We are finally having the answers to the big mystery ....
Why do some people find almost impossible to lose weight, despite their numerous serious attempts to get slim even using sophisticated diets, exercise, pills etc?
What we have learnt from science might surprise you ...
The secret seems to be located in the hypothalamus by means of a mechanism known as lipostat (or adipostat, ponderostat, set point). The term lipostat is due to its involvement in body energy regulation (lipolysis (fat mobilization) and lipogenesis (fat storage)), weight and food intake, including feeding and satiety. Think of it as a little “device” in charge of setting a defined “preset weight” for any individual. It is well known for years that physical activity and food intake regulation are the two most important factors involved in controlling body weight. But to regulate food intake, the hypothalamus must alter appetite. Fat tissues release leptin that travels to receptors in the hypothalamus.
In turn, the hypothalamus then releases chemical signals, like serotonin, to suppress the appetite. The regulation of feeding, energy intake and expenditure, and body weight is a homeostatic process. Information regarding general body health is communicated by both long- and short-term chemical signals from the brain and the gut. The receipt and integration of these signals mainly occurs in the hypothalamus, also known to play a key role in the regulation of many other body factors such as thyroid function, which controls metabolism and is linked to effectiveness of weight loss efforts.
So what can we do for an effective weight loss?
It's all about "human physiology". Each organism has an ideal body weight regulated by the lipostat. This is controlled by about twenty genes responsible for about 50% of the body weight. This places environmental factors as less influential than genetics factors but environmental factors are still responsible for fast increasing body weight. So, to answer the question, what we must do for an effective weight loss is as simple as changing our food intake and activity habits. The negative effects of bad feeding habits in the hypothalamus may be permanent if they are kept for a long time, but this is not the end of the world. Reprogramming our feeding habits to health-promoting foods and increasing our activity level, both for a long term, can stop and even reverse the negative effects done by the unhealthy habits (unhealthy food, sedentarism). So what are the tips for an effective weight loss?
The 1st step towards reprogramming our lipostat regulation can be easily achieved by applying an energy density criteria during our daily food intake. Energy density or Volumetrics is the amount of energy (represented by the number of calories) in a specific weight of food. Energy-dense foods have a large number of calories per serving. In the picture bellow we can see how a healthy food has less calorie content, so in order to have the same amount of calories as the fries and hamburger meal we will have to eat bigger portions of healthy food. The good thing is that healthy food such as salads or fruits usually takes longer time to be digested by our organism thus providing longer periods of satiety, thus killing two birds with one stone.
The 2nd step is switching our daily habits to healthy food intake. For example, researchers have looked at the impact of essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as omega-3 fatty acids or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and found to be beneficial not only to the heart but also to the brain health by increasing nervous system function and improving mood disorders. Because they are supportive of the nervous system and cognitive function, it is thought that they are also supportive of the health of the lipostat and its action in producing hunger-regulating hormones. Fish oil natural source of omega-3 appears to modulate some of the negative effects of the saturated fats and carbs. Foods high in EFAs are freshwater fish, nuts and seeds. Alternatively, EFAs can be taken supplementally in omega-3 caps or liquid fish oil. Vitamin B-complex supplements are also effective in supporting cognitive function. These vitamins support not only nervous system function but also play a role in carbohydrate metabolism. Food sources of B-complex vitamins include chicken, fish, beef, pork, eggs and dairy.
The 3rd step is keeping a negative energy balance, by for example, cutting down calorie intake by reducing fats and simple carbohydrates consumption with food such as lean meat, lots of seafood, vegetables and fruit, and unprocessed grains, together with regular exercise to burn calories and good sleeping practice (lipolysis mostly occurs at night during sleeping time (7-8hours average for adults), and keeping this habit long enough till we manage to reach our ideal/desired body weight.
Once we reach our ideal weight, the 4th step, and last one, is to keep an stable energy balance over a long period of time to be able to set our ideal “preset weight”.
But how long this period must be?
There are two determinant key times for building a healthy lipostat. The first one takes place at early ages (1-2years old), and the second one during teen ages (13-18years old). At these two ages any weight problem might be more difficult to correct later on. In general terms, for a normal adult this period might vary from months to years, depends on each individual, but one thing is clear, the longer the better because the lipostat needs a long time to learn about implemented food intake and activity habits. These observations provide a basis for understanding how individuals whose caloric intake has been constrained as a result of diet, if it has not been stablished for a long period of time typically they will regain whatever weight they lost within a relatively short time after the intake restraints are removed. This is unfortunately true for the obese as well as for those of normal body weight. In other words, we can not expect to have a successful weight loss plan unless we set up an optimum body weight and manage to keep it for a long time so that our lipostat have time enough to preset body energy and weight to the ideal optimum values. This is a phenomena called Neuroplasticity, a brain capacity to learn new things that can be kept reprogrammed over long periods of time. This is interesting because once we manage to preset our lipostat to the ideal values, even if we pass through periods of over calorie intake or low activity levels we will also require a long time to make it unregulated, thus the lipostat mechanism of regulation is protecting us from being overweight. This is actually the main reason why many weight loss (or gain) programs are unsuccessful because they don't take into account lipostat regulation.
This lipostat concept is the basic fundamental of Virtual Personal Trainer, that is, to keep you motivated and emotionally involved for a long time to make sure we set the right “preset weight” for you.
In fact, Virtual Personal Trainer has recently published the first scientific study validating the Lipostat theory in human.
Do you want to be part of an experimental health program? tell us your experience with "the lipostat"
We encourage you to test what has been discussed on this blog by yourself and let us know about your experience, your progress and achievements in the comments section below. The results of these experimental program will be presented at international conferences and hopefully published in high impact medical and scientist journals. Your involvement and interaction as well as your contribution is important for us since the information and voluntary donations you provide will be further used for adapting, modifying and improving our programs.
Virtual Personal Trainer approach is recommended for healthy adults only. This site is not intended for use by minors or individuals with any type of health condition. Such individuals are specifically advised to seek professional medical advice prior to initiating any fitness or nutrition effort or program.
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