It’s Not Your Fault You Can’t Lose Weight!
Jan 04, 2013 01:53PM
By Sherri Morrison, RN, BSN and Tami Horner, M.D.
According to most healthcare professionals, weight loss is simple: “If calories intake (diet) is less than calories burned (exercise), then you will have weight loss.” It’s that simple... or IS it? Most of us already know that eating less and moving more are the keys to dropping extra pounds. But what if you are eating a healthy, low calorie diet, exercising regularly and still can’t seem to lose weight—or are even gaining it? You may have a hidden metabolic condition that’s sabotaging your efforts. And the symptoms can be so subtle that your doctor may miss them. Here are some possible weight loss blockers and ideas on how you can get past the weight plateau.
Lack of Zzzs
Lack of sleep does more than just make you feel tired. It’s linked to some very real health problems, including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. In one study, people who got fewer than four hours of sleep at night were 73 percent more likely to gain excess weight. In the same study, people who got six hours of sleep each night were 23 percent more likely to become obese. There are two possible explanations for why a lack of sleep may pack on the pounds. First, not getting enough sleep affects the hormones leptin and ghrelin which regulate appetite and satiety. Lack of these hormones can result in overeating and cravings throughout the day. Also, another vital hormone related to fat metabolism that is produced during sleep is human growth hormone (HGH). Aiming for about seven to eight hours of sleep each night should increase your chances of successful weight loss.
It might sound like a cliché, but there’s a real link between stress and weight gain. We all have stress, although we don’t all respond to it in the same way. Acute stress, such as missing a deadline at work or having to take a loved one to the emergency room, often leads to a loss of appetite. It’s the day-to-day, chronic stress that’s the culprit. Relationship, work, or financial difficulties are the kinds of stressors that can lead to an increase in appetite. This is primarily due to the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol sticks around when you’re stressed, and can trigger you to eat more. It also signals the body to store glucose as fat (often around your midsection). Plus, you may be less likely to get up and exercise when you’re stressed (although that’s exactly what you SHOULD do). Stress may not go away, but you can learn to deal with it through exercise, relaxation, meditation, or counseling. There are also herbal supplements available to help support the body during times of stress and help reduce high cortisol levels.
If you suffer from chronic stress and have symptoms of sugar cravings, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, depression or anxiety, then you should consider having your cortisol levels evaluated and properly treated.
Toxicity: The