Diet + Exercise

January 20, 2012 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, General, Health, Weight Management by Mary Ireland

My last two blogs have been related to the article the Fat Trap. This article presents a dire picture of people's ability to lose weight and keep it off based on research that show dieting changes people hormones leaving dieters more hungry and with a slower metabolism.

As I stated in my last blog, I wish they would do a study on dieters who ate food so nutritious that the dieters got all the nutrients their bodies needed even though their calories were restricted. I'd like to add another wish: to have the dieters exercise. I've known people who have been on 500 calorie diets. They tell me that they don't have the energy to exercise. In fact, they say they don't have much energy at all. Hmmm, imagine that. I've also known people who have been dieting for a while - they tell me that it is so much easier to lose weight when they exercise. I believe them.

I've always been perplexed by reports that maintain that exercise is not an important part of weight loss. John Cloud, in his article, Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin, makes the case that people often reward themselves with bad food choices after they exercise, thereby negating or exceeding the calories they burned during exercise. It is true that you probably aren't going to burn all the calories in a pizza or a tasty dessert on the treadmill - unless you stay on it for a very long time. You have to learn that you can't do that. From my own experience, this is relatively easy. I just think about all of the effort that I have expended exercising and say to myself, "... and you are going to ruin it with a candy bar (pizza, muffin, whatever - you can fill in the blank)."

New research reported in Nature disproves some of the points that Cloud makes in his article and may shed some light on why it is easier to lose weight when you exercise. In particular, Cloud states, "We have so little brown fat that researchers didn't even report its existence in adults until earlier this year. That's one reason humans can gain weight with just an extra half-muffin a day: we almost instantly store most of the calories we don't need in our regular ("white") fat cells."

The new research focused on a substance named PGC1-alpha, which is abundantly produced in muscles during and after exercise. According to Bruce Spiegelman, the professor of cell biology and medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, who led the study, “It seems clear that PGC1a stimulates many of the recognized health benefits of exercise.” Mice bred to produce large amounts of PGC1a in their muscles are typically resistant to age-related obesity and diabetes, much as people who regularly exercise are.

Researchers discovered that PGC1-alpha breaks down to produce a number of other substances, one of which is a hormone they named "irisin." The irisin communicates with fat cells and causes some of the regular white fat cells to convert into brown fat. This is an extraordinary finding. Is important from the standpoint of getting past the mental perception that exercise isn't really helping with weight loss. The fact is that exercise changes the body at the cellular level.

As I stated earlier, just because you exercise doesn't mean you can eat anything you want. Diet is an important part - maybe the most important part of being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. This is where Dr. Grandma's recipes can help. Dr. Grandma's recipes are part of a sensible diet that focuses on nutrient dense, low-calorie foods.