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Wellness, Health, and Fitness: Nutrients and Energy Intake

September 21, 2016

Continuing on the previous topic on health and fitness, we will now review the clinical science behind energy consumption.

Many diet and exercise programs focus on restrictive habits and non-sustainable long-term goals using weight change as an endpoint. The term weight is commonly used as a surrogate measurement of physical fitness, but in reality the body mass index (BMI) as well as other tools are a much better indicators. Some weight based fitness programs utilize strategies that change the body’s chemical composition that causes initial dramatic weight loss from fluid shifts. However, as the age-old saying goes, “easy come, easy go.” Slight variation from the strict and unnatural regimen can result in reversal of all progress as the body strives to re-establish equilibrium. Another important concept to note is that a person’s weight can fluctuate dramatically depending on the hydration status of the individual; therefore, weight changes can be deceiving with regards to fitness goals and partially explains the high failure rate of these approaches.

Exploring the left half of the energy equation in the previous article,

it is important to recognize that not all calories are processed equally. That is to say consuming 1g of simple sugars will not have the same effect as consuming 1g of complex protein even though they generate the same amount of energy. When processing nutrients, a complex network of digestive enzymes and hormones interact to breakdown material into the energy currency usable by the body. Some foods result in spikes in blood sugar level, which trigger a digestive hormone called insulin to be released. Insulin promotes deposition of fat into the liver and adipose tissue or fat cells. Simple sugars, which are commonly found in candies, sodas, and other processed or fast foods, can trigger sustained levels of insulin to be released when consumed. This results in the body’s natural tolerance and resistance to this hormone, and can lead to unhealthy sugar levels.

Once stored away as fat, these reserves are hard to eliminate. The body preferentially utilizes other energy reservoirs such as carbohydrates for daily metabolism. Carbohydrates are stored primarily in the liver and muscles and compacted with water. During initial stages of energy deficit, these preferential fuel sources are quickly consumed resulting in the excretion of water. This is why dieters experience rapid weight loss during the initial phases of a regimen. Once other available energy sources are consumed, the body then turns to its reserves. Even though mobilizing fats as fuel for the body would generate more energy in times of need, it is more difficult to utilize. To make fat burning more challenging, the depletion of immediate fuel sources signals the body of starvation even in the presence of substantial reserves and triggers a sensation of hunger. Unfortunately, any energy surplus taken in is partially stored as carbohydrates with water, which results in demoralizing weight gain.

There are certain nutrients and vitamins such as B12 and Slimboost lipotropic compounds that help provide alternative energy utilization pathways. The term lipotrope stems from Latin word roots, meaning fat moving. Common lipotropic compounds include Methionine, Inositol, Choline, and Betaine which facilitate fat burning by mobilizing lipid storages from fatty tissue and the liver as energy source and tilting the balance of energy utilization. Dietary sources that are rich in lipotropic compounds include raw vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, celery, and legumes among others.. Similarly, there have been suggestions that supplementation with lipotropes from dietary sources, B12 shots, or Slimboost injections help promote weight loss. It is important to note that while lipotropes may facilitate weight loss, this can only occur if energy expenditure exceeds energy intake.

In the subsequent article, we will explore the third and final part of the health and fitness equation, energy expenditure.

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