Table of Contents
This Book Does Not Provide Medical Advice
The information contained in, or delivered from this book is for educational purposes only. This book does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. You should always seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner before making changes to your lifestyle.
This book is Copyright © September 2017 Boomers Club Pty Ltd. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission. For permissions and other information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit rewiredweightloss.com and use the contact us form.
About the Author
My name is Glenn Sargent. I am 64 years old, 175 cm (5’9″) tall and now weigh 70 kg (154 lb). I was formerly 86 kg and possibly slightly taller. I am the Founder of the Rewired Weight Loss program.
I studied chemical engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in the early 1970s. During my first job interview for a global petroleum company, I (and everyone else) had to complete a psychological test.
I was called back for a second interview and informed that I had achieved the lowest ever ‘empathy score’ on the test. I thought that this did not sound too promising (and have been working on it ever since), but I was then told that I had scored the highest ever ‘helicopter anticipation’ score on the test. Well, I thought, that sounds a bit more promising, even though I had no clue what this meant.
In the test we did, ‘helicopter anticipation’ was assessed by the ability to ‘hover’ over the refinery and see how all the individual pieces interacted with each other, and then be able to see how something that was altered in one part of the refinery affected the rest of the refinery.
I think of ‘helicopter anticipation’ as my gift. I don’t have to practise it, it’s just how my brain works to solve complex issues; that is, once I have my head around those issues.
So, what has this to do with weight loss?
I only worked a short while at the refinery, so let’s fast forward to 2003 when I weighed 86 kg. This is the year my wife was diagnosed with a life-threatening chronic illness. This led me to begin studying the impact of diet on our health, and I have continued to study it ever since.
I would like to thank the hundreds and hundreds of medical researchers who publish the results of their work in scientific journals so that inquisitive persons like me have access to the results of their research. I am also lucky that I had a head start in understanding the research because of my background in chemistry, physics and thermodynamics (chemical engineering), which meant it took much less time to ‘learn the medical lingo’ in order to understand what they had written.
During my wife’s illness, some hard lessons were learned, and I wish I knew what I know now, as it may have helped extend her life further. Two things became painfully obvious:
- It was very difficult for her to dramatically change eating habits, especially when she was feeling ill, and eating food she enjoyed perked her up.
- The second was so obvious I could not believe I had been so stupid. Like most chronic illnesses that eventually kill us, her illness was age related. The older we get, the more likely we are to be diagnosed with a life-threatening chronic disease.
These are illnesses like type II diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, cancer, diverticular disease and numerous others. These diseases take decades to develop. This means that if it is possible to slow the aging process, it must be possible to defer the diagnosis of these chronic diseases to older ages than would otherwise have been the case; that is, we could be healthier for longer if we could slow the aging process. I learned that diet and weight loss can actually reverse some of these diseases and that overeating accelerates cellular aging.
In 2005 I purchased my first diet book (I then weighed 86 kg or 190 lb). It was produced by researchers at the CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia) and was called The Wellbeing Diet.
My family worked together to follow the diet, and my weight began to fall off (I was the most overweight, or, looking back on it, ‘fattest’ may have been a more appropriate term). My wife and two daughters were pretty trim, so it was more about eating healthy. I recommended the book and lent it to numerous others, but can only think of four people who lost weight and have kept the weight off. For most it did not have any lasting effect.
Why was this so? Surely everyone would prefer to be lean, more attractive, healthier and feel better about themselves in preference to being overweight or obese?
Thanks to the internet, I have access to all the medical research and the researchers who published their work. Research papers are generally written by specialists in their particular field of medical science. Their work is highly ‘siloed’ into particular categories, and the researcher’s focus is more often than not a very narrow one, whereas managing body weight encompasses many aspects of biology and human psychology, which vary from individual to individual.
Back to ‘helicopter anticipation’. Each quality piece of relevant research is a valuable part of the weight loss jigsaw puzzle. My gift helped me put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together and find the missing link that makes it possible for people who want to lose weight achieve a healthy body weight and effortlessly maintain it forever.
Last but not least, a wise man once told me that ‘ideas without action are nothing but dreams’. I figured it was time to take some action. I hope you enjoy the read and find the contents useful and relevant.
I would once again like to thank the hundreds and hundreds of medical researchers who publish the results of their work in the scientific journals for inquisitive persons like me to read and take advantage of.
‘You’re never too old, or too young, or too heavy to embark on a healthier journey’
In Australia, around 63% of the population is overweight and and the cost to Australian society of obesity alone was estimated at $58 billion in 2008. Other Western developed nations have the same issue; some worse than 63%. Being overweight is a global epidemic. In Australia, being a healthy weight is abnormal, so clearly there is a significant problem affecting the majority of the Australian population.
The emotional, financial and physical burden on individuals, society and national budgets due to overeating is at historic levels. Governments have not been been able fix the issue. My hope is that it can be fixed, one person at time, by helping people ‘rewire’ their minds so that it is easier and more natural to lose weight and keep it off permanently.
Diets and Exercise Haven’t Worked for 85% of People
The global diet and weight loss industry is massive and lucrative, with Australians alone spending over six billion a year. People can choose to follow the Pritikin diet, Atkins diet, paleo diet, a vegetarian diet, a vegan diet or a juicing diet, to name just a few, and now the latest fad is the sleep diet. To add to the range of diets, there is the very large weight loss and wellbeing supplements market that is consistently pushing pills, powders and drinks ‘formulated’ by science weight loss experts and others. Both industries are thriving and are essentially an oxymoron, given that if the products were truly successful at doing what they claim, there would be no demand for their products. If just one of these were truly successful, don’t you think they would have cornered the market?
The fact that 63% of Australians are overweight is the best evidence that the existing weight loss industry has failed miserably.
The weight loss and processed food industry are somewhat interdependent. The processed food industry fuels weight gain and reroutes customers to the weight loss industry, and the failure of the weight loss industry reinforces the growth of the processed food industry, and so it goes. Suffice to say it is working out well for both of them, in a big money-go-round, while many people suffer time and again because they do not know the cause of, or how to, change their overeating behaviour.
The Paradox of Choice
Few (if any) people consciously decide to be overweight or obese; it just happens naturally over time without effort or willpower. Eating has become somewhat complicated. To put on weight is easy. Losing it is both emotionally and physically challenging. And keeping it off is virtually impossible, especially when trying to manage it on your own!
This book explains why the majority of the population make food choices that add weight, why it is not their fault and how to fix it. Just as anyone can overeat, anyone can also rewire themselves and experience permanent weight loss. You’re never too old, too young or too sick to embark on a healthier journey.
I hope you enjoy the read and choose to become ‘rewired’. I would only hope that once you do, you decide to pay it forward and help others. You can show others that permanent weight loss does not involve shakes, pills, diet or even exercise. It does not have to be a chore that requires willpower or becoming a ‘food Nazi’ who lives off organic carrot sticks.
The weight epidemic is affecting so many of us in so many ways and will, in the future, affect millions more if we continue on the same path. It is my hope that readers and rewired participants can set an example for others and influence them to do the same, and, maybe, just maybe, together we can provide a better, more vital and prosperous future for everyone who is struggling to manage their weight.
‘Humans are incredibly complex biological machines’
The human body is fascinating; without any conscious thought by us it is working every second of every day, keeping gazillions of things in balance to maintain our temperature, blood sugars, fluids, everything; and as marvelous as it is for striving for balance, sometimes it screws up. Cell damage can initiate cancer, blood sugars contribute to diabetes, and our world is facing an obesity epidemic. Something has become out of balance; imagine if you could restart your body, re-program yourself, hit the refresh button; imagine if you could rewire your brain and restore yourself to healthy weight permanently, and improve your prospects for a long and healthy life. What would you do?
