There are two major hormones that affect weight gain and loss, Leptin and Insulin.
Leptin governs appetite, insulin controls glucose (and by effect fat metabolism).
The brain uses leptin to determine how much fat we have. If it thinks that there is too much it will suppress appetite, increase body temperature, make us fidgety, and all sorts of things to burn off the excess fat. If it thinks there is too little then we will feel hungry.
We get fat because of two problems, either leptin is not being secreted (rare condition), or leptin is not being received by the brain (leptin resistance common problem).
Hypothalamus (in the brain) may not receive leptin if there is something wrong with it.
There are two known ways in which this happens, leptin receptors becoming bad because some sugars get attached to them or there is inflammation.
Glucose normally does not attach easily, but other sugars like fructose (in sugar or fruits), galactose (milk) attach readily to these receptors. Artificial sweeteners are also not safe. It is better to cure the sweet tooth than trying to seek replacements.
Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) is used to provide inflammatory signaling in the body. Omega3’s provide anti-inflammatory signaling. When the two are equal in concentration then our body works best. If there is too much difference, then we get problems. Its not easy to get Omega 3. We are getting huge amounts of Omega 6 from our vegetable refined oils. Just look at their PUFA ratios, eg suffola contains 54% Omega 6 and 7% Omega 3.
The bad ratio can cause a lot of problems, including inflammation of hypothalamus.
If you have got leptin resistance, then you will get fat, and the fat gets deposited around the liver and other organs.
The fat deposition interferes with Livers well being. Liver being the main organ that controls metabolism, we get what is called metabolic syndrome. This causes the beginning of Insulin resistance.
Insulin’s main job is to tell all cells to store glucose and other nutrients. When glucose is high, insulin is secreted to reduce the glucose levels. It also tells the cells to stop using fat, so that glucose level can be reduced more efficiently. Our body does not like glucose levels to be high at all. The total glucose in the blood should be less than 5 gms.
Glucose is not a problem for people who don’t have insulin resistance. You can know this if you get your PP blood sugar (2 hours after eating rice) and it is around 80. Don’t do this test after eating some slow digesting carbs like whole wheat. You will not get the best results.
To lose fat you want to keep your insulin down for a long time, so that the body can use fat.
The solution is to eat less number of times (not more than 3 times, no snacking in between). Also eat less amount of carbs, and eat simple starches, like potatoes and rice, rather than complex ones which will keep the insulin high for a longer time.
In addition you can skip meals ie fasting. It is also very good to skip carbs in a meal entirely if you can eat only meat at a meal.
In a nutshell.
1) Get rid of all high omega 6 sources, like refined oil, large quantities of nuts (cashews and almonds are OK).
2) Use low Omega 6 sources like Desi Ghee (vegetable ghee like Dalda are poisons), Coconut oil, Olive Oil.
3) Use high Omega 6 but with nearly equal amount of Omega 3 oils like mustard oil or Canola oil. Avoid cooking with these ;-), as PUFA are unstable.
4) Supplement Omega 3 to fix the imbalance by eating some fish (oil). Flax seeds are not very useful, but possible for vegetarians.
5) Get rid of concentrated sources of fructose like commercial drinks including fruit juices, coke etc.
6) Reduce consumption of sweet fruits like Apple, Pineapple, Melons, etc. They are bad in excess.
7) Eat at most 3 times a day, no snacks in between.
8) Skip meals, when not feeling hungry or deliberately if you can handle it.
9) Eat more fat and less carbs at each meal.
10) If non-vegetarian sometimes skip carbs completely, by eating only a meat diet.
11) It is useful to eat more protein when wanting to lose fat, as protein helps by satiating and forcing the body to use fat.
Weight training can be used to increase metabolic rate by building muscle mass and increase insulin sensitivity by burning excess glycogen. Both will help in reducing fat. Sprints and high intensity training also help the same way. Treadmills don’t help and are bad for the knees. The best way to exercise does not require machines. A Bar and weights are all that you need. Squat and Deadlift are the best exercises.
Calorie in Calorie out is good in theory, but in practice it does not work. Our body’s energy requirement is not constant. It increases and decreases with food availability. The trick is not to give it less food, but to fix the system which manages fat.