Diet and Exercise Evolution: Adaptation (part I) -- TheoryWritten by David McCormick
Adaptation is most important weight loss concept you can learn. The human body adapts to pressures it is put under with goal of prolonging life. Your body wants to survive as long as possible, and it will adjust its internal workings quickly if it is presented with changes. So, everything that happens to you - especially things that happen regularly, like eating habits, sleep cycles and general activity - will have two effects on your body. 1) An immediate effect in short term, then 2) for long term, your body will adapt to it to better perform next time. It is this adaptation that most people forget about.
Mind-Body Split Your mind perceives changes to your environment through your eyes and other senses, that's how you understand world around you. But your organs and cells can only perceive changes in demands made on them and kinds of nutrients they get in your blood. Whether stimulus comes from world (a virus enters your body) or from you (you decide to take stairs instead of elevator), cells in your body will react so that next time that event happens, cells can handle situation better. In case of virus, your body creates antibodies. In case of taking stairs, your body ups endurance of your leg muscles.
Your thoughts have little effect on what happens in your body at level of your organs, and even less at level of your cells. You are always in mental control of your muscles except for built-in reactions, and you can consciously take control of your breathing. However, none of your other systems can be consciously controlled. That's why you can't will yourself thin. So, never mistake by doing something that you "intend" to lose weight, but instead think of how your body will adapt to your performing action.
The Factory You can think of your body as a factory: The boss (your brain) can see where finished product is going, and how much profit to make. But workers can't see all accounting papers or costs of materials or even customers. The workers (your cells) only see that they're being asked to work on a certain task, at a certain rate of pay, for a certain number of hours, and so on. That's what makes a difference to them. The factors that directly affect them and their job are only things that will affect how they do their job.
If boss of this company needs more production or more profits, he can't just tell workers to work harder. That never works! He could raise their pay, or give them more breaks, or just put some music over intercom. There are many ways to communicate to your workers, but you have to send message that has right effect. What about giving workers fewer breaks so that they'll have a better output? They're not wasting time, after all! But we all know that workers need breaks or else they slow down, get tired, get angry, and maybe quit from stress. The same applies to lowering wages. The bad boss thinks that he can make more money if he pays his workers less. As boss of cells in your body, you shouldn't just eat less, because that's like lowering salary of your working cells. You have to get your cells to adapt in direction you want, and tactics to do that may not be obvious. You have to do cellular equivalent of improving morale and increasing worker satisfaction.
Diet and Exercise Evolution: Adaptation (part II) -- Examples and Practical AdviceWritten by David McCormick
Understanding theory of adaptation (see previous article, Adaptation I) will give you tools to evaluate your diet and daily routine. If you have any question about whether something is good for you, always examine both immediate effects and adaptation effects equally. This article will look at various examples of adaptation and practical advice based on this important theory.
Walking Is walking for a long time a good way of losing weight? Look at it this way: direct effect is that calories are burnt over that period, and you will by using your fat stores for fuel because it is aerobic exercise. So that's a positive: you're burning calories, and as long as you don't eat too much food, you're losing weight. But what will be adaptation? You're telling your body that you will need to walk for a long amount of time to find food. So, how will your body adapt to make you a better walker? Expending energy faster? Burning fat easily? NO WAY. If you need to walk through savanna for a long time, you want your body to conserve as much energy (fat) as possible and retain as much water as possible. This is opposite of your goal, you will not lose weight in long-term, so it is not an optimal solution.
What about high-intensity exercise? The immediate effect is to burn calories in your blood, but there isn't enough time to start burning fat. Your muscles may burn with lactic acid, and you can't keep it up for very long. That isn't too good, because you won't burn as many calories as you did walking. But is adaptation going in correct direction? Your body will try to make you a better runner by making calories available to you at a moment's notice to fuel your run (burning fat faster), and will try to get rid of fat that is slowing you down. This is a great adaptation.
The best advice regarding exercise for weight loss in accordance with adaptation is this: warm up by doing a fast walk for 10-15 minutes, so that your body goes into a fat-burning mode. Then, turn up intensity as high as you can and speed through next 10-15 minutes. This can be running, climbing stairs, bicycling or whatever activity you like. I recommend a stationary bike because risk of falling or hurting your joints is minimized. If you do this before breakfast, you're also training your body to use stored energy (fat) instead of energy from food in your stomach.
If You Could Be an Animal...
If your physique could resemble an animal's, which animal would you choose? Try to ignore symbolism, and just pick an animal whose body composition you'd like to approach. Many men would choose a lion and many women would choose a gazelle. These animals have adapted to get bodies they have, and their adaptation, like yours, is based on how they behave day to day. So how do these animals behave? We can't compare their diets, because a gazelle is a herbivore, a lion is a carnivore, and humans are omnivores. However, we can look at their exercise needs.
A lion, to get food, has to sprint for up to 5 minutes until it grabs its prey, which is usually pretty big. When it does, it wrestles with it for up to 10 minutes, flexing all its muscles and changing positions, putting all its force against other animal that is resisting with all its might. This builds muscular strength and size and eliminates body fat.
A gazelle spends a lot of time eating, but each mouthful is tiny. It takes a long time to eat, and never gorges. When grass all around it is bare, it bounces off to another place to find food or water. The gazelle is highly alert because it is vulnerable to attack, and often twitches or fidgets to make sure it can escape quickly. When it is attacked, it runs (bounces) incredibly fast for up to 20 minutes until it is safely out of danger. This activity makes it long and slender as an adaptation to its environment.