Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why do people get fat? Because it's easy.

I have had a few ideas for some articles recently, but I've felt kind of disillusioned at the moment like trying to talk sense just gets lost in all the noise and idiocy that is rampant everywhere else.

I had this idea though for a "why people get fat" article.

Everyone's looking for like a "root cause" like it's a mystery. We argue about whether the issue is with total calories or with choices of foods irrespective of calories... and then there's some bizarre ideas going around about "over eating doesn't make people fat, being fat causes over eating" and so forth. Crazy.

There are borderline orthorexic theories as if certain foods are impossible to not over eat, crap about sugar being "more addictive than cocaine", and nonsense about certain foods instantly being stored as fat just because they're "bad" for some reason due to being processed, or transported long distances, or including GMOs or whatever.

All nonsense and taken to extremes, potentially harmful as people start to get neurotic about which choices of foods are "ok" and which ones aren't. Don't get me wrong though, it's a good thing that people are considering the underlying, root causes and trying to treat the cause rather than just the symptom.

So then. Why do people get fat? 

BECAUSE IT'S EASY.

It's easy to get fat. Most of us have no need to perform any strenuous activity or even move around much in our daily lives. Therefore a "normal" amount of food is enough to make you gain weight. It's easy to consume a way above normal amount too if you're not a little bit mindful especially in regard to snacking and choice of beverages.

It's no mystery. We get fat because it is easy and truthfully, unless you take a few steps to make up for an otherwise inactive modern lifestyle, it's not just easy... it is the most likely outcome.

The issue IS with total calorific intake. You can either resolve this by limiting your choices of foods to ones with a really good satiety to energy content ratio (meaning they fill you up without a lot of calories),  or by simply planning to meet your requirements with appropriate (and therefore non excessive) amounts of whatever foods you fancy.

You'll be well aware by now that my preferred course of action is the latter. Since appropriate calorie intake is the key, you might as well ensure success by determining and planning to meet your requirements. I see the other option as something of a shot in the dark, and if you don't see the expected results you're really left guessing as to what adjustments you need to make. Are you making all the most wise choices of foods, but still eating too much of them? Or are you making all the most sensible choices of foods, but with a total intake that is insufficient, forcing your body to compensate and conserve energy? It's certainly not down to any one off individual choice of a more indulgent meal, although this is what people tend to assume, leading to more of that neurotic fear of "unclean" foods that we touched on earlier.

So then. What to do?

It's pretty simple. Sort of.

An excessive intake of energy above the amount you require will result in excessive weight via increased body fat. Therefore, simply consume an appropriate amount rather than an excessive amount.

There's a problem though. This will work, but it's not terribly efficient. In most cases people have gained weight gradually, almost without noticing. When trying to lose weight, we want to see consistent results, or we lose interest.

Bigger problem. You have psychological needs as well as just energy and micronutrient requirements. On a total intake suitable only for an inactive lifestyle, there's just not enough room in the plan for much indulgence or enjoyment. We can address this somewhat by increasing activity levels, but simply by "moving more" we're still left with a fairly inefficient strategy that it isn't much fun to stick to.

So then. What to actually do?

The same thing I always say. We need to do more than just "move more", and apply some strenuous effort in the context of a more strategic training program. A program that is designed to promote the increase and maintenance of lean mass... specifically increased bone density and muscle tissue, at the expense of body fat stores.

Following a program such as this, your energy requirements are increased significantly, and continue to increase as you make progress and improve performance at training. Within these requirements there is plenty of room to base your nutrition plan on the choices of foods you enjoy, secure in the knowledge that all of the resources those foods provide will be utilised to good effect in building your healthy, athletic goal body condition at goal weight.