Before we get there, there are some important things we need to know . Most of us don’t eat just to stay alive; if you’re like me, you will enjoy it as well.
I have produced this short book for readers to understand the functions of their body and mind, and how they can be used to overcome the barriers to losing weight and keeping it off forever while still enjoying eating. It is possible. It is within the pages of this book.
If you have lost weight before and put some or all of it back on, or if you’re considering starting a diet, the following metabolism section may leave you wondering why you should even bother. It may even put you off doing it. Don’t be put off; the best dieting news is covered in the neuroscience section. After all, everything starts in the mind.
Part 1 – Metabolism
‘It’s not what we eat – It’s how our body deals with what we eat that matters’
Humans are omnivorous animals, which means we can eat almost any type of food. The average human is made up of tens of trillions human cells. Our cells need a constant supply of energy and it is sourced from the food we eat and the air we breathe. Our energy is derived from food containing molecules including atoms of hydrogen and carbon in various forms.
Inside each of our cells, the carbon and hydrogen that is bound together in the food we eat is combined with the oxygen from the air we breathe in a series of tightly controlled chemical reactions (metabolism) to produce carbon dioxide and water and release energy for life. This is the basics of cell metabolism.
Our body and cells also need water to sustain life. The water resulting from the metabolism process is not enough to sustain life so we must obtain water as well as food and oxygen.
We can stay alive for weeks without food, days without water, and minutes without oxygen. Hence, of the three vital ingredients for life’s energy, food is the least important but the one we enjoy most, whether eating alone or in a social group.
For metabolism to proceed, cells need food and oxygen, and, while we breathe all the time, we do not eat all the time. Our cells need to metabolise food every single second of every day, hence our body needs the energy from food to fuel our cells when we are not eating.
Our bodies store food in two ways. The main long-term storage system is called adipose tissue (fat) and the short-term storage system is called glycogen (glucose sugar).
Energy Storage – Fat
Adipose tissue is the medical name for our body fat which is stored in cells called adipocytes, although let’s call them fat cells. There are different types of fat cells: the two main types are called ‘white fat’ and ‘brown fat’. White fat is the main energy storage that provides reserves for our cells, and is the most relevant with regard to weight gain and weight loss. Brown fat is responsible for heat production and the control of our body temperature, which is held within a tight range (about 0.5oC either side of 37oC).
An adult human has about 30 billion white fat cells. As we overeat, these cells take on more fat and become larger. Generally fat cells do not replicate until they become about four times their natural healthy size, which is when people have moved into an obese category. When this size is reached, the fat cells replicate in order for the body to store more fat. It should be noted that dieting to reduce weight reduces the size of the fat cells, but the number of cells is not reduced. Any new cells gained via replication still remain after weight loss. It is best to get back to healthy weight prior to fat cell replication occurring.
Fat cells are not only a fat storage mechanism. We should view our fat like any other tissue or organ. Fat cells also carry out vital biological functions. Fat cells express (make and excrete) proteins including resistin, adiponectin, leptin, apelin and numerous others.
Resistin is involved in bad cholesterol modulation (both positive and negative aspects; the science is not conclusive) and energy balance, and helps to promote the inflammatory response at sites of infection.
Adiponectin is a hormone involved with blood sugar (glucose) regulation and how fats are metabolised for energy. It contributes to satiety (hunger and fullness) regulation along with leptin. It plays a role in the metabolic derangement that is associated with type II diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity and atherosclerosis (a cause of heart attack and stroke). Adiponectin is only made by fat tissue and is not produced by any other tissue type.
Leptin is a hunger suppressant. If there is too much adipose (fat) tissue, a phenomenon similar to insulin resistance called ‘leptin resistance’ occurs and the brain ceases to respond to the leptin signals as it should. This results in increased hunger and excess food consumption.
Apelin is released by fat cells and helps to regulate the amount of water our body retains, which, in turn, has an effect on blood pressure. Apelin is made by other organs as well.
In males, fat cells make oestrogen from androgen and is a process that is thought to be responsible for the female characteristics like ‘man boobs’ and reduced fertility that is observed in overweight and obese males.
It needs to be understood that fat is an important and necessary organ. Like almost everything about our biology, it is about balance. Being overweight or underweight is unhealthy. Fat associated with a healthy lean body weight is good and even necessary for optimum health.
There is no limit to the amount of energy our body can store in fat cells. Weight can be continually added until, either directly or indirectly, it results in death. The medical profession refers to this as being ‘morbidly obese’.
Energy Storage – Glucose
The second energy storage system is a substance called Glycogen. Unlike adipose tissue (fat), glycogen is not an organ, but rather a short-term compact energy storage molecule. Glycogen is our body’s way of storing glucose. Glucose is a sugar found in nearly all plant food, milk and eggs. Excess Glucose is primarily taken up by our muscle and liver cells and then converted by them into Glycogen and stored for future use. Glycogen is broken back down into glucose when needed for energy.
It is very important to note that glycogen stored in the muscles can only be used by those muscles and cannot be released into the bloodstream to be used by other cells in our body. On the other hand, glycogen stored in the liver can be broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream to be used by any other cell in the body that requires it. Our brain needs some glucose to survive and red blood cells cannot metabolise anything else but glucose. Without it they quickly die, and so would we.
An adult liver can store about 120 gm of glycogen. In terms of energy, this is about 2000 kilojoules (about 480 calories) of energy. This is only enough energy to keep us alive through about three to four hours of sleep (completely at rest, no muscle usage). Fat has to be metabolised to survive a normal 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Our bodies prefer to metabolise glucose over fat and only begin to metabolise fat when glucose (glycogen) reserves are low.
Glycogen is not an efficient way of storing energy as it must be stored with water and takes up much more space per unit of energy compared to fat. But glucose is necessary for life, so our bodies can manufacture glucose from protein and also from a component of adipose tissue called glycerol. Enough glucose will be made to keep our red blood cells and brain alive while the rest of our cells utilise fat (and even some protein) for energy.
When glycogen storage is full, if more energy is consumed than expended, it is stored as fat in adipose tissue, no matter what type of food we eat, be it healthy food or not. Conversely, we will not lose weight (metabolise fat) unless glycogen storage is depleted.
A car also stores energy to fuel its engine to make it go. It also gets that energy from the carbon and hydrogen atoms in the fuel plus oxygen from the air the engine sucks in. The primary difference between the car and us is that the amount of energy the car can store is strictly limited by the size of its fuel tank. Not so with humans, as we can keep storing extra energy until it kills us.
The Human Food Refinery
Food enters our mouth and travels through the stomach, small intestine and large intestine, eventually leaving the body as solid waste matter. Along the way, it is broken down by acids and enzymes. The ‘edible’ components of the food are absorbed to provide energy and nutrients, some indigestible food components are consumed by the bacteria in our gut and the remaining waste is excreted. If it were only that simple.
How digestion is managed and food metabolised in our cells is very complex and can easily get out of balance. Much is going on under the hood (subconsciously) without us being aware of it. All the organs involved (directly and indirectly) in processing our food are part of an incredibly intricate signalling system designed to keep our bodies in proper balance. Life itself is all about balance. It is not the object of this book to describe all these systems; however, if you would like to investigate further, there is mountains of information in the scientific journals or, if there is something in particular you would like to know, just ask at rewiredweightloss.com/contact-us.
One example of the complexities of these signalling systems is the signalling system in the stomach. Our stomachs are lined with stress sensors that send signals to our brain when the stomach changes size, helping us to know when it is empty or full.
