Thermodynamics of Weight Management
Matter can neither be created or destroyed. It can be transferred and altered and converted to energy, but nothing materializes or disappears from, or into thin air.
On a daily basis I get the text “I just gained two pounds over night, I’m so fat. It’s because I had a pretzel I bet.” In order to really gain two pounds of fat over night you would have had to absorb, not just consume, 7000 calories more than usual and not have had your metabolism speed up with this caloric onslaught.
I’m not good at everything, but I am good at math. It’s how I see the universe, as patterns of values and equations. Almost as cool as Neo seeing the Matrix. I can’t however see the world in emotions, like a world created with pastel water color with no clear lines and boundaries. When I look at a plate with burgers and fries, I immediately start estimating protein, carbs, fat, sodium, calories, digestion speed, and things like additional toxins added to the food by manufactures. I do not see a yummy treat.
Where am I going with this? Math is the most important thing to gaining muscle or losing fat. If your mind is so clouded with feelings that thoughts are blurry then you may have a very hard time achieving a goal. In the above example (which I deal with every single day), I have to explain that the kidneys most likely did not filter the extra sodium from the salt on the pretzel causing water retention. Also, that the gluten in the pretzel may have caused intestinal inflammation and decrease in cillia transport of nutrients across the intestinal surface into the blood. They haven’t defecated out the same amount of feces as usual also contributing to the increase in morning scale weight. And that the baking soda can cause bloating and that that intestinal gas has caused their abdomen to distend and that’s why they FEEL fat, and they went up a size overnight.
In the absence of emotion and feelings with having nothing but cold hard logic and reason, the individual in question would decide that since a pretzel didn’t actually weigh two pounds it couldn’t possibly add two pounds to their body. It’s MATH, the fabric which reality is weaved from. They would realize that there isn’t as many calories in a pretzel as two pounds of fat. And that since this is the same circumstance as when they had pizza, and Chinese, and hot dogs, that they didn’t keep the extra pounds those times, they wouldn’t keep the extra pounds this time. Truly exceptional people learn after one time that it’s not worth it and don’t cheat on their diets at all.
No, I’m not one of those people unfortunately. I’m a cheating machine (on diets;)
So why say this? Because if anyone wants to lose weight, their bodies must burn more calories than they consume. And if they want to gain weight, they have to consume more calories than they burn.
Hormones are the Key to Body Composition
If your calorie deficient and your losing weight with a low testosterone and a high cortisol your probably going to lose muscle and not as much fat. In that same deficit with high testosterone and growth hormone, with low cortisol then you would lose fat not as much muscle. If your in a calorie surplus and have a high insulin and estrogen your going to gain fat. In a calorie surplus with a high testosterone and insulin with a low estrogen and a high growth hormone you will likely gain more muscle.
So how do I control my hormones? Most work like a see saw: as one goes up, another goes down. Some work together to amplify effects and some subtract from each other. All are present all the time and the exact amount in your blood does not matter as much as the ratios of free active unbound hormone.
Here Is a Breakdown:
Testosterone: The absolute most important thing to have a high muscle to fat ratio. It builds muscle and indirectly burns fat. Its metabolite DHT stops aromatase from converting testosterone to estrogen. So ideally you should block the aromatase enzyme with an aromatse inhibitor.
Estrogen: This is the worst thing you can have if your trying to have a good muscle to fat ratio. It directly decreases your testosterone production and causes you to store fat from excess calories. Women need it for their monthly cycle and normal hormonal functioning. The main positive effect in men is good cholesterol profile.
Thyroid hormone T4/T3/T2: This is the main metabolism regulator in the body. It affects every cell. Many other hormones effect its function. It is one of the most important hormones for losing fat and gaining solid muscle without fat gains.
Cortisol: Breaks down muscle and fat for fuel in times of stress or when there is not enough calories for the metabolism. It also causes thyroid function to decrease to slow metabolism. Once calories are re-introduced cortisol stores them as fat.
