(1) the metabolic thermostat, which uses calories as heat energy units, (2) the hydration thermostat, which uses water to create a consistent temperature pattern internally, and (3) the insulatory thermostat, which stores fat below the skin. It is important to understand how each of these three internal metabolic thermostats works because they ultimately regulate how efficiently the body utilizes caloric heat to provide our bodies with nutrients for energy and tissue repair. When they are not working efficiently, the result is weight gain in the form of body fat.
The Metabolic Thermostat
This thermostat controls caloric heat patterns. To see how it works, you need to understand three things: Metabolism is a function of heat. The definition of a calorie is a heat energy unit. Fat converts to a lipid for energy only in a hot place.
To create enough heat to release fat effectively as energy, you need establish a consistent caloric heat pattern. This means figuring out how many calories you must ingest daily to bring your metabolism to peak efficiency. Most people don’t understand the crucial importance of maintaining an optimum heat pattern through proper food intake. When you start a new food program, it takes a total of forty-eight hours to create enough consistent internal caloric heat to establish metabolic efficiency.
If you are consistent with your food program, your body will maintain its caloric temperature and your body fat will drop. If, because of a particular mood or event, you under-eat or skip a meal, you will have undermined your caloric management system for that day—your body will lack sufficient calories to efficiently utilize fat and repair muscle tissue. Having lost that day, it will take you an additional forty-eight hours to get back on track with your current food program. That means a total of three days lost: the day that you got off track and the two days that it will take you to reestablish metabolic efficiency through being consistent with your food program. If you under-eat twice in one week, you will have lost the entire week.
Food programming is like a business in which you are trying to maintain a high level of performance in order to develop the physique and energy you want. As with any successful business, it requires a management system to which you hold yourself accountable. To fuel your body efficiently, you must eat nutritious foods consistently throughout the day.
The Hydration Thermostat
Most people don’t really understand the importance of proper hydration. Since the body is composed of 70 percent water, water is critical for everyday functioning. Water serves a number of purposes: Water enables nutrients to get to your cells. For example, you need a minimum of 3.8 grams of water to utilize one gram of carbohydrate. If you are insulin resistant, that number can potentially double. Water is essential for maintaining proper blood viscosity (density and balance of nutrients) within your vascular system. Sufficient hydration extracts toxins in the form of waste products from the body. Water helps to insure a good electrolyte balance. Muscular strength and co-ordination are directly related to proper hydration. Just try running or playing any sport without drinking water beforehand. You will discover that your body will not respond as efficiently or with as much co-ordination as it does when hydrated. Water controls body temperature. Acting as a thermostat, water allows your body to regulate temperature through perspiration and sweat as it relates to the environment. With proper hydration, your body maintains a temperature that allows for optimum performance and the regulation of fat and carbohydrate use. Lack of water will cause your body to regulate its temperature in an alternative way by hoarding fat, using its insulatory thermostat. This is just one of the many ways the body uses adaptation to ensure survival. Remember, though, the more your body has to adapt to survive, the less it can focus on performance, energy, and physique.
Ideally, the amount of water necessary for proper hydration is ½ to one ounce of water per one pound of body weight. This may seem like a lot, but you will be surprised at how easy it is to adjust to this amount. If you begin your day with a few glasses, have a few with every meal, and carry a bottle of water with you, staying properly hydrated will become an easy part of your routine. You will also notice that your body feels better when you drink enough water, and that you actually experience mild discomfort or thirst when you are under-hydrated.
There is a lot of controversy among medical practitioners about correct water intake. For years, the standard advice given by doctors has been to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day. However, when you look at how widely people vary in size and weight, it makes no logical sense to recommend that every single person require the same amount of water per day!
Keep in mind that the coffee, tea, and diet soda you drink throughout the day, which contain many chemicals such as caffeine and tannin that the body must process, are not the same as pure water and should not be included as part of your total water intake, and may at times because of caffeine content produce an adverse diuretic effect.
Is possible to over-hydrate? Drinking twice as much water will not give you twice the benefit. But if it is a hot day and you have just had a strenuous workout in the gym, played tennis for an hour, or jogged two miles, your body will undoubtedly require a bit more water that day to replenish itself and rebalance your electrolytes. On physically active days, when you are perspiring more than usual, pay attention to your level of thirst. Something you should not do, however, is to come to the end of your day, realize that you have only had a third of your daily water intake, and then quickly drink three more quarts right before you go to bed.
The Insulatory Thermostat
If your daily intake of water is too low, your body then moves to the third internal thermostat, the insulatory thermostat. Water acts as a heat regulator to control your core body temperature, helping you to maintain the proper internal temperature for optimal functioning. If you do not drink enough, your body will automatically adapt the survival strategy of storing fat subcutaneously to act as insulation in order to maintain a constant core temperature. Even if your nutrition is completely on target, if your water intake is low, you will still hoard fat. On the other hand, if you are drinking the correct amount of water daily, and cheat a bit on the foods, you will still continue to drop body fat. That clearly shows the sensitivity of this third metabolic thermostat. The insulatory thermostat is a survival mechanism that is used when your body experiences trauma and needs to adapt in order to survive.
When these three internal thermostats are kept in balance, your metabolism should be working at peak efficiency, repairing and maintaining lean muscle tissue and burning fat.
About the Author:
Philip Goglia is a Los Angeles-based nutritionist, trainer, and author. Goglia has just released SmartJourney, a metabolic food program that is personally tailored for each individual. “There is no one-size-fits-all diet,” says Goglia. “We realize that everyone has their own unique metabolic type, and we design a program just for you.” For more information about nutrition that will help support a healthy body composition, please visit his website www.SmartJourney.com.
Copyright © 2005 Summit LifeNutrition, LLC. All rights reserved. SmartJourney is a trademark of Summit LifeNutrition, LLC. Please consult your physician before beginning any weight loss effort; nothing herein should be construed as medical advice or diagnosis.
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