Another example is the signalling system involved in blood sugar management. When blood glucose is high, the cells in the pancreas recognise the high sugar levels and make insulin and release it into the circulation. Receptors on muscle, fat and liver cells recognise the insulin signals, which trigger those cells to take up the glucose. The liver cells and muscle cells convert the glucose to glycogen and store it. When muscle and liver glucose storage limit is reached the liver then converts the excess blood glucose into fat and packages it into soluble particles for transport to fat cells for storage. Fat cells can also take up the glucose and convert it to a form of fat called triglyceride and store it, thus reducing blood glucose to safe levels. If the blood glucose levels get too low, cells in the pancreas recognise this and the pancreas stops releasing insulin and starts releasing a signalling molecule called glucagon (the opposite of insulin). Glucagon, causes the liver to release glucose from its Glycogen stores to raise blood sugar fat cells to release fats into the bloodstream to provide energy to our cells. The liver may also begin making glucose from proteins and glycerol (it can make it from other molecules as well, but that is a more complicated process that you can follow up in biology texts). The insulin/glucagon signalling system is just one component of a large range of human metabolic feedback signalling systems. We are unimaginably intricate and complex biological machines, and metabolic signalling systems are constantly working to maintain balance and keep us healthy. This being said they can and do go ary and result in Metabolic Syndrome which massively increases the risk of age related chronic disease. The primary cause of Metabolic Syndrome is long term overeating, acka adding weight
The Forgotten Organ
There at least as many bacteria living on our skin, in our mouths and in our intestines as we have human cells that make us, most of which live in our large intestine; there are over a kilogram of them in the average adult, that’s tens of trillions of bacteria. Together the gut bacteria act like an organ. Gut bacteria eat the indigestible fibre contained in plant food and to a lesser extent remnant protein and fat that has passed through the small intestine and escaped digestion. Each type of bacteria (and there are hundreds if not thousands of types) have their own unique DNA. Based on DNA alone, it could be said we are more bacterial than human.
When bacteria eat, reproduce and reach a critical colony number, they produce different metabolic byproducts, depending on that bacteria’s specific DNA. Some produce vitamins, like the B vitamins and Vitamin K, while others produce molecules like enzymes, and neurotransmitters that modulate our immune system or influence moods. It is now known that some types of bacteria have an effect on mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Others produce short chain fatty acids, which are vital food for the cells that line our gut. The list goes on and on, even to the point that bacterial by-products can and do influence weight loss or gain. Identical twins have exactly the same genes, but when fed the same number of calories, one twin can experience different weight fluctuation than the other. Scientists are putting this down to the different diversity of bacteria in each twin’s gut. Hence twins are not really genetically identical, unless they have identical numbers and types of gut bacteria.
A wide variety of bacteria appears to be essential for good health and weight management.
The Gut-Brain Axis
The human digestive tract (from the mouth to you know where) is lined with about 500 million neurons. This is more than the neurons in a cat’s brain. These are all interconnected and send and receive signals from the brain via the vagus nervous system. This nerve does not run down our spine, but resides outside of the spine. Persons suffering severe spinal cord injury and who are quadriplegic still have this nerve intact. It is responsible for controlling things like heartbeat, breathing rate, coughing, sneezing and other feelings, like hunger and fullness. This nervous system and the previously mentioned signalling molecules interact with the brain, and these processes literally run our lives.
Importantly, these processes all happen under the hood automatically. We are completely unaware of their functions, and influence our life and wellbeing. They force us to breath when we hold our breath; there is nothing we can do about. Even if we could hold our breath to the point that we lost consciousness (don’t try this), as soon as consciousness is lost, breathing will automatically restart.
These automatic processes also have a direct influence on our weight, as they deliver feelings of fullness and hunger. In real starvation, it will cramp our stomach; it is then saying we must eat. This automatic system works against people trying to lose weight. An obese person has enough stored energy (fat) to easily satisfy their energy needs for weeks, but the gut-brain axis can be telling them they are starving or hungry, and that they need to eat multiple times a day! Their body is lying to them but the feelings are real.
Beating these automated ‘under the hood’ urges and cravings requires willpower, and most dieters do not have enough willpower reserves to fight these feelings forever. Nearly always, weight lost is partially or fully regained.
At the end of the day the final arbiter of our metabolism resides between our ears in that mysterious organ we call our brain; our brain is us. Our conscious is the control knob of our subconscious gut-brain axis; we just have to learn how to use it effectively.
Energy Balance – The Truth
Diet books and programs promote the concept of weight loss (or gain) being represented by this simple equation.
Weight Loss (or gain) = (Energy Intake) Less (Energy Expenditure)
This simple equation states that if we consume more energy than we expend, we gain weight, and if we consume less energy than we expend, we will lose weight. This is what nearly all diets depend on, and so they focus on reducing energy intake (eating less calories) and doing more exercise (burn more calories). The metabolic scientific community now agrees that this is an oversimplification of the facts.
The more accurate equation looks like this:
Weight Loss (or gain) = (Energy Intake) Less (Exercise Energy Expended) Less (Resting Energy Expended)
What is Resting Energy Expenditure (REE)?
Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) is the energy required just to keep us alive when we are completely at rest and doing nothing at all. It is measured by placing a sealed hood over people at perfect rest. The hood is fed with a fixed amount of oxygen. Some of the oxygen is used up by our cells to produce energy, and the by-product of these metabolic reactions is carbon dioxide.
Knowing the amount of oxygen used and carbon dioxide (and some hydrogen) expelled allows the calculation of the energy required to keep the person alive when they are doing nothing; this is the individual’s REE.
REE can vary quite markedly from individual to individual, and it is lower for men than women. It is also not constant, as it falls as we age, after menopause and as we lose weight when we diet.
For most of us ordinary folk (not athletes in training), the majority of our energy expenditure is our REE, with exercise making a relatively minor contribution (around 20% to 30%).
REE is not Constant – It Changes with our Weight
Human evolution has left us with a condition where our metabolic signalling systems try their hardest to conserve weight. Prior to civilisation (the first village is thought to have existed about 8000 years ago) food was seasonal and its availability was also affected by drought, floods and so on. Hence it was necessary for human survival to eat well when food was available so that we had some fat reserves to survive periods when food was scarce. In order to help us survive periods of famine, our bodies evolved to make fat reserves last longer through periods of famine by reducing our REE (slowing metabolic rate).
Dieting (that is reducing food intake below our energy needs) mimics this ‘famine’ mode and the body responds by reducing REE so that less energy is required just to stay alive. It does this via a process called ‘adaptive thermogenesis’. In simplistic terms, our inner core body temperature is lowered, meaning less energy is required to maintain core body temperature; it’s subconscious, you won’t notice it. This means even though we eat less we may not lose weight. We have to eat less than we think to overcome this effect.
The real issue is that our body remembers what it did when food was freely available. Hence, our ‘weight set point’ is fixed at the weight reached prior to the start of the diet. So, when the diet target weight is reached (and the famine is over), our biological systems work overtime to get us back to the pre-diet weight. This is one of the reasons why the majority of diets eventually fail. This biological signalling goes on “under the hood”, it’s subconscious and we are unaware that it is happening.
To appreciate the realities of diet failures, read the results of The Biggest Loser contestants after they finished on the TV program:
If you have lost weight and put some or all of it back on, or you are intending to lose weight, this article may lead you to being depressed about the whole idea of dieting and even leave you wondering if it is actually worth trying to lose weight! There is hope though.
Having a slower or lower REE means our cells are doing less work and we need to eat less food! That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Just think of it like a car. Imagine two identical cars, but with different drivers. When the light turns green one driver floors it and accelerates flat out until the speed limit is reached, while the other accelerates smoothly and slowly until the speed limit is reached. Which of the two engines is going to break down or wear out first? It’s the same with our cells, a lower REE is likely to extend our healthy life, if and only if we do not regain the same weight!
