Are you hungry all the time?
Are you hungry all the time?

What makes us overeat? Diets that deliberately reduce calorie intake usually do not work.

For most of the past century, our understanding of the causes of obesity was based on the unshakable laws of physics: they say, minus the calories burned, all calories consumed are stored in the body. We are used to thinking that when surrounded by tempting food, we overeat and consume more calories than we can burn, and it seems a simple decision to exercise willpower and eat less.

But what if all this time we were confusing cause and effect - maybe it is not overeating that makes us get fat, but the very process of gaining weight makes us overeat? researchers David Ludwig and Mark Friedman ask in an article published by The New York Times.

“The more calories are stored in fatty tissues, the less they circulate in the bloodstream to meet the needs of the body. If you look at the question from this angle, then it's just a distribution problem: there are enough calories, but they are not where you need them. As a result, the body needs to increase its consumption. We are getting hungrier because we get fat,”the scientists conclude.

According to this hypothesis, “certain environmental factors cause fat cells to consume and store excess amounts of glucose and other high-calorie compounds. Since fewer calories are left to support metabolism, the brain instructs the body to increase its consumption (we feel hungry) and conserve energy (metabolism slows down), the researchers explain. - Eating more, we temporarily solve this problem, but accelerate the weight gain. Cutting down on calorie intake temporarily halts the process, but predictably increases hunger and further slows down the metabolism."

How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit
How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit

“This is why deliberately reduced calorie diets generally do not work,” the article says. According to the All-American Survey, only one in six overweight and obese adults in the United States managed to maintain a 10% weight loss for at least a year.

It turns out that many biological factors affect the accumulation of calories in fat cells: genetic predisposition, exercise level, sleep and stress. However, the most undeniable and powerful factor is the hormone insulin. Highly refined, fast-digesting carbohydrates trigger the highest insulin levels in anything we eat. It is in this that Ludwig and Friedman see the main reason for today's obesity epidemic.

“One of the reasons we consume so many refined carbohydrates today is because they are being added to processed foods instead of fats, which have been the main target of efforts to reduce calorie intake since the 1970s,” the publication said. The calorie content of fat is about double that of carbohydrates, but low-fat diets are the least effective.

Recently, Ludwig and his colleagues published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed people on a low-carb diet burn an average of 325 more calories per day than those on a low-fat diet.

"The widespread focus on calorie balance reinforces the belief that we can consciously control our weight and that obesity is a personal defeat - either through ignorance or weakness," the article notes. In addition, the food industry "considers calorie balance theory as its first line of defense.""If all calories are the same, then junk food does not exist and high-sugar drinks, junk food and the like in moderation will not cause harm," the scientists explain the logic of food manufacturers. It's just a matter of portion control. "The fact that it rarely works is taken as evidence that overweight people lack willpower, not that the idea itself might be wrong."

How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit
How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit

If the new hypothesis of scientists turns out to be correct, it will have a direct impact on public health. This would mean that calorie restriction, which has been the focus of attention for many years, does not work for most people. Calorie information will not lose its value, but it will not be a strategy for weight loss, but rather a tip to help you avoid eating too many processed foods and ready-made foods stuffed with refined carbohydrates. And obesity treatment will more adequately focus on nutritional quality rather than calories, the article says.

According to Ludwig and Friedman, it is necessary to reduce the consumption of refined cereals, concentrated sugar and potato products - "the rest of the internal weight control system can do the rest."

“Tackling the underlying biological cravings for overeating may be a much more practical and effective anti-obesity treatment than calorie counting,” the authors conclude.

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