Suppose you have a “fat meter” that sends out a loud “STOP!” message to your brain once you have accumulated enough fat. Suddenly, you wouldn’t feel like pizza, ice cream, or French fries. You would look at these favorite foods, even smell their tantalizing smells, and you wouldn’t even be tempted. Or maybe you’d decide to eat anyway, and your metabolism will just speed up to burn off the extra calories.
Nice fantasy, huh? Well, it’s not that far-fetched. Believe it or not, it has that built in mechanism. So why do you wonder if you always feel driven to eat, even though you consider yourself overweight or struggling to maintain your weight? And why do you gain weight when you are not holding back?
Well, maybe your meter is broken. Or maybe your alarm isn’t loud enough to trigger a reaction in your brain. And that’s a shame. Because this mechanism is so powerful that the people it works for never have to fight the urge to eat when they are not hungry. Maintaining a healthy weight comes naturally to them; It is not something they have to work on through deprivation diets and long hours in the gym.
Unfortunately, for many of us, this powerful weight regulation system has gone awry. Food still tempts us long after our caloric need is met. And the extra calories result in extra pounds. Our body no longer knows how to regulate its “set point”, the level that is biologically ideal for us.
But do not worry. I offer information to help you learn how to reset this powerful mechanism so your body can naturally reach its healthiest weight. You’ll be able to eat normally without thinking about calories, allowing your hunger / satiety / appetite levels to regulate what and when you eat in a remarkably efficient mechanism. Eating will be simple and enjoyable.
Set Point: Your Ideal Weight
When working properly, this weight regulation mechanism is as accurate as the most sophisticated scientific instrument. You do not believe me? Think of a fifty-year-old woman who weighs about two kilos more than when she was twenty. If you eat about 2,000 calories a day, over the course of thirty years you eat about 22 million calories. Given that eight pounds of body fat stores around 17,500 calories, that means your body was only 0.08 percent off energy balance vs. power out. This equates to a difference of about 50 calories per month, less than the calories in an egg!
In other words, his energy balance was regulated with better than 99.9 percent accuracy! About how many things in life can you say that? There is certainly no way you can be that precise trying to exert your own willpower on what you eat and how much you exercise.
Until the last few decades, stability of adult weight over long periods of time was the norm and was an effortless process. A research study from the 1970s showed that the average weight of a sixty-year-old man was only four to five pounds heavier than that of an average thirty-year-old man. That kind of weight maintenance is no accident.
So why fight? Stop counting calories and try to control your eating through diet. Instead, let your body do the regulation. I promise you will get much better results.
The healthy weight your body aims for is called the reference weight. Think of it as the preferred temperature on a fat thermostat. Like any thermostat, this one can be set to the point that is most comfortable. Then the system works tirelessly to do everything possible to align your body with that point. It acts as a biological force – the further you move away from the center, the stronger the pull to get back into the comfortable range.
However, this system only works if we let it. If you keep “moving” the thermostat through the diets, the mechanism breaks down. This jolt is like a power struggle to wrest control of your body’s innate weight-regulating mechanism and, in the end, it only makes your body fight harder to maintain control. The result: your body forces you not only to regain the weight you’ve lost, but you can even pay a fine with additional weight gain, and a now-set higher set point to guard against future dieting.
Instead of continuing to engage in this heavy battle with your body, you could declare a truce and join forces to help you achieve a natural, healthy weight. You will find that you will lose interest in eating when you are full. And your own body will compensate for those occasional holiday excesses without you having to deliberately deny yourself.