Exercise and dieting aside, behavior and biology appear to have a real influence on weight gain
Eating When You Should be Asleep & Other Weight-Loss Saboteurs
We're a country obsessed with being thin, yet two thirds of American adults -- and nearly one third of children and adolescents -- are overweight or obese and either suffering from or at risk of serious chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Ironic, given the thriving weight-loss industry that seems to churn out a new diet book or fat-loss pill every other week. Even when dieters do succeed at slimming down, research has found that the majority end up gaining back their losses.
What gives? Yes, weight loss depends largely on getting the balance right between calories consumed and calories burned. Yet, as evidenced by individuals' struggle to control weight and also by the nation's alarmingly increased rate of overweight and obese residents in recent decades, mastering this seemingly simple formula is no small task. Willpower alone probably won't do the job, since several sneaky factors may be complicating the equation. Here are a few that may be working against your efforts to control your own weight.
Eating very late at night. Snacking at times that are out of sync with your circadian clock might be promoting weight gain. Researchers at
To investigate whether late-night eating might translate into more pounds than daytime eating, the
Taking in too much added sugar. The highly processed American diet is packed with added sugars and syrups, which quickly translate into a whole mess of trouble.
[Check out this list of foods surprisingly high in added sugar.]
Not getting sufficient sleep. The lower people dip below seven hours a night, the fatter they seem to become. A theory about why: The intricate dance between hunger hormones appears to be disrupted when a person clocks too little shut-eye; for example, leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered while ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost. According to a 2006
Your body desperately wants to store fat. The body's physiological drive to store energy harks back to humans' primitive days when food was actually scarce (can you imagine?) and we regularly expended calories scavenging for our next meal. Today, energy-dense food is everywhere, and the majority of us sit on our duff all day, to the detriment of our health. As the body's fat stores rise, for example, the pancreas produces an increased amount of insulin, the hormone that helps usher glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells. That can lead to "insulin resistance" -- and too much glucose in the blood, the hallmark of diabetes.
Much to the chagrin of us all, fat cells rarely disappear (unlike other cells in the body, which are programmed to die through a process called apoptosis). Weight gain involves the beefing up of the body's fat cells and the creation of more once the existing ones have maxed out in size and storage capacity. Weight loss only slims these cells down, so once you've created new fat cells, weight loss becomes a battle with their drive to store energy and stay plump. Therefore, it's much easier to stay trim over time than to maintain a weight loss. When you hit a high on the scale, your biochemistry wants to keep you there. Evolution laughs last.
© Tribune Media Services