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Maybe we are close to knowing the mechanism of overweight and obesity. We cannot resist the food, which is rich especially in saturated fatty acids. We like it, even though it has a negative impact on our health. Do we know why we like it, and why some of us are addicted to this kind of food? The one cause is that often this kind of food mixes fats and sugars which might be tasty, e.g., ice cream, cakes, snacks, etc. Resisting these products is tough.
Why are we succumb to these products? If we ask a random group of people what they know about fat, the answers probably would be messy, imprecise and not relevant – all of that because of the informative chaos. Media and press message is unclear and not valuable, sometimes even lying, yet people still think that commercials are all true.
In turn, when information in the media is correct, it often happens to be hard to understand. Complicated terminology does not allow to present such information in a simple way, and this applies particularly to the message which comes from scientists. People want to know what food is right for them, while medical and academic knowledge and literature do not give us the precise answer which would positively affect people’s health.
Is fat-free food good? Is fat harmful to our health at all?
We know, that we divide fats into good and bad ones, so saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are those which are solid consistency in room temperature (there are exceptions). They can cause the increase of cholesterol which is not good for health. Unsaturated fats, in turn, are liquid and they can decrease the cholesterol level, which is fine. The latest research questions this simple division for good and bad fats. It turns out that saturated fats in dairy products may be good for health, as compared to those in meat products.
There are fats which are undeniably good for one’s health – Omega-3 fatty acids. They help to build body cells and play the critical role in brain structure. It is proved, that Omega-3 acids – eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) – protect our hearts against heart attack, strokes or dementia. So, in general, they have a positive effect on the quality of our cardiovascular system. Human is not able to synthesize them by oneself, that is why one must receive them from food. It is exciting as Omega-3 fatty acids provide the flexibility to fat tissue, and without it, fats would get hard, like butter in the fridge (it might cause cellulite in some part). A rich source of α-Linolenic acid (ALA) is linseed oil, yet the problem is that in the human body it can be metabolized only to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – but we also need docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Therefore, the perfect supplement to linseed oil is the algal oil (rich in DHA).
Notably, valuable food is salmon, sardines, cod and other fish which are rich in Omega-3 acids. Oily fish are richer than nonfat ones. One portion of oily fish weekly fulfills the requirement of an organism to Omega-3 acids. Some species of fish have vast amounts of Omega-3 acids in a liver, whereas others, like codfish, have fatty meat which is rich in these substances.
Why do fish have so much of Omega-3 acids? It turns out, that seawater is rich in microscopic algae. If we could see seawater under a microscope, we would notice small algae very rich in Omega-3 algae. They are eaten by fish, which causes their meat to be rich in healthy fatty acids.
What food is the best?
Pies, ice creams, sweet snacks – very tasty, but is it healthy? Linseed oil, olive oil, sea fish rich in Omega-3 acids, maybe not as tasty but maybe healthy? When we choose what to eat, we should not be guided by taste, but by health consequences.
Carbohydrates are the right part of a diet, but we need to choose those, which will not cause insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, overweight, and obesity. Personal overweight or obesity might be seen differently. We can feel well with big body weight. We feel no pain, but we do not see, or we do not want to, what consequences overweight and obesity might have. We do not do control tests, even as regards to the risk of diabetes or cardiovascular diseases – heart attack, strokes. What do we know about the heart attack or stroke? We think that these are diseases which can affect our grandparents or parents.
Majority of thirty-year-olds do not realize that their lifestyle is the straight way to problems. Diseases which affected elders, today may affect younger adults as well. Stroke or heart attack often come without warning, and unfortunately usually with fatal outcome.
When you decide, that your purpose is to have the thin and healthy body, but currently, you are obese and lazy – the very first step is to change priorities and your system of beliefs, or you wait until you get sick. Disease and pain are sometimes essential factors to change the way of living. Is it worth to take the risk and wait, or is it better to become active and prevent dangerous diseases?
Is it difficult to lose weight?
Yes, it is difficult. There are no magic pills and diets, which allow to lose weight effectively and to keep it afterward.
How to lose weight?
First, we must realize that obesity, even if we accept it, is harmful to our health. Health should be important not only for us but also for our family. If we do not care for our health, we may become the burden, literally and figuratively.
It should convince us to make some effect and get back to the proper body weight and join those who do not accept own obesity and want to change.
To know why we gain weight, and we are not able to control this process, is a significant success. The problem is that even scientists argue about the causes of obesity – calorie balance or insulin theory?
I think that both are right – calorie balance and the way food affect metabolism matters. That is why if we want to lose weight, we must follow the rules of both.
What do I do to keep the proper weight?
- I believe that the best food for me is the one I do not buy. If I buy it, I eat it. I do not waste food. In my opinion, obesity starts at the moment when you buy food.
- Sometimes we do not feel hungry, but we eat. I only try to eat when I am hungry. I regularly eat breakfast and lunch. My breakfast usually is made of oatmeal with fruit and olive oil. From my experience, dinner is the most important meal for my weight. When I do not feel hungry after exercising – I do not eat. In contrast, when I have the appetite, I choose fruit, dark chocolate or nuts.
