THINK about this – Brain vs physical exercise?

Think about much today? Did you run around or were you a couch potato?

Do you know how many calories were used as a result of your action or inaction? Have you thought much about which diet you'd choose in order to lose weight? To answer these questions we need to think about some very important numbers...

How many calories does it take to be human?

Humans are warm blooded animals.

The human body constantly generates heat to maintain an internal body temperature of around 37 degrees, regardless of the ambient temperature.

Maintaining body temperature uses around 800 calories per day.

human body uses 800 calories per day maintaining body temperature
unconscious brain function, uses around 350 calories per day.

Life demands both conscious and unconscious activity of the brain. Even though the average human brain only constitutes about 2% of the body weight, it requires approximately 20% of the total energy used at rest.

Maintaining resting, mostly unconscious brain function, uses around 350 calories per day.

The processes of digestion and absorption of food is said to use about another 10-15% of the daily calories.

Just utilising the food we eat costs the human body about 200 calories per day.

Stomach - digestion & absorption costs the human body about 200 calories per day.

Therefore, it seems the average human uses about 1350 calories just to stay alive and conscious. Since it is thought that the usual daily energy expenditure is about 1800 calories, a huge proportion (¾ in fact) of the energy used each day is already allocated to essential body functions.

No wonder we have an innate drive to eat.

Got your interest? Are you now thinking more?

You may have realised, nothing has yet been said about movement and exercise.

Ever heard the diet slogan: "Eat less and exercise more"?

A very important question to think about is:

Think about what amount of “more” exercise is deemed necessary for weight loss?

It is well documented that moving the human body, from A to B of a single mile, will use about 100 calories. Even though walking is slower than running it is the distance that matters, not the rate (remember your science teacher drumming in the equation: energy used = force x distance). Exercise has been proven time and time again as beneficial for health, but does “more” exercise really benefit our weight loss attempts?Think about the true meaning of eat less and exercise more

In 2017 the average adult, living in England, walked 206 miles according to NHS statistics. Equating to a paltry 0.56 miles a day, this level of exercise would use up just 56 calories a day for the average person. Even doubling the average daily amount of exercise is unlikely to tackle obesity effectively on its own.

For weight loss purposes, 1 mile of extra/more exercise uses around 100 extra calories.

What is less realised, or at least less talked about, is how many more calories are used when we use our brains to think. Exercising our brains by really thinking, using it for more than resting, uses quite a lot of additional brain calories.

Apparently serious thinking can use as many as 200 extra calories a day.

The 73,000 extra calories we could be using up each year by heavy thinking, would represent about 21 pounds in lost excess weight, almost 10kg or a stone and a half. This is not an insignificant weight loss and is achievable across the entire population, unlike meaningful exercise.

It is interesting to realise that the human brain uses more energy at rest then a human thigh uses during a marathon (Hochachka, 1994). Whilst we all acknowledge the health benefits of exercise, in the face of limited uptake due to today’s society, we should be challenging people to do more serious thinking first and foremost.

In their paper, titled Mental Work Requires Physical Energy: Self-Control Is Neither Exception nor Exceptional: the researchers discuss the need for sugar energy to enable the brain to do serious thinking. They found that more thinking needs more energy and therefore more sugar. If the sugar available becomes inadequate, thinking can become fatigued, in a manner analogous to exercise fatigue. Thinking can indeed become tiring.

They conclude:

“We reach the general conclusion that a wide body of evidence from the field of brain metabolism and cognition supports the fact that glucose levels within specific brain areas can be acutely decreased by cognitive demand calling on those areas, and that such drainage places a limit on cognitive processing”

Something to think about - serious thinking burns quite a few calories

So, what are the difficulties facing us when “thinking more” as an aid to weight loss?

Cognitive Processing, aka THINKING, requires glucose. The human brain usually cannot function without this basic sugar. The entire human body cannot survive without maintaining adequate essential nutrition long-term which usually involves carbohydrates.

When you think about a diet to lose weight healthily and successfully, you must ask these critical questions. How can we balance the maintaining of optimal nutrition whilst also maintaining adequate glucose levels for thinking more as well as providing energy for additional exercise?

Many people believe they have the ultimate dieting solution, but can the ideas deliver?

Sugar swaps - something to think about

For some people it seems an obvious conclusion to slightly reduce the intake of conventional food calories and swap refined sugars to more natural sources.

Will these sugar swaps allow the dieter to lose weight, stay more alert and make good decisions, while also fuelling the muscles?

Probably not.

In addition to mounting recognition of the health problems associated with excess sugar, refined or not, the well-known effect of high carbs on increasing drowsiness cannot usually encourage thinking more.

As for exercise, we have already proven the saying “you cannot outrun a bad diet” and little consideration is made to some of the real barriers associated with traditional weight loss diets. Whatever name you might call it, many seriously overweight people suffer from food addiction. As with any other addiction, just cutting down is simply a plan for failure. The slogans extolling potential benefits for slow weight loss, which are totally untrue, simply lead to an extended length of time required for even minimal success. Real life almost always intervenes before meaningful, medically beneficial weight loss is achieved.

