August 2019
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on changing the amount of fat on your body: cortisol, blood sugar, stress, food as fat/carb/protein

icon: "bodylove -- me (belly) (a photo from 2007 of my breasts, belly, and arms, covered in spirals and drawings made with washable markers and glitter)"

--- TW: possibly triggering for those with disordered eating / eating disorders. ---
--- CN: talk of restriction, dieting, fat ---
------ENTIRE POST------

First let me say, I do not take my own advice because I don't mind being fat and I don't like eating enough to eat more often (I tend towards one small snack and one big meal a day which can be bad for you, as you'll see if you read on). Secondly, this is more about what NOT to do than what to do. and lastly, take this as a starting point; I am not an expert.

Kay, so there is a shitton of misinformation out there about how to take care of your body and how to change the fat amount on your body. Do not believe anyone who tells you you can restrict your calories in order to lose fat permanently. That much is proven to be bullshit despite the fact that many people insist it's true. Restricting can take some fat off but if that is your sole method, it will come back not too far down the road. Read any good study on dieting and you will learn that it does not work. Why?

Because your body is a machine that is designed to protect you from starvation. There is a hormone called cortisol which will tell your body to retain as many energy stores as possible: it says, "store fat and don't burn it!" This hormone is activated by two things (among others I'd imagine): stress and low blood sugar. When you restrict, you activate this hormone and make your body more likely to store than to burn. It is incredibly counterproductive to restrict: even if you lose some fat at first, as this hormone builds up it will make you retain fat again.

Cortisol is also the reason that it is not only looksist to be anti-fat, it is sexist, racist, ableist, etc. Being oppressed is a constant stress that you cannot escape. Oppressed peoples often don't have access to healthier food and don't have spare energy or time to spend on working out, AND are under much more stress than people without those oppressions. People's bodies often change a great deal in how much they retain fat due to how much stress they are enduring. You can actually be eating a starvation-level diet and gain weight (so I have heard from people who have been through anorexia) because your body is so damn good at holding on when it thinks you are in danger.

Also, according to my nutrition prof, only fat gets stored. Proteins get used or shat out if you eat more than you need. Carbs only increase your body fat if you are also consuming fat, because the carbs are burned first and then if you don't have enough activity to need them, the fats are just stored. Eating fewer carbs just means that the fat you eat is more likely to get used. Carbs are your body's favorite, and complex carbohydrates are the best for healthy, lasting energy. (I have also been told that carbs can be stored as fat, so my nutrition prof may have been off - but that is a case of excess)

So my logical takeaway from this is that if I wanted to lose fat, I would need to practice as many anti-stress things as I know to do, as well as maintaining my blood sugar throughout the day and consuming less fat. Every 3 hours I would eat a small meal of mostly raw fruits and vegetables, and I would try to avoid ever getting actually hungry. I would try to be more active by doing anything that got my heart rate up. I would meditate daily and make sure to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day. I would drink damiana tea w cinnamon every day because that decreases my stress both in the ritual and in the substance. I would avoid any sugars except for fruit sugar and honey. Probably other things too, but you get the point.

I checked with a health professional friend of mine just to be sure I wasn't way off and they told me the advice they give for people who want to lose fat (tailored to the person and situation since not everyone can walk, for instance):

"breathe. ... recommend a few YouTube relaxation videos to them. Drink water. Drink tea - green tea is great for your metabolism. Eat a balance of foods but make the majority of your plate fruit/veg. Lean proteins. Decrease carbs and sugar. Walk 30 minutes per day minimum. Laugh. And never ever ever beat yourself up if you splurge on a burger and a milkshake. Because it's about balance - life is about balance."

If you think that fat = unhealthy, read this entire article and all the links before you say anything to me about fat: These are the Fat FAQs. And just one quick note: BMI is bullshit, based on literally zero science as was never intended to measure health. It also changed significantly due to social reasons with again no science, no excuse. Weight cannot tell you about health. Correlation =/= causation. There are a million possible lurking variables, not the least of which is stress.

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stray_infinity ══╣╠══

Thank you for this! I'm intrigued about how cortisol has links with oppression and reveals correlations for why certain groups of people as a collective might appear physically different from others. Also, as someone who exercises daily and keeps track of nutrition fact numbers as I eat, this helps fortify my understanding of how to develop weight loss strategies.

In the beginning, you claimed you weren't an expert. I don't think anyone can really claim to be an expert. I think ideally, people should take the time to get to know their body and what works for them, unless they have serious underlying genetic issues that make it difficult to maintain healthy weight and nutrition. My in-law patronized me for having pretzels for breakfast. Maybe that doesn't work for her, but I knew the pretzels didn't have any fat, barely any carbs or calories, and had some decent fiber, protein, and other minerals. We should shoot for understanding the general knowledge of nutrition and figure out how our lifestyle interacts with the things we eat - our differing sleep schedules, drug consumptions, exercise patterns, happiness, basically most of the factors you've already mentioned, all shade how we should approach our diet.

Good words here, Belenen!

belenen ══╣artless╠══
Very true, there is no one strategy that works for all people! Which is why people shouldn't judge others' food choices, like your in-law did. *shakes head*
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
I also want to thank you for this entry.
belenen ══╣artistic╠══
you're welcome, glad you got something out of it!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.