In the realm of weight loss, the battle seems clear-cut: eat less, move more. But beneath this seemingly straightforward equation lies a labyrinth of complexities governed by the laws of thermodynamics and the intricate workings of our bodies. Welcome to the enigmatic world of diet quality and quantity – where every morsel matters and where the conventional wisdom of simply counting calories may not tell the full story.
Enter the First Law of Thermodynamics: energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed. This fundamental principle applies throughout the whole of nature and thereby also the human body, which operates as an energy converter, turning food into fuel for essential functions and storing excess energy as fat for times of scarcity. While modern times have largely erased the specter of famine, our biological programming remains rooted in survival, priming us to stockpile energy reserves as fat when food is abundant.
The Rise of Energy-Rich Foods is essentially a Modern Dilemma. As late as the 1930s, we relied on conventional farming and quick food turnaround to ensure a sustainable supply of healthy fresh produce. In the post-World War II era, the agricultural revolution ushered in an age of plenty, transforming our food landscape into a cornucopia of energy-rich delights. Compounded by the advances of refrigeration, preservation and sterilization, food choices available to us these days far exceed those of our forefathers. From sugary snacks to fatty indulgences, the modern food industry has inundated us with temptations that challenge our primal instincts for moderation.
Calories In, Calories Out: The Basics of Weight Management
Every day, your body consumes calories to run your resting metabolism, enable you to undertake your daily activities and to do exercise. At its core, weight management hinges on the simple principle of energy balance: consume as much energy as you expend, and your weight remains stable. But tip the scales by ingesting more calories than your body can burn, and those excess calories find a new home in your adipose tissue.
For decades, the macronutrient conundrum has continued to occupy several miles of written opinion. These days, You Tube, Facebook, Tik Tok, and other social media platforms constantly scroll popular, often unproven, weight loss opinion!! High Carb, Low Carb, Keto, High Fat, High Protein; these fads all come and go, and everyone has a “view”, but what is the real scientific evidence?
Over millions of years humans have evolved to rely almost exclusively on carbohydrate derived sugars as their principal source of energy. Brain and muscle cells love sugar and don’t enjoy trying to work with fuels derived from fats or proteins. To do so stresses the body at a cellular level so whilst cellular biochemical pathways can convert fats and protein into usable sugar, nature planned for these processes to be used only in an emergency during times of starvation. Gram for gram, these more complex metabolic pathways require more energy than carb metabolism to create usable sugar, which partly explains why fat and protein rich diets can produce short term weight loss. However, the byproducts of this forced “unnatural” metabolism, including ketones (hence keto diet), uric acid, urea, and ammonia, are toxic if they are not excreted safely.
For decades, the mantra has been clear: a calorie is a calorie, regardless of its origin. Yet, emerging research suggests that not all calories are created equal. Enter the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – each with its own role in the energy equation. Does It Matter What You Eat? Yes, it really, really does!
Carbohydrates as both the darlings of our diets and the scapegoats of our waistlines, remain the controversial culprits of calorie excess. As such they have borne the brunt of the blame for the global obesity epidemic, but are they truly the villains they’re made out to be? Carbohydrates, (sugars) derived from plant-based sources, encompass a spectrum of foods rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, very different from the enticing sweet, colourful, high-energy carbs (sugars) commonly found in factory processed foods. The key lies not in demonizing all carbs but in discerning between the refined quickly released sugars of processed fare and the good slow burn sugars found in the wholesome goodness of naturally grown whole grains and plant-based produce.
Similarly, while proteins may not garner the same spotlight as carbs, their role in weight management is profound. These often-unsung heroes not only induce satiety with fewer calories per gram, but they also demand more energy for metabolism, tipping the scales in favour of weight loss. That said, long term protein consumption alone, is unhealthy because it denies the body much needed carbohydrate associated vitamins and minerals, but as part of a balanced diet protein is essential. Remember, a protein is a protein, so plant-based sources, should not be overlooked. Moreover, protein’s preservation of lean muscle mass during calorie restriction further cements its status as a valuable ally in the battle of the bulge.
Fat, long vilified as the archenemy of weight loss, has endured a tumultuous history of dietary demonization. Yet, scientific evidence fails to substantiate the efficacy of low-fat diets in promoting weight loss. Indeed, the latest research has all but debunked the myth that fat is the enemy within, and instead, the focus has shifted to the quality of fats consumed, emphasizing the importance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats over their saturated counterparts.
The Quest for Sustainable Weight Loss: Quality and Quantity Matter
In the quest for lasting weight loss, the adage of “everything in moderation” rings true. Rather than fixating on macronutrient exclusionary diets that disrupt our metabolic equilibrium, the key lies in embracing a balanced approach that prioritizes nutrient-dense foods in appropriate portions. By honouring the intricate interplay of diet quality and quantity, we can navigate the complexities of weight management with wisdom and wellness as our guides. So, beyond the realm of willpower, let us embark on a journey of nourishment and empowerment, where every bite brings us closer to our healthiest selves.
Losing weight is notoriously challenging. It can be achieved by sheer determination and will-power alone, but all too commonly once lost, it is slowly regained ….. Why? The answer is simply that high energy refined sugar foods are more addictive than nicotine and alcohol, so kicking the high energy carb habit for good is the real challenge. Simply put, once our weight loss target is reached, the goal is lost, and the temptation is to just drift back to old habits and favourite high calorie foods. This is of course compounded by the fact that the enthusiasm for exercise, which most weight loss regimens advocate, also gradually fades into a distant memory!
At GibMed International Hospital, our highly experienced weight loss team can help you to understand foods, calories, metabolic health and micronutrition. By learning simple, sensible, and sustainable life changing food choices you can lose weight and improve your micronutrient wellbeing. If therapeutic interventions are recommended, our experienced bariatric surgical team provide the full range of bariatric procedures including gastric balloons, bands, and sleeves as well as by-pass surgery for those with higher BMIs or metabolic issues. Whilst offering a solution, these procedures do not necessarily “cure” obesity. That only happens when the relationship between food, calories and nutrition are fully understood, and the necessary lifestyle choices adopted.
To book a consultation, contact one of our patient Care Co-ordinators on 00 350 200 4999. For more information visit our website