Regaining the weight is due to feeling hungry, or going back to old eating habits that were refrained from by using willpower while dieting. People overeat for numerous reasons. It can be because the individual is ‘hooked’ on a particular taste or food, they eat whatever is on the plate no matter how much is on it, they are ‘comfort eaters’, or simply from habit or boredom.
Neuroscience combined with basic food knowledge is the key to successful permanent weight loss.
Genetics, Epigenetics and Obesity?
The chances of a genetic defect causing obesity is very rare, about one in three million. Those with this defect will be grossly obese only months after their birth. If humans are not grossly overweight by the age of 12 weeks and instead become overweight at any stage later in life, then the weight gain will likely not be caused by an obesity genetic defect; something else will be the cause. Ultimately, the drive to overeat, for whatever reason, will be influenced by an individual’s personal mind map, their ‘food environment’ and their past, and epigenetics may also play a role. Some genetic variances can influence body weight in the same manner as driving a powerful car can influence one to speed, but a powerful car does not cause speeding.
Epigenetics is a relative new science. The video below explains epigenetics and its consequences far better than I could ever put into words. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Kg9w-srFk
To summarise, every cell in our body has the same genetic code. How and when segments of that code are switched on or off determine what type of cell it is; for example, a brain cell or muscle cell. The environment immediately surrounding our genetic code can also influence traits (like overeating) and this trait can be inherited. Therefore, our heritable epigenetics can influence our eating habits without us knowing. The answer to the question is yes, epigenetics could contribute to weight gain.
This being said, our epigenome, unlike our genes, is not fixed or unalterable. Epigenetic changes occur naturally throughout our lives. Our thoughts and actions affect our epigenetic gene switching, and epigenetic traits are modified by behavioural changes and behavioural changes modify epigenetic traits. It is a ‘round robin’ process.
Our current state of health and behavioural habits have been mostly influenced by epigenetics, while at the same time our past behaviour and environment have influenced our epigenetics. When we change our response behaviour to the same environment often enough our epigenetics alter accordingly. When this is achieved with regard to eating habits, new eating habits become automatic and they operate under the hood without much conscious effort. Maintaining a healthy weight via appropriate epigenetic change is natural and easy. You are able to alter overeating epigenetics! This is not only great to know for us, but it is also great to know that how we eat could help our grandchildren stay lean, because epigenetics are heritable.
Thousands and thousands of pages have been written about our body’s metabolism and this short book has barely scratched the surface. My point is simply to demonstrate how intricately complex the system is and that the system runs automatically; it happens under the hood, it is subconscious and we are unaware of it. We often have no idea whether it is in balance and working properly or out of balance and broken, aiding weight gain and causing harm.
Successful weight loss has less to do with diet and exercise and more to do with neuroscience, because the brain is the master controller of the signalling systems and YOU have access to it.
Part 2 – Food Neuroscience
In the previous section we discussed the biology of food consumption that it is continuously happening subconsciously. However, biology is not the only or even the overriding subconscious influence on our eating habits.
In this section you will learn how outside influences are imprinted into our subconscious and how they can have a far greater influence on weight management than the biological mechanics of food metabolism.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.
Human smarts are embedded in the number of ‘connections’ made between the neurons in our brains. These connections form patterns that establish the memories, ‘how-to’s’ and ‘habits’ of our lives, including our eating habits.
When born, humans have few connections, but as we grow and our senses soak up and test the information presented by our environment, the connections rapidly expand.
At birth, the average human brain weighs about 350 gm (~12 oz) and has around 100 billion neurons. By age 5, the average human brain weighs about 1.3 kg (~3 lb) but still has around the same 100 billion neurons: the extra weight is from connections, about a quadrillion of them (1,000,000,000,000,000). Even then, a single connection can be part of many different patterns. It is truly mind boggling!
Neuroplasticity expands rapidly to about the age of 5, and then slowly increases into middle age when it begins to decline. Most of the connections and patterns used to automate our lives have already been formed by age five. They are our Mind Maps that influence our choices throughout life.
Neuroplasticity innately means these connections are not fixed. They can and do change depending on external influences that occur during our lives. It should be noted research shows that the brains of overweight or obese persons can be “10 years older” than lean people at middle age. Although this does not necessarily mean that cognitive function is significantly affected, nor does it mean that new mind maps cannot be created.
Our Mind Maps Are Everything
Mind Map neural connections made by age 5 predetermine many of our conscious decisions, views, operations and choices throughout life.
Mind Maps work subconsciously and make human life possible, as without them we would not survive. Mind Maps exist because making choices is stressful and time consuming. In modern Western society, we have access to a multitude of choices every single day. If we had to logically weigh the pros and cons of each choice and then live with the uncertain consequences of that choice, life would be difficult. Mind Maps solve the choice problem for us by unconsciously automating them for us, which makes life easy and efficient. It’s a great aspect of the human mind, if and only if, the automatic decisions are the right ones.
We have a Mind Map of how we get dressed: socks before pants or pants before socks? Whatever our Mind Map is (socks before pants or vice versa), the chances are we will do it the same way for the rest of our lives. Mind Maps influence our personality, whether we are a conservative or a liberal, and they make us who we are.
We also develop Mind Maps of things. Driving our car is automatic and we do not have to consciously think about it, it just happens. We do not have to search for the accelerator or hand brake, or look each time for where to insert the ignition key. After we have developed our Mind Map of the car we own, it is all subconscious and automatic. The car Mind Map makes driving easy and effortless.
What happens when we trade our car for a new one? Driving is not so effortless or easy. We have to consciously think about it, make decisions and answer questions like: How do I turn the radio on?
In time, the Mind Map of the new car will be developed (usually about three weeks with consistent driving) and will override the previous car’s Mind Map.
It is important to note that the old car’s Mind Map will not be completely forgotten, as it is always there in the background. If we had the need to drive the old car again it would only take minutes for everything to come flooding back for driving it to become effortless.
Without Mind Maps we would have to make conscious decisions and apply conscious thought to just about everything we do. As previously stated, without Mind Maps influencing decisions, human life would hardly be worth living. Mind Maps are our habits.
Essentially this means that for most of the everyday actions we take, we are running on autopilot. Eating is an everyday action.
Our Personal Mind Map
Beyond how we get dressed and drive our car, we each have a Mind Map of ourselves. This self Mind Map is thought to encompass many things like our self-image, personality, soul, ego and spirit. In short, it is the computer program and description of ourselves. It is incredibly complex and includes our eating habits.
This personal Mind Map is subconscious. Just as our conscious view of ourselves may be different to our subconscious Mind Map of ourselves, how we think we are is likely to be different to what other people think of us.
Our personal Mind Map has been derived from the repetition of past experiences and it knows what we like and what we don’t like, what tastes good and what doesn’t. Our Mind Map makes decisions for us all of the time. These decisions are subconscious and they happen ‘under the hood’ automatically without a conscious request from ‘us’, and they are fast. They occur much more quickly than conscious decision making can be initiated and completed.
Our personal Mind Map subconsciously influences the decisions we make every day, based on what we felt provided the best result regarding that same decision in the past. This applies to which type of pizza we order, and whether we have our eggs sunny side up, over easy, scrambled or poached. Whether we choose the banana in preference to chocolate will be made by our Mind Map first, and to override the influence of our Mind Map requires either willpower or self-control, or, better than both combined, a new Mind Map.
Does Willpower Actually Exist?
