If you are like me, you carry around an extra 15-20 pounds. Not an overwhelming number, but bothersome just the same. I am not considered obese, just a little overweight. God knows I’ve lost those 15 lbs. a few times over. I probably lost my own body weight throughout the years. Those pounds just keep coming back. It would take a year or two but eventually I’d find myself back where I’ve started. For some reason my body thinks it needs to be ready for starvation and stores fat around my waist.
And that seems to be the problem. Not the calories, but the fat that refuses to go down. Diet experts say that dieting is really simple; in order to lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. That is all. What this theory doesn’t take into account is that the body adjusts to the amount of calories it receives, usually within 24-48 hours. It gets less energy, it slows down the metabolism and goes into starvation mode. You know how many calories you eat, but you no longer know how much you burn. That is where alternating meal plans can help in weight loss.
Our body spends energy not only when we exercise. Burning calories is done all the time, 24 hours a day, in 3 different ways: The resting metabolic rate – what the body needs in order to function i.e. lungs to expand and heart to contract. That accounts for about 73% of the calories that we burn a day. The second way the body spends calories is on thermogenesis – creating heat and cooling the body down. That accounts for about 15% of the energy the body spends. The rest, a very low percentage, is spent engaging in physical activity.
Another aspect of the ‘dieting yoyo’ has to do with the two kinds of fat we store in our bodies. The white fat is very much-needed because it is used as transmitter and conductor of nutrients to all the body cells. The brown fat is the one which is stored for further needs and accumulates around the belly and important organs. This kind of fat looks darker because it includes blood cells and the mechanism to start working if needed.
White fat turns into brown fat with time. As the body receives more fat to store, the fat cells, let’s call them the mother cells, get fatter and fatter. When they can’t expend anymore, they split into two cells, and the process continues. More and more generations of fat cells are born, and the layer of fat expands. When the body needs energy, it burns the brown fat but it only empties the cell. The empty cells do not disappear. They just shrink and remain ready to absorb any fat that comes by. Thus, the best way to avoid having weight problems in adulthood is not to develop those cells during childhood at all. Those extra fat cells will accompany us for the rest of our lives.
The alternative meals plan helps in weight loss because it doesn’t let the body get into starvation mode. It increases the thermogenesis process in the body to cause it to use more calories while you rest. It encourages the body to use the stored fat.
These programs, which exists in different forms since the 90’s (from Princeton Diet, to the French Dukan Diet) calls for alternating days in which in one day, you only get to eat lean proteins (Lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, low-fat dairy products and eggs. Whole grain pasta and bread will be introduced later) and on another day, you are allowed to eat an unlimited amount of vegetables with some protein.
It is very easy to follow. No measuring, weighing, calculating.
You don’t feel deprived because you can eat some of your favorite foods the next day.
The alternating meal diet increases metabolism and expenditure of calories through thermogenesis. The body works mainly by breaking down yesterday’s meals with a little bit of today’s. On protein days it breaks down the vegetable from last night and so on. The level of energy is not affected.
You can adjust the diet to your lifestyle and inclination. You can do 1 day each, or a few days in a row of one kind of meal plan.
It is better than all the high protein diets (Atkins, Ornish) because it isn’t as dangerous to your health like when you eat fatty meats for a week or two. You always balance it out with the same amount of vegetable days.
Krisca Te works with Open Colleges, Australia’s leading courses of TAFE courses equivalent and counselling courses. When not working, you can find her actively participating in local dog show events – in support of her husband.