Actual Calorie Accounting
Restricting calories can be very dangerous for some people. Let’s say you decide to restrict you calories to 1500 per day and your bodies tissues need 2500 per day to survive. You are not technically starving but some of your tissue cannot survive.
If your metabolism is very healthy and you are fairly active, the hope is your body will burn off the energy stored in adipose tissue to make up the difference. Each pound of human fat (adipose tissue) holds about 3,000 calories. If all goes well you will lose two pounds per week. Now, let’s say you are making the same choices but your metabolism is not doing so well. Now your body is going to do some very interesting calorie accounting. Again, this is about which tissues survive and which are used to make up the calorie deficit.
It takes about 50 calories to keep one pound of muscle tissue alive and about 5 calories to keep a pound of adipose tissue alive. If you were the accountant of your body, how would you spend your calories if you were suddenly short 1,000 per day? What happens for most people is they lose muscle tissue way faster than adipose tissue. This is very hard on your liver and kidneys and, although you would be losing “weight” you still have all of the challenges of having an excess of adipose tissue. “Weight loss is different than fat loss.”
Angiogenesis – The why of weight loss plateaus.
As your body stores extra food energy as adipose tissue it must also create vascular tissue, arteries and veins, to support that tissue. You may find it surprising and interesting to know that each adult human being has enough vascular tissue (arteries, veins and capillaries) to circle the planet Earth eight times – that is close to 200,00 miles by the way. Said another way, every extra pound of “fat” requires that we grow about 100 miles of vascular tissue, a process called angiogenesis.
When we begin to consistently lose weight as fat, or burn off that stored energy, we also have to re-absorb the vascular tissue. A process called anti-angiogenesis. This is not always easy for the liver and kidneys and can be the reason why we hit plateaus. This is especially true for anyone with any kind of vascular disease, anyone chronically stressed, has kidney or liver disease, or anyone who is pre-diabetic or anyone who eats too much fried lean red meat. High adrenal levels (stress and inflammation), high insulin levels (sugars and starches) and excessive homocysteine levels (fried red meats) all irritate the inner lining of the blood vessels. The liver and kidneys have to manage this constant repair process and can become depleted.
If your blood vessels are already in a state of distress, your liver and kidneys will have harder time re-absorbing the material that makes up your blood vessels. This is one of the reasons people who are doing everything right hit plateaus and stop losing weight. If you have a sense that this may be true for you then you MUST avoid caffeine, alcohol and unfortunately fried red meats as much as possible. It is possible to reduce the production of homocysteine by braising red meat. Braising is simply roasting meat at a lower than normal temperature, about 310, half covered in a marinade. I make my marinade out of red wine, vinegar, tamari, onions, garlic, etc. Every 30 minutes, just turn over the pieces of meat.