Japan Times Photo

Food Portion Distortion,  Body Composition, and Sumo Wrestlers?

Good or bad body composition can vary with genetics, but if we understand the principles, we can see that it is mostly our own doing. Most of us, when faced with an opportunity to eat our favorite food, take it as a challenge to see how much we can fit into our body at one sitting.

Think of this: If you try to overfill your gas tank, you will spill fuel onto the concrete, running the risk of a catastrophic fire, exploding into a blaze of all consuming flames of destruction and mayhem. If your car knew this, and had the ability, it would construct an excess storage tank, and keep all the extra for later.  If you overfilled each time, before using the fuel in the excess storage, you would need still more storage, until the weight would make travel difficult and even impossible.

While eating too much at each meal will not have such an immediate catastrophic response (Usually), you are telling your body to put in a reserve tank. Every time you eat more calories than you use, you make your body build new stores of fat and change your body composition. What your Body can actually use is relative to activity and muscle mass, which is under perpetual construction and demolition. As you create a lifestyle around this excess calorie model, your storage, which is really you, will just get bigger.

All of this relates to your always changing body composition. What composes the very fiber of your being. Your weight does not tell who you are, this is not a personality contest. Your weight and your composition do tell what you are, physically, or what your cells are made of materially.

Don’t Skip 

Now some would say, “Hey, then I will just eat less, maybe even skip one of those fat creating meals”. Ok, that almost sounds logical right? not eating should make your body lose fat right? Sadly, this is not the case, and is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. Your body, Just like your car, needs fuel, and it needs it at very specific levels and at very specific intervals. You may be surprised how much you have to eat to just keep up with your Base Metabolic Rate and keep a static body composition.

Self Cannibalization

When you skip a meal, it can slow this rate, which is the speed with which your body burns the needed calories. Not only that, since your brain in particular, even if you were just sitting in a vegetative state watching TV, needs glucose to keep running. where does it get this energy? If you dont provide outside sources through food, your body will actually break down muscle tissue, send the proteins and other body components to the liver and kidneys in a process called gluconeogenesis. All that word means is your body makes new glucose: gluco=glucose, neo=new, genesis=origin or formation. So you take tissue from your own body, and you cannibalize yourself.

Not only is this just as bad as it sounds, it’s worse. As your body takes muscle mass, and converts it to glucose, it loses part of it’s calorie burning power with each bit of muscle tissue it consumes, making the next meal even more likely to be stored as fat. Muscle is like the cars engine. You start with a 12 cylinder super drag racer, and by skipping meals you can lose them one by one, ending up with a little lawn mower engine, that’s hard to start with a broken pull cord.

Not Overweight, but Overfat?

Many people who think they look good because of losing weight, and they might look better to some degree, have actually become what is called “over-fat”. Why?  This is because they changed the muscle weight they had to fat weight by not eating enough to feed their bodies requirement of macronutrients. So the total weight is less, but the ratio and percentage of fat is higher than it used to be. They will be weaker, and their immune system may be compromised due to this loss of essential calorie burning machinery. It would be like running out of gas, and then your car has a system of consuming engine parts to make energy. You can see this cannot be sustained for a long time without catastrophic failure.

Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail

Ok I don’t prefer Cliche´s, but this one is an exception. Planning is truly the key, just like in any successful endeavor of life. Sadly we tend to put food on such a low level of importance for good planning, because we feel that available prepared foods have already been planned for us. They have definitely been planned. They have been planned to make the most money for the companies which sell them. It’s not that they are all evil, it’s economics 101. They produce what people will buy, trying to have the highest margin of profit to sustain the company, provide growth to shareholders, and pay the workers etc. Just like you look for the most effective and efficient way to do your job.

Look into what a private chef does. They plan schedules of meals, where to shop, ingredient, and techniques meticulously. You don’t have to be so detailed, unless you want to, but imagine if even a professional chef did not plan anything. No amount of training or experience can make a quality meal from rotten or spoiled, let alone missing ingredients.

