Today in the United States, ~35% of the adult population is considered obese and this number is expected to reach 50% by 2030. This is a sobering statistic. Even more worrisome is the rising rate of obesity among children and the potential for early onset of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the health survey I sent out a couple of months ago, 100% of the people who responded said they wanted to lose weight. As much as total body weight is an important factor that determines overall health, the number staring back at you on the scale only reveals a small part of the picture.
To understand what’s not found in this number, let’s consider two people of similar body frame and weight who have lost a similar number of pounds. Suzie lost most of her weight in the form of fat and now has a body composition of 22% fat and 78% non-fat mass (muscle, bones, etc.). Sarah, on the other hand, lost most of her weight as muscle and has a body composition of 35% body fat and 65% non-fat mass. Both of them may look similar in size, but their bodies are functioning very differently biochemically.
The diet Suzie followed allows for a slow release of sugar into the blood stream and the pancreas to release insulin in a slow but steady manner. Her cells are highly sensitive to insulin, which allows them to take up sugar easily. Her cells are also efficiently producing energy and she maintains healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as hormone balance, which further supports healthy cell function. She is energetic, well rested, can think clearly, and has good mood balance.
Sarah’s diet causes her pancreas to rapidly release excess and unhealthy amounts of insulin. Her excess body fat is likely in the form of visceral adipose tissue, or VAT, which accumulates around the organs and acts as an endocrine organ itself, dumping excess hormones and inflammatory molecules into the blood, leading to hormone imbalances and inflammation throughout the body. The inflammatory signals weaken the insulin receptors on her cells, making it difficult for her cells to take up the sugar in her blood, so energy production is poor. Excess sugar in her system increases triglyceride levels, and Sarah’s body composition raises her risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2-diabetes. Although Sarah is thin, she is metabolically fat and may also be suffering from low energy, depression, digestive problems, unexplained aches and pains, skin problems, hormone-related disorders, and more.
HOW you lose weight is just as important as how much weight you lose. A healthy balanced diet along with supplementation, exercise and stress reduction versus fasting or crash dieting combined with unhealthy food choices, stimulants, and a sedentary lifestyle make all the difference in how you feel, and look, as you lose weight. At the conference I attended last week, I met a woman who had lost sixty-five pounds on one of the popular already-prepared-foods diets, but when her body composition was analyzed, she discovered that she had an unusually high percentage of body fat! The information immediately gave her the incentive to change her diet and lifestyle to improve her body composition.
Stay tuned, because after the holidays, I will be launching a three-week program designed to help you make changes to diet and lifestyle that your body, mind, and spirit will love!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici