Dr Sudip Chakraborty
How often have you found yourself cursing for that fat around your tummy despite following all the dieting tips your friends shell out? Inspite of being regular in walking or some other exercise ,still that desired body weight remaining elusive? And another new year has come but the pending resolutions of previous years are far from being met. So if you belong to those warriors against fat and body weight who is sincere and punctual but still on the loosing side then, read on.
Usually we have two sources of fuel in our body; carbohydrates( I will refer it sugar) and fats. We are primed to use sugar from foods as our day to day energy source despite it giving only 36 ATP ( basic currency of our body) per gram where as fats give 441 ATP per gram. I wonder when we Indians are so much obsessed with mileage ( kitna deteh hai?) why we are not using fats for energy? Yes we can change our metabolism from sugar dependent to fat burning. Of course its not a overnight process but if we understand some facts and bunk some myths, we can do it.
1) Sugar promotes fat : sugar consumption promotes the release of INSULIN, a hormone which increases the utilization of sugar and in that process keeps body fat just like that. Either you are burning sugar or fat for energy but both cannot take place side by side. Your body fat can’t be utilized till there is insulin in your blood. Even half a glass of juice, cola or wine can disrupt your well intentioned fat burning strategy. A small toffee with just 80 calorie can trigger enough insulin in a non diabetic person for nearly 72 hrs, to stop any fat burning for energy.
2) Belly fat is not diet related; it is promoted by cortisol, the principle stress hormone. That explains how stubborn it is. Basically it is deposited as an insurance against starvation by cortisol. So getting rid of stress, good sleep along with core strengthening exercises are needed to remove it.
3) Eating less doesn’t reduce body weight; you might get a initial result of 4-5 kg of weight loss, but you soon hit a set point. Soon your intelligent body reduces your metabolic rate, due to which eating less is not sufficient to produce a calorie deficit state which can call for fat burning. Further weight loss may be due to water loss but not fat loss leading to dehydration.
4) Eating fat increases fat loss; if we eat predominant (60-70%) fat containing diet, it reduces the release of insulin and gradually your body could be coaxed to burn fat for energy. Of course the debate of good and bad fat is still on, right now all the data suggests other than trans fat( greasy fat, hydrogenated oils), remaining are good like virgin coconut oil,olive,peanut, mustard,soyabean oil. Every day liver produces 2000mg of fat/cholesterol equivalent to eating 45 eggs per day, just for the day to day function of our brain, cell wall maintainance,hormone production etc. So if we eat fat, liver will produce less. Eating alone is not sufficient. You have to exercise to the extent that energy provided by the dietary fat is inadequate, so stored fat is called upon to do the job.
5) Increase fat burning hormonal activity; these are glucagon, IGF-1 and Growth hormone. So doing EXHAUSTIVE exercise and not just feel good slow walk, high intensity exercise in bursts like running, jumping,cycling for shorter intervals . Good rest post exercise along with a healthy liver( no alcohol please) helps release above hormones as well. So recovery is a must and not foolish daily work outs.
6) Reduce fat storing hormonal activity. These are insulin, cortisol and oestrodiol. By reducing sugar including the obvious and the masked ones in artificial flavours, insulin release is reduced. Any physical and mental stress will release cortisol, even excessive exercise without adequate recovery period , will undo your goal. Similarly hormonal supplements like pills will augment fat deposit.