Updated: May 17, 2019
If you are familiar with the name Desitunes4U, then you are familiar with the name Usman Ahmed. Truly one of the greatest writers who has interviewed and reviewed some of the greatest Desi talent out there today. Today he has blessed us with a blog post as a guest writer in a subject we both take great interest in. Health. He has also started a great podcast of which the link will be posted at the end of this article. Enjoy!
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Right? In all my years as a pharmacist, if I could boil down health to one single parameter, that parameter would be weight. Your body weight or more specifically BMI is a key indicator of health. Being overweight makes you more likely to suffer with a whole range of health conditions, high blood pressure and diabetes being some of the most high profile. Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions and in the coming years the pressure on health services to cure conditions which are a direct result of it will be a major strain on resources.
What I find shocking is something that has such a direct correlation to health, maintaining a healthy weight, is surrounded by myth and misinformation. You are bombarded from many non medical sources on the best way to lose weight, all of which seem to be different and many contradict each other.
Let’s try to break it down (pun intended). Your body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to function daily. When you consume more than this amount, the majority of the excess calories is sent to be stored as fat as an energy reserve. A woman typically needs around 2000 calories per day and a Man 2500 calories. Years of not eating and/or exercising properly lead to a build up of this energy store which in turn leads to increased body weight. So as we can see, it’s extremely easy to put on fat.
So how exactly do we get rid of it? Let’s firstly talk about a method which is commonly suggested. Calorie restriction. So you follow the same eating pattern of eating 3 meals a day, but just try to eat less (or what you think is healthier) at each meal time. Logic suggests that this would be correct, but unfortunately it’s not the best method. This steady flow of albeit reduced calories just causes the body to slow down your metabolism as it tries to match the energy input to the energy it uses. This would lead to lethargy and problems with mood, sound familiar? Calorie restriction is correct but it’s just one part of the puzzle.
When does your body actually start to break down fat? Your body has a store of around 2000 calories of “quick release” energy stored in the liver as glycogen which can be converted into glucose when needed. This is the primary method the body uses when it needs energy. If you consume less than the needed amount this energy store is used up to make up the deficit. Once the store in liver in depleted your body then switches to converting fat.
Wait, so doesn’t that mean calorie restriction is right?! Eat less, use up the reserve and wait for the fat to be burned? Not exactly, following the typical 3 meals a day (plus snacks, even if they are “healthy”) means there is a steady flow of calories coming in and the body never gets to a point where the reserve in the liver is used up to a point where it needs replenishing.
So what then? The best method to get your body into a state of breaking down fat for energy is to fast for a portion of the day, typically around 16 hours, a method known as intermittent fasting.
Fasting? Isn’t that starvation? Fasting is not the same as starvation, starvation is not eating at all because you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. Fasting is completely safe as it utilises a normal function of the body. The main purpose of fat is as an energy source to be converted to glucose for energy and to maintain blood sugar levels. (Unless you are a type 1 diabetic who takes medication you don’t get true hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar, just symptoms which resemble it when you don’t eat)
I can’t fast because I’ll losing my gains Bro! My muscle will get burned for energy. Big myth! Building or losing muscle is related to exercise, don’t exercise then you’ll lose muscle. Your body will only ever use protein for energy when your body fat is less than 4%. I don’t know about you, but I’d be too busy posting pictures of my 8pack online and getting all those right swipes to care about my arms not looking as big.
Fasting for 16 hours in each 24 hour period combined with reduced calories with the majority coming from protein in my opinion would be the most efficient method of weight loss.
As a bonus, fasting has a few other benefits, as well as being an easy method for weight loss, it also improves health by improving insulin resistance and the amount of insulin needed to be released, something which can directly reduce the risk of becoming diabetic. Fasting actually increases energy levels as there is a consequential release of adrenaline. It helps preserve muscle and bones due to the release of growth hormone which is a hormone which can make you look and feel younger (who doesn’t want that?!). And finally, as we live in an age where more and more people are affected by a wide variety mental health issues, fasting decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, which can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Healthy body, healthy mind, right?
If you like podcasts, you can hear me talk about this topic and many other topics: