It was around 1914 when Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters came up with the concept of the calorie fotolia_2740442 (2)and its relationship to weight loss and weight gain. A calorie (actually, in dieting a calorie is actually a kilocalorie) is the amount of energy that it takes to increase the temperature of one liter of water by one degree centigrade. It made sense; all foods contained a certain amount of energy. Simply cut down on the amount of food energy you consume and your body will have to rely on other sources (namely your fat) for energy. People began to go on diets.

Ever since then, if you wanted to lose weight, you simply ate fewer calories. There have been variations over the last 95 years. You have been told to eat fewer fat grams or to limit the amount of carbs. But basically the advice has always been the same: If you want to lose weight, eat less.

That would work well enough if your body was a furnace and that excess weight was a pile of coal in front of it. Order less coal, and eventually the pile gets smaller. Unlike a furnace, your body adapts to less fuel; it becomes more efficient. In the 95 years that the calorie concept has been around, using it to lose weight has been woefully inadequate.

Hormones play a big role in weight loss and weight gain. They play a role in appetite. Fat cells produce a hormone called leptin, which helps control satiety. When you lose fat, leptin levels decrease and produce a greater desire to eat. Stress increases cortisol levels, which creates cravings for high-calorie foods and also causes the body to hold onto fat (especially around the belly and buttocks). Denying yourself adequate food produces stress, and ultimately results in weight gain.  Another important hormone is insulin. We think of insulin as the hormone that keeps blood sugar under control. Insulin stores calories. It is impossible to lose weight unless insulin is under control.

We have survival mechanisms in place to keep us from starving and to provide us with fuel at times of stress. It turns out that how much we eat is not as important as when we eat and what we eat. Eating in a way that helps the endocrine system help us to lose weight is a much better strategy than merely limiting calorie consumption.

Eating a good breakfast and making sure that you eat more early in the day and less later in the day helps to keep cortisol, insulin and your appetite under control. Avod refined sugar, refined carbohydrate and food additives; it is vital if you are to be successful. Avoiding common food allergens, like gluten and dairy, is often an effective strategy.

Science has provided us with information about weight loss that goes way beyond the century-old concept of the calorie. The endocrine system and brain chemistry hold the key to losing weight and getting healthy. To successfully lose weight, you have to get around your own survival mechanisms. Let’s face it, your body thinks that weight loss is starvation and will work very hard at preventing it.