Calories Don't Determine Fat Loss
Our hormones have final say for fat burning
I belive fat loss has nothing to do with calories. Our hormones have the final say for fat burning. My optimal solution was to fix my hormonal issues and use fat as fuel for sustainable weight management.
As a person struggling with weight management issues for decades, I want to share the most critical unlearning and relearning activity in my fitness and health improvement journey.
Despite many excessive workouts, mainly in cardio form and substantial calorie-cutting, I suffered a lot and miserably failed.
Didn't they work?
Yes, they did. With calorie deficit and excessive cardio, I lost weight in this stressful process, but it was not what I needed and wanted. I ended up losing something which was not supposed to be lost.
Let me highlight one critical factor. We need to know the difference between weight loss and fat loss. They are two different things. Rather than weight loss, my focus is on fat loss.
Caloric deficit by cutting the amount of food and increasing exercise amount will undoubtedly result in weight loss but not necessarily fat loss. What does that mean? Well, we may end losing our valuable muscles in extensive caloric deficit.
Losing muscle is not a desirable situation. When we lose our muscle, we lose our strength and endurance. As I get older, this became even more critical. Without strong and healthy muscles, my fitness would suffer.
Considering this crucial fact, the best solution for me was burning fat as fuel. This approach helped me get rid of unwanted weight and gave me super energy leading to a joyful life.
The concept of fat adaptation is valuable knowledge. To achieve being fat-adapted, I had to focus on a vital hormone called insulin. It is the master hormone for metabolism. Insulin is essential for health. It regulates blood glucose for our survival.
Too much glucose in our bloodstream is toxic, so insulin removes it naturally. Insulin does its work well. But too much of this hormone triggered too frequently and over a long period is the main culprit for not losing fat.
When I was younger, I struggled with weight gain even though traditionally I was doing everything right. I was running and swimming almost every day.
According to my professionals' advice, I was eating frequently and consuming low-calorie food to keep my calories less than what I spent. It was touted the secret formula at the time.
This sounded logical to me. If I take 1000 calories and burn 1500 of them, I would have a 500 caloric deficit and lose weight. My thinking was to burn the calories by excessive cardio and to eat low caloric food.
I was running after lunch and dinner every day. Running gave me instant pleasure at the time, but my joints and ligaments started feeling the pain with severe inflammation.
I religiously counted calories taken and spent which I recorded in spreadsheets. I learned the calories for each food type and used exercise monitors to count calories I consumed. I was burning the calories with my extensive cardio, but that was not my issue.
The issue was excessive glucose in my bloodstream caused by constant feeding and no fasting. My digestive system did not have a chance to rest and heal.
Constant and excessive glucose in the bloodstream was triggering insulin spikes. High and frequent insulin releases to my bloodstream created the main issue. When insulin is high, our bodies do not burn fat. Insulin was taking the sugar from my bloodstream and converting them to fat molecules.
Insulin is an essential hormone for doing its job. But too much insulin can have metabolic issues such as diabetes two. As for carb-intolerant people, my parents and relatives ended up being diabetic. I wanted to prevent it and achieved it successfully.
When I struggled with weight management, my problem was high-level glucose in my body, converting to fat with constantly spiking insulin releases. With excessive insulin, my bloodstream was causing fat accumulation, mainly in the abdominal area.
I was young with good metabolism and doing a lot of cardio, but my belly was growing. The issue with insulin was preventing my body from burning fat as fuel.
For many years, calories confused me a lot. I was calculating my calorie intake and outtake diligently. But not losing fat with caloric deficient did not make sense to me. According to my calculation, I was supposed to be lean and no fat. But my fat ratio was increasing day by day.
The lower the caloric food I eat, the more hunger I felt. The more I ate, the more glucose was in my bloodstream. The more glucose in the bloodstream, more insulin was created. With the more and frequent insulin releases, the more fat I was accumulating.
When insulin removed the glucose from the bloodstream, I was starving and craving for more food. My will power was challenged. This was creating unnecessary stress for me. It was evident in my elevated cortisol. The higher my cortisol, the lower my testosterone.
From my experience, two hormones played the most significant role in losing fat. They are insulin and cortisol. By learning the importance of these hormones and their weight management functions and fat loss, I made some lifestyle changes.
I revisited my habits. Every three to four hours, I replenished my fuel tank with low-calorie snacks, causing insulin spikes and keeping insulin active. These low caloric snacks were adding garbage to my body. My body did not need excessive sugar. It needed more protein and healthy fat.
The emotions were forcing me to eat more carbs and sugary food. The more stress I had, the more cortisol was released. When too much cortisol is in the body, the stubborn belly fat would not start burning.
Finally, I decided to cut the snacks and frequent meals.
Eating more protein and healthy fat in my meals relieved the hunger and reducing food cravings. Whenever I feel like eating a snack, I asked: do I need more glucose in my bloodstream? Pausing for a moment and asking powerful questions became a habit.
My next discovery was intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet. Fasting 16 hours, eating in the 8-hour windows, have significantly affected fat loss for me. Fasting with the ketogenic diet was extra beneficial.
My body became fat-adapted. I learned to burn fat naturally. I never felt hungry again in this regime. All my food cravings disappeared naturally.
When I broke my fast at dinner time, the food was delicious. I used food for fuel, not for emotional numbing. I stopped counting calories. I reduced cardio and increased resistance and weight training.
Shortly afterwards, I lost around ten pounds of fat to surprise of my family. I shared my experience in an article titled: I Was Overweight When I Was Not Doing These Things. Losing solid fat, especially from the belly, was a remarkable achievement. I felt healthier, happier, and more satisfied with my life.
As a by-product of my excellent health and fitness, after 50 years of age, the first time in my life, I witnessed definitions in my belly. Here is How I Gained Six-Packs After 50 Years Old.
By learning the importance of insulin in weight management, I selected a new lifestyle that supported my goals. I am on one meal daily for a long time. I love it because it suits to my lifestyle.
I keep my optimal weight and emotionally feel joyful. Saying goodbye to frequent eating, calorie counting, and excessive cardio healed me. Unlearning and removing these bad habits for me optimized my hormones, insulin, cortisol, and testosterone.
I hope my story provide you with useful insights.
Thank you for reading my perspectives.
About the author
I'm a writer and published author with four decades of content development experience in business, technology, leadership, and health. I work as a postdoctoral researcher and consultant. My background is at https://digitalmehmet.com.