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So... if formerly obese people forever alter their metabolism

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Old 02-08-2013, 12:48 PM   #1
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Default So... if formerly obese people forever alter their metabolism

...to a lower BMR, doesn't that just mean our bodies have learned to be more efficient, in other words, better, than the average joe who has never been obese?

I got to thinking about this as I was driving home from the gym. If I can do the exact same things as, let's say, Jane, at the gym. My sleep is as good, everything else is the same, but I need 1700 calories to maintain my 160 pounds and she needs 2000 calories to maintain 160 pounds, doesn't that give me the evolutionary advantage? (not saying these are correct or accurate numbers - I just picked random numbers).

So, if resources become scarce, my body will be better adapted? Or, if resources get scarce, will her body adapt so that she too will need less fuel? It probably will, but not until she drops too much weight and puts her life in peril.

And that got me to thinking more. Isn't it better to need less food to do the same functions always? Or do we not get enough nutrients with these lower caloric needs?

It just made me wonder if perhaps people should fast or have times of scarcity so the human body is more efficient so that they don't need as much food which would make the demand for food world-wide go down.

Am I being too far out there? Being a weirdo? Just from observations of when we go overseas, it seems that in some other parts of the world they eat FAR less than Americans do and not because they are hungry, but because they don't need/want the extra food. There has to be studies of average calories consumed per region/country? isn't there? And to compare apples to apples - populations of similar wealth and food resources.

OK... I'm a weirdo, but it got me thinking!
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:53 PM   #2
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HEH, this reminds me of a comic I saw last week: http://www.apenotmonkey.com/2013/01/30/thin-wins/

There are a few more that I want to post in another section on the forum.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:05 PM   #3
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Have you seen the HBO series of documentaries called "weight of the world"? They address this. They said that if you have two people of the same weight, but one has lost weight to get to that weight, and they eat the same thing. The meal may be the correct calories for the first person, but the meal would be a 20% overeating for the weight-reduced person. It has to do with a chemical in our brains.

Even though we're healthier at that reduced weight, our body still thinks we're in a starvation situation (not like 'starvation mode' but its like it thinks we're entering a period of less food availability). Good news is that they are doing research to help with this.

Its a great series of documentaries, they look at a lot of factors, and really do a good job.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:17 PM   #4
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Melissa, you aren't a weirdo!! Your posts always make me think and I love it.

Chubbybunny, very interesting! I was wondering if my physical stomach was shrinking based on my new way of eating. But now, it might have nothing to do with that if most of my eating is done by my brain!
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:34 PM   #5
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I think we are designed for a feast or famine mode because food supply wasn't always stable. So when there was a big hunt, you packed on extra fat stores, but then when less food was available, it was an advantage to do ok on a smaller amount of calories.

But Melissa, I know you have a son with an active metabolism who is skinny, as do I. My son has 3 eating modes that vary between 1) eating a normal amount, 2) sometimes what seems to me like a lot of food (for an 8 year old) and 3) other times where food has very limited interest to him. So I wonder what evolutionary advantage that provides, because I can't see how he would have thrived in that feast or famine scenario. Or maybe his habits just would not have developed if food wasn't always available and he could pick and choose when he wanted to eat?
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chubbybunny29 View Post
Have you seen the HBO series of documentaries called "weight of the world"?

Its a great series of documentaries.
Thanks for the info. I am watching "Weight of Nation" on HBO.com right now. I am still on part 1 and its eye opening.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:37 PM   #7
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That's an interesting point about your son! My youngest brother is the skinniest and most athletic out of the four of us, and he'll nibble on next to nothing for like three days straight, then eat a full loaf of bread and coil of sausage in sandwhiches in one day, then eat like a normal person for a while. It's beyond weird to me, but maybe he has a more "caveman" like brain???

Doing primal has educated me a lot about this kind of thing. I tried to explain to my skinny friend that when and if we're ever the same weight, I'll have to eat less to maintain it. She thought I was crazy.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:44 PM   #8
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That's an interesting point about your son! My youngest brother is the skinniest and most athletic out of the four of us, and he'll nibble on next to nothing for like three days straight, then eat a full loaf of bread and coil of sausage in sandwhiches in one day, then eat like a normal person for a while. It's beyond weird to me, but maybe he has a more "caveman" like brain???

