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Monday, May 2. 2016
It's not really new news, but getting fat at some point in life does seem to alter some physiologic processes for the long term. It seems to retrain the body for a high-caloric life, for a fat life; resets some homeostatic buttons including altering or almost eliminating satiety signals for some period of time.
We have discussed the insulin effects of excess dietary carbs, but there is more: After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight
Despite the interesting physiology, I feel the article overstates the thesis and minimizes the role of human agency, human choice. Resisting temptation, calculating consequences, etc. is what makes us different from other animals. For those who have been heavy at some point in life, though, that is more challenging. Mind over matter.
Moral of the story: Don't "let yourself go" because you may live to regret it.
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As we learn more about how the bacteria in our gut affect our health, we'll hear less about needing "willpower" to lose weight. They have seen weight gain in a person that was given gut bacteria from an overweight person to solve another health issue.
I've also developed an almost irresistible urge to hurl myself through the glass front of the donut case at my local HEB.
does getting fat change those processes or are the processes different for each of us, resulting in different outcomes.
On the myfitnesspal.com site I frequent, there are lots of members who have maintained large weight losses for years, and lots of others who have yo-yo-ed for their whole lives. The biggest difference seems to be that the maintainers monitor their new lower weight and take steps to correct any gain after 3-4 lbs. The yo-yo-ers, as they hit a target weight, revert to eating like crazy. Then they don't re-impose any discipline until they've regained 40 or 50 lbs. They talk a lot about how stressful it is to keep track of how much they're eating, and how jobs, family duties, family sabotage, etc., make it impossible to resist instinctive overeating. Successful maintainers have internalized a lot of new habits that provide them satisfaction and pleasure, whereas yo-yo dieters rely on willpower to overcome a persistent feeling of deprivation.
Good point. One fellow I work with weighs himself on New Years and loses the 1-4 pounds he gained the previous year during Jan. So he keeps his weight pretty consistent. I manage to loss about 114 pounds each year, and gain 116-118 each year...leading to a 20-30 pound gain over a decade.
This is not really news - anyways the body is programmed to fatten up whenever it can, in order to survive.
Scarcity was the norm that formed us: abundance is a modern problem for which we are not adapted.
You assume that everyone cares about being thin. My wife has trouble gaining weight. She's skinny and very attractive. But I also find women that are considered 30 lbs. over weight to be very attractive. I would discourage many women from losing weight if they asked for my opinion. And there are plenty of women out there who prefer the big guys, too.
As for losing weight, I'm trying to lose it at age 40 and find it pretty hard. When I was younger I could just eat ramen two weeks straight and get down to my high school weight. Not anymore. Of course when I was younger I smoked, so I could have a couple Pall Malls for breakfast and lunch. That helped.
A few issues not mentioned in the article (which was good, because much weight gain and loss has little to do with will power ) were: Healthy food is far more expensive and takes more time to prepare than crap. More potential for spoilage and waste. Also: genes and the influence of immediate environment. There are documented differences between the propensity of certain populations to gain weight/develop diabetes and others. Much debated is whether this is genetic or the result of traditional diets (vanishing as everyone starts to eat MCdonalds, Dunkin Donuts and other Western junk), an evolved response to past scarcity. As people intermarry and travel/emigrate this may become moot.
A definite element in whether people maintain weight loss is immediate environment. Many of us who grew up in New England WASP homes a) had mothers who were abominable cooks so food was not very tempting and b) were subjected to a constant barrage of lectures about moderation in all things, not being greedy, chewing food many times, not gobbling, thinking before having seconds, NEVER eating between meals, and how sugar, starch etc were EVIL. How it was vulgar to eat or drink on the streets. Even feasts (Christmas, Thanksgiving Rec were so surrounded w strictures on behaving well and good manners that one did not feel free to eat with gusto. Constant physical activity, doing one's own housework and gardening (only nouveaux would hire others to do something one was physically capable of doing oneself). Vacations involving hiking, climbing, rowing, tennis, riding, sailing, swimming, etc. weddings w mostly inadequate food and plenteous liquor. Not surprisingly, much anorexic thinking and many skinny people resulted.
My cousins and I discovered ethnic cuisine in college and became good cooks, and as our jobs brought us into offices with people who loved instead of fearing or sneering at food, all of us gained weight. My current majority southern Italian/American origin office is 3/4 overweight and there are fattening treats out for public consumption all day everyday. People are generous, and share anything delicious leftover from a party, a wedding, a birthday, etc. Any excuse to celebrate. It would be churlish not to join in. One has a terrible time not gaining huge amounts of weight (I am one of the skinnier ones--only because I periodically go on ruthless low carb and piss off everyone around me as a hateful kill joy and food Nazi. And because I walk every day despite bad knees.)
I still think gut bacteria play a role, but partial.
In general, I have always eaten like a lumberjack despite being short and an thinner than some people who eat less than I do. Things like drinking lots of coffee and nervous energy may play a role?
I keep reading that healthy food is more expensive and troublesome and prone to spoil, but I can't see it. How expensive and difficult is it to make bean soup? I eat this stuff more because I like it than because I think I should eat "healthy," but it's also cheap, easy, and freezable and/or storable; I never have to throw any of it away. Also, I save a lot of money eating the way I do now, because the volume is 1/2 to 1/3 what it used to be, and my consumption of expensive cuts of meats is minuscule. A 16-oz. steak can easily last the two of us three days. To say nothing of what I'm saving in red wine!
This is the big issue, I think. Our primitive brain functions are not on our side when it comes to dealing with the surfeit of food that now surrounds us. We've got to find ways to distract them and keep them happy, while our higher brain functions control the amount of fuel we shovel into our mouths. Our primitive brain would cheerfully lead us to eat ourselves to death; it still has no idea that starvation is not the primary mortal danger we face.
I agree that gut bacteria will prove important, but the fact remains that everyone faces a reality in which he needs a certain amount of food and can't afford to eat more than that. Unless and until we can correct every possible condition that might make him want to eat more than that, willpower is going to be the sine qua non for a healthy weight. And willpower does work, whereas wishful thinking about future medical advances does not.