First, let’s talk a little bit about your relationship with food. We are surrounded by food – food in the break room, restaurant ads with close-ups of mouth-watering food, food at every gathering, and a snack sign-up for every sporting event!- The food industry has convinced us that food is what makes a party fun, what makes a celebration better, and what makes the Super Bowl worth watching even though your favorite team is nowhere to be found. We love food! And the foods we love are far from what our bodies were designed to eat and metabolize. Our ancestors did very well on nuts, berries, meat, vegetables, and meat. A diet was relatively high in fat and high in protein. They also had to go out and hunt or forage for their protein and fat, so they were moving a lot. Fast forward to our hunting and foraging – it looks more like a sprint to the frozen food aisle to find something quick for dinner or maybe some door dash if time is really tight. Processed foods dominate our dinner plates – full of refined sugars, genetically manipulated grains, hormone-laden dairy, and trans fats. All of these foods tend to trigger a pathway that is not linked to hunger and nutrition but to the pleasure pathways in the brain. And when those pleasure pathways in the brain are overused, addiction can set in. The natural opioids released when our pleasure pathways are firing can make us feel less stressed, happier, and more content. And thus, a vicious cycle of feeling stressed, eating processed foods, feeling better, and eating more. Yes, you can be addicted to food!
Now let’s talk a little about the macronutrients of food – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
There are two kinds of carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are carbs that are very easy for our body to use or metabolize. They quickly stimulate the release of insulin, and the insulin turns these sugars into energy if we don’t need the energy, the insulin tells our body to store the extra fat. And the older we get, the more insulin resistant we get – more insulin is needed to metabolize carbs, and more of the carbs get turned into fat storage. Simple (easy to use) carbs include pretty much everything white – sugar, potatoes, starches, and flour. Complex carbohydrates are tougher for our body to break down quickly, so less insulin is triggered, and less fat storage occurs. Complex carbs include foods high in fiber – fruits, vegetables, and some grains. When we count carbs, we subtract fiber that we can not digest to get net carbs.
We were bamboozled in the 1980s to see fat as bad and looking back, the low-fat craze of that decade is what started the obesity epidemic of today. We stopped eating fat and instead ate foods loaded with simple carbohydrates – the exact food that high-jacks our metabolism and causes more fat storage. Fats are an important part of our diet, and although you can overeat fat which will float around in your bloodstream too long and potentially increase your risk of atherosclerosis, we need fat in our diets! Essential fatty acids are necessary for survival and help to scavenge bad fats. Good fats drive the production of hormones. Fats drive the health of our nerves and brain. Fats are found in meat, dairy, nuts, oils, and some fruits and vegetables (coconuts and avocados).
Proteins are our building blocks and essential for every one of our cells, every strand of our DNA. Proteins can be an energy source when we don’t have stored sugars or carbohydrates. Not only will our body use protein as an energy source, but it also has to burn fat to convert protein into energy our body can use. This is why high protein is always the start of a weight loss program.
Ketosis is a state of metabolism in which your body uses proteins as its primary fuel. Of course, we want those to be proteins we have injected, not our own muscles! When protein is our main dietary source, we have to burn fat to get energy from food. And this is why a high protein diet (initially) is so effective for weight loss and resetting our metabolism. The average American eats 80% of their caloric intake in carbohydrates. With an endless stream of energy, we seldom get to a point where we are burning our extra pounds of fat off.
Exercise is absolutely essential for good health. It gives us stronger bones, better balance, a healthier heart, and a happier brain. Exercise helps our body fight inflammation and increases our metabolism. Exercise will be an essential part of keeping us at our weight loss goal once we get there. But exercise alone will not result in substantial weight loss. Most exercise apps grossly exaggerate the number of calories you burn and remember. The calories are going to be carbohydrates, not fat mainly!
Hopefully, this brief explanation of metabolism busters, food addiction, and macronutrients gives you some insight into why many well-meaning and well-followed diets fail. The Reneu You program will address all of these factors. So as you can see, this is not a quick fix, but a healthy journey to lifelong success for a renewed you.