The basis of losing weight is “Don’t eat more than you use up.” This is true, because if you are not consuming the energy you take from foods, the excess energy is accumulated on/in the body as fat. Theoretically, if you want to lose weight, you just do the opposite.
The reality of losing weight is not solved by such a simple prescription of, “Don’t eat more than you use up.” Many people who try to lose weight often don’t succeed and are in a constant search for better dieting methods. That’s why you see new ones come along all the time. Then, why don’t those dieting methods work as you would expect? Is it all to do with a lack of discipline?
In common dieting methods, two important points are missing from a Kampo point of view.
Point 1: As discussed in No.1 of the series: Your Intestines Need Training Too!, you would need to understand the relationship between the weakened intestines and being overweight in order to lose weight (and especially in the right way).
Point 2: You need to know your conformation, Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho, as mentioned in No. 2of the seires: Are you Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho?…and does it matter?. Someone famous succeeded in losing weight with one dieting method doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you too. If that particular method isn’t suitable for your conformation, that diet could even damage your overall health.
Let’s take a look at some common dieting methods!
1) Fasting or a replacing dieting method – for Jitsu Sho
These methods are about limiting the energy intake by either not eating anything or replacing regular meals with low energy foods for a certain period of time. e.g. Morning banana diet, Cabbage diet, Fasting, etc.
Effects on the intestines:
- The intestines don’t get to work and become weak because no foods/not enough foods come in. There is even a possibility of the intestinal (muscular) walls thinning.
- Also, if you are fasting, certain digestive fluids are still being produced in the stomach and intestines and these could damage the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines. You have to drink a large amount of water to dilute the digestive fluids.
- With such a large volume of water, you urinate well, but you also tend to get constipated as no foods are coming in. You have to move the bowel even if you have to use laxatives.
- When you are fasting, the balance of the intestinal bacteria changes. Without any foods coming in with good bacteria, bad bacteria continues to grow, and the bad bacteria can then erode the intestinal walls and cause an infection.
- While fasting, your stools and farts become very smelly. This is caused by overgrowth of the bad bacteria in the intestines and it is not that you are releasing toxins.
- These methods are suitable for people of Jitsu Sho, and they can lose weight with these methods. However, when they stop dieting/fasting, their appetite will be increased. There will be a rebound effect (gaining the weight back).
- While fasting, the accumulated fat is melted into the blood stream to produce more energy. Jitsu Sho may be able to metabolise the fat in the blood while Kyo Sho may develop blood clots that could lead to serious diseases.
- Fasting can put a burden on the intestines, and it is dangerous for Kyo Sho.
2) Aerobic exercises methods – for Jitsu Sho
These methods aim to burn fat using aerobic exercises and to raise the fundamental metabolism.
e.g. Aerobic classes, Jogging, etc.
Effects on the intestines:
Because you move the body very actively, the intestines are also stimulated from the physical movements and their functions are promoted.
- Hard aerobic exercises are obviously suitable for Jitsu Sho, who has a strong functioning of the heart and lungs.
- If you are Jitsu Sho, you can do aerobic exercises soon after the meals. In this way, you use right away the energy you gained from the meals so the dieting effects are greater.
- It will be hard for Kyo Sho to do aerobic exercises soon after the meals because functioning of the heart and lungs are weaker. As eating is an “exercise”, if you start sending the blood towards the structural muscles, your digestion will be compromised, and you could develop an abdominal pain.
3) Metabolism enhancing methods – for Kyo Sho
Metabolism enhancing methods aim the effects of dieting by taking in ingredients that raise the body temperature, such as spices and carnitine, and enhancing the metabolism. e.g. Chilli diet, Carnitine diet, Alpha-lipoic acid diet, Ginger diet, Morning curry diet, etc.
Effects on the intestines:
- Spices and active ingredients in these diets stimulate the intestines and promote their functions.
- Your bowel movements get more regular; constipation will be relieved; and the stools will be nicely formed if you tend to have loose stools.
- If certain spices and ingredients don’t suit you, you may develop a sore mouth, a nausea, or an abdominal pain. It is important to observe your own responses as you introduce a new dieting method.
- When the body temperature goes up by 1℃, the calorie consumption goes up by 1.7 times. All the metabolic activities going inside the body are enzyme reactions. When the body temperature goes up, the enzyme reactions are enhanced.
- If you are Jitsu Sho, and your metabolism is already high to begin with, then this dieting method may not be suitable and is not recommended as the method may make Jitsu Sho too hyper.
