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Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

706 new weight guidelines

Do you dread going to the doctor because you know they will pin your health problems on your weight? Or maybe you quit going to the doctor all together to avoid feeling embarrassed and ashamed. Because the stigma attached to body size has been shown to cause weight gain, researchers are calling for doctors to emphasize exercise rather than weight loss.

Although it’s true obesity is linked to myriad inflammatory health conditions, it’s also true that diets fail the majority of people and often lead to weight gain. Also, some people are overweight due to genetic predisposition, numerous starvation diets, a history of an eating disorder in response to childhood trauma, and so on.

For those people who have spent a lifetime battling their weight and the stigma associated with it, a visit to the doctor simply opens a Pandora’s box of shame, despair, hopelessness, and self-loathing. Many decide it’s simply healthier not to go.

Policy may shift to taking the emphasis off weight

Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is aware of the ineffectiveness of shaming patients.

A recent essay published by the CDC called for doctors to lay off patients who don’t meet the body mass index (BMI) guidelines and instead shift the focus to helping a patient exercise regularly.

The essay argues that avoiding “fat shaming” will go a long way to establishing better doctor-patient rapport and trust, thus facilitating a patient’s sense of positivity and willingness to adapt healthier habits.

Diets and thinking you are fat lead to obesity

Studies consistently show diets actually lead to long-term weight gain and obesity.

What’s even more shocking is that the perception you are overweight also leads to long term weight gain, even if your original BMI was in the normal range.

In other words, telling a patient they are too fat can actually make them gain weight, not lose it.

And telling yourself you are too fat will do the same.

Addressing obesity and health without stigma

Clearly, telling people they are too heavy and need to lose weight isn’t working.

The key, say researchers, is to promote the idea that a person can be healthy at any weight. This requires decreasing the stigma, establishing trust and rapport, and encouraging exercise and healthy behaviors. It also requires taking into consideration the patient’s social and financial situation.

According to recent studies, regular exercise improves health at any weight. It also reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Focusing on regular exercise also shifts the focus away from judging the person’s body and instead puts it on behaviors that can be influenced, barriers that can be addressed, and progress that can be measured at follow-up visits, regardless of weight.

Diets have a terrible track record for the majority of people. However, exercise is an area where most people can succeed, regardless of their body size or fitness level.

Ask my office how we can help you improve your health in a way that works for you.

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diet foods make you fat copy

For decades the diet industry has conned consumers into thinking good diet products are low in fat. This led to a boon in creation of low-fat, high-carbohydrate, and often high-sugar “diet” products that promote fat storage, prevent fat burning, increase cravings, and raise inflammation. Not only can diet foods make you fatter, they can also make you sicker.

Yet another new study shows low-fat diet foods lead to obesity. Rats given high-sugar, low-fat foods that mimic many diet products not only got fatter than the control rats, they also experienced liver damage and brain inflammation.

The sad thing about this study is that the low-fat rats didn’t eat more calories. They consumed the same amount of calories as their counterparts that were fed a balanced diet yet they still ended the study fatter and sicker.

Liver and brain damage from low-fat, high-sugar

The excess fat accumulated around the rats’ livers was similar to the liver damage caused by heavy alcohol use. This study and others similar to it show that brain-inflammation from the high-sugar, low-fat diet also impaired function of the vagus nerve. This is a nerve that runs between the brain and the gut and is vital to both healthy brain and gut function.

Diet foods skew hunger and satiety hormones

The impacts on the vagus nerve and the brain also alter hormone signaling around hunger and satiety. This explains why people on high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diets often feel hungry all the time despite how much they eat.

Dieting signals the body to store fat

The hormones that control hunger and satiety also play a role in fat burning and fat storage. When this system is dysregulated due to a high-sugar diet, this prompts the body to favor fat storing over fat burning.

The best way to reverse this process is to fuel the body with a lower carbohydrate diet that is adequate in proteins and fat, and abundant in vegetables. How many carbohydrates a person needs to consume depends on many factors and varies from person to person. Ask my office for advice.

Dieting makes the body efficient at fat storage

Add a low-calorie diet to the poor performance of mainstream diet products and you have a recipe for lifelong super-powered fat storing abilities. This means a person has to consume fewer and fewer calories simply to avoid gaining weight.

This was best evidenced among former contestants of the popular TV show The Biggest Loser  Although contestants lost weight through a stringent regime of low-calorie dieting and intensive exercise, most contestants piled the weight back on after the show ended. They also had to consume 500–800 fewer calories below maintenance calories simply to avoid gaining weight. This is because the extreme dieting and exercise, though effective, had lowered their resting metabolic rate so that they were burning fewer calories each day compared to before participating in the show.

