Yesterday my brother-in-law raised a good point about something I hadn’t addressed in a post, namely that there are people who ARE willing to try many different programs but still come up empty-handed with maintenance of body composition achievement. I would argue that though there are many programs, the only widespread or popular ones operate from deficiency not sufficiency.
The crux of maintenance relies on sufficiency. People often don’t think about this, but when you deplete body fat you generally deplete the very micronutrients which support hormones and neurotransmitter levels. Serotonin and dopamine and gabba and acetylcholine don’t just magically take care of themselves. So, whether you abide by paleo or raw vegan, as you eat less caloric support, you will eat less brain support. This includes the pituitary and consequently other organs. Conversely, I like people to protect the brain first and lose fat later.
Some influencers called attention to this idea very recently in the wake of published research which caught headlines: “Dirty” Keto Dieting Is Questionable. Someone can indeed hit macros, achieve weight loss, and be in a worse position for long term health. It’s true. In avoidance strategies, we don’t usually seek MORE nutrients. If someone goes months and months with deficiency, surprise! It isn’t just weight that’s depleted.
As someone runs into a wall where they aren’t “deficient enough,” the common theme is to “move more.” Great, except more movement means using up more acetylcholine and constituents for mitochondrial health at the very least. But if you were already eating less, then these were already underfed. Now we’re woefully injured, in the brain and in the body. While people think they're erasing fat they're unlikely to be doing so; and they're much more likely to be erasing the brain.
The remedy? There are a few different ways to go about it. Bloodwork on hormones and neurotransmitters helps. Calculating protein and fiber sufficiency helps. Micronutrient-dense superfoods help. In the end, being aware of sufficiency as primary helps to guide these other items.
See, here’s the thing: in weight loss research, there are repeated studies on test groups where they are matched on the caloric equation, but something other than caloric intake/expenditure changes the outcomes in one group versus another. Ironically, HIGHER protein intake and MORE sleep/rest result in better results. Diversity of gut flora (the bacteria which eat fiber) also correlates to better results. The exact inverse of every popular program is the only scientifically supported tactic: eat more; move less.
This gets to a deeper societal problem: lack of specificity. Eat less of what? Eat more of what? Move more how? Move less how? Catchphrases work well on the human psyche for marketing, politicking, and rants. Clearly, however, they aren’t fruitful for health.
Why are elite sprinters who run for 9 seconds or weightlifters who exert themselves for less than one second so lean while average people starving and running for hours are so fat?
Sufficiency defeats deficiency.