4) Balancing the body and internal organ methods – for Kyo Sho
Balancing the body and internal organ methods aim to promote overall health by working on the imbalance and weakness that are observed in the musculoskeletal system, internal organs and constitutions. e.g. Ayurveda, Ear acupuncture dieting, Pelvis adjusting diet, Acupuncture & Moxibustion, etc.
Effects on the intestines:
- These methods, such as acupuncture and ayurveda, recognise that there is an invisible system in the body. By balancing and stimulating this system in their own way effectively, a parasympathetic nervous system is activated and hence the intestines become to function well.
- These methods are similar to Yoga in terms of focusing on raising your metabolism. It takes time to see the benefits of the methods, but there are very little adverse effects so the methods are suitable for people with low metabolism, Kyo Sho, and the elderly.
- For example, if you are middle aged; have a lower back and/or knee problems; and gained weight. Because you gained weight, the back and knees also become worse. You get into a bad cycle like this. These methods are gentle and address your imbalance step by step. Eventually, you will be focusing on the functioning of the intestines with these methods.
All the dieting methods have their merits and demerits.
The above is only a few examples. Whatever the dieting method may be, there will be its merits and demerits rather than one method is good for all and the other is bad. If your conformation happens to match with the dieting method that you chose, it could work well for you. It is not just a good idea to buy into someone’s success story and simply follow the dieting method named after that person.
A common message to both Jitsu and Kyo Shos is “Think of Your Intestines First.”
You probably got an idea by now that it is necessary to choose a dieting method suitable for your conformation, Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho to make it work. However, the most important thing to think of, which is shared by both Jitsu and Kyo Shos is the functioning of the intestines.
When the intestines function well, the energy consumption goes up; the blood circulation to the intestines enhances; and the metabolism also goes up. The difference between Jitsu Sho and Kyo Sho is the way to approach how to make the intestines function well.
Focus on raising metabolism for Kyo Sho, and elimination & detoxification for Jitsu Sho
For Kyo Sho:
Because the important thing for Kyo Sho is to find the way to raise metabolism, you will give a priority to the quality not the quantity of foods. Make sure to eat a good breakfast to prepare the functioning of the intestines for the day. Eat three meals a day, and reduce the quantity of carbohydrates only at a supper time.
If you (Kyo Sho) reduces essential nutrients, for example by fasting, you could lose your physical strength rapidly and develop an illness. Follow “The Diets That Train Your Intestines” for Kyo Sho (it will be introduced in details in a later blog.) to keep taking in a certain quantity of energy producing foods and to raise your metabolism. Because it is particularly important to have good metabolism of water and hormones, suggested activities are breathing exercises and light exercises. If Kyo Sho did a fasting type dieting and/or hard exercises, Kyo Sho would only lower its metabolism as hard exercises don’t help raise the metabolism. Kyo Sho will find the fasting type method and tough exercises too hard to carry on.
For Jitsu Sho:
You will have to eat a certain quantity to satisfy your big appetite. Therefore, you should eat a large amount of dietary fibre rich foods that will give you a volume, and they will promote elimination and detoxification. Eat three meals a day but eliminate carbohydrates completely at a supper time.
If you are Jitsu Sho and want to lose weight fast, you will be able to achieve it with a hard way by doing a good amount of aerobic exercises and reducing the quantity of meals. The question is how to prevent a rebound from occurring. Once you reach the targeted weight by doing the hard way like the above, switch to “The Diets That Train Your Intestines” for Jitsu Sho. (it will be introduced in details in later blog.)
Tackle this modern illness, overweight, in a Kampo way!
In recent years, a number of Jitsu Sho with intestinal Kyo Sho has been on the rise. At the same time, a number of Kyo Sho, who has eaten loads of sugary foods and become overweight, is increasing as well. It is called a modern illness because ‘cold foods & drinks’ and ‘sugars’, which weren’t readily available a long time ago, are the causes of such ‘modern’ overweight.
“The Diets That Train Your Intestines” (it will be introduced in details in later blog.) are based on an application of Kampo theories and thinking. A Kampo way may be a ticket to a successful dieting and good health.
Remember that a weight gain isn’t always proportionate to the calories taken. From a Kampo perspective, it is wrong to think that what you eat is all digested and absorbed. The Kampo way recognises that the ability to digest foods and absorb the nutrients from them is different for each individual.
Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!“. Shufunotomo-sha, 2011.