Good Plan

Would you leave the house without combing your hair, or getting dressed? Of course not right? But doesn’t that take more time than just walking out the door? Yes but we prioritize what gets us results that are immediately observable. It is a weakness we all have, to put aside as less important the things that are truly more valuable. What good is a great outfit, and hairdo, or even a great career, if our body is breaking down? So planning food, which really won’t take that long, is really going to pay off in the long run, like a great financial investment we are willing to let sit for years to mature.

This does not mean you have to eat bark, leaves, and suck on a rock for minerals, drinking only water pumped directly from the artesian springs of your nearest health guru co-op. Not so. Foods that are good for you will likely taste even better than the junk, they just might take a bit more prep.

Impatience Could Make Inpatients 

To maintain a healthy body composition, you need to eat, on average, a meal or healthy snack every 3-4 hours. Just like you need to get gas every 3-400+ miles depending on your car.  You can’t get away with altering that schedule for long. Also you should eat slowly, and the right kinds of foods, which is tough when its your favorite pizza, pasta, or dessert! It takes your body about 20 minutes to register the intake and to tell you it’s had enough. Take your time, and allocate good ratios of quality foods to make your eating both pleasurable and good for you.

Eating too quick will skew your bodies ability to regulate the intake naturally, and could send you to the doctor more frequently.

What Size Portions?

If you think in terms of familiar objects, you can easily gauge your portion sizes to be appropriate for your bodies needs. If you then plan a menu for all the nutrients you need (something we can help you with if you like) you will know immediately even when eating out, what portions of the different foods are good, and which ones are going to be a problem. For example, a standard portion of meat, or highly concentrated protein should be about the size of a deck of cards. So don’t load the deck, just play a fair game and keep your poker face.

To Lose Weight, Eat More*

Successful weight loss and getting better body composition will actually involve eating more than you even think you can. I’d say it again, but just go ahead and read it again. Yes, if you eat all the calories your body needs, you will not be hungry even while losing weight. The challenge will be getting it all down during the day.  To lose weight you need 3 meals, and at least 2 snacks spaced out at 3-4 hour intervals. This gives your body fuel, and fuels even more fat burning. But these meals and snacks must be made up of very specific components.

Your hormone levels (insulin and glucagon) are also directly affected by whether you eat or not during the day, in real time. That muscle eating process we discussed earlier? The body releases glucagon which starts the process of breaking down the muscle when you skip meals. So if you skip a meal you are losing weight, just not the weight you want. A lighter car makes it more fuel efficient right? Unless the engine is what you took out. Then it’s a no-go.

So eat ALL your meals, and even add a healthy snack in between them, and you will change your whole body, and your life.*

Are You on The Sumo Wrestler Diet?

Sumo Wrestlers are big right? Really big. Most of that body composition is fat too. You would think all they do is eat right? No, again, that is not the only thing needed.  Athletes who are fit and trim can eat just as many and even more calories! Michael Phelps ate 12,000 calories a day! But he also burned it every day.

Sumo wrestlers who can eat around 10,000 calories or more actually only eat twice a day! TWICE!! What! How is that even possible? It’s possible for all the reasons we have discussed here. It’s scientific. They eat two HUGE meals, 5,000 plus calories each, and load them with very high glycemic index foods like potatoes, white breads, bagels, etc. Then they go to sleep. So they take in huge amounts of energy containing foods, then use none of the energy. It is then stored as fat, and they get big, with bad body composition. We can’t cheat. It happens every time.

So don’t eat a large meal late at night, and then go to sleep. Also, make yourself as active as you can, so the calories you take in get burned. Take a long walk. Walk to lunch, far away. Get a dog to walk. Do everything you can the hard way physically! It doesn’t have to be much, but don’t eat and sit. It’s science.

James Marfleet, CNC, LE

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.