Normally we have been accustomed to the simple formula that being overweight is the result of eating too much and exercising too little. As much as there is some truth in that, it is also too vague and doesn’t apply to everyone. Why is it that you find people who probably eat more and drink whatever they want but never seem to gain any weight? Some people barely exercise at all but seem to be lean and healthy throughout their lives. Yet on the flipside you get some who eat relatively less, maintain an active lifestyle but are still overweight. Some people seem to maintain good shape effortlessly while others have to diet constantly and take other drastic measures in order to “keep up”. The answer to this is HEREDITY. We were all clearly not created equal. It’s just life: it wasn’t meant to be fair. The good news is that it is not a lost cause. There are ways of making nature respond in your favour. In the meantime however, acknowledge who you are and what your body is capable of. If you are a person who is prone to gaining weight easily, then you shouldn’t feel discouraged by comparing yourself to someone who is naturally lean. These are factors beyond your control. You obviously have to put in more effort, time and attention in this (weight-loss) area than them. You clearly cannot follow the same rules and eat the same things that naturally lean people eat. By accepting who you are and your natural capabilities, you can work your way around that and make the most of what you have!
HEREDITARY FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Your hormones are directly influenced by your genetic makeup. Nutrition author Gary Taub opines that if your parents were overweight then you are most likely to become overweight as well. During the phases of development in the womb, a child gets most of its nutrients and hormonal influences from its mother (through the placenta and umbilical cord) in proportion to the level of those nutrients in the mother’s blood. As the child’s organs develop, they are influenced and designed to handle and process the nutrients in the mother’s blood. If the mother has a lot of glucose in her blood for instance, then the child will develop more insulin secreting cells in its pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that specialises in
converting excess glucose in your blood into body fat. The fuller effects of insulin will be discussed later in detail, however this is what mainly distinguishes from as early as childhood the people prone to getting fat easily from people who are generally lean. Other genetic factors are where your body fat is stored. Some people tend to store more fat in areas that make them appear sexy and voluptuous (breasts, hips and buttocks) whereas others only store fat in areas such as the tummy and the back (love-handles). For this you can go ahead and blame your parents. It’s almost the same with your height, hair colour and foot size: you either have the genetics or you don’t. Most of us fall in this bracket of unfair genetics. We cannot eat whatever we want without consequences because our genetic make-up makes us very efficient at storing body fat. However the good news is that we can still do something to change our physiques despite our natural setbacks through appropriate nutrition and exercise designed for our body types. It will take time and effort however it can be done!
This is also another factor beyond our control (no one chooses to be born a boy or a girl). Naturally women tend to have slower metabolisms than men due to their hormonal makeup. Men are naturally more muscular because they secrete 30 times more testosterone than women. On average, women have 7-10% more body fat than men, and correspondingly less muscle mass. Minimum (“essential”) body fat percentages are about 12% for women, and 4% for men. This difference in body composition means that men typically have higher metabolic rates and will usually need more calories (about 300 more per day) than women of comparable weights, because muscle burns more calories than fat. Apart from that men and women tend to fatten differently as well. In men, fat storage activity is higher in the fat tissue of the gut, so this is where men tend to get fat. In women, the activity of fat storage is high on the fat cells below the waist, which is why they tend to fatten around the hips and butt, and low on the fat cells of the gut. After menopause, the fat storage activity in women’s abdominal fat catches up to that of men, and so they tend to put on excess fat in the gut too. When women get pregnant, fat storage activity increases on their butts and hips; this is where they store the calories they’ll need later to nurse their babies. Both women and men can lose body fat effectively with proper fitness and nutritional strategies. This process doesn’t require a drastically different approach specific to gender, but it will most likely require more patience from women.
