Ever since the bathroom scale was invented so many people, especially women, have had their daily mood determined by the morning ritual of jump-ing on that silly device. The reality is that other than your knees, your body doesn’t care what you weigh.
What it REALLY cares about is how much adipose tissue, a nice way of saying “fat” you are storing in and around your internal organs like your liver. We call that visceral fat, white adipose tissue or WAT for short. Your body also really cares how much muscle you carry as this determines your metabolic rate or BMR, the number of calories you burn in a 24 hr period just performing bodily functions like breathing, pumping blood from your heart, thinking with your brain, making urine with your kidneys etc.
Unfortunately, most people including many doctors, are completely focused on weight and BMI, which is simply weight divided by your height. Even life insurance companies bill your premiums based on it. New governmental programs actually reimburse doctors based on how well patients are doing with blood pressure, cholesterol and yes, lowering their body weight and BMI instead of what’s most important, reducing body fat%
It is not being OVER-WEIGHT but rather being OVER-FAT which causes all the medical complications like diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, cancers and heart disease. Over-fat is a horrible sounding word so we prefer to call it UNHEALTHY BODY COMPOSITION. This relates to your body fat percentage, that is, how much fat you’re carrying compared to your muscle mass. From an appearance perspective, since fat takes up 2-3X more space than muscle, losing 10 lbs of scale weight will not come close to improving your appearance in the mirror or how your clothes fit as compared to losing 10 lbs of body fat. As you can see this woman lost only one lb but she lost 20 lbs of fat and gained 19 lbs of muscle.
You can follow your body fat % on an inexpensive body fat scale for around $50 or so. Many have blue tooth to talk to your smartphone and even graphs so you can make sure you’re moving in the right direction. As long as you’re losing more lbs of fat than muscle you are
getting healthier and probably liking what you see in the mirror. If you’re losing more muscle than fat you are getting less healthy. You are also setting yourself up for regain since muscle determines your basal metabolic rate or BMR. If you are over age 21, especially if you are female, chances are you won’t get that muscle back. The ONLY way to reduce fat stores in your body while maintaining your muscle mass and metabolism is by moderately reducing calories by about a third and eating less white carbs since these stimulate insulin, THE fat storage hormone. Just as importantly is eating about a gram of protein per lb of lean body mass or about 0.7grams per lb of body weight. The average American woman weighs 170 lbs at 5ft 4inches (size 16) so she should be getting about 120 grams of protein daily to lose fat and keep muscle. Unfortunately, the average American woman eats less than half that much protein. What’s worse is when they go on extremely low calorie “fad” diets, eating salads and rice cakes. The same thing happens when they are taking weight loss “anorectic” drugs like phentermine or the newer oral or injectable agents. They are eating even less protein therefore losing muscle mass and dropping their BMR which simply sets them up for regain as soon as they stop the drugs.
Getting enough protein is inconvenient. It’s expensive (especially meat and eggs if you can find them), it has to be refrigerated and prepared and there’s typically dirty pots, pans and dishes to clean. Carbs, particularly white starchy and sugary processed foods are so much easier and certainly cheaper. Women in general are more carb focused that men since evolutionarily women were built to store enough fat to be able to carry a baby to term and make enough milk for the baby to survive. That worked great until the last 100 years when processed and fast food became available and so cheap and tasty. White food (breads, pastries, rice, flour, sugar, pasta etc) increase serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter in the brain and so to some extent they are addictive.
If you are trying to lose fat while keeping muscle and therefore not regaining, the most scientifically proven and certainly convenient method is by eating fresh protein and produce and adding in a couple of all natural, low calorie, high protein/vitamin/mineral shakes to obliterate your appetite. The shakes will keep you away from unhealthy and fattening white processed food like bread, pastries, pasta, rice, sugar laden candy etc. It’s truly that simple!
By Jonathan Burg, MD|2023-04-11T06:13:23-07:00April 8, 2023|Newsletter|Comments Off on Who Cares What You Weigh! Get off the D**mn Scale!