Ease of weight loss influenced by individual biology

I had not seen a friend of mine in a while when I paid him a visit the other day.  I noticed that he had lost a lot of weight.  He’s a runner.  He said yes, he had lost weight, and as a result, he took a lot of time off his marathon and was faster than ever.

Then he said that finally in his forties he’s come to the realization that he had to change his diet even all of his running didn’t mitigate the calories from his NOLA appetite.

He said this in a way that revealed he did NOT read my recent article “You Cannot Outrun A Bad Diet.”  Just saying.

Any hoot, let me list, in plain English, the hierarchy of what effects weight loss:

  1. Genetics/Individual Biology
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise

Anyone that tries to tell you that you can do some activity and then eat all you want is selling snake oil.  When you see a commercial for workout equipment or paraphernalia and it shows you people who have lost a lot of weight “just walking,” listen for the mention of “following our plan.”  All of those commercials have that added in somewhere, and it is ALWAYS referring to a diet plan.  So those commercials are more evidence of the effectiveness of sticking to a diet more than of whatever activity or device is being sold.

Generally speaking, dieting means reducing calories. The grim reality of this is that that will be harder for some than others. One size does not fit all.

As an example, and because I’m never at a loss for sad stories, especially if they involve me, I went through a terrible time for a while with hypothyroidism. That’s the disease where you gain a lot of weight. Except I barely gained any weight because I also had no appetite. Apparently a few hypothyroid sufferers have that particular “gift.” I was hard-pressed to take in more than 500 calories in a day, yet I still managed to gain a few  pounds over several months.  My exercise level was the same as it is now — 20 minutes a week of high intensity resistance training — but my overall energy level was low and I slept a lot.

I eat almost 4 times that now, and if you told me I had to reduce to below 500 calories to lose weight, I would be horrified and deeply depressed. Yet that’s the reality some people face. And if that’s your reality, you have 3 options: Get medical help, reduce to whatever it takes to lose weight, or keep the extra weight on.

I’m not a nutritionist, so I hate to give out diet advice, but I’ve spent a lot of time playing with my diet, measuring calories, investigating the effects of different food types, combinations of foods, timing of intake, etc., and I know the quickest way to take of a fresh 5 pounds. (I never allow more than 5 pounds, which is easy to pack on during some of the more celebrative times in this decadent city.)

My food journey — because you people really seem to respond to hippie, contrived new age terms, like everything has to be a “journey” — has taken me from macrobiotics, to the no refined sugar of Sugar Blues, to raw, to protein powder, to Sally Fallon’s heritage foods, all in pursuit of what works for me.  Recently I’ve experimented with cultured foods to grow better and more efficient gut microbiota. [Edit – sentenced removed as TMI.]

I highly recommend you start with a simple, reasonable diet, and from there investigate in a systematic way, what effect different types and volumes of foods have you; your mood, your energy level, your satiety, your weight. Once you have that, it’s easier to design a go-to diet that will work for you throughout the rest of your life, albeit with constant tweaks.

At the end of the day, your biology may be fixed, but diet and exercise are heavy influencers.  Use them.

In the pursuit of this personal knowledge — okay, this food journey — take copious notes.  Generalizations lead to sloppiness, and sloppy dieting is usually unsuccessful, no matter your goal.

Anyhoot, all that is an intro on this interesting article I found on the influences of individual biology on weight loss.  Perhaps in the future this sometimes cruel math equation will be solved. The article is below, but here’s an appropriate excerpt:

“The results corroborate the idea that some people who are obese may have to work harder to lose weight due to metabolic differences,” said Martin Reinhardt, M.D., lead author and PECRB postdoctoral fellow. “But biology is not destiny. Balanced diet and regular physical activity over a long period can be very effective for weight loss.” 


ScienceDaily.com

Ease of weight loss influenced by individual biology

Date:  May 11, 2015

Source:  NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Summary:  For the first time in a lab, researchers have found evidence supporting the commonly held belief that people with certain physiologies lose less weight than others when limiting calories. At this time, researchers do not know whether the biological differences are innate or develop over time.


More than one-third of American adults are obese. Complications from obesity can include heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. Credit: © okolaa / Fotolia

FULL STORY

For the first time in a lab, researchers at the National Institutes of Health found evidence supporting the commonly held belief that people with certain physiologies lose less weight than others when limiting calories. Study results published May 11 in Diabetes.

Researchers at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch (PECRB), part of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, studied 12 men and women with obesity in the facility’s metabolic unit. Using a whole-room indirect calorimeter — which allows energy expenditure to be calculated based on air samples — researchers took baseline measurements of the participants’ energy expenditure in response to a day of fasting, followed by a six-week inpatient phase of 50 percent calorie reduction. After accounting for age, sex, race and baseline weight, the researchers found that the people who lost the least weight during the calorie-reduced period were those whose metabolism decreased the most during fasting. Those people have what the researchers call a “thrifty” metabolism, compared to a “spendthrift” metabolism in those who lost the most weight and whose metabolism decreased the least.

“When people who are obese decrease the amount of food they eat, metabolic responses vary greatly, with a ‘thrifty’ metabolism possibly contributing to less weight lost,” said Susanne Votruba, Ph.D., study author and PECRB clinical investigator. “While behavioral factors such as adherence to diet affect weight loss to an extent, our study suggests we should consider a larger picture that includes individual physiology — and that weight loss is one situation where being thrifty doesn’t pay.”

Researchers do not know whether the biological differences are innate or develop over time. Further research is needed to determine whether individual responses to calorie reduction can be used to prevent weight gain.

“The results corroborate the idea that some people who are obese may have to work harder to lose weight due to metabolic differences,” said Martin Reinhardt, M.D., lead author and PECRB postdoctoral fellow. “But biology is not destiny. Balanced diet and regular physical activity over a long period can be very effective for weight loss.”

More than one-third of American adults are obese. Complications from obesity can include heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

“What we’ve learned from this study may one day enable a more personalized approach to help people who are obese achieve a healthy weight,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. “This study represents the latest advance in NIDDK’s ongoing efforts to increase understanding of obesity.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Martin Reinhardt, Marie S. Thearle, Mostafa Ibrahim, Maximilian G. Hohenadel, Clifton Bogardus, Jonathan Krakoff, and Susanne B. Votruba. A Human Thrifty Phenotype Associated With Less Weight Loss During Caloric Restriction. Diabetes, May 2015 DOI: 10.2337/db14-1881

Cite: NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Ease of weight loss influenced by individual biology.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511162918.htm>.


Share This Page:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s