Don’t you hate it when you’re working hard to lose weight – both by dieting and doing a lot of exercise – but your efforts just aren’t paying off?! You struggle, you starve yourself, you push yourself to go to the gym every day, and still you can’t get that body fat under control.
This is one of the toughest things that you’ll ever face, but could it be that your diet in the past is actually making your diet in the present even harder?
How Obesity Affects Your Diet
When you are obese, your body is filled with excess fat cells. These fat cells accumulate in the heart, in the vascular system, in the liver, in the digestive system, and pretty much everywhere else. You’ll find that the extra fat cells cause all kinds of problems – not the least of which is problems with your appetite.
The hormone leptin is the one responsible for controlling your appetite. It doesn’t just signal to your brain that your stomach is full and can’t hold another bite of whatever delicious food you’re eating, but it actually sends a signal to your brain that your need for food has been satiated. It basically tells your body, “This meal has been enough to restock the body with energy for the daily tasks.” In a healthy person, leptin will be released as soon as they have eaten a decent amount of food – satisfied, but not completely full.
In an obese person, on the other hand, the amount of leptin that is produced by the body is increased – which you think would mean that your body would be more responsive to it. Not so! Just like a high level of insulin combined with extra fat in your body leads to insulin resistance, high levels of leptin in an obese body causes leptin resistance.
There are hundreds of tiny nerve endings in your stomach that signal to your brain that you’re full, and these nerve endings react to the presence of leptin. However, high levels of leptin actually desensitize these nerve endings – according to a University of Adelaide study published on Science Daily. This means that it takes longer for your body to feel full, and you end up eating more just because those nerve endings aren’t picking up on the signals being sent by the leptin.
To make matters even worse, the desensitization of those nerve endings remains even after you’ve lost the weight. A high fat diet has a permanent effect on the nerve endings, making it hard for your body to sense when it’s full. Even after the body fat has been eliminated, it will still require a lot of leptin to signal that you’ve had enough to eat. It will take your body longer to feel satiated, which can lead to overeating once again.
This is why so many people have actually regained a lot of the weight that they have lost, as their bodies are unable to return to normal. Once they stop their strict diet, they go back to the dietary habits that led to their weight gain – causing them to gain back all or most of the weight that they lost.
What’s the key to keeping that weight off for good? It’s all about discipline! No, I don’t mean spanking yourself, but I mean being disciplined enough to say “No” to foods that you know you shouldn’t eat – as well as to that second serving. You can’t rely on your stomach to tell you when you’re full, so you have to train yourself to only eat the right number of calories – no matter how “hungry” you may think you are.