Keep Fit - Stay Healthy - Be Happy

29 January, 2009

Issue #006

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Over-Eating, Humanity's Arch Enemy... Or Is It?

What makes us fat, and what can we actually do about it?

Honestly, I find the science behind fitness and weight loss tedious, and I have a science background! That's why I try and keep the science part behind the scenes.

But <>, I'm gonna get down and dirty in this email, simply because I think these scientific facts are important for you to know.

Fat, is it really that bad?

Fat tissue contains billions of fat cells that each hold droplets of oil. When your body needs energy, it burns the oil. Your body can survive for weeks without eating, through that process.

In ancient times, those fat reserves were crucial to survival. Food wasn't readily available, it was actually a case of survival of the fattest in times of famine. How things have changed now!

What determines how much fat we have?

The theory is, we all have a biologically determined natural weight that can vary from person to person. Over-eating or exercising can move this weight up or down, but your body will constantly try to bring you back to whatever your "normal" weight is.

So, what decides your normal weight and when is it set?

It can be as early as from the womb. Women who are older, fatter, diabetic and who eat more fat during pregnancy, tend to have over-weight children.

Other environmental factors, such as pollution, air conditioning and poor sleep have a negative affect on our's and our children's weight.

Do slim people just have better self-control?

Are you someone who will eat that chocolate even after you've had dinner? Or do you simply ignore it? Be honest! =)

Well whatever your choice, there's more to it than just self-control. These behaviour patterns become established early in childhood. Chances are, if you have a tendency to snack even after you're full as a child, you'll continue to do the same as an adult. These habits seriously affect your weight.

Is it all just learned behaviour?

The short answer is, no. There's a gene going by the name of "FTO Gene" that has a say too. If you have a variant of this gene, you are likely to weigh more as an adult.

That's because children with that variant FTO gene, are more likely to snack when full. That is the genetic basis of our appetite.

What about hormones?

Our hormones have a big say on when we feel full. Naturally slim people's bodies protect them from gaining excess weight, by increasing their fullness with hormones from the stomach. They're the ones that make people feel sick or actually throw up if they over-eat.

Why do some people find it so hard to lose weight?

Back to the original theory, obese people's brains set their body's "normal" weight at an obese level. If they eat less calories, their brains tell them that they're still hungry (i.e. their body does what it can to stay at their "normal" obese weight).

What does this mean for your weight loss goals?

You might be thinking, "Oh there's too much going against me, I'll give up". Please DON'T. Because if anything, knowing all these facts should show you exactly how important a healthy diet and exercise are.

Back in ancient times when humans were more active and ate less, these body functions helped humanity survive. It's the sedentary lifestyle of today, mixed with the over-abundant choice of food, that's causing our body functions to work against us.

Even though you might not be able to shift all of the fat forever, you can still lose small amounts of excess fat, that will make LARGE differences to your health. Not to mention making you feel better too.

That's exactly what is all about. Helping you make small changes that you can sustain for life.

And if you can't get motivated to do it for yourself, do it for your kids (present or future) instead. As we've seen, so many of our actions affect our kids. At least give them a chance to choose their weight.

- A Common Variant in the FTO Gene Is Associated with Body Mass Index and Predisposes to Childhood and Adult Obesity (Science 11 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5826, pp. 889 - 894)
- Association of Morbid Obesity With FTO and INSIG2 Allelic Variants (Arch Surg. 2008;143(3):235-240.)
- BBC2's Horizon Program

Thoughts and Feedback

Thanks to everyone who replied with feedback about the newsletter format. The majority of you voted for "short", which is why this issue is only one article. Watch your inbox for more regular issues, they'll be quicker to read and more specific.

I always listen to your feedback, I haven't forgotten those of you who voted for "long", all I ask is see how it goes and I'll ask for your opinions again further down the line.

As always, if you have any feedback or opinions you'd like to share with me, simply reply to this email and I'll respond as soon as physically possible.

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Keep Fit - Stay Healthy - Be Happy

Asad Tufail

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