If you want to gain weight, make sure you don’t eat.

Yes, you read that right. NOT eating often leads to weight gain and there are both physiological and psychological reasons for this happening.

PSYCHOLOGICAL:  Being on a diet often means using willpower to not eat – food restriction and going extended periods of time without eating. This depletes blood glucose levels (energy broken down from food) and there’s a strong link between glucose levels and self-control: no glucose = no willpower. Self-control requires energy from your brain in the form of glucose.  As the body uses glucose, it starts craving sweet things to eat to replace used glucose.

What to do:  Eat a good breakfast of protein and carbohydrates every morning, have low glycemic snacks, and don’t let yourself get too hungry throughout the day.

It also seems that willpower is a muscle that fatigues very quickly.  Each act of self control taps strength from this muscle, so choose wisely!

What to do:  Stick to only 1 or 2 new behaviors that are small and manageable.

PHYSICAL: Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: No food = survival mode = decreased metabolism = hang on to as much body fat as possible.  If there is no energy coming in to the body, your metabolism (the rate at which your body creates/uses energy) slows down in order to conserve energy.  Fat is the most precious energy resource your body has to keep you alive, so it will hang on to it as long as possible and will break down stored protein – YOUR MUSCLES – and use that as energy instead.  Loss of muscle mass makes the metabolism run even slower.  In survival mode your body wants to store as much fat as possible, so by the time lunch rolls around, guess how much food you’re going to eat?  Too much!  Where will those extra calories go?  To the fat cells.  My previous post – The Sumo Wrestler Diet – tells you more.

What to do:  Spread your total food intake over the course of the day by eating several small meals and snacks instead of only 1 or 2 larger meals.  Aim to eat a little something every 3-4 hours.

I thought I’d also post links to a couple of topics relevant to this time of year:

Why New Year’s Resolutions Are a Load of Crap

Six Goal Setting Tips

Hope your New Year is off to a great start!