ENERGY IN ENERGY OUT
Humans have two types of digestive states, this means that we are either in the process of eating and storing calories, or burning the calories that our body has stored as energy from previous meals. This energy that we burn off is stored in the form of fat and glycogen, (stored forms of sugars and carbohydrates) from the food that we consume.
Historically our bodies were designed to be able to consume food (feed) and have enough stored energy to cover us during periods of no food (fasting). This was generally applied when food sources were low. Feed versus fast is the body’s natural yin/yang balance that is applied to our burning of calories however modern day diets have taken us in a different direction with our eating habits. This often means that we are in a constant state of fed and digestion as food is more readily available. No longer do we have to hunt for and gather our weekly food supplies, although a trip to the supermarket may sometimes feel like you’ve run a marathon, in reality, overeating is so much easier.
Feed – Eating and storing calories.
Fasting – A downtime in our eating, using the calories that we have previously stored.
Fasting used to be a very simplistic way in which our bodies regulated the calories for us. It stored a little when we ate and used the stores when we couldn’t eat. Due to this, our bodies are actually designed to store fat as a survival mechanism, but we can have a tendency to overindulge at times which disrupts the equilibrium of the feeding and fasting process, meaning we are not burning our energy stores as efficiently as we could. Research suggests that we can spend as much as 20 hours per day in the (feed) state. (1)
Weight loss and fasting has lost the fundamental core of its origin, it was a natural process but, the meaning of the process is lost in modern day society evoking negative and unhealthy connotations. Consider this; every day in the United States the food industry produces enough food to supply the 300 million plus population with 4000 calories each per day (2). In addition, 10 billion U.S dollars is spent on food promotion each year! (3) Thus, the food industry continues to push their ideologies on food intake, blinding us to our body’s natural calorie consumption process and influencing us with fad diets, and food trends. The more we continue to over-consume, the further we move away from the core of our body’s needs.
The industry relies on us eating, overeating, fad eating, eating six small meals a day, eating a high protein diet, eating high calcium foods, eating whole wheat diets, consuming supplements, and diet pills. Whatever the recommendation is, it revolves around food, food, food.
In an age when so many of us are trying to manage our weight healthily, the answer always seems to be ‘diet’. But that’s not always the best route to take. Let me make this clear, fasting is by no means the purposeful restriction of food, rather our bodies own way of fuelling us between meals, providing that we eat just the right amount that we need to see us through the day. In his controversial book, ‘The Obesity Myth’ author Paul Campos states that he does not believe that ‘dieting’ is an effective weight loss method.(4) He may have a valid point in the fact that we tend to overlook the simplest form of calorie regulation, that being, eat what you need to survive and allow your body time to burn off its natural stores, restoring the natural yin/yang of your digestive system.
1. University of Guelph, Unpublished Research, in Review.
2. Marion Nestle. Food politics. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. 2003
3. Brian Wansink. Marketing Food. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. 2005
4. Paul Campos. The Obesity Myth. New York, New York: Gotham Books. 2004