Dieting and Starvation
Dieting is just another word for starvation. But when people think of starvation it conjures up the images poverty, torture or misadventure. But what if starvation, or to be precise, the control of food consumption was actually beneficial to the mental and physical health of your body?
Culturally, we do starve ourselves but this fasting is due to religious practices like Ramadan or Lent where one fast to be closer to god. There is a lot of health advice that does advise you to eat moderately and exercise regularly but none of them really go into detail the science behind what really happens when you consume food and how it fuels your body.
Food goes in, sugar/glucose is burnt first, carbohydrates is converted to glucose then burnt, fat is converted to glucose then burnt and finally protein is broken down and converted to glucose and burnt. In conventional wisdom it is ideal to have a low sugar intake that’s just enough for the initial burst of energy , a good carbohydrate intake to sustain the energy burst until the next meal, a low fat intake as it will be stored due the body getting enough glucose from sugars and carbos and a good protein intake for cellular maintenance. Of course, a reduction in the amount of sugar and carbos is needed to lose weight along with regular exercise.
Eating Habits And Norms Are Designed For The 21st Century Human
Usually, this works for some people but the human body, in its original design, is not so accommodating. When we normally eat, insulin is produced and is used to connect the glucose molecule to the cell and control the amount of energy released. To prevent overloading the cells in the body, excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles for up to 270g. Whatever is left over is then stored into your fat cells. Unfortunately, the glucose molecule can, by itself, attach to cells without insulin which in this case this unregulated connection called Glycation which inflammation of the cells among other issues.
When you have an excess amount of insulin it is because too much glucose molecules are detected by the body but were quickly burnt or stored as fat, as in the case of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Which is why you get a sugar high and crash because your cells are fatigued with the overload of energy and the body is still producing insulin thinking there is more energy to be burnt. While insulin is still roaming throughout your body for glucose and an important hormone called Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) will not be released by the liver. HSL the main factor in the utilization of stored fat as energy. In other words, without this hormone, there very little chance of a person successfully losing weight.
The best way to engage the HSL is to set the body in a state of starvation so that it starts accessing its already available fat reserves and start burning them. In the end, that leaves the question of ‘what can I do’ to optimize my calorie intake while still being healthy. For most people, taking in fewer calories than they burn is the slow and steady way to go. Others will try the Paleo Diet in which only proteins, fats and oils are used as the main energy source of the body while the remaining protein and oils along with fruits and vegetables provide the nutrition needed for cellular growth and maintenance. Others opt to eat only one meal a day and fast the rest of the day, consuming very little to no foods.
The Ultimate Machine?
The human body is a miraculous thing, and is a product of thousands of years of evolution amongst the harshest conditions. We adapted our diet from protein and fats for short-lived, high-performance hunting to slow burn carbohydrates to endure the long hours at the fields. But now we live in a day and age where we have for little want, and whatever we need, we can just drive to the store and buy. Also, all the heavy, laborious work we do is mostly handled by machines. Maybe, it is time for us to take a step back and realize that we can now enjoy life a little more and lessened our general food intake. The human body, dare I say, is still a high performance machine and with the right amounts of foods, it will last you for the rest of your life.