Modern neuroscientists are questioning whether the concept of ‘free will’ actually exists. Whether they are right or wrong, willpower does not work with dieting. Traci Mann, a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Health and Eating Lab, describes it like this:
Let’s say you’re in a meeting, and someone brings in a box of doughnuts. If you’re dieting, now you need to resist a doughnut. That is going to take many, many acts of self-control. You don’t just resist it when it comes into the room — you resist it when you look up and notice it, and that might happen 19 times, or 90 times. But if you eat it on the 20th time, it doesn’t matter how good your willpower was. If you end up eating it, you don’t get credit for having resisted it all those times. In virtually any other arena, that would be an A+, but in eating that’s an F.
So it’s for reasons like that that someone’s willpower, which is measurable by the way, does not correlate with people’s weight. It just doesn’t. But, and here’s the thing, it does correlate with tons of other stuff, like SAT scores, grade point average, and all kinds of other achievement outcomes. And if you think about it, that makes perfect sense. If you’re studying for an exam and give in to checking Facebook, those 10 minutes that you waste don’t erase the studying you did before. You haven’t lost anything. Whereas with eating, when you suffer that one moment of weakness, it actually undoes all the successful willpower that came before it3. Traci Mann, Researcher at the University of Minnesota.
Self-control vs Willpower
Willpower is about a battle with ourselves. Anyone who has dieted, successfully or not, knows about this battle. Self-control and willpower are two entirely different concepts. A human’s degree of self-control is a component of their personal subconscious Mind Map, whereas willpower is NOT. Our level of personal self-control also seems to be set while we are very young. For more on this watch this video:
Our Food Environment
If food isn’t available we can’t eat it. The fact is we live in an environment where food is permanently plentiful. Not only is it plentiful, but food is also no longer seasonal, as with the invention of modern transport and refrigeration, all types of food are available all year round. Furthermore, they are stored in our refrigerators, freezers and pantries, which extends availability even further. This is the environment from which our experiences have been absorbed and stored and from which our Mind Maps have been formed and, hence, our eating habits.
If we want to make any permanent change in our lives, willpower alone will not get us there. No matter how much internal resolve we have, we will likely fail to change our lives if we do not either change our automatic response to the environment or change the environment itself.
Changing the food and stress environment of Western civilised society is impossible for an individual to achieve, and this is where the willpower approach fails. The willpower approach focuses on increasing personal efforts to overcome this environment rather than on invoking methods to change our automatic responses to the modern food environment. What ends up happening? Eventually we succumb to this environment despite our greatest efforts to resist.
Belief – The Placebo Effect
USA-based company EnteroMedics developed a device similar to a pacemaker that is implanted in the abdomen and connected to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects our digestive system to the brain. The device is designed to interfere with signals sent from the gut to the brain and has the effect of suppressing hunger and stomach contractions, thus providing better appetite control. EnteroMedics call it the Maestro Rechargeable System and it blocks pulses to the brain to trick the body into feeling full. It was approved for use by the USA Food and Drug Administration in January 2015.
In order to obtain market approval, a prospective clinical trial had to be completed to prove the device’s efficacy compared with a placebo. People in the trial were divided into two groups. Both groups had the device implanted: one group had the device switched on and connected and the other (the control group) had the device disconnected.
At the end of twelve months, half of the people with the active device lost 20% of their fat mass and about third of the active group lost 25%. For the group with the inactive device, 32% of the group lost 20% of their weight and a third lost 23%. The active device did not perform more than 10% better than the inactive device and normally this would have meant the device would not have been approved; however, since obesity is such a huge problem, permission was granted anyway.
The people with the inactive device did not have their satiety signals interfered with. Their brain was receiving exactly the same information as it was prior to the fake device being implanted. The brain simply ignored the signals because of a strongly held belief by the recipients that they had been implanted with a device that would cause them to lose weight. They had a new Mind Map even though their biology was not altered.
So much for the biology, neuroscience and willpower!
Our Eating Mind Maps and Feelings
Our ‘eating Mind Maps’ respond to signals that instigate action. For example, waking up to the alarm triggers a sequence: shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work, etc. This is a time signal. Others signals can be sight, smell or even sound. These signals create feelings that influence action. The smell of onions on a barbecue gets my saliva glands working instantly. We usually express our food moods or desires as feelings. On a hot day we may say “I feel like an ice cream or a cold beer”, in preference to saying, “I want an ice cream”.
These feelings are delivered by our personal Mind Map, though on a hot day someone else’s Mind Map could just as easily say, “I feel like a cold glass of water or some watermelon”.
The desires we have are determined by our personal Mind Maps. Remember though, neuroplasticity is real, and new Mind Maps can be created to replace existing ones.
Before I discuss how to make your new weight loss Mind Map, we need it to make the right choices for us, and for that to happen we need to know what they are. So, a little bit on food basics first.
Part 3 – Food Basics
Rewiring the brain for weight loss is not a diet. It is about constructing a new personal Mind Map that creates better eating habits. To do this we need to know a little bit about ‘the better’ eating habits.
The average modern Western diet has two elements that are extremely bad for our long-term health.
- It tends to deliver too much added Sugar.
- It does not deliver enough fibre.
- It has had fat removed and tends to deliver too much polyunsaturated fat.
Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS, mostly used in the USA) are effectively the same substance, and they are a disaccharide sugar, which is two sugar molecules joined together, one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. In the gut, the bond between the two molecules is instantly broken by the enzyme sucrase, and the resultant single molecules are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. HFCS is processed from corn, with glucose and fructose usually in a 45/55 ratio. In HFCS, the two molecules are not bonded and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Glucose is the preferred fuel for our body. Every cell in the human body can metabolise glucose to provide the energy it needs to live. Red blood cells can only survive on glucose, and the brain always needs some glucose to survive. Glucose can be removed from the bloodstream relatively quickly. When consumed, it triggers the release of insulin, which instructs muscles, adipose tissue to take up the glucose for storage and energy.
On the other hand, fructose cannot be metabolised by our cells to make energy for their survival, and it does not trigger insulin. Only the liver can remove it from the bloodstream. The liver cells eliminate fructose in the same way that it eliminates alcohol. Liver cells convert fructose and alcohol into fat to remove them from the bloodstream. The by-products of this process are chemicals like uric acid (gout) and malonaldehyde (carcinogen). Also, some of the fat can remain in the liver, causing alcoholic fatty liver disease in the case of alcohol and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the case of fructose. If consumption is continued, the disease can progress to liver cirrhosis and, in the worst-case scenario (rare), liver cancer.
Sugars are Reducing Chemicals
Sugars can, and do, react with proteins and lipids (fats) to form what are known as Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and lipid peroxides. These are nasty cell damaging chemicals. Searching AGES in the NIH PubMed database produces over 18,000 results, none of them are complimentary.
The fructose component in the sugar we eat is 7 to 10 times more powerful at making AGEs than the glucose component. AGEs are a component of our food: up to 30% of the AGEs in our bodies can come from the food we consume (cooking protein and fat with dry heat, as compared to boiling or steaming) and the rest is manufactured inside our bodies. Our cells have defences against AGEs (special antioxidants like Superoxide Dismutases or SODs) but if sugars containing fructose are over consumed, these defences are compromised. Our cells and connective tissue are damaged and we eventually get sick.
Diabetic researchers need ‘diabetic mice’ to use in their medical experiments. How do they make a mouse diabetic? Answer: feed it fructose.
The Impact on Connective Tissue
Humans cells must be held in place to form our various tissues, whether it be liver, muscle or any other tissue. The ‘glue’ that holds them together is called connective tissue, and is mostly made up of ‘linked proteins’. AGEs cause excessive or accelerated crosslinking of these proteins, which leads to tissue stiffness. Increasing connective tissue crosslinking with age is a natural process, but AGEs accelerate the process. When people truly die of old age without an obvious cause, it could be said they have passed due to ‘stiffness’.
