I was talking with a VERY frustrated client the other day about Thanksgiving, the Christmas holiday and the impending New Year’s celebrations and her apprehension and trepidation surrounding them all.
“Uncle Steve, I sometimes just can’t stand this time of year. I mean, I love that the family and friends get together, but I always seem to put on the extra pounds and they never seem to go away afterward!” she lamented.
And there may be something deeper to what she’s stating.
The Good News & The Bad News
First the good news: Per a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, people gain on average one pound from November to January, which is less than the 5 pounds’ people think they gain.
Now, the bad news: This one pound doesn’t typically go away. And over time, that’s a distinct fat gain. What’s even worse, once you put it on studies show that your body works against you to keep it there…
And that can lead to even more trouble. Roughly 70% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and gaining weight in adulthood is a risk factor for all kinds of maladies and potential health risks. Things like type-2 diabetes, arteriosclerosis (the thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries), atherosclerosis (plaque in the walls of arteries) and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as the very real possibility of joint degeneration and degradation which can lead to the need for hip and/or knee replacements.
Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
So what, if anything, can be done about it?
If you know anything about me or my philosophy regarding exercise and health, you know that I think that exercise…in and of itself…is a pretty crummy vehicle for fat loss.
And I don’t care if you like walking, running, biking, hiking, CrossFit or good old fashioned, in your face weight training…none of it is really very effective as a fat loss method. Even for all the good things exercise can do for you, fat loss isn’t one of its strong points.
So, what works?
Have you tried push away’s? Pushing your butt away from the table.
How about simple, solid and supportive nutritional habits on a consistent and regular basis. They work, right?
See, back in 2014 or so, a team of Israeli researchers gathered 800 people between the ages of 18 and 70 and studied a variety of specific biomarkers in them. The men and women each wore devices for a week that recorded their blood sugar levels every five minutes. And thanks to modern technology, the researchers could closely record their food intake, sleep and exercise using a mobile app! Lastly, each participant filled out questionnaires about their health, and provided blood and stool samples for testing.
I guess it can’t all be glorious…
And what did they find out?
They found that blood sugar levels varied widely among people after they ate, and these levels were highly variable even when the researchers had the people eat the exact same meal. And what is fascinating is that a food that would result in low blood sugar for one person, would cause high blood sugar for another. Maybe there is something to that statement that blanket recommendations for how to eat don’t do the trick.
From the article: “For many years, our thinking has been that people develop obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases because they are not compliant with our dietary advice,” lead researchers Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel told TIME in a joint email about their findings. “However, based on our study, another possibility is that people are in fact compliant but that the dietary advice that we are giving them is inappropriate. We believe a take-home message for people from our work is that if a diet did not work for you, it may be the diet’s fault and not your fault,” they add.
The researchers went on to add that this may be the result of what is known as the “microbiome”, or in other words the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut and differ wildly from person to person.
Further still, another recent study published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that even if they exercised and ate the same amount, an adult in 2006 is heavier than one in 1988. The study authors also suggested that changes in the microbiome could be at play, amid other possibilities.
The researchers postulate that the reason for the decline in effectiveness of the gut, and therefore the difficulty many see with respect to fat loss, could stem from several things like pesticides, pollutants, medications or erratic eating schedules.
So, is all hope lost and are you destined to fat, out-of-shape and sick the rest of your days?
The Bottom Line
Information and research like this continues to reaffirm what I’ve been telling folks for 2.5 decades now: DIETS DON’T WORK! LIFESTYLE CHANGES DO!!
I wrote “The Plan” three years ago as a simple, doable approach to long term better health, fitness and wellness.
Nothing complicated or expensive.
Just a simple approach that works.
- Eat foods like God makes them.
- Recover from your efforts.
- A little exercise, preferably in the form of strength training.
- Stay focused.
- Be held accountable.
- Have some fun.
- Repeat for the rest of your days.
I know it sounds trite, simplistic, unbelievable or “too easy”, but it’s true: Fat loss occurs in the kitchen.
And if you want to look good, lean, strong and healthy from all your fat loss efforts, then do some strength training to maintain or put on some valuable muscle and increase your bone density.
Consistency + simplicity may seem like a simple approach, but it is most often the most effective one.
And why wouldn’t you want to be effective?
P.S. If I can help with any of information, or you’re looking to add a level of health and fitness to your life that you may have never thought existed, please do contact me. I’m here to help.