Friday, October 17, 2008

Metabolism and Obesity

As a response to this post, a reader (Darren) asked a really good question:

I am curious about a comment you made...

"The truth is, our love affair with our metabolisms is a main cause of obsessive compulsive eating."

I Would love you to elaborate on that, as on the face of it, I am skeptical that it is the MAIN cause of obsessive compulsive eating.

This was my response:

Hi Darren,

My point was that it was 'A' main cause, not 'THE' main cause.

However I beleive this point to still be very valid...if we are afraid to eat less because we are worried about our metabolism slowing down, we are doomed to continue to overeat.

If we eat extra foods because we think they will speed up our metabolism, we are doomed to continue to overeat (There are NO negative calorie foods).

And if we rely on eating styles that don't cut our calories, but simply rely on metabolism boosting foods, then we are doomed to continue to overeat.

So it may not be THE main cause, but I beleive it is A main cause.


While the word 'Metabolism' is amazing for selling magazines and supplements, the fact that it is over-hyped as being an easily manipulated part of our lives does (in my opinion) contribute to the obesity epidemic.

If we continue to look for answers in the wrong places, we are never going to help anyone.

Eat less and enjoy the foods you eat.


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Darren said...

At the risk of sounding like I am nit-picking, 'A' main cause is not really any different then 'THE' main cause. Using both words infer that metabolisms it the biggest cause to obsessive compulsive eating.
I don't disagree that it could lead to OCE, as that does follow a logical course of events. But does that really translate into being a huge reason people have the problem?

John said...

I think the point is that if the concept of speeding up or slowing down the metabolism was never even presented as a way of achieving weight loss, many people would have a much easier time accepting the fact that eating less is the simplest and easiest way to lose weight.

In reality the metabolism argument is a clever way to explain why something or some product needs to be added to the diet to produce weight loss. This could be a special type of food, a specific macro nutrient ratio like eating high protein, a special supplement (thermogenic fat burners), or a style of eating like the 5-6 small meals per day story, or that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. All of these obsessive compuslive eating techniques only exist because people believe they can manipulate their metabolism to some significant degree.

The point is that if people never heard of the concept they wouldn't get hung up on so many diet rules that are based on it.


D said...

My opinion and lifestyle is only one, but let me share. For me, being preoccupied with not only eating 6 times a day, but eating perfectly 6 times a day and then stressing out if I miss a meal or snack, or stressing out if I eat something "wrong" is what leads to my OCE. During my first few fasts I expected to feel really overwhelmed and worried about not eating, how would I get through it etc. But what I am finding is that the opposite is true. It is almost like a wonderful "day off" from having to worry about what it is I'm going to eat, is it in the right frequency, is it food I don't like. The day off cleared my mind, and what is also did was make me pay more attention to what I DO like to eat. After a fast, fruit tastes much sweeter, it takes the place of my craving for sweets. After a fast veggies fill me up faster, so I dont want heavy bread as much. I am not spending my time worrying about whether I am correctly boosting my metabolism throughout the day so I can actually eat when I am hungry, instead of when my alarm goes off.

Also, I think the prevalence of "metabolism" speak on the newsstands etc makes people think that they can out-exercise a bad diet, and thats simply not the case. The proclaimed metabolism boost that you get from doing cardio/weight training will NEVER compensate for an bad diet and resulting calorie surplus, and I believe people are fooled into thinking it will.

Anyway, my 2 cents :)