Growth Hormone: Burns fat with cortisol but preserves muscle in times of stress.
Insulin: Suppresses Growth Hormone, drives carbohydrates into muscle for glycogen synthesis if carbs are introduced post workout. Other times of day insulin drives carbs into fat cells.
Leptin: Released from full fat cells to block ghrelin release. More leptin means less appetite and fat storage, as well as many other good things.
Ghrelin: Released when leptin is low. Increases desire for high calorie foods.
All of these main hormones interact in different ways to regulate fat and muscle. So some go up, others go down.
Another important detail is what your current muscle to fat ratio is. If your body has a very low body fat and a lot of muscle, then putting yourself in a calorie deficit may result in a loss of muscle, not fat. The body, through these hormones and their balance, chooses to shed the muscle in this instance. Muscle is very expensive to maintain. One pound of muscle uses about 40 calories a day at rest just to exist. Fat uses almost no calories. Since fat is storage of energy and fuel, then if the body isn’t receiving enough calories a day just to meet its minimum energy requirements, the body decreases thyroid function to slow the metabolism down. This decreases daily calorie expenditure. Then it releases cortisol to break down the expensive muscle if it needs calories instead of fat. Testosterone and growth hormone protect against this. Leptin release from the fat cells decreases and this causes ghrelin in the brain to be amplified. This increases appetite.
From my experience with helping hundreds of women with their diets estrogen amplifies the appetite as well. The person now craves high calorie foods with both carbs and fat. If they give in to temptation, the carbs they consume cause an insulin spike. Insulin, directed by the cortisol present, stores the carbs and fat in the fat cells so the body can balance the muscle to fat ratio. In other words, if you listen to your body it will trick you into losing muscle and storing fat.
Lets take that same person and assume they wanted to increase their muscle. They would have to eat a calorie surplus is conventional wisdom. Since they have a high muscle to fat ratio the body sees extra calories as an opportunity to fill up their fat stores. If the fat (adipose) cells are less than half full, then leptin levels are low. Ultimately this means the body will try to fill those fat cells up first, then once the body fat is at the high end of average the body will then let extra energy be used to create muscle. So if a guy with 9% body fat was starting a bulk phase he would likely get up to around 18% body fat first, then extra months of eating would build muscle and he would slowly accumulate more fat. If someone was to try to gain only muscle they have a very difficult road ahead. To over come the bodies natural inclination for balance you would have to force an imbalanced state with hormone manipulation. Taking an aromatase inhibitor to stop estrogen production, a prohormone that converts to testosterone and a growth hormone secretagogue, something that boosts natural growth hormone release would be a good start. The high calorie diet would up regulate your thyroid function so no modification is necessary there unless your thyroid was damaged prior to this point by severe dieting or drug use. Since calories are high cortisol is likely low. Over training and emotional stress can cause it to go up though. For a non-steroidal alternative which boosts natural testosterone, natural growth hormone, and increases thyroid function as well as increases metabolism to give you the best fat burning possible with one purchase click here!
What if you’re not already lean?
If your body is balanced or even skewed in a high fat to muscle ratio then your body will work with you to change that ratio. Clean eating and brutal hard workouts are all you need to make progress for about 12 weeks. After that the honeymoon is over and its time to get to work. Think of riding a bike down a hill. You just need to point it in the right direction and gravity does the work. If you pedal hard and fast then when you hit level ground you still travel quickly and when the grade changes and your traveling up hill you will gradually slow down and that’s when you have to pedal hard just to make any progress. With bodybuilding its all down hill for 12 weeks, then flat for 4 then uphill for the rest of your life. In order to succeed you should make your life easier and decrease the grade of the uphill slope with the right supplements, training protocols, and of course diet.
Nothing in this article or on this site should be considered medical advice or as an endorsement to violate any law of the country in which you reside. The information given is for fun and entertainment purposes only. All claims are 100% dependent upon proper diet and exercise. Please consult a medical practitioner prior to any diet and exercise program.