How to Get off the Diet Roller Coaster – and Stay Off!
Eat less, exercise more. Is it really that easy? You may not be surprised to hear that losing excess weight and keeping it off goes way beyond such one-dimensional recommendations. In fact, the concept of calories in and calories out may be the biggest misunderstanding people have about weight. It turns out that weight gain and shedding extra pounds are not as black and white as many seem to think. It also turns out that all calories are NOT created equally. Quality of food really matters most.
Let’s look beyond fad diets at a functional approach to weight loss. We’ll explore some lesser-known factors affecting weight and metabolism that you need to know if you want to lose weight and keep it off.
The Top 4 Factors That Contribute to Stubborn Weight Gain
#1: Insulin Resistance
Insulin’s job is to help us transform food sugars into energy. But when we consume too many sugary foods and drinks, our body starts to lose its ability to respond to the insulin in our system. The pancreas tries to bring down blood sugar levels by pumping out more insulin, and as insulin resistance goes up a vicious cycle is created which over time can raise blood sugar and blood insulin to dangerous levels.
That extra sugar in the bloodstream that cannot be converted into energy is stored as abdominal fat and creates an addiction to sugar. This is called insulin resistance and it is widespread, affecting 1 in 3 Americans and in many cases leading to Type 2 Diabetes.
Do You Feel Full after eating?
The hormones leptin and ghrelin control how full we feel after a meal, and the strength of our food cravings. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce excess leptin signaling your body to eat more as you aren’t feeling full. It’s a vicious cycle!
How is Your Thyroid?
Your thyroid regulates your metabolism, managing the speed at which you burn calories. When the thyroid is underperforming, it can cause fluid retention, weight gain, and constipation, among other issues, making it nearly impossible to manage your weight. The stats are shocking as 5 out of every 100 people have a low functioning thyroid in the US.
When your estrogen and progesterone hormones are out of balance, that is called Estrogen Dominance, even if levels of both hormones are actually low. Having too much estrogen in the body relative to progesterone causes a myriad of symptoms, including weight loss resistance, bloating, mood swings, PMS and heavy periods.
Our adrenal glands rule how we respond to stress by regulating the body’s stress hormones. Chronic stress leads to wildly fluctuating cortisol levels, which means more weight gain and water retention.
Genetic testing can tell us a great deal about how and why we gain weight, and can be the game-changer for people who have tried everything. I am trained in this area known as ‘nutrigenomics’, which gives personalized answers to these genetic variations, so that we can specifically address such issues at a root cause level.
The FTO Gene Variant
One gene that is particularly well documented, the FTO gene, is also known as the human fat-mass and obesity associated gene. It controls leptin, ghrelin (the satiation hormones mentioned above) and adiponectin (which regulates glucose levels). Several other genes affect how we metabolize fats, carbs and proteins.
I can personally speak to this gene and attest that, our genes are ‘not our destiny’. When we are aware of them and how we can influence them, we can affect some of our gene expressions. I myself have this particular variant, yet I know how to make the adjustments that have kept me at my ideal weight (same as from my teens and 20’s) since I have become a functional medicine physician and now understand this growing field of nutrition genomics.
Genes that impact stress play a big role in weight management too, especially if you’re a stress eater. These genes impact reward pathways, which can affect how you use food to reward yourself. They also affect your sleep, mood, and your brain’s ability to focus.
Toxins that are present in our environment can be so dangerous that our body needs to protect us by “walling them off” in a casing of fat. The more toxins we have, the more fat cells we need to imprison them. Get rid of the toxins, and the excess weight may well follow. One word of caution – this needs to be done by a healthcare provider that understand the detoxification pathways so that when the fat releases the toxin – your body is not overwhelmed and they are disposed of safely.
Lifelong Sources of Toxicity
Current exposure to toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides aren’t the only concern. Research shows that even early-life exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) can increase fat levels, and with microplastics having recently been found in the placentas of some women, the concern is legitimate.
Many toxins are major contributors to thyroid dysfunction, potentially leading to hormonal weight gain. Toxins can also include heavy metals and even agents such as mold and other biological invaders.
7 Easy Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight
#1: Cut Down on Natural and Artificial Sugars
Are you replacing real sugar with artificial sweeteners? Sugar causes weight gain, and this is the case for both natural and artificial sugar since anything our body doesn’t recognize as a natural substance is treated as a toxin – including aspartame. Aspartame can also be a neurological toxin. Monk fruit and Stevia are two much healthier sugar free sweeteners. Properly constructed low carbohydrate keto or paleo diets (including green veggies) can support your metabolism to become more efficient and fat-burning. Once your body’s system is reset, you can add more carbs and food varieties to your menu.
#2: Eat more Fiber
One of the biggest benefits of eating more fiber when you are trying to lose weight is its ability to satiate. Soluble fiber such as that found in properly cooked beans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes helps you to feel full longer and slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber cannot be broken down by your own enzymes, so it reaches the gut undigested where it feeds the good bacteria and helps them to flourish. One important aspect of soluble fiber is that it needs water to reach its potential, so staying hydrated is a must.
#3: Green Coffee Extract
Don’t like the taste of coffee but want to take advantage of its weight loss benefits? Green coffee extract (GCE) helps maintain a healthy weight and reduce BMI and waist size – in fact it has been proposed as a low-cost and safe obesity treatment. One word of caution – if you are sensitive to caffeine which can even stimulate the stress response in some people, this is not the best option.
#4: Eat Real Food
Much of what we eat isn’t actually “real” food. Make sure you fuel your body properly by avoiding pre-packaged and processed foods that are chock-full of preservatives, dyes and other chemicals. Focus on fruits, veggies, organic meats and healthy fats. Remember the more toxic your food, the more those toxins will get encased in fat cells. If it looks like meat and it is not – then it’s processed!
#5: Aim for 10,000 Steps Per Day
Getting those steps in can be hard when you’re spending more time at home. But where there is a will, there is a way! A combination of dietary changes and walking 10,000 steps per day was shown to help significantly reduce total weight, BMI and hip size. Bonus: lower anxiety levels are a natural outcome of making these changes as well.
Did you know that calming your mind can be a powerful weight loss tool? Adding meditation to standard weight loss treatments can result in additional weight loss in as little as two months. Managing your stress will help your adrenals and can positively affect your weight loss goals.
#7: Intermittent Fasting (IF)
One of the most effective ways to get rid of toxins and their corresponding fat prisons is intermittent fasting. How does it work? Designate several hours per day as your ‘eating hours’ and stick to it. This gives your glucose and insulin levels a chance to even out, gives your body a break from the hard job of digestion, and puts the focus on getting toxins out of your body. However, IF is not for everyone, so be sure to check in with your healthcare practitioner before you begin.
Are you ready to step out of the diet roller coaster? Give us a call! We can assess your insulin, stress response, thyroid, genes, and toxin load. Together we can design a custom-made treatment plan with targeted supplementation, metabolism, and even nutrition gene testing – supporting nutrients and nourishing foods. We can’t wait to join you on your health care journey!
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