How to lose weight and stay healthy?

Often people lose weight simply by following a diet that lowers inflammation and removes foods to which they are intolerant, and by stabilizing blood sugar, repairing leaky gut, and addressing chronic inflammation. By focusing on a vegetable-dominant diet you also increase the proportion of gut bacteria that promote fat burning over fat storage.

The key is to gradually switch yourself over to a life-long way of eating you enjoy because it makes you feel better.

For more information on healthy weight loss, contact my office.

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Do you keep trying weight loss diets but can’t seem to drop the pounds? Are you instead exhausted and frustrated by an ever growing layer of fat?

Calorie-restricted diets have been popular for decades as a way to lose weight, but clearly more is at play as many people under eat and still can’t lose weight or keep it off.

If you’re doing everything right and the fat isn’t budging, the culprit may lie in underlying health issues slowing metabolism and blocking fat burning.

Feast or famine? Dieting slows metabolism for years

For most of human history, life vacillated between feast or famine, with plenty of bouts of famine. The human body body has smart coping mechanisms to get us through hungry times — lowered metabolism and increased fat-storage hormones.

As far as the body is concerned, a low-calorie diet is a famine and it employs the same measures to save you from starving. As a result, each low-calorie diet can add weight in the end when you resume normal caloric intake.

This dieting-caused metabolic slow-down can last for years. The phenomenon was recently documented in participants from the The Biggest Loser reality TV show. Six years after participating, contestants’ metabolic set point was below what it was when they started. They burn up to 800 fewer calories per day! After all that hard work, most of them returned to their pre-show weight and have to under eat in order to prevent weight gain.

Dieting disrupts key hunger hormones

Conversely, if you have a history of overeating or eating too much sugar, you may suffer from leptin resistance, which hinders fat burning.

Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite, satiety — that feeling of being full and satisfied — and whether your body burns or stores fat. A diet is high in starches and sugars causes frequent swings in blood sugar. This leads to chronic insulin surges, which, in turn, cause cellular resistance to leptin. With leptin resistance, you’re constantly hungry and you store fat.

Lowering intake of processed carbohydrates and exercising regularly help sensitize the cells to leptin so your hunger cues and fat burning abilities return to normal.

Underlying health issues hinder weight loss

For most people, weight loss is not as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Sometimes inflammation and other metabolic factors can be a driving factor behind the inability to lose weight.

Many people are surprised to find unwanted pounds drop away when they follow an anti-inflammatory diet. These nutrient-dense diets void of inflammatory triggers are used to manage pain, digestive problems, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression  anxiety, and other health issues.

Why do they work? Excess weight can be a symptom of underlying health imbalances that slow metabolism and block weight loss. Systemic inflammation, leptin resistance, hormonal imbalances, stress, leaky gut, blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, and hypothyroidism are examples of factors that block weight loss.

How do autoimmune protocols and diets fit in?

The autoimmune diet and protocols are effective for people suffering from various chronic illnesses. Anti-inflammatory in nature, special attention is given to gut health and food reactivity.

While highly effective for many in not only managing autoimmunity but also dropping unwanted pounds, sometimes people take these diets to low-calorie extremes. Even if you’re eating healthy foods and avoiding the inflammatory ones, it’s still important not to starve the body and trigger the famine response that holds onto fat.

In fact, increasing healthy fats, protein, and nutrient-dense foods encourages the body to drop pounds. Meeting your nutritional needs, providing healthy sources of fat to remind the body it’s not a time of famine, and enough protein to keep blood sugar stable are key for helping the body increase its metabolic rate and drop extra weight.

Functional medicine has effective ways in working with underlying health issues that hinder weight loss.

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Want to get fat? Go on a diet

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It’s an addiction to insanity in our culture, one of the most overfed populations in human history — the weight loss diet.

Despite plenty of scientific evidence that diets don’t produce lasting results for most people and despite countless numbers of dieters, most of them women, thrown into a lifetime of damaging despair, low self-esteem, and self-hatred thanks to failing diets, our culture still blindly adheres to the low-calorie diet as the panacea for all life’s problems, including those extra pounds.

The reality TV show The Biggest Loser provided the perfect high-profile platform for scientists to showcase what millions of Americans have learned the hard way: diets make you fatter in the long run.

Why dieting makes you fat

For most of our species’ history, meager food supply and bouts of famine have been the norm. As a result, the body prioritizes conserving fat and energy through altering its metabolism and fat-storing hormones.

