the food they eat daily, which is the same amount they used to eat when they were heavier.
So, exercise bridges the energy gap between how much you should eat and how much you should burn. Either you exercise much more or eat less for the rest of your life.
With knowledge about how biology comes into play during weight loss, you should be able to decide how to proceed in your journey. Putting too much pressure and stress into the process will not be the solution in the long haul. If you decide to lose weight, you are now aware of what you should do. Take it slow, manage your calories intake, and exercise regularly forever.