Doing primal has educated me a lot about this kind of thing. I tried to explain to my skinny friend that when and if we're ever the same weight, I'll have to eat less to maintain it. She thought I was crazy.
Radiojane, so interesting about your brother!

I am hoping to give my son the gift of being "naturally" slim which means a conscious effort on my part to try to not mess with his innate good relationship with food. This is a kid who I've seen get up and toss half of an ice cream cone in the trash because he's done. So I never have had a "clean plate" rule and I try hard to not ever use food as a reward or punishment. When he's hungry, he eats, and if he's not, I work hard to not force the issue, although I admit that as a mom, sometimes that's hard. He understands that he eats healthy foods to grow big and strong, but he can also enjoy treats in more limited quantities.

But I think in the back of my mind, I still think that eventually, he will become a "normal" eater, eating a relatively consistent amount from day to day. So it's fascinating to hear about an adult who still follows this pattern. And a good lesson for me to try to let go of my expectations and try to continue to support letting him listen to his body and regulate his intake. It's working well so far, and I shouldn't assume that it has to change.

(even though evolutionarily, I think he might have been out of luck 10,000 years ago! lol!)
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:56 PM   #9
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That's probably a great approach to parenting/food.

I've never had kids so I don't have a horse in this race, but this tripped my brain back to something my mom said they other day. She mentioned that she grew up eating "healthy food" (vegetables, home raised meats no take out etc), but that the portions were huge (porkchops the size of dinner plates) and that because my grandparents had lived through the depression and gone hungry themselves, they never limited what their children ate. My grandfather was within 15 pounds of the same healthy weight his entire life. Alzheimers took him down, but he had no heart maladies or anything like that. Out of his four children, two are significantly overweight, my mother included, and the younger two are fairly "normal", although I know for a fact that my aunt works diligently to keep her weight in check.

My uncle is in the worst shape. Easily 100 pounds overweight, with heart and diabetic issues, and more than likely undiagnosed apnea. He's not yet fifty. He's an oilfield worker and he farms, so it's not like he sits on his rear all day either. You really have to wonder how much their formative years and their parents attitudes towards food and "cleaning their plates" affected their health, because all of them still primarily eat "healthy food".

I just went way off the train topic wise. sorry.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:09 PM   #10
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I used to think that same thing- that wouldn't having an efficient metabolism be better? You need less food that way, right? So it costs less overall?

Unfortunately, I think that whole theory that a metabolism can be permanently ruined is bunk. More and more science is coming forth that shows our metabolisms can be altered.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:27 PM   #11
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Yes, technically the reduced obese are more famine resistant, though such circumstances aren't highly common in our modern food environment. It's no death sentence or guarantee to regain so long as we're cogent of both our altered energy needs and some of the metabolic compulsions our body acts under to try and refill those emaciated adipocytes. Knowledge is power in that regard.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:54 PM   #12
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The comments about the eating habits of sons and brothers really strike me. It describes my husband and his brothers to a T. For them, it seems to be innate, not related to deliberate food habits their parents tried to instill. (I've heard the stories of my husband being kept at the table until he finished his daily 1/2 cup of rice too often - it clearly didn't change how he relates to food). Just like the scenario Radiojane described -- he'll eat normally, go through periods of little eating, occasionally eat a TON, etc.

Sometimes I marvel at the ease with his natural variability in food intake. It just is, without any fancy labels or deliberate effort or handwringing. He doesn't overthink it or label behaviors that here would be called IFing, refeeding, restricting, or binging. It makes me wonder a lot of things - one, where that natural ease comes from (or rather, where the lack of it comes from) - and two, do the measures we take to emulate healthy eating actually reinforce artificial/unhealthy mindsets? I wonder a lot about how harmful the labeling effect is (and if hanging out on forums like this then normalizes otherwise unhealthy behaviors). Big meals or overeating don't always need to be referred to as binges or rationalized as refeeds, you know?

That's wayyyyy off track from your point - and sorry, Melissa, because it's a good one. I'm with you in thinking that increased efficiency sounds like a great evolutionary advantage and finding that a bit mindboggling.
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:08 PM   #13
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Melissa, that's a real mind bender..I think if 'jane' needs the higher amount and were to tweek her numbers in a dilema like that and find dissatifactory results, then you would definitely have the better system..food becomes $$ and scarce...you would be requiring less to sustain. I don't know the 'true' mathmatics in any of this..I pretty much fail in algebra..
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berryblondeboys View Post
...to a lower BMR, doesn't that just mean our bodies have learned to be more efficient, in other words, better, than the average joe who has never been obese?

