EATING FOR YOUR BODY TYPE
Is this a myth? Won’t we all end up overweight if we overeat?
Things you can’t change
As much as we’d all love to have a body like Rebecca Twigley – most of us are just never going to. Our genetics play a humungous role in our body shape. Studies of identical twins who have been reared apart show that they have more closely matching body weights than non-identical twins.
Metabolism is the term to describe how quickly we burn fuel – and our genetics determine that some of us will burn fuel faster than others. Think of it like this: two cars drive from Melbourne to Sydney. Although, they’re both travelling the same distance and they both arrive at the same time, one driver spends $100 in fuel and the other spends $150. Why? Because, one car has a V8 petrol engine and the other has a turbo-charged diesel engine, and the petrol engine burns fuel much faster, so is more expensive. People who have a faster metabolism need more fuel, or food, to gain weight.
Researchers have already found a number of genes that affect our likelihood to gain weight. The “fidgeting gene” has been found to affect how much we fidget (children who fidget are more likely to be leaner than children who are placid as they are burning more fuel), other genes affect the rate at which we burn fat and the “ob gene” affects how much leptin we produce.
This brings me to hormones. It is estimated that between 10-15 hormones interact to determine how much food we eat and how much of it we store. One of the most influential hormones is leptin. Leptin is a hormone that signals to the brain that we have had enough to eat. However, it has been found that people who are overweight tend to be resistant to this hormone, so that even though their body is producing large amounts of leptin, they still continue to eat.
Reading all this you might start to think that you may as well give up dieting and just blame your parents for your fat thighs and/or beer gut, BUT, how you look after your body has an even greater effect on your body shape.
Things you can change
Ask your grandma about obesity when she went to school, and she’ll tell you there was none. How can it be that 70 years ago there was hardly any obesity, and now over 60% of Australians are overweight or obese? Our genes haven’t changed…..so, it all comes down to the choices that we make.
Firstly, there’s our food. High calorie, processed foods are advertised everywhere we turn. Many people don’t seem to take the time out to cook a meal anymore. Instead we rely on tasteless, high kilojoule, pre-prepared meals that are ready after 2 minutes in the microwave. No wonder that doesn’t satisfy us, and we end up turning to chocolate! Food is our fuel. It should be nutritious and delicious. By cooking tasty meals, we not only know exactly what goes into them, but we feel pleasantly satisfied afterwards.
Secondly, there’s our meal structure. The National Weight Loss Registry in America records whenever people have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for longer than a year. It has found that two of the key factors for maintaining a healthy weight range were eating breakfast daily and refuelling regularly throughout the day. I discussed metabolism earlier. Not only do our genetics affect our metabolism, but our meal structure affects it as well. Eating small, regular meals speeds up our metabolism, and helps us to burn more fuel than we store. Yet, the number of people that skip meals these days is unbelievable. Everyone seems too busy to even grab an apple! But be warned, you know what happens when you don’t refuel your car…..you end up walking to the nearest petrol station! Don’t forget to refuel your body regularly also.
Thirdly, how we eat. Little things can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. I know that some of these things may sound trivial, but eating slowly, chewing your food well and enjoying your meals at a table with loved ones rather than in front of the TV have a significant affect on the amount of food that we end up eating. We need to allow time for our mouthful to reach our stomachs, so that our internal regulatory system can tell us when we’ve had enough to eat, rather than just shovelling it in. Every mouthful contains calories, so we need to focus on quality, not quantity.
Finally, exercise. Exercise is imperative, not only for burning kilojoules, but also for increasing our metabolism, relieving stress, and giving us good muscle tone. The Australian recommendations are that we participate in at least 30 minutes of planned moderate-intensity exercise five days each week, plus do as much incidental exercise as possible. Find something that you love, whether it’s going for an evening stroll after dinner with your family or having a hit of tennis with a girlfriend on Saturday mornings. Whatever you choose, it needs to be planned into your lifestyle and done regularly.
So, is there such a thing as eating for your body type? Well, if you think that whether you choose the latest low carb or low fat diet is going to be the deciding factor to determine whether you look like Bec or not, then the answer is No! But, eating correctly by choosing nutritious, fresh, home cooked recipes can help you to be the best and most healthy weight for YOU.
Melanie McGrice, AdvAPD