Why is keeping normal weight so difficult ?

If you are an athlete and train 10-15 hours per week your daily energy consumption may be as high as 5-6.000 calories and you will still not gain weight.

The rest of us have a energy expenditure of 2-3000 calories depending on our activities, our body weight, and the average temperature in our direct environment.

It’s no big surprise that the athlete feels hungry and eats a lot. When he stops his career he is bound to feel less hungry – and he does. At the same time most ex-athletes have problems not gaining weight. This fact should give us a hint that energy consumption is not fully dependent on our energy expenditure.

We see the same phenomenon in obese people, they feel appetite which isn’t related to their energy expenditure.

The common explanation is that the ex athlete or obese person has a psychological dependency on the pleasure from eating high calorie food. It’s  a common assumption that an overweight person may be helped to change his life style towards less energy consumption and a higher energy expenditure through diet and increased exercise. Health authorities certainly have been promoting this life style change for 40 years now. The same authorities also see that in general this strategy has failed spectacularly and we humans are collectively becoming alarmingly overweight in the West and in the emerging economies.

Does it mean that we all have a psychological dependency on the pleasure derived from eating high calorie foods ?

No, – in reality  athletes are strong willed and overweight people do not have weaker wills than the rest of us. Both athletes and obese have a bacteria profile that work to make them gain weight. If we all had the same profile we would also feel increased hunger!.This insight have been provided in very resent studies into the mechanism’s that regulate appetite.

In one study, rodents given a high calorie food containing sugar and fat did not become less hungry, but due to a hormonal response ( increased ghrelin production), they became more hungry (and obese).

When the obese mice had their gut bacteria exchanged with gut bacteria from lean mice their appetite was reduced and they began to loose weight.

The same phenomenon is found in humans; The interaction between the bacteria and the metabolism causes us to gain or loose weight.

Now if we see that the food we eat causes us to have a specific profile of gut bacteria and these bacteria in turn cause us to release either appetite increasing hormones like grehlin (and insulin), or appetite reducing hormones like GLP-1 and PYY, then it becomes clear, that lifestyle changes may not be a matter of a strong will or a well planned diet and exercise program.

This insight offers a rather satisfying answer to why the health authorities advise to change lifestyle has had so little effect: The advice hasn’t taken the appetite regulating hormones into account, but relied on the simplistic assumption, that a human will feel full when he has eaten sufficient food to cover his energy expenditure.

We may use the insight to develop an alternative approach or method to dieting and staying slim.

We must eat to change the microbiata in the gut, in order to avoid releasing appetite increasing hormones and instead produce appetite reducing hormones. If we can achieve this then the recommended lifestyle changes  will actually be achievable, because we are helped by the hormones.

It’s not good trying to work against hormones,- they tend to win in the end. Fortunately for most people it’s relatively simple to change the profile of the gut bacteria,  by increasing soluble fiber intake e.g. by increasing daily intake of vegetables to the recommended 800 g.  The change will happen in approximately 48 hours.

My latest smoothie aim at providing this change and it has a high content of soluble fibers.

If you produce smoothies or similar you may yourself experiment with recipes; I use this webside to look for soluble fiber content in new ingredients:

Fiber Content of Foods

My latest smoothie is easy to make it’s tasty and high on soluble fibers:

150 g sweet potato

150 g spinach

1 peach

1 green banana

150 g strawberries

1 grapefruit

20 g of ginger

150 g peas

150 g pointed cabbage

500 ml. water.

I sometimes drink smoothie at lunch instead of water. I do it because I actually like it and not because I’m trying to change my lifestyle. I find changing lifestyle works best if it’s easy, tasty and effective. The smoothie works for me and has done so increasingly for the past 18 months.

Healthy greetings Ole

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