Why is It So Hard to Lose Weight by Counting Calories?

There are SOOOOO many theories on why it seems to be so much harder for some people to lose weight than others, and there are so many stereotypes about heavy people. Sure, aging makes a difference…state of health…presence or absence of disease…physical activity…food intake…ALL can make a significant difference in your body weight and body composition.  But here’s the thing.

Much of it is genetically based, and every diet composition does not fit everyone’s metabolism equally well nor does every ‘diet’ we are encouraged to go on help all people to lose weight.In fact, most traditional approaches to weight loss such as advising counting calories and moderate exercise advising slow weight loss are not successful, especially long term, for most people particularly for those with the most fat to lose. Go look up the stats if you don’t believe me. Although body builders and endurance performers have built a small science around body sculpting, fat loss, muscle building and performance…traditional nutritionists are still teaching the same traditional food groups and calorie counting that was introduced earlier in the century and there are still people on the outside wondering WHY in the world it isn’t working for them.

Every weight loss product does not work equally well for everyone for the very same reason. Counting calories is not enough, because our metabolism can naturally slow down or speed up to compensate. Exercise combined is helpful to raise the overall metabolism…but again, many people preferentially build muscle mass and still don’t lose the fat in the areas in which they want to lose it.

We do not all metabolize all food the same. Some of these differences in metabolism show up soon…in childhood onset of Juvenile Diabetes (Type I)…and childhood obesity that often persists in adulthood which may or may not be associated with the later development of Diabetes or other hormonally/metabolically related diseases), Crohn’s Disease. Some of them do not show up until later in life, as we become more sedentary and begin to increase our fat storage and become increasingly insulin resistant until we are found to have a higher than normal blood sugar, you guessed it…Diabetes Type II. Or have a blood clot, or a heart attack, and some doctor somewhere notices that our cholesterol levels are high…or our triglyceride levels are through the roof…

These conditions are not due to diet alone. They are due to how our body is processing its food intake, and we are NOT the same.They are genetic variations. Some evidence with age. There are so many metabolic variations of how we are processing  (or NOT processing) our fat intake  (let alone the carbohydrates or protein or manmade chemicals we are throwing into the mix)  as evidenced by blood tests that break down our circulating fats into categories that the medical field has even given them names according to the patterns the blood tests show. Not just hypercholesterolemia, but hyperlipidemia…hyperlipoproteinemias…types.I or II or III or IV or V… IIA and IIb…hypertrigyleridemia, hyperchylomicronemia…seriously. The list goes on and on. Mutations of the LDL receptor gene or chromosome 19 or the ApoB gene, substrate overproduction including triglycerides, acetyl CoA, increased B-100 synthesis…these are just of the FEW genetic mutations that scientists have been able to pinpoint.

Now, genetic variants alone can’t account for why so many Americans are ‘overweight’. We have become a nation of stressed out armchair warriors sucking down soda pop, fast food, and prepackaged meals loaded with chemical preservatives that sometimes our bodies literally don’t know what to do with, and loaded with all the wrong kinds of fats…the kinds that don’t metabolize well since all their binder sites are already saturated, and tend to stick on the insides of our blood vessels and our organs and get preferentially stored as triglycerides inside of our fat cells which in turns bloats those fat cells until they get bigger and bigger…and creates the physical appearance that in our society causes a person to refer to another as ‘being fat’…and even worse from a medical point of view: they begin being deposited in and around our body organs and make those organs work harder, less efficiently…and this fat storage around your body organs IS directly correlated with the development of heart disease.

There are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats. You MUST have good fats in your diet to maintain your best health or EVEN to lose weight. Without good fats, the bad fats and the triglycerides your fat cells are storing cannot be metabolized or transported out of the body. Seriously.  Essential fatty acids ARE just that. Essential. One of the worst diet mistakes overweight people can make is to try to eliminate ALL fat from their diet. Your metabolism will slow down and you will start burning your muscle protein because you can’t mobilize the stored triglycerides.

Despite all the bad rap animal fats have gotten over the years, manmade fats are WORSE. All these transfats used to make so many of our chips and snack foods are increasing our fat storage, our heart disease risk, and empty of vitamins and essential elements and nutrients are robbing our bodies of the very things it needs in order to detox itself and continue building healthy bones and muscles and tissue and fight off diseases whether infectious or cancerous.

Manmade fats such as margarine which have been hydrolyzed into ‘transfats’ are not metabolized normally….those extra hydrogen molecules that cause margarine to be solid at room temperature when circulating in your bloodstream also make your platelets extra ‘sticky’. (you know sticky platelets help make blood clots, right?) You eat them, they either get passed through the intestines or they get absorbed into the bloodstream and as your cells find it very difficult to break them down, tend to either stick to your blood vessel walls (especially if you are diabetic and have higher than normal blood sugar levels) or be shuttled directly into your obliging fat cells where for some of us, they seem to pretty much sit for forever, possibly in that visibly lumpy form of fat we all refer to as ‘cellulite’.

We drink carbonated soda pop instead of water. Bad on many disease conditions, not the least of which are kidney failure and diabetes. The increased blood circulation of glucose molecules cause your triglycerides and your platelets to become more sticky and adhere and eventually harden on artery walls (atheroschlerosis) which shrinks the internal diameter of your arteries which transport blood to your tissues and the end result is higher blood pressure which causes long term kidney damage..

Increased consumption of sugary foods and beverages and simple carbohydrates such as white bread and other starchy foods that are broken down almost immediately by your body into the simplest sugar form called glucose increase the metabolic slingshot action of something called ‘insulin resistance’. Insulin resistance is associated with both obesity and the development of Type II Diabetes. The fatter a fat cell becomes, the more insulin resistant it becomes. What that means, in short, is that the fatter your cells are, the easier they become even FATTER. There is a poorly understood process that as fat cells store fat, they become more and more unable to release it as energy even when a drop in blood sugar causes your body to release insulin. Your insulin levels become higher than normal and you get hungry not long after you eat a sugary or starchy meal even though you have plenty of stored fat because your body is not releasing it as energy fast enough to keep your insulin levels from rising.

Guess what has the HIGHEST correlation with heart disease in all the developed nations?

It’s not  red meat intake. It’s not  fat intake. It’s not smoking tobacco.

It’s sugar consumption.




Is there hope that we can shift our own metabolism to work FOR us instead of against us?

I think there is.


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