Fructose occurs naturally in nature’s food that we humans have evolved to eat. Is it the same chemical as the fructose found in refined (table) sugar and HFCS? Yes, it is exactly the same chemical, but there is a major difference.
As nature provides it, whole food that contains fructose almost always contains fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols that act as quasi antidotes to the fructose. Further, the amount of the ‘antidote’ mix is relevant to, and balanced with, the fructose content in nature’s food.
Blood sugar measurement tests only measure glucose and not fructose. Since the liver clears fructose in the same way it clears alcohol (converts it to fat), it is reasonable to assume that fructose will circulate in the bloodstream for the same amount of time as an equivalent amount of alcohol. One can of soft drink or fruit juice (~10% sugar) is equivalent to one can of beer (5% alcohol). Alcohol in the bloodstream is not exactly the same as sugar (sugar doesn’t result in crashing the Ferrari, falling down, hangovers, releasing inhibitions and having fun). Chronic overconsumption of alcohol damages the liver, and sugar is no different. However, it does not just damage the liver, as chronic overconsumption of sugar damages just about everything and shortens life.
Does This Mean We Cannot Eat Sugar?
Firstly, let’s set the record straight. Sugar can go under many names. The proper chemical name for sugar is sucrose. Whether it is referred to as natural sugar, refined sugar, raw sugar, molasses or golden syrup, there is no difference: sugar is sugar no matter where it comes from or what it is in.
It is not a matter of whether we can eat sugars but how much we can eat. A long-term monkey trial was carried with two groups of monkeys: one group had the amount of food restricted to just enough to maintain a lean healthy body weight (calorie restriction), while the other group had food freely available that they could eat as much of as they liked, whenever they liked. Both groups were not fed ‘normal’ monkey food, but rather, to mimic a ‘modern Western’ diet, they were fed food that was 28% sugar. The restricted group grew old healthily and lived 20–30% longer than the unrestricted group, which developed chronic diseases and died relatively young.
If we are eating some sugar, and we are lean and we are not adding weight, we can enjoy sugar occasionally and our bodies can cope with it. If not, eating sugar could be described as a method to invoke our own ‘slow motion suicide’, especially when it is combined with polyunsaturated fat, as explained in further detail below.
When rewiring our brain for weight loss, the rewiring steps need to take account of our current eating habits to design the right messages for individuals to create a Mind Map that addresses their current personal eating habits. For some, that can mean initial mind messages focused on ‘cakes and sugar’, and for others this may not be the case. Our Mind Map needs to downgrade the taste of ‘sweet’ for us. When this is achieved, we do not miss the taste of sweet, nor do we crave it.
Polyunsaturated Fats – The Unnatural Ultra Damaging Combination
The most damaging food combination is sugar (especially the sugar fructose) combined with polyunsaturated fats, either in processed foods or homemade recipes, or their occurrence together inside our bodies. Our bodies do their best to keep them separate naturally, because sugars are water soluble (blood is a water-based fluid) and fats are not, and because sugars damage polyunsaturated fats. It should be noted that only two fats are essential food. These are fats we must eat because our body’s cells cannot make them. They are called Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. They are also the most highly polyunsaturated fats in our diet. It’s about balance, how much of these two types of fat we eat, and what foods they are sourced from.
In general, polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This being said, fats like olive oil are relatively low in polyunsaturated fats and still liquid at room temperature. As with most aspects of food and metabolism, everything is more complicated than it first appears.
What is the difference between these fats?
Fats contain strings of carbon atoms joined to each other and hydrogen atoms. Carbon atoms can bond to a maximum of four other atoms. In saturated fat, each carbon atom is bonded with two others and the two spare spaces are bonded to hydrogen atoms, creating a saturated bond. Variations can occur in the structure where two of the four bonds are used to join the carbon atoms together, and this is called a ‘double bond’. When one of the bonds in the string of carbon atoms is a double bond, the fat is called a monounsaturated fat, and when more than one bond is a double bond, it is called a polyunsaturated fat. Double bonds must be separated by a single-bonded carbon link between the double-bonded carbons. It is the hydrogen atoms attached to the single carbon between the double bond links that are subject to the damage from sugar attack that forms AGEs.
Fish oil is highly polyunsaturated (up to six double bonds, or six points of attack), expose some to the air and in minutes it begins to smell off (but it is an essential fat, so it’s all about balance, or is it?).
Lipid peroxidation occurs when sugars, especially fructose, react with fats to form peroxides and AGE-like molecules. Polyunsaturated fats are inherently unstable and are susceptible to reduction (damaging reaction) by sugars, whereas saturated or monounsaturated fats are stable and not affected by sugars. In modern processed foods, polyunsaturated ‘vegetable’ oils have often replaced the saturated and monounsaturated (animal) fats that were used in the past. When polyunsaturated fats are combined with sugars (especially fructose) in processed foods or recipes, they are a recipe for disaster. I know of no natural food that is high in both fructose and polyunsaturated fat. If anyone can name one, please let me know.
Many processed foods are now made with this extremely unhealthy combination of sugar (which contains fructose) combined with polyunsaturated fat. Vegetable oils are often high in omega 6 polyunsaturated fat, which some claim when consumed in excess can cause chronic inflammation. Who needs this added to AGEs? No one.
Commercial ice cream (not all, mostly the cheap ones) often contains skim milk. Skim milk is low fat milk, and to make ice cream, the milk fat (which is expensive, and more money can be made from manufacturing products like butter and cheese) is replaced with polyunsaturated vegetable (sic seed) oils (cheap). The same applies to things like commercial cake mixes, doughnuts, etc.
If a processed food includes ‘vegetable oils’ and ‘antioxidants’ in its ingredients list, it is likely to be a product to be avoided, since the antioxidant has been added to protect the product (not us) and give it extra shelf life. Many salad dressings are a classic example. It is a good practice to make them at home yourself if you are unsure.
The combination of sugar and polyunsaturated fats should be avoided.
Often pregnant women are described as eating for two. The fact is we are all eating for two, men and women alike. We need food to provide energy and nutrients for the trillions of human cells we are made of and we need food to sustain the the trillions of bacteria that reside in our gut. Our gut has two components, food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine, where most of the nutrients in the food are absorbed. What’s left is a small amount of digestible food that made it through the small intestine and food which cannot be digested which is called fibre. The bacteria in our gut that are believed to be beneficial for us love fibre, and fibre is only found in plant food!
It should also be noted that with the exception of red blood cells, all human cells contain the same genetic code. On the other hand, there are thousands of different types of bacteria in our gut, each with its own unique genetic code! When these bacteria eat (metabolise fibre), they express different necessary by-products we need to remain healthy. Some bacteria produce short chain fatty acids, which are essential for the health of the cells that line our intestine, others produce vitamins we need (B vitamin complexes for example), others produce neurotransmitters (that can affect moods like anxiety and depression), others can produce special purpose amino acids, others influence our weight and some eat the bad waste produced by others. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
An issue with the modern Western diet is that fibre has been removed from much of the processed food. Refined grains have had the fibre removed, so foods made from them are lacking fibre (white bread, pasta, cakes, pies, pizza bases and pastries). The fibre and germ was removed from wheat grain in about 1850. At the time English farmers could produce enough wheat to feed the growing city of London but there was a problem. The stored grain would begin to go rancid before the next harvest became available. To solve the problem techniques were developed to remove the bran and germ from the wheat, and thus white (refined) flour as we know it today was created; void of fibre and the nutrition contained on the germ.
Animal foods (except milk) do not contain fibre, as fibre is only found in plant food. All whole plant food contains some fibre (or resistant starch, which has similar attributes to fibre).