I got to thinking about this as I was driving home from the gym. If I can do the exact same things as, let's say, Jane, at the gym. My sleep is as good, everything else is the same, but I need 1700 calories to maintain my 160 pounds and she needs 2000 calories to maintain 160 pounds, doesn't that give me the evolutionary advantage? (not saying these are correct or accurate numbers - I just picked random numbers).

So, if resources become scarce, my body will be better adapted? Or, if resources get scarce, will her body adapt so that she too will need less fuel? It probably will, but not until she drops too much weight and puts her life in peril.

And that got me to thinking more. Isn't it better to need less food to do the same functions always? Or do we not get enough nutrients with these lower caloric needs?

It just made me wonder if perhaps people should fast or have times of scarcity so the human body is more efficient so that they don't need as much food which would make the demand for food world-wide go down.

Am I being too far out there? Being a weirdo? Just from observations of when we go overseas, it seems that in some other parts of the world they eat FAR less than Americans do and not because they are hungry, but because they don't need/want the extra food. There has to be studies of average calories consumed per region/country? isn't there? And to compare apples to apples - populations of similar wealth and food resources.

OK... I'm a weirdo, but it got me thinking!


You're not that much of a weirdo.

In my research on PCOS that was one of the questions that was being asked -- if women who have PCOS tend to be infertile, then is PCOS genetic or environmental? And if it's genetic, then why have a genetic trait that can't be passed on? And who does it get passed by? The mother? The father?

Anyway, the short information piece that touched this said that actually people who had PCOS and other types of metabolic disorders were the ones that "survived" through evolution the cycles of famine and plenty.

They were hypothesizing that metabolic disorders (and consequently PCOS) were actually genetic traits that made humans survive famines because we held on to fat longer (and created fat easier) than people who were "normal" -- and when we reached a particular period of the famine, combined with losing weight (due to the famine) we PCOS women would begin to ovulate and could still get pregnant and produce children.

(side note, this is why women with PCOS are always asked to lose weight if they want to try to get pregnant)

I thought that was interesting that some of these "diseases" that we have today because food is so plentiful are a problem precisely because food is so plentiful and many of our bodies are the way they are -- with diabetes, IR, PCOS, etc., -- because it was our ancestors that survived the famines and went on to reproduce children who also carried the same genetic factors that helped them procreate and on and on until today.
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Rana View Post
You're not that much of a weirdo.

In my research on PCOS that was one of the questions that was being asked -- if women who have PCOS tend to be infertile, then is PCOS genetic or environmental? And if it's genetic, then why have a genetic trait that can't be passed on? And who does it get passed by? The mother? The father?

Anyway, the short information piece that touched this said that actually people who had PCOS and other types of metabolic disorders were the ones that "survived" through evolution the cycles of famine and plenty.

They were hypothesizing that metabolic disorders (and consequently PCOS) were actually genetic traits that made humans survive famines because we held on to fat longer (and created fat easier) than people who were "normal" -- and when we reached a particular period of the famine, combined with losing weight (due to the famine) we PCOS women would begin to ovulate and could still get pregnant and produce children.

(side note, this is why women with PCOS are always asked to lose weight if they want to try to get pregnant)

I thought that was interesting that some of these "diseases" that we have today because food is so plentiful are a problem precisely because food is so plentiful and many of our bodies are the way they are -- with diabetes, IR, PCOS, etc., -- because it was our ancestors that survived the famines and went on to reproduce children who also carried the same genetic factors that helped them procreate and on and on until today.
THAT is fascinating!

I totally missed my calling and should have gone into some research science. Maybe if I would have come from a different home with different supports I would have.

Some things that happen, happen by chance. Well, they all happen by chance, but some traits stick around by just not being "bad", so they don't get weeded out, but then there are these things that are bad on the surface, but really had/have an advantage - like sickle cells. It is utterly fascinating.

I hadn't given PCOS much thought as thankfully, I don't suffer from it, but what you shared makes complete sense. It TOTALLLLLY sucks for today's times, but I can see how the advantage can be teased out.

Huh... look how our modern way of living in so many ways makes it better and easier, but it changed too much too fast that our bodies couldn't adapt - our SPECIES couldn't adapt in tons of areas, including everything weight related.
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