Metabolism slows dramatically for years

Eating fewer calories to lose weight significantly slows your metabolism and causes you to regain the weight quickly and easily. The body will fight for years to get back to its previous set point. Contestants on the Biggest Loser learned they now burn between 400 and 800 fewer calories six years after their televised weight loss journey. In other words, they have to under eat just to not continually gain fat.

Satiety hormones skewed for years

Diets also skew levels of leptin and other satiety hormones. These hormones control hunger and food cravings. All of the show’s contestants had normal levels of leptin prior to losing weight. After losing weight their leptin levels plummeted to near nil. A follow-up study showed after they had regained the weight leptin levels were at about half of original levels. Other satiety hormones were also out of range.

This caused contestants increased hunger and cravings.

Televised torture for weight loss

The weight loss program The Biggest Loser contestants were put on not only ultimately damaged their metabolisms, it was unrealistic, tortuous, and exhausting. Contestants ate too few calories and exercised many hours a day, needing to quit their jobs to meet the weight loss demands. Maintaining the weight loss required exercising two to three hours a day and continued under eating. They were also left with mounds of loose skin.

Understand how the body works to lose weight

Fortunately, sustainable weight loss is possible for many people who understand functional medicine approaches to metabolism, satiety hormones, and the effects of stress and inflammation on weight. Unfortunately, those who have lost and gained weight repeatedly during their lives will have a bigger battle. It is also important to manage underlying causes of weight gain, such as emotional and addiction issues, PTSD, and chronic stress. For instance, one study showed many overweight women have been sexually abused as children.

Although portion control and regular physical activity are important, so too are managing the types of foods you eat. For instance, processed carbohydrates and sweets trigger the mechanisms that cause cravings and weight gain. On the other hand, consuming ample vegetables can alter the composition of gut bacteria in a way that fosters weight loss. Eliminating foods that are inflammatory, such as gluten in the case of gluten-sensitive people, can reduce stress on the body, thus facilitating fat burning.

And lastly, ditching the self-loathing and shame that accompanies diets can also reduce fat-promoting stress.

Ask my office for ideas on how to release weight in a way that is sustainable and healthy for the body.

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Eat breakfast to lose weight

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If you’re like most Americans, you eat a high-carb breakfast packed with grains, dairy, and sugar, or you don’t eat breakfast at all either because you’re too busy or you want to lose weight. Either way, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Breakfast is exactly what it sounds like — the breaking of a fast. After 8-plus hours of no food, your body needs fuel to bring its systems up to speed and maintain even energy for the day. As it turns out, eating a solid breakfast is one of the best things you can do to lose weight. It also helps assure a clear mind, steady emotions, and plentiful energy throughout the day.

Skipping breakfast can actually make you gain weight!

We’ve all been taught the “calories in vs. calories out” theory for weight loss. In an effort to cut calories, we skip breakfast because it’s the easiest meal to do without, especially if we tend to wake up with no appetite or we’re always in a rush to get to work. But while calories can matter, skipping breakfast can actually lead to weight gain:

When you wake in the morning, your blood sugar is already low. Skipping breakfast (or any meal) allows it to go lower and impairs insulin sensitivity, which leads to weight gain.

Chronic low blood sugar creates a cascade effect in your hormonal system that directly affects your body’s ability to deal with stress. This can result in increased inflammation throughout your body, which can lead to weight gain. Low blood sugar also causes brain fog, mood issues, insomnia, decreased brain function, and other health issues. None of these symptoms will help you stick to a healthier eating plan.

Skipping breakfast has interesting behavioral effects; research shows that people who skip breakfast tend to reach for higher calorie foods once they do eat, leading to higher total daily calorie consumption than those who ate a solid breakfast. This is partly because missing meals causes the brain to become primed toward higher-calorie foods like it would during starvation or famine.

Skipping breakfast makes you more likely to binge on sugary foods that result in an energy crash later in the day—making you less likely to go out and get that much-needed exercise. (PS: A big sweet, milky coffee drink with whipped cream is not a breakfast.)

Eat a protein-strong breakfast for weight loss and steady energy

You know you need to eat breakfast. But eating traditional carb-heavy breakfast foods such as cereals, bagels, muffins, and fruit smoothies isn’t a great idea; they sabotage your weight loss goals by destabilizing blood glucose and insulin after the night’s fast, as well as kicking cravings for quick-energy sugary stuff and junk foods into high gear.

Eating a nutrient-dense, lower carb breakfast with plenty of protein and healthy fats provides the brain and body with proper fuel, balances your blood sugar and insulin, and gives your metabolism a boost for the day.

Studies show a protein-strong breakfast can also reduce hunger hormones, increase the chemical that tells your brain to stop eating, improve your sense of satiety, and reduce evening snacking.

