The new year is about to start and I know that there are many women who have resolved to lose weight permanently this year. More than half of women over 50 struggle with being overweight (stats say) and I regularly get emails from women writing me almost in panic: help! I eat less and exercise more but I no longer lose weight! What should I do?” I’ll explain. Brace yourself because my story is different from what you’ve always been told.
Focus on more energy, not on weight loss
To start with, I say to every woman (or man) who wants to lose weight to always focus on getting more energy, not on losing weight. If you focus on more energy, you at least have your focus on improving your health. More energy tells you if you are on the right track. Losing weight does not always mean that you are healthy: many women are tired of it.
It is often said: that you have to lose weight to get healthy. I say: you must first become healthy, then losing weight almost always follows automatically (or gain weight if you are too skinny.) These two have much more to do with each other than you think.
There are many reasons why you cannot lose weight
Let me start by saying that there can be many reasons why it sometimes seems impossible to lose weight. The world around us tells the story that it’s easy: eat less and exercise more. It is absolutely not that simple. Losing weight is a complex process because our body is an extremely complex organism and everybody is unique.
In my book The Energetic Women’s Nutrition Compass I describe ten reasons why someone does not lose weight despite eating less and exercising more. To briefly highlight a few:
- Fattening bacteria in your gut have taken over (really!)
- Your pancreas keeps making too much insulin
- Your liver has trouble detoxifying and removing hormone-disrupting substances that are stored in your fat cells
- As a result of years of (crash) diets, your metabolism is in survival mode and stores as much fat as possible
- Your body lacks some important nutrients needed to burn fats, such as magnesium and zinc
- You use medicines (also think of the pill) that make it difficult for you to lose weight
Today I would like to add an important one: you will not lose weight because you are constantly burning your body on glucose instead of fat. I’m going to explain this to you. The good news is that many of these causes disappear with one smart switch: the switch from glucose burning to fat burning.
The greatest enemy of the truth is a myth
John F. Kennedy once said that the greatest enemy of the truth is usually not a deliberate lie but a persistent myth. When it comes to losing weight, we have all come to believe in the myth that eating fats makes us fat. I’ve believed it for years too.
Since the 1950s we have banned fats and we as humanity are now fatter, more tired and sicker than ever. Obesity is reaching extremes and cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death. Type 2 diabetes is called a worldwide epidemic and more and more people are struggling with chronic diseases. How is this possible? This is because the story that eating healthy fats makes us fat and sick is a myth. It is nonsense.
Your body has a natural tendency to burn fats (!)
As early as the 1950s, Dr. Alfred W. Pennington, an obesity researcher, discovered that the body can burn unprecedented amounts of fat. The fat we eat is largely burned immediately and used as energy: our body has a natural tendency to burn fats. Yes, read this last sentence again: our bodies have a natural tendency to burn fats!
Your body can make energy from carbohydrates and fats that you eat. However, the burning of fats is a much ‘cleaner’ process in which far fewer free radicals are produced. Free radicals underlie chronic inflammation, which in turn leads to chronic disease. In addition, your body can make more than twice as much energy from a fat molecule as from a glucose molecule. Glucose molecules are made by your body as soon as it has been given sweets or carbohydrates.
Your body has a limited capacity to burn glucose
Our own fat cells are the natural storage place for a surplus of (eaten) energy for a reason: your body likes to convert them into energy. However, fat cells are not filled because we eat too many fats, but because we eat too many carbohydrates (including sweets).
dr. Pennington discovered that it is precisely the carbohydrates that are largely stored as fat in our fat cells. In 1953 he already advised overweight people to stop counting calories and to eat much less carbohydrates, but plenty of healthy fats. A conclusion that is now slowly but surely being supported by more and more doctors and scientists. A conclusion I completely agree with.
We get tired and fat from sweets and carbohydrates
Your fat cells therefore grow in number and size if you eat too many sweets and carbohydrates. In short: that makes us fat. How is it possible that your body does not switch to fat burning, if it is so eager to use fats as energy?
This is because 95% of people are glucose burners: people who let their bodies, their stoves, burn on glucose over and over again. Throughout the day they eat carbohydrates such as bread, sweets, crackers, dairy, grains, pseudocereals, pasta, potatoes, rice, legumes, ready-to-eat desserts and all kinds of processed foods with secretly hidden sugars. Recognizable?
Glucose molecules are newspapers, fats are logs
If the body is offered sweets and carbohydrates several times a day, it does not switch to burning fat. If you put logs and newspapers in your stove, but you keep adding newspapers all the time, the stove will barely burn the logs. Newspapers simply burn faster and easier than logs.
Burning newspapers over and over will eventually blacken your stove with ink and soot. It’s the same with your body: constantly getting your energy from sweets and carbohydrates not only leads to obesity, but also to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many more chronic conditions.
From glucose burner to fat burner
In other words; 95% of people struggle with their energy levels plus their weight because they largely burn their bodies on glucose. Eating a lot of sweets and carbohydrates and not enough healthy fats is one of the main reasons that so many people are so tired and struggle with being overweight.
How do you make the switch? There are two ways. One way is to stop eating. Your body will then start to address your fat cells quite quickly out of body preservation (literally). Needless to say I do n’t recommend this to you. There is a much better method: if you put less and less newspapers in your stove but logs, you force your body to start burning the wood as well. So eat much less sweets and carbohydrates and put your fear of healthy fats overboard.
It has huge advantages to be a fat burner
I was a glucose burner for decades, a sugar junkie, and am now a good fat burner. I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of being a fat burner. It gives so much peace in your body:
- You no longer suffer from uncontrollable sniffing showers
- You can easily go several hours without a meal
- You feel fine even if you have a growling stomach
- You become happier and get a better mood
- You have more energy and less chance of chronic diseases
- You deliver better mental performance
- You want to get moving
- You can eat much more and eat more delicious food than you ever knew
- Your body mainly burns on fats so you lose excess weight