Monday, September 21, 2009

Fuel to the Fire

For 25 years my cruising weight was 172. In a time of grief I got down into the 150s -- I was afraid to weigh myself stripped, so I don't know the precise number. In my 40s and now, with increased exercise, it's about 180, more if I'm doing strength training. My body finds its weight according to my activity level, and my diet adjusts itself to that. When I stopped bjj last year, I gained about five pounds of useless weight. Same when I stopped running, six years ago. I was eating more than I was using. But it leveled off. There is a lag time, then. But there is self-regulation.

Getting fat, very fat, should be no easier than getting very muscular. Both are functions of hormones and metabolism. Eating by itself won't do either. Neither will moving or not moving. There is a range that normal individuals have, within which they will gain or lose weight. After that, it takes exceptional effort or circumstances, or a profound genetic or hormonal disruption.

To get muscular, amino acids and glucose must be directed within muscle cells. To get fat, free fatty acids and glycogen must be localized within fat cells. It is not the presence of amino acids or FFAs that dictate this. It isn't the presence of insulin per se. It is the receptivity of cells. A muscle cell takes in raw materials not because they are in the bloodsteam, but because its receptors have been activated or sensitized. Exercising a muscle does that. Then, if sufficient nutrients and the proper hormones, testosterone, HGH, etc, are in the bloodstream, muscle growth will occur. Same deal with fat. An excess of glycerol and insuln, in a generally insulin resistant body, will result in the pervading corpulence of the current American population.

It isn't about excess calories anymore than being muscular would be. It's about the type of nutrients and the hormonal reactions. Some people are born to be powerful, some to be fat. The rest of us have to work at it, or fall into it by habits of lifestyle. It's not a moral statement. Only choices can be judged by moral standards. We might say, informed choices. That's why there is the concept of unwitting sin -- it is treated differently by God. The harm is done, but the guilt is less. Those who are congenitally muscular may be proud, as those who are fat may feel shame or guilt. But not all blessings are earned, nor curses. The universe, like metabolism, is hormonal. There is balance, within a range.

Because muscle is made of protein, and fat is made of, uh, fat, people generally assume there is a cause and effect relationship. But perhaps we've seen the dudes with the protein powders straining away in the gym trying to bulk up those guns. Some of them do. But they usually look, to my eye, sort of puffy and soft, and always malproportioned. Unwitting sin. It's the opposite with the fatties. They think fewer calories rather than more grunting will do it. Yes, it will, sort of for a while, until they start eating again in the way they think is normal. But it's not, none of it, about calories, anymore than heat is about fuel. There's a lot of fuel in the world. Why isn't the world on fire? That's a better analogy than you think it is. It just requires that you do the thinking.

If you're tired of reading about fat et al, stay away. I have pages and pages of ramblings now. Not all of it will come up here, but it's a fruitful field, and this is a season in which I get depressed. I'd rather be manic. So suck it up, or leave. I don't want to hear your complaints. And do some pushups. And eat a salad.


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