- If I have to decide – tasty but harmful, or less tasty but healthy – I prefer the second.
- I do not count the calories in eaten food, as I control my weight daily.
- I do not panic when my weight increases one day. I try to eat less during that day and days after. I follow the theory of calorie balance, but if I had not included insulin theory, it would be tough to decrease the body weight.
- I have a varied diet with carbohydrates, protein, and fats. I control the amounts I eat, I supplement my diet daily with vitamins, essential amino acids, trace elements, and omega-3 acids.
- I eat products, which I consider good for health, like eggs, butter, fish, nuts, and vegetables.
- I regularly exercise, during summer slightly less, but in other months I try to do it 5 times a week, both aerobic and strength training together with my wife. It takes me around an hour in the evening. During training, muscles burn mostly carbohydrates and deplete sugar supplies. After a workout, we usually do not eat. Therefore, the organism is devoid of glucose until the next day’s breakfast. If the glucose level is low, the insulin lowers as well. These are conditions to start production of glucagon to burn fat supplies. This process is supported by oxygen overconsumption after training and the secretion of lipoprotein lipase. The effect of these processes is that if we burn 20g of fats during exercise, we will burn even additional 50g of fats during the next 24 hours. The conclusion is that we burn more fat after training than during it.
- In addition to weight control, I often have my muscle mass, fat mass, and abdominal adipose tissue tested. I try to have less than 15% of fatty tissue, and less than 10% of abdominal adipose tissue.
By the way, during tests, I get the information about my metabolic age. In average it is 15 years less, than my actual age. If we know how to care for health, it is biologically possible to be younger. Body is an auto repairing system, and it tries to provide us with full functionality as long as we care for it. With good habits, in old age, we can be younger than young people.
- I limit the sugar consumption, but I do not always get through those. As I spend most of my free time studying biochemistry, cellular and mitochondrial medicine, I know that cancer cells develop in the process of ethanol fermentation, as the primary source of energy. Oncologists, and other doctors, rarely inform their patients about the dangers of processed sugars. I know that, but still, sometimes I cannot resist eating something sweet. Also, I know that when I drink vitamin C, I lose the desire for sweet food.
- The second reason why I limit the sugar consumption is that it speeds up the aging processes. The primary mechanism of bloodstream sugar is the non-enzymatic connection of sugars to various protein molecules and changing its characteristics. The process is called non-enzymatic protein glycosylation. The most exposed proteins are those that are long in the organism, like collagen (skin, tendon, cartilage, bones protein). The result of this process is the creation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGE). We know the word age, so the abbreviation is accurate here. AGE is the bundle of complex chemical compounds which I will not list here. Their amount can be checked in tested tissues and bodily fluid, and it reflects the irreversible processes of glycosylation. This process refers mostly to the collagen, as within its cells, influenced by the glycosylation, the number of connections raises. Therefore, the collagen becomes stiffer. This process is very harmful to the cardiovascular system as it lowers the flexibility and tightness of blood vessels.
- I attach great importance to strengthen abdominal muscles. They give me the first signal that my natural weight has been even slightly exceeded. These muscles are essential not only in terms of aesthetic but also, they are helpful for your spine. Abs and back training should be included in your daily routine.
- In my opinion, we can keep the proper weight, depending on our will. The theory is important, but the intention is crucial. In my case, even if I slightly let go, my weight increases. But then I turn on my natural brakes, and I return to my correct weight. It is not easy, as sometimes the “return” takes two weeks or even months. Nevertheless, I never give up, and I support the weight reduction with regular training with my wife, in our home gym.
The idea is to die young as late as possible.
Most of us highly value their health but practically do the opposite. We want to have good health, but we do not do much to achieve this.
One of the critical factors to be healthy is the proper body weight. As eating much may be treated as an addiction, it is not easy. In contrast to smoking or drinking alcohol, you cannot just stop eating. Overeating mostly explains why 65% of the population of highly developed countries have overweight or obesity, but there are other reasons too. Even if we correctly understood what the origins of overweight and obesity are, it would be only the beginning of the effort, which would be with us all of our lives.
This effort must include regular physical activity. Our purpose is not to become a fitness model, and we do not have to search for fast methods to lose weight. What we want to do, requires continuous effort to start enjoying healthy calories and exercising. We need to stop believing in miraculous pills and diets, which will not work, and just focus on changing our lifestyle with gradual implementation of physical activity.
This effort is a change for a better life, especially in old age. Getting older is a natural process which we cannot fully control, but we can slow (or accelerate) it with our lifestyle. If we accelerate the process, it becomes the disease caused only by ourselves.
No one wants to be in bad shape, with the weak and delicate body, reduced mental abilities and counting on others. Therefore, I respect what Plato said a few thousand years ago:
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
My wife and I try to be faithful to this quote every day.