The rewired process is not a diet, but a different approach to losing weight. This being said, it is possible that participants may choose a particular diet in conjunction with following the rewired process. They may select a low carb, high protein diet. This, on the surface, makes sense, as these diets have been shown to produce faster weight loss because, amongst other benefits, protein consumption provides the feeling of fullness for longer. But while we want to limit our energy intake to lose weight, we do not want to limit fibre (fibre-containing carbs), as we need to feed our bacteria; after all, they are not on a weight loss program. Low glucose, high fibre plant food is the best type of carbohydrate for weight loss.
Just like the neuroplasticity of our brain, the population demographics of the bacteria in our gut changes according to our diet. In mice, it takes only a couple of days, and in humans it may be the same, but I have not reviewed any evidence to confirm this. There have been experiments that indicate the change should occur within a fortnight.
In short, the food we eat affects gut bacteria demographics, and gut bacteria demographics influence numerous aspects of our life (including weight gain and loss). I also suspect gut bacteria demographics may also influence what we desire to eat, although I have not been able to find any evidence to substantiate this.
Many weight loss programs promote supplementing the diet with essential vitamins and minerals. Many (including myself) believe this has more to do with profit than being necessary for good health. Supplementation would usually only be used on crash starvation diets (dramatic reduction of food intake to a level that may not provide sufficient nutrients, which is not recommended!). For the vast majority of individuals that do not have a particular metabolic defect, vitamin and mineral supplements are a waste of time and money.
Recommended daily intakes (RDI) of vitamins and minerals are not based on minimum requirements but are instead what science believes is a safe maximum intake. Numerous essential trace elements and some vitamins are toxic if over consumed.
Vitamins are either water or fat soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in adipose tissue and are available for future use, while water-soluble vitamins have no storage mechanism and therefore we are told we need to consume them every day. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin.
The RDI of vitamin C is 50 to 70 milligrams per day depending on which jurisdiction you live in. How much we need of any of these vitamins is a bit of a guess, because it is illegal to make people sick to test medicines and drugs to see if, what or how much makes them better.
During the Second World War, British subjects that were conscientious objectors could opt out of joining the war as long as they helped the war effort In Suffolk, England, some of these people volunteered to participate in experiments to determine how much vitamin C was needed to sustain good health. Participants were placed on a vitamin C free diet, then given a 70 mg a day supplement for a while. They were then broken into two groups: one received 10 mg of vitamin C a day and the other zero. The zero C group all contracted scurvy, with the first clinical signs of scurvy being observed six to eight months after the zero C intake began. The group receiving 10 mg a day never got scurvy, nor did they have any indication of vitamin C deficiency.
From this we could postulate that if people ate no food at all, and that their only sustenance was water, they would likely die of starvation before any signs of vitamin C deficiency could be observed. None of the group taking 10 mg a day showed any signs of ill health. Even those with severe scurvy were cured in a week, without any after effects, with a 10 mg daily dosage. The researchers recommended that soldiers get 30 mg a day of vitamin C to provide a safe margin, but noted that they could find no health differences whatsoever between those taking 70 mg a day or those taking 10 mg a day. No minimal threshold was discovered or determined.
In another small sample, prisoners at an Iowa State prison who were not pre-dosed with vitamin C showed the first clinical signs of scurvy 31 days after zero intake.
To put this into perspective, one large peeled and boiled potato (300 gm) contains 22 gm of vitamin C7, 100 gm of green chilli peppers will provide about the same, 1 cup of milk will also provide 3.7 mg and 1 cup of cubed avocado has 15 mg of vitamin C.
Even though vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it is retained in the bloodstream for weeks, so there is no need to consume it every single day. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fat tissue and definitely do not need to be eaten every single day.
Overconsumption of vitamin A has been shown to decrease the survival time of lung cancer patients, and supplementation of vitamin E has been shown to increase the risk of the most aggressive type of prostate cancer. These supplements could be said to be dangerous.
Taking multivitamin and trace element supplements (minerals like iron, manganese, zinc, etc.) is unnecessary if one is consuming a diet that includes a reasonably wide variety food. This is so even when the amount eaten is resulting in responsible weight loss rates. Starvation diets are another matter.
Balance is important, and nature’s food has balanced constituents that humans have evolved to eat.
‘Vitamin C does not grow on trees; oranges grow on trees’
Part 4 – Rewire Your Brain for Weight Loss
For all its complexity, the brain performs three simple tasks:
- It receives information from the external environment and from within the body.
- It delivers subconscious instructions to YOU.
- It listens to conscious instructions from YOU.
What results depends on which wins: the subconscious, the conscious, or YOU.
Language – Your Tool To Build New Mind Maps
Watching a toddler grasp and learn language is absolutely fascinating to me. By observing their environment for about eighteen months they begin uttering a few words and understand what the words mean to them, as well as what they mean to others. It is really an incredible and wondrous human skill. The success of the human race depends on language and words, and they are extremely powerful. Words are the last resort. If conflict cannot be resolved with words, the only remaining solution is violence or escape.
With words we can convey meaning and feelings to others, and others can convey feelings and meaning to us. In fact, our whole lives can be swayed by words, and our beliefs can be determined by words we read or hear.
Our religious beliefs have been conveyed to us by words, whether written or spoken. Our understanding of history has been conveyed to us by words, whether written or spoken.
Words can determine beliefs and facts we hold true, and these beliefs can be instrumental in the choices we make. Choices like who and what we vote for, or whether we judge somebody to be guilty or innocent, are influenced by words we have heard, and the more frequently we hear them the greater we may come to believe them, so they influence the rest of our lives. Choices have consequences!
Our memories are not stored as words, but are stored as images and feelings. If someone asks us about our memories, we describe them with words but we do not see words in our head. Rather, we can see images or experience feelings related to those memories, which can make us cry or laugh, and be anxious, sad or happy. It works in reverse when people tell us something or express their feelings. We do not store the words they say or we read. We create images and feelings to give their words meaning and store away them in our memory bank.
In the Neuroscience section it is explained how experiences accumulated through life contribute to building our Mind Maps. Written and spoken messages that we repeatedly hear or read play a significant role in developing our own Mind Maps. Rewired weight loss uses words in the form of short notes as the basis for making new Mind Maps to automate weight loss eating habits!
We can write words for the benefit of others, or we can write words for the benefit of ourselves. Science has shown that students who type notes during lectures on laptops (typing) do not do as well as students taking down handwritten notes. Handwriting has a greater impact on our minds than typing. Words written for our own benefit are more effective when handwritten rather than typed or spoken.
If the words of others can change our beliefs, words from and to ourselves can help to do the same. Repeatedly handwritten word messages can establish new beliefs, and beliefs become Mind Maps. Writing notes to yourself can build new Mind Maps that can make weight loss easier and eventually automatic. The only willpower required is the small amount needed to create and maintain the note-writing habit (Mind Map). This new note-writing habit is not in conflict with any existing note-writing Mind Map, which is why it is relatively easy to create a new note-writing habit.
How to Start
To be overweight we have to have eaten an excess food relative to the energy we have expended for an extended period of time, and further, that this action has become an ingrained habit associated with Mind Maps and enteric nervous systems that automate the process. It is a fact that it will be likely that there has been more than one cause (or Mind Map) that has perpetuated the the overeating. This means getting started is more complex than first thought, because to be successful, the causes of the overeating behaviour need to be addressed. It is also difficult, if not impossible, to address all of them at the same time.
