The simplest explanation to weight gain and overweight is eating more calories than what you burn through normal bodily functions and physical activity. However, the reasons behind unhealthy weight gain may be more complex than this.
1# Insulin resistance
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Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, plays an important role in metabolizing carbohydrates and regulating energy storage. In other words, insulin transfers the glucose from food to the muscles to be used as energy. However, in cases of elevates insulin levels, or insulin resistance, this energy is stored in the fat cells rather than being used as a fuel, which eventually leads to weight gain. Unfortunately, insulin resistance, which normally precedes diabetes type 2, can go unnoticed for a long time before it’s diagnosed and treated.
Insulin is also a fat-storing hormone, which means that elevated insulin levels will hamper with the fat-burning process in the body.
What’s more alarming is the fact that the modern diet along with lack of physical activity is the main culprit for this condition.
One way to deal with insulin resistance is to reduce your carbohydrate intake, which actually means fewer calories on your menu. If you are interested in a low-calorie dietary plan that can help you cut back on calories, The Military Diet is the one.
2# High fructose intake
Excess fructose consumption triggers insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels. In fact, the metabolic effect fructose produces in the body is completely different from the one produced by glucose. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fructose increases the blood flow in the body, signaling the brain that you aren’t full. Conversely, glucose gives the brain completely opposite information. But, it’s not the fructose in fruits that’s concerning. It’s rather the high amounts of fructose used in fructose corn syrup (this is refined fructose!) that hamper the metabolic processes in the body.
According to Manabu Nakamura, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, “fructose is primarily metabolized by the liver, whereas the other sugar, glucose, can be used by any organ in our body.”
But, excessive amounts of fructose lead to an overwhelmed liver, which breaks it down into glucose and fat. This breakdown process has two side effects – it leads to weight gain and it affects the blood’s insulin and triglyceride levels.
What’s more concerning is the fact that high fructose corn syrup is basically found in almost all processed foods and beverages, soda being the largest contributor to fructose consumption at present. In other words, refined fructose is the staple of modern dietary habits.
3# Lack of physical activity
Aside all the advantages it has, modern lifestyle is usually defined as busy, stressful and sedentary. People are always in a rush and barely have time for their families and friends, let alone regular physical activity. But, this comes with a toll. Long periods of inactivity lead to inevitable weight gain because the calories consumed remain stored in the body instead of being burnt through exercise.
4# Lack of sleep
Last, but not least, sleep deprivation can also result in weight gain. In other words, lacking sleep can make you hungrier. According to nutritionist and author of Why No Weight Loss, Liz Tucker, “If you have a lack of sleep you have low energy so crave food to top up your energy levels.” She further explains “If you are awake for longer in a day it’s more likely you’ll eat maybe four or five meals and snacks rather than just the usual three if you have a full night’s sleep.”
A 2012 Japanese study including over 20,000 participants also found that people who slept for less than five hours a night were more likely to experience weight gain than those who slept for seven hours.
A final word
Although excess weight is the reality of many, the good news is that it can be avoided. The first step is cutting down on your calorie intake. As unbelievable as it may sound, an average woman only needs about 2,000 calories, and this is not a small number. Now, it’s also important where your calories come from – if you are drinking low-calorie sodas on a regular basis, your weight loss results may not be as expected. The best calories you can get are the ones from whole food – vegetables, fiber and protein, so aim at a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Also, a sedentary lifestyle will only hamper your weight loss goals as you’ll take in more calories than you burn. But, you don’t need a gym membership for this – simple activities such as walking or running will do.
On top of all, make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night!