Thursday, 27 October 2011

It's The Hormones Stoopid

It has long been obvious in the paleosphere that it leaness is all to do with hormones.  If you exercise more, there is a hormonal consequence.  If you fast, there is a hormonal consequence.

We all know people who are obese and who go through the following steps:
  1. They're overweight - say 20 stone, but their weight is quite stable at this level,
  2. They then diet and exercise down to 12 stone,
  3. Unable to sustain their new regime, they go back to their former ways and quickly balloon back up to 20 stone (plus a bit), 
  4. Their weight once again stabilises (albeit at 22 stone).
CW dictates that their indolence and slothfulness has lead them to step one.  They just need to 'eat less and do more'.  CW dictates that the weight loss in step two is achieved from 'burning off their fat through exercise' and eating less.  CW dictates that step three is a direct consequence of a lack of willpower to sustain this new regimen.

But here is where it gets confusing.  Why was the weight stable in steps one and four?  Are the obese showing willpower here that prevents them rapidly putting on weight.  How come they can stop inexorable weight gain at these higher weights - and I have seen this LOTS of times. 

Isn't it odd that after all that hard work and self discipline (willpower), to get lean in step two, the obese often experience a drop in willpower?  A willpower that suddenly returns once they are obese again?

It doesn't make sense to view obesity as simply a matter of 'eat less, do more' nor in terms of 'willpower'.  GCBC makes this perfectly clear.  Not to state the bleedin' obvious, there are exquisite hormonal factors that govern our weight.

Gina Kolata's latest article, 'Study Shows Why It’s Hard to Keep Weight Off', covers new research which notes metabolic/hormonal changes as a consequence of dieting,
  • In the study, Joseph Proietto and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne recruited people who weighed an average of 209 pounds. At the start of the study, his team measured the participants’ hormone levels and assessed their hunger and appetites after they ate a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast. The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories a day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study.
    They were then given diets intended to maintain their weight loss. A year after the subjects had lost the weight, the researchers repeated their measurements. The subjects were gaining the weight back despite the maintenance diet — on average, gaining back half of what they had lost — and the hormone levels offered a possible explanation.
I like the fact that at the outset they fed their patients 'a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast.'  I wonder what the consequence of feeding the patients just REAL FOOD would have been?

Whatever is said I consider this whole study may well constitute a move towards a more sophisticated approach to health and nutrition - or at least a step away from the CW of the past 40 odd years.

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