The secret life of fat

  • Is everything we know about weight loss WRONG?
  • What happens when you threaten your body fat…
  • Hidden factors that might ruin your diet

This is a boom time of year for the diet industry.

Loads of people are trying to lose body fat.

That’s all well and good – in theory.

And what most of us believe is that by simply lowering the amount of food we put in our body, we will lose weight.

But what if the following were true?…

  • Your body fat is an intelligent entity that can control your brain – and make it crave MORE food.
  • Your body stores more fat the more you diet.
  • Your fat cells can increase even if you’re not eating!

Then it suddenly gets more complicated. Because the diet that you’re working so hard on this winter might be making things worse – and all that weight you lose in January and February might be back by the summer.

Those three shocking statements all come from a book called The Secret Life of Fat. It’s author, Sylvia Tara, believes that “everything we think we know about weight loss is wrong.”

She points out that fat is a more formidable opponent than many of us realise.

When fat fights back

We tend to think of fat as simple, jelly-like stuff in our bodies. It gets bigger or smaller depending on what we eat…

But Sylvia Tara’s book reveals that your body fat has a MIND OF ITS OWN. And it doesn’t like it when you attack it.

As she puts it, fat is a “dynamic endocrine organ that has a life-or-death influence over us.”

Your body fat communicates with other parts of the body via hormones, releasing leptin to tell the brain it doesn’t need more food.

But when you go on a diet, it feels threatened and begins to fight to get you back to the weight you were BEFORE you started dieting.

It releases less of the leptin hormone, meaning that you find it harder and harder to feel full… thereby making it more likely that you put all that weight back on again.

And it gets worse…

On a diet your fat cells become MORE responsive to food, meaning you put on MORE weight for eating the same amount as someone who is not on a diet.

Body fat is a cruel beast!

In an interview, Tara told The Times: “A person who has lost weight has to fun five miles for every four miles a person who is naturally that weight does in order to burn as many calories.”

In other words, the battle to lose weight is a lot harder than many people give credit for.

And here’s the one that surprised me…

Fat can use stem cells to regenerate – meaning that your fat levels can increase even if you’re not eating.

That’s kind of terrifying when you think about it because that’s how cancerous tumours behave.

There are other causes of fat gain that Sylvia Tara reveals too…

Hidden factors that might be ruining your diet

She writes that weight gain is also down to:

  • your genetic makeup
  • your gender (women tend to store more fat)
  • some forms of cold virus which correlate with a much higher risk of being overweight (four times as much risk for people who harbour this virus)

All of which really makes a mockery of this idea that there is a single diet solution that works for everyone.

So what’s the solution?

Well, Sylvia Tara’s point is that we all need to avoid crash dieting or following the latest fad, and instead find our own solutions based on what works for us.

However, her findings (after five years studying thousands of research papers) suggest the following:

  • You should boost the amount of leafy greens and probiotics in your diet so that you have a more diverse range of bacteria. This helps your body fight fat. You can find out more about probiotics on the Good Life Letter website here
  • Try fasting for 16 hours regularly throughout the week. I have some information on fasting diets on the Good Life Letter website here
  • Do intensive exercise three times a week. This is fine but a lot of people cannot do this because of age, illness or issues with pain, in which case I recommend walking or swimming. Even if it doesn’t burn fat it’s healthy and gets your metabolism going.
  • Get no fewer than seven hours sleep each night. This also isn’t going to be possible for many people, but I have plenty of information on this on  the Good Life Letter website here

While I’m not in 100% agreement with all Sylvia Tara’s dieting solutions, her work on the complexities of fat is enlightening.

The pattern seems to be that science is continually finding new complexities to our bodies… new interrelationships between different organs, processes and hormones… and one size-fits-all-solutions are just not very likely or helpful.

On top of that, successful dieting is largely down to self-control and discipline. You have to work harder and exercise more to control your weight than many non-dieters do.

Essentially, life is not fair.

There is one encouraging idea, though…

Two years to victory!

According to several weight loss experts I’ve encountered, if you can control your weight for two years, you will be highly likely to stay at that new weight in the long run.

In other words, after about two years fat sort of gives up on returning to the heavier version of you and recalibrates.

Two years is a long time of course, which is why the sustainable way to lose weight is to find a healthy-but-tasty eating plan you can realistically stick at long-term.