A few years ago I was fortunate enough to see a lecture done by one of my favorite obesity researchers Dr. Arya Sharma. To make a long story short here are the bullet points/cliff notes of the lecture:
- There is no “ideal” weight. The numbers for your “ideal” weight are flawed and not based on good evidence.
- You can be healthy even when overweight or (gasp!) obese. It really depends on your metabolic health. (This is continually being researched by the way and is not so cut and dry – will post about it sometime in the future).
- Based on the two points above, maybe we should be striving towards what he describes as “best” weight – where we are happiest AND healthiest as opposed to some bullshit made up “ideal” number. If you want to read more about it go here. My good buddy and mentor Dr. Yoni Freedhoff cowrote “Best Weight” with Dr. Sharma. It makes for a good read especially if you are helping folks lose weight and get healthier.
What does his have to do with me? Well if you recall a few weeks ago I wrote about how natural bodybuilding metabolically castrated me. Within just two short weeks I got my “groove” back – my “mojo” if you will. To confirm, I just got my testosterone retested. Boom! It basically doubled. How you may ask?
I gained my weight back. You see there is a hormone called “leptin” produced by your fat cells (adipocytes) that is highly reliant on both your body fat level along with also your current diet. If you are in a caloric deficit, your leptin will decrease. If you are lean, you will also have a lower level of leptin. Leptin plays a large role in the production of multiple hormones. As I discussed in the last article “Is Natural Bodybuilding basically Castration?” I talked about how your hypothalamus/pituitary/gonadal axis shuts down when dieting. Leptin is a big part of this and is one of the controlling mechanisms at play.
Why did gaining my weight back help? Well first I increased my calories, which increased my leptin (likely), which then caused me to put some fat back on my body, which increased my leptin further, which then allowed my brain to to realize I wasn’t starving and to start communicating with my testicles again to make testosterone. This is obviously a simplified explanation as it gets much more in depth (kisspeptins etc) but it gets the point across.
So, with me feeling better and still being satisfied with my body (definitely not as lean as I was for my competition), is this my best weight? I started at around 224 and got down to 212ish and now I am back at 224, comfortable with how I look, feeling great, and have great blood work. I’d say this is a good spot for me.
Others may be able to stay leaner and feel great, but not me. I suspect most people are similar.
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