For many others a current weight loss solution lays with ketones.

During a diet, the brain won’t totally run out of its supply of glucose but can easily get fatigued. In ketogenic diets, ketones are used to beneficially supplement the purposely, vastly diminished amounts of available glucose. Ketones therefore replace glucose as the primary source of energy for all normal body cells, including the brain.

It now seems that that replacing sugar with ketones may help many of the serious neurological diseases like epilepsy, parkinsonism, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and even brain cancer. It seems that unlike normal calls. most cancer cells can’t use ketones, pointing to ketosis as a means to improve cancer treatment success. Ketones can also help with “thinking more”.

Ketones are now implicated as providing many of the same health and longevity benefits associated as with calorie restriction. It is a tantalising medical development to think about.

But there is a problem with using a “keto diet” high in fat.

Unfortunately, most examples of ketogenic diets, currently widely promoted as “keto diets”, require dangerously high levels of fats. These are neither palatable for extended periods nor healthy.

This keto craze seems to have ignored the lessons learned from the recent Atkins and Stillman Diet legacy from the 1960s. The popularity of these high fat keto diets rests with the fact that considerable weight can be lost quickly while eating almost unlimited amounts of foods that are primarily proteins and fats is encouraged. As long as the overall intake is very low in carbohydrates, weight is lost.

Despite the nutritional stupidity of these high fat keto diets, being far from nutritionally healthy, they appeared to work. Substantial amounts of weight were often lost initially, appearing to contradict the laws of physics. It seemed that vast numbers of calories could be consumed while at the same time the weight was disappearing.

The laws of physics, however, are still intact. The concept that losing FAT weight requires eating fewer calories than the body requires, called calorie restriction, is fact. While ketosis is a very valuable and healthy metabolic state, eating massive amounts of low carb, high fat foods is unlikely to cause significant fat loss.

Every keto dieter knows that in the early days, easy access to a loo is a necessity.keto dieting produces lots of urine initially - something to think about

The body searches for easily accessible energy, sugar. Circulating glucose, from previously consumed carbohydrates are quickly exhausted and then supplemented from the body’s finite glycogen reserves.  For every amount of glycogen used, an additional 4 times as much water is released, which appears to show a great deal of body weight was being lost.

This weight is unfortunately, primarily “water-weight” because using up just a single pound of glycogen causes a 5 pound weight loss and a lot of urine.

Only then after virtually complete glycogen depletion and loss of associated water, does the body turn to calories in fat, producing a stable state of ketosis (so long as a low carbohydrate intake is constantly maintained). Unfortunately, the keto dieter’s high fat intake often makes it unnecessary for the body to use its stored body fat as the energy source. It is quite happy to use the high concentration of calories from the fat-based diet instead. For many high fat keto dieters there may well be more fat calories in the diet than it needs.

You may then be wondering what happens to all the excess fat calories a keto dieter consumes?

Our body efficiently stores excess fat, which contains almost twice as many calories as glycogen and contains no bound water. Many fat calories can be stored with relatively little weight gain when compared to the equivalent storage of glycogen.

This is the “elephant in the room” for high fat keto dieters.

Encouragingly, weight loss due to carbohydrate depletion may well be seen on the scales but any excess fat being eaten will be silently adding to the existing fat-weight. This storage weight may go on rising unnoticed until there’s an urge to have a bit of carbohydrate. A cheat is likely to create a big issue.......

Even a seemingly insignificant, small intake of carbohydrate tops up the glycogen store, grabbing onto water and a lot of weight quickly returns. If there was a lot of new fat added to storage during the period of keto dieting, the final body weight may actually be higher than their start weight.

Ketones are the dieter’s friend.

To really get the benefit of ketones when losing weight, the ketogenic diet must also be calorie restricted. At the same time it must contain the necessary nutrients to keep you healthy. Keto dieters, like most traditional diets, rarely manage to maintain both calorie restriction and nutrition optimisation.

A true veThe Lipotrim weight management programme monitored by healthcare professionals, pharmacy & Doctors. A very low calorie dietry low calorie diet (VLCD) programme, such as our Lipotrim total food replacement programme, is ketogenic, low fat and low calorie. Lipotrim provides all the keto benefits without the “high fat” drawbacks. Remember this is also the not-so-secret wish-list to help avoid brain fatigue and enable you to think more.

Importantly, Lipotrim does not even prevent you from exercising, enabling you to:

  • Eat less
  • Exercise more physically
  • And as we have seen to also be important: Think more

Modern life has been blamed repeatedly for the weight epidemic. Computers and smartphones have been blamed for our lack of exercise, ourselves for eating the wrong type of sugar and even our lack of willpower in the face of overwhelming evidence of food addiction. Never a day goes by without something new to blame for rising obesity levels.

It pays in many ways, especially health, to think hard about how best to achieve weight loss and maintenance.

In fact, could our culturally inflicted paucity of thinking be contributing to the world-wide epidemic of overweight and obesity? 

What do you think?  (pun intended).

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