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fitness not fatness predicts mortality

We’ve long been told if we want to be healthier and live longer we need to drop the pounds, but turns out being fit is the best predictor for longevity, even if you’re overweight.

A team of researchers examined a collection of studies that together looked at thousands of people for as long as 16 years.

They divided study subjects into three groups: normal weight, overweight, and obese. They then divided them into fit and unfit groups based on endurance tests, typically running on a treadmill.

Their analysis showed that the subjects’ performance in the endurance tests determined their mortality risk in the coming years, not their weight. In fact, the unfit people had twice the risk of dying as the fit people, regardless of their weight. Overweight and obese people who were fit had the same mortality risks as fit participants who were normal weight.

In a nutshell  A thin unfit person is twice as likely to die as an obese fit person. This is great news to those who have struggled much of their lives, unsuccessfully, to lose weight. As long as they keep exercising, they can expect to live a longer, healthier life.

A big downside to the study was that the majority of subjects were men, so we can’t say for sure how the results apply to women. Also, it would be interesting to look at a study like this in relation to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic health risks. The researchers only looked at length of life and not occurrence of disease.

So what does being fit look like?

Fortunately, enjoying these benefits of being fit does not require you to be a warrior at the gym or at Crossfit. In fact, in functional medicine we know that over exercising (which varies from person to person) is a great way to tax your health.

Most of the “fit” study participants were evaluated for an average of eight to 12 minutes on a treadmill. This falls in line with federal guidelines that suggest as little as two and a half hours of exercise a week, which can be done in increments as short as 10 minutes at a time, qualify you as fit.

Ways to meet those weekly goals can include parking far enough away from your destination that you have to walk 10 minutes to reach it, using a standing or stationary bike desk at work, and taking regular brisk walks.

Exercise is about much more than living longer

The promise of a longer life does not actually provide much motivation for many people, especially those who are younger. Instead, it’s important to look at other benefits of regular exercise.

Regular walking and other exercise have been shown to improve brain function, ward off depression  and boost self-esteem  and even curb cravings and addiction.

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After studying dieting for 20 years, a researcher concluded diets simply don’t work, a fact countless Americans have spent 20-plus years of their own lives validating.

Why? Dieting is constructed around faulty principles that defy human biology and psychology. The “calories in versus calories out” model fails to account for hormonal shifts during weight loss, the psychological consequences of deprivation, and the futility of willpower when it comes to eating.

In a nutshell, the human body has mechanisms in place designed to compensate for starvation.

Three things that cause diets to fail

The researcher found three key reasons why diets fail:

  • The deprivation of dieting wires your brain to notice food more and to make food appear more appetizing, tempting, and harder to resist.
  • Weight loss through calorie restriction causes hormonal shifts that decrease satiety hormones and increase hunger hormones. As a result, you feel less full on the same amount of food than you used to.
  • Calorie restriction slows down your metabolism so that you become more efficient at storing fat and less efficient at burning it. This is why people actually become heavier after each diet.

In essence, dieting is starving, and your body responds to a diet just as it would to a famine — with these responses that have kept humans alive throughout the ages.

What’s worse, the dieting industry has spun this built-in failure into a $61 billion dollar industry that preys on insecurities and hopes while ignoring some basic tenets of human function.

What about willpower?

When it comes to dieting, willpower is a poor tool. For example, if you use willpower to avoid Facebook during a two-hour work project and succeed except for during the last 10 minutes, that last-minute lapse does not undo your previous success. However, if you sit in front of a platter of donuts during a two-hour meeting and resist them except during the last 10 minutes, that last-minute lapse has undone your previous success.

The study found that the slightest distractions can trigger overeating in those who are dieting. It also concluded that the paltry 5 percent who do succeed at maintaining their weight loss devote their lives to their weight, living like a starving person.

So does this mean I can never lose weight?

Thankfully, no. The key is to eat consciously with a focus on health and nutrition, not to starve your body and trigger binges and rebounds. Many people who follow a functional medicine approach to health find weight loss is just one of the many benefits they experience.

For instance, your excess weight could be the result of low thyroid function, food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, sleep deprivation, and even over exercising. Excess weight is typically a symptom of a deeper problem and addressing the underlying cause can result in gradual, healthy, and hunger-free weight loss. And not everyone is meant to be rail thin — you may need to adjust your expectations to honor your body’s set point and not society’s.

Also, many people have dug themselves into a deep hole of self-loathing because of their many dieting failures. This causes chronic and sometimes severe stress that can impact your biology and serve as another barrier to weight loss. It’s important to honor your physiology and rewire your belief systems around eating and your body to facilitate more positivity and relaxation.

Ask my office for more advice on the proper care and feeding of your body.

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