DROP UNWANTED POUNDS  (Excerpt from Rod Connolly, Exercise Physiologist, Edwards, CO)

“I’m going to eat better and drop some unwanted pounds.” On average, this New Year’s resolution lasts fewer than two weeks. Most of us know the usual remedies for losing body fat, specifically, “exercise more, eat less”.  But there are lesser-known things that could be hurting your attempts to lose unwanted pounds, even though you are “moving more and eating less”.

  1.  Your current diet has created “bad” gut bacteria – Cravings aren’t all in your head, but are caused, in part, by what’s going on in your gut.  Your diet creates an environment for gut bacteria, both good and bad.  Researchers call it a gut bacterial ecosystem.

The problem is, when you try to improve your diet, your “bad” gut bacteria will demand to be fed, making you crave whatever will feed it. Metabolically unfavorable (bad) gut bacteria can cause cravings for the junk food that created them and will nourish them. They can also cause you to feel uneasy, anxious and unhappy when they’re deprived of their nourishment. It’s almost like a parasite and host; the gut bacteria will continue to thrive if you give them what they demand, making you feel physically deprived when you stop consuming their favorite foods.

The good news is that you can break the bad gut bacteria’s control fairly quickly by not giving in.  When you deprive these “bad” bacteria of nourishment, the bacterial population reduces, and you become metabolically healthier; you start feeling better and have increased energy.

What can you do?  – Change your gut’s ecosystem.  Want to crave healthy foods? Then consistently consume them.  Feed the “good” gut bacteria and starve the “bad” bacteria.  You will feel deprived at first (count on it), but you can survive without junk food; the bacteria that feed off it cannot. Eventually you will lose your craving for low-nutrition, un healthy foods.

2.  You’re battling your brain – Some cravings are, however, in your head. Our desire to eat a balanced diet is reduced when we eat high sugar, low satiety or foods that promote excessive weight gain (junk food). This has a massive impact on your brain’s reward centers, driving you to eat more of these foods and actually decreasing your appetite for nutritious food. Regularly eating junk food will make all other food less appealing.  (You’ll also be feeding the bad gut bacteria mentioned earlier.)

The more junk food you eat, the less rewarding it becomes to the area of your brain that measures reward and pleasure.  You’ll have to consume more to get the same pleasure response.

What can you do? – Know your triggers.  If eating one potato chip triggers consumption of half a bag, then eat an apple instead.  You know what satisfies hunger and what sets you up for over-indulging.

Junk food is only tempting to two kinds of people: those who regularly eat it and those who’ve just begun to avoid it.  People who have gone without junk food for a long time usually do not crave it.  It actually looks awful to them.

IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO LOSE POUNDS BY EXERCISE ALONE –  Researchers have found that exercise without changes in diet will usually not result in significant body fat loss. A combination of a healthy diet and a well-rounded exercise regimen is key for maintaining an adequate level of fitness, but when it comes to dropping pounds, what you put in your body is more important than how you move it.

While exercise is crucial for leading a healthy life, exclusively, it doesn’t often promote weight loss. A 2015 study found that calorie control is more successful, especially because exercise increases appetite in many people. Additional research also found that working out burns more calories initially, but the burn decreases as the body adjusts for stability.

Nevertheless, combining a healthy diet and moderate exercise is your very best bet for getting the most out of life. Don’t forget that physical activity can reduce risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes and can boost your mood and help you sleep better.

Remember your Sweetheart or Best Friend on Valentine’s Day, February 14th