Metabolism is the sum of the physical and chemical processes by which food is transformed into energy. To simplify it, when nutritionists speak of metabolism, they mainly refer to the rate at which food is used up for fuel and body maintenance instead of being stored as fat. A fast metabolism is one that ensures rapid food conversion into fuel whereas a slow metabolism is one that mostly stores up consumed food and converts it into body fat. Metabolism has two parts—a catabolic reaction and an anabolic reaction. The catabolic reaction breaks down your food so it can be easily digested and the nutrients can go where they are supposed to in your body. The anabolic reaction occurs when these smaller, broken down pieces are used to build new tissue and take care of your body. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) refers to how fast your body breaks down your food while at rest. Remember that you still use up energy daily for basic functions such as breathing, digestion, blood circulation, basic movements e.t.c. Your BMR is partially hereditary and it’s responsible for burning around 70% of the calories we burn each day. It is this rate that determines how fast or slow your overall metabolism is and ultimately how your body weight is affected.
You should also consider the three main body types that are naturally affected by their basal metabolic rate ( BMR). The first group are the mesomorphs (those with athletic builds) who tend to have a relatively medium to fast BMR. Endomorphs (those with bigger bodies) on the other hand tend to have relatively slow BMR. The final group are the ectomorphs (those with very thin builds) who have a distinct build that makes them have a very fast BMR. Ectomorphs have a very difficult time gaining weight and putting on muscle due to their overly fast metabolism. The same cannot be said about endomorphs (most overweight people) that are at the opposite tip of the scale. Despite being born with a slow BMR, you can consciously influence your metabolism through nutritional factors as well as exercise. Great news is that there are certain food types that trigger your fat burning metabolism. Apart from that, resistance training has been proven to be highly effective in drastically changing physical muscular attributes that in turn boost and speed up your BMR.
Nutrition Author Gary Taubes expresses how: When we grow taller, it’s hormones and enzymes that are promoting our growth, and we consume more calories than we expend as a result. Growth is the cause—increased appetite and decreased energy expenditure are the effects. When we grow fatter, the same is true as well. We don’t get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we’re getting fat. Anything that makes us fatter will make us overeat in the process. That’s what insulin does. Meanwhile, our bodies are getting bigger because we’re putting on fat, and so our fuel requirements are increasing. When we get fatter, we also add muscle to support that fat. (Thanks again in part to insulin, which assures that whatever protein we consume is used for repairing muscle cells and organs and for adding muscle, if necessary.) So, as we fatten, our energy demand increases, and our appetite will increase for this reason as well—particularly our appetite for carbohydrates, because this is the only nutrient our cells will burn for fuel when insulin is elevated. This is a vicious cycle, and it’s precisely what we’d like to avoid. If we’re predisposed to get fat, we’ll be driven to crave precisely those carbohydrate-rich foods that make us fat.
Your body shape changes naturally as you age. You cannot avoid some of these changes, but your lifestyle choices may slow or speed the process. The human body is made up of fat, lean tissue (muscles and organs), bones, and water. After age 30, people tend to lose lean tissue. Your muscles, liver, kidney, and other organs may lose some of their cells. This process of muscle loss is called atrophy. As you get older, you also get more insulin-resistant, but this almost always happens to your muscle tissue first and only later, if at all, to your fat tissue. As a general rule, fat cells always stay more sensitive to insulin than muscle cells do. So, even if you’re lean and active when you’re young, your muscle cells are likely to become resistant to insulin as you get older. As they do, you’ll respond by secreting more insulin. This means that the more you age—more and more calories will be diverted into fat, leaving fewer and fewer available to fuel the rest of the body. As you enter middle age, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to remain lean. You’ll also begin to manifest a multitude of other metabolic disturbances that accompany this insulin resistance and the elevated insulin levels that go hand in hand: your blood pressure goes up, as does your triglyceride level (body fat). Your HDL cholesterol (aka, the “good cholesterol”) goes down; you become glucose intolerant, which means you have trouble controlling your blood sugar, and
so on. And you’ll become increasingly sedentary (inactive), a side effect of the energy drain into the fat tissue. Once again, only exercise and proper nutrition can slow down the effects of aging. What you would have been able to do 10 years ago is not the same with what you are capable of doing now. It will take longer to get your desired results however take it at your own stride to the best of your abilities.
Oscar (Dj Sulfa) is a weight-loss expert, graphic designer , musician, dating coach, motivational speaker and author . A self- proclaimed experimenter who is fascinated by cracking the codes to achievement in order to make life easier, faster, cheaper and more pleasurable in the pursuit of the results that you seek. Follow him on the following social media links: Facebook Instagram