“How do I get rid of body fat” and “how do I gain weight” are two of the most common questions I get. My answer “you eat the right foods at the right time and you avoid the wrong foods at the wrong time, and move more” is an answer I am comfortable giving because it is completely accurate. However, a lot of people don’t like this answer and when I ask them why they they mention that they’ve heard it before and that they are looking for something new or quicker.
And I have a moment when I think that our species shouldn’t be at the top of the food chain.
I think the issue most people have with their relationship with food is that they don’t really understanding the nature of the impact it has on their bodies. Food has drug-like effects on the body. Some foods cause the release chemicals that have a powerful impact on the body – chemicals that require you to have a doctors prescription.
From a body composition point of view, the key chemical to control and manipulate is insulin. In non-diabetic individuals the body will release it when the blood sugar level increases to a certain level; a level that I call the insulin threshold (IT). This occurs because too high a blood sugar level can cause a number of very serious consequences in humans. There are other mechanisms that promote fat storage in human beings, but insulin is the most efficient energy storage hormone that the body releases. If you cross the IT while you are working out, the body will begin to transport energy into the muscle cells to help fuel the movement. If you cross it while you are not working out, the body will transport energy into the fat cells to help fuel future movement.
Insulin is a very powerful chemical that one can control to create desired changes in body composition. When we want to release it, we consume high glycemic index carbs such as dextrose and when we want to keep it steady we consume lower glycemic index carbs or consume very small amounts of carbs. By timing our insulin events we are better able to store the type of energy we need to improve body composition to either lower body fat or increase lean mass.
All foods have some impact on our hormone levels so it is important that we are aware of these impacts before we eat to make sure we are facilitating the desired response from our bodies. Otherwise we are basically reaching into a medicine cabinet and popping random pills.