I know I'm coming late to the party here, but I've just (2 months) started "Naturally Thin," e.g. I stopped worrying about how much I was eating. I've really enjoyed and learned from this thread, and I wanted to share some thoughts, just my own experience and some reading. (By the way, re the process: I gained for several weeks but then I leveled off and now I've started losing.)
Yes, weight loss is calories-out minus calories-in. HOWEVER: studies have shown that calories-out has a HUGE variance from person to person, not just a small variance, as previously thought. Go thank all those enzymes and the completely tangled way they interact: gh, ghrelin, insulin, leptin, seratonin, endorphins, etc etc etc. Let's roughly call this tangle "metabolism".
So how to increase metabolism?
- Eating when hungry increases leptin and decreases ghrelin (that's good!)
- Staying hungry (maintaining high ghrelin/low leptin levels) desensitises the uptake receptors to need more and more ghrelin and leptin. (that's bad ...)
- Stopping when satisfied (not overfull) normalizes insulin levels and a couple others (good)
- Binging, even just a little, reverses the whole trend and fast!
- Eating that "forbidden" food (and eliminating the concept of "forbidden") increases endorphin levels. After a while, this reduces/eliminates the need to binge.
- OK, sugar decreases the metabolism (raises insulin), but surprizingly, not as much as a binge. So metabolism is maximizes when junk input is reduced, but not to the point where the binges come back.
- Exercising when low on carbs/calories provides a temporary increase in gh, but this is accompanied by a reduction in endorphin levels. As opposed to a calorie/energy sated person who experiences an increase in endorphin levels. In other words, overweight people don't want to exercise for a good reason: it makes them feel bad.
- Short amounts of high intensity exercise increase metabolism like mad, but gh production rates fall off sharply after 30-40 min.
I'm sure there are other interactions I haven't read about, or that I have mistated or oversimplified. But for me, the moral of the story is EAT MORE, EXERCISE LESS (ok, but more intense)! As other people have pointed out, it's amazing what you can learn from your kids...
Have a wonderful day!