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Dietary Calculus

Suppose you purchased four gallons of gasoline for the virtually empty gas tank of your car on Monday, and used three of those gallons to drive to work and back. That leaves you with one gallon remaining. Tuesday, you purchase another four gallons and again use three gallons for your daily commute, now leaving you with two gallons remaining. Repeat this on Wednesday through Friday and at the end of the work week you will have five gallons remaining in your gas tank. The fuel you did not use will remain stored in your gas tank until needed. Just like gasoline is the fuel your vehicle converts to energy, food is the fuel your body converts to energy. Just like any gasoline remaining after energy and waste production will remain stored in your vehicle, any remaining food beyond what your body converts to energy or waste will be stored in your body. In an automobile, the remaining gasoline just sits in the gas tank. Of course, in your body, excess "fuel" gets converted to body fat. You can think of the fat on your body as a lot of potential energy! Unfortunately, this accumulation of potential energy (aka fat) is happening to a majority of Americans due to the exact same mechanism I described with the automobile - a slight daily over-accumulation of fuel.

Throughout most of human history, having the energy storage capability of extra body fat was a life saver. When food sources were scarce, which likely happened with some regularity, humans could literally live off of their body fat for weeks at a time if needed. With our modern abundance of food, however, what was once a boon to human survival is now the bane of many Americans' existence. Consume just 50 calories of food energy per day more than your body uses for fuel, and you will likely gain about five pounds per year of body fat. For reference purposes, 50 calories is about half a banana, half a piece of whole grain bread, or a quarter cup of cooked white rice. Over ten or twenty years, the weight gain can become dangerously unhealthy. The prevalence of metabolic disorders, Diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers all increase dramatically in those who are overweight. These modern diseases of over-abundance cost us hundreds of billions annually in medical and insurance costs. Something has to be done, and it has to be done at the individual level. We each have to take responsibility for our own health. We can no longer blame advertising, or the government, or the internet, and then expect to distribute the cost of our health care to our neighbors. It is simply unsustainable. This is bankrupting us.

Before getting into what we can do to reverse this terrible calculus of the modern human diet, let me be clear about something. Eating too much of any type of food will result in weight gain. If you eat mostly protein and fat, as recommended in many "low-Carb" diets, but you overconsume calories, you will still gain weight. If you eat 50-80% dietary fat, such as in the currently popular Ketogenic diets, but overconsume calories, you will gain weight. If you embark on a low-fat, low sugar, or vegetarian, or vegan, or any other diet plan, but overconsume calories, you will gain weight. The reason people have fat loss success with any given diet plan is that the foods they eat either satiate them enough or they allow the dieter enough psychological will power to eat at a caloric deficit to the calories/energy they burn. With some diet plans it may be a combination of the factors.

Now, how can we thrive and get ourselves to an ideal body weight in this current environment of food abundance, which our bodies clearly did not evolve to handle?

First, we need to consume a bit less fuel. Eat less food. What is the best way to accomplish this? To me, relying on willpower will not work for most people. The alternative is to find healthy energy sources that are also very satiating; that is, they provide the vitamins, minerals, and overall nutrition we need but satisfy our hunger with moderate quantities. Most protein sources are extremely satiating, so I would recommend leading meals with protein, such as fish or beef. Interestingly boiled potatoes (but not french fries) are among the most satiating foods and have a very complimentary nutrition profile to beef, hence the old meat and potatoes meal may be a great way to moderate caloric intake. Other high satiety foods include oatmeal, oranges, apples, cheese and several others. Search the internet to find some you like. So, lead with protein on your plate and add some low calorie vegetables or fruit and maybe some potatoes, and minimize non-filling food such as sweets, most breads, most cereals, most pasta, etc.

Second, we need to burn a bit more fuel. There are two ways we can burn more calories in a day. First, we can be more active. We can stand more, walk more, and pursue recreational activities and athletic pursuits more. Second, we can add some lean muscle mass to our body through high intensity weekly weight training. By adding a few pounds of lean muscle mass to our body, we burn more fuel all day, every day in order to maintain that increased mass. I recommend walking several miles per day if you are not engaged in an athletic or recreational pursuit on a given day. I also recommend once or twice weekly lifting of heavy things, such as we engage in at Total Results.

These seemingly minor changes in diet and lifestyle can cause massively significant changes in your body. Once you tip the scales from slight over-consumption to slight underconsumption, the excess body weight will slowly but surely start to burn away. To go back to the automobile analogy, the excess fuel you will require will come from your gas tank stores rather than from the pump. You will have to burn body fat in order to make up the deficit you have created by reducing your fuel intake and increasing your fuel usage. It may take months, or it may even takes several years depending on how much you have to lose to get to your ideal, but if you start today, you will improve the quality and perhaps even the length of your life. You will look and feel better. You will get to your genetic ideal. You will not be a financial or medical burden on your fellow Americans. You will thrive. Get started today!

Posted November 28, 2018 by Tim Rankin