Reasons for overeating and being overweight vary widely from individual to individual. For some, the cause could simply be age. As we age, our metabolism (REE) slows, and if we keep eating the same amount we did when we were younger, we add weight. Others may be addicted to sweet (ice cream, candies, cakes aka sugar) or junk food, soft drinks and juices. For others, eating is just something to do when bored, or simply just because their partner is a great cook. Couples may not consider their differences in relation to food requirements, where one may be male and the other female, or one is older than the other, or one is more active than the other. How many couples adjust the meal size accordingly, or do each have the same amount of food on their plate? Other reasons could be psychological, eating can provide comfort to combat anxiety, loneliness, or a stressful family or work environment. One single stressful event can initiate overeating. These points all need consideration first.
Write down your thoughts on the matter, consider them carefully, narrow them down to separate items and write them down. Then select the one you feel is the easiest to overcome.
Writing Your First Note.
Let’s say for arguments sake that you decide that the taste of sweet is one of the reasons you overeat, and hence new Mind Map that automates the avoidance of sweet food is where you decide to start. Below is a real example of a note used to create a new Mind Map to kick the sugar habit.
Here are the must do’s for a note to be effective and generate a new Mind Map that works and can be maintained forever. Firstly I just love the little images this client adds to her notes. Now for the nitty gritty.
- The note must be written in the present tense. ‘I am’ not ‘I will’.
- It must be rewritten every day at the same time, use the same words and do not change them.
- It must be numbered starting from 1 adding a new number for each day. The note above designates day 21.
- It Must be in your own handwriting (not typed).
- It must be signed (the signature is blurred out for reasons of confidentiality)
- It must be carried with you at all times and be read at least twice a day.
- When faced with a choice in relation to the content of the note, take a breath to give the conscious mind time to catch up with the subconscious mind, say the note in your head, then make the choice.
- Whatever your choice, don’t EVER get down on yourself if you choose to eat, it won’t help if you do and will make it harder for you to win.
- Trust the note and the process above, if the note is applicable to the cause, it will cause a new Mind Map to be installed in time.
- THERE IS ONLY ONE NEW HABIT THAT REQUIRES PERSEVERANCE AND A LITTLE WILLPOWER AND IT IS POINTS 1 THROUGH 9 ABOVE. NOTE WRITING TAKES LESS THAN A FEW MINUTES A DAY AND CAN CHANGE, OR EVEN SAVE, YOUR LIFE. CREATE THE HABIT OF WRITING YOUR NOTE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING BEFORE EATING ANYTHING.
Numbering each note from 1 upwards, helps to determine how long it takes to overcome a particular habit or craving, and can be used to indicate the relative strength of the habit or the effectiveness of the note. It may indicate that attacking a strong habit may need to be broken down into separate steps to effectively deal with it, or that a different note is required.
I would also like to elucidate more on point eight above. The doughnut story earlier in this book was about the failure of willpower in relation to diets. Essentially, saying no to doughnuts nineteen times and then eating it on the twentieth is a fail. With note writing, saying yes nineteen times and then saying no for the first time ever is a success and a positive and rewarding achievement. So do not get down on yourself if you succumb. There must be no sense of failure. The anxiety that may result from ‘failure feelings’ can actually drive some people to eat more! The only thing that matters is religiously writing the same note every day in your own handwriting, saying it twice a day, then when faced with a choice, taking a breath, saying the note in your head, and then making the decision. Let the note do the work.
Writing Subsequent Notes
When you feel your first note has had the desired effect, it is time to address the next cause (if there is one), but never set aside the message in the first note. The follow on note for the one above was,
Sugar is still mentioned in this note, although the sugar message is shorter it is still reinforced.
In this case the primary cause (a craving for sweet taste) had been mostly overcome and this reflects the beginning of a strategy to create new comprehensive eating habits that the person is prepared to accept while losing weight.
This process proceeds until the final weight target is achieved (some people need to add weight and the same process can be used). When changing a note to a new one, it will become apparent reasonably quickly if it is not working, especially if the writer finds that they are slipping back into an old habit (Mind Map) that had already been successfully addressed. If this occurs, immediately go back to writing the previous note to get back on track, and reconsider what the next one should be.
Once the desired weight has been achieved eating habits can be modified to include a wide variety of foods (even naughty ones) that can last a lifetime, and are automatically influenced by the new eating Mind Maps and altered subconscious biological signalling systems.
The Last Note
At the start we should have set a target healthy weight we want to achieve and maintain. There may be little targets we want to achieve along the way, but we should be committed to a final goal, as our mind needs something to work towards. Let’s just say our target weight was 70 kg and it has been achieved. The task now is to maintain it. The last note should say:
‘I weigh myself every Monday. I weigh 70 kg and I maintain that weight’.
No matter how many notes it takes to get to this last one, it is not the last! Biology (remember we discussed ‘set points’ and REE) and old Mind Maps will still be lurking and this last note should be rewritten daily for a couple of years after the target weight has been reached to make sure the old Mind Maps are well and truly buried and that new epigenetics are automating the weight maintenance eating habits for us. Note writing is an extremely effective ‘rewiring’ habit that really helps make good things happen, move our lives forward, and make the best use of the time we have available to achieve our goals, whatever those goals may be.
Part 5 – The Rewired Weight Loss Program
What Isn’t In this Book
In 2016 over 20,000 new peer reviewed research papers relating to obesity were published in the United States National Institute of Health Medical Publications database. All told there are now over 270,000 obesity related articles for researchers to read. There are over 37,000 papers listed when one searches for weight loss diets. I haven’t read them all, nobody has! My best guess is that it would take over 70,000 hours to read them all, hence this book only skims the surface of the scientific knowledge pertaining to weight loss.
No two people are the same (even true for identical twins) hence it is not possible to write a book that is particular to everyone. No single weight loss program will work for all individuals.
The Basic Overweight and Obesity Conclusions
I can confidently state that there is no such thing as being a “Healthy Overweight”. Being, or becoming, overweight increases overall mortality and chronic disease risk. It doesn’t matter if that mortality is the result of falling off a ladder, cancer, or heart disease! Also one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that as yet no one has discovered a particular diet that guarantees permanent weight loss for everyone.
Improving Permanent Weight Loss Success
Successful note writing is an acquired skill, it is developed with practice and experience, it needs to be learned, and for most us it needs an experienced teacher.
While note writing takes only a few minutes a day it must be meticulously repeated, updated and modified to be effective. It is my experience that most people, while they set about it with the best intentions, are likely to miss a note, then a couple and eventually for many note writing wanes before it and a new Mind Map is permanently established. When left to one’s own resources there is no accountability to anyone but yourself, and no support to help and encourage you to stay on track.
Correct note writing is critical, but so is access to food and human biological knowledge. The two work hand in hand and must complement each other.
An Online Program That Addresses The Issues
The vast majority of current weight loss programs whether provided via books, delivered meals, specialist clinics, medical practitioners, dietitians or other organisations provide their services and then leave the client to go home and carry out their instructions by themselves, without frequent follow up meetings. There is usually little or no daily support, clients are left to their own resources to implement the advice. In in other words the client is usually relying on their personal willpower reserves to make permanent lifestyle changes and this rarely works. So while the weight loss initiatives provided by the clinician or organisation should be effective, they are by themselves not likely to lead to permanent lifestyle changes that result in permanent weight loss. The same applies to the contents of this book, persons using the techniques described herein in conjunction with a weight loss program provided by any of the above will undoubtedly improve their chances of permanent weight weight loss, but if left to their own resources, my experience is that most will still fail to make permanent lifestyle changes.
At www.rewiredweightloss.com we have built a unique “client/teacher” interface designed to help you make and maintain your new weight loss Mind Maps, achieve your weight loss goals, improve your wellbeing and self esteem, aid chronic disease prevention and extend your health span. In short it’s designed to help you make a better you. For details jump to this web page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this book, and I hope its contents have added to your knowledge base, and can be used to improve your future.