When the body perceives famine, it will do everything to pack on and hang on to body fat to survive. This survival mechanism is inherent and will override every other system in the body…making weight loss impossible. Basically, you and your body are at odds with the game your playing. You’re exercising and reducing calories in hopes to loose body fat and your body is vetoing your wishes by packing on the pounds because it thinks it’s going into famine. This fight not only causes frustration, it causes undo stress on the body, making the situation worse.
Perceived famine is an interesting phenomenon. To the body it can look like the potential loss of a job, not enough water, or prolonged stressful situations like not having enough money. Take the potential threat of losing your job. Your body knows that losing your job means no more income which means not being able to buy enough food which means potential famine. It will actually start increasing your body fat levels to prevent a possible future famine.
Not having enough water is a perceived threat that will slow the metabolism. Most Americans are at least chronically 1% dehydrated. If you take 1% of your body weight, let’s say you’re 180 pounds, that’s almost 2 pounds of water missing from the body. This 1% decrease will slow the metabolism by 400-800 calories per day. More importantly, water provides the medium for the chemistry of your metabolism to take place. Also, water allows the metabolic bi-products to be flushed from the body.
Perceived famine can cause cravings and lead you to eating high calorie foods. Ever been stressed out and craved comfort foods? They’re called that for a reason: calorie-dense food with not a lot of nutritional value. Food is information to the body and processed, calorie-dense food tells the body to store it all as body fat.
So now that your a toxic wasteland, dehydrated and thirsty, stressed mess, here’s what you can do to address this inherent mechanism.
Hydrate by using foods as well as drinking water. Foods such as water-dense veggies, fruits, and soups are beneficial to naturally absorb water into the body. If you’ve ever felt like your dehydrated and water logged from drinking too much water, go for the water-dense foods.
Also, drink water on an empty stomach. Research has shown that drinking on an empty stomach, no matter the temperature of the water, increased the metabolic process by 100 calories. Not sure why, the mechanism isn’t clear but the results speak for themselves.
Address the daily stress with action. If you are in fear of loosing your job, do what it takes to find a new one or have a productive talk with your boss. Which ever direction you go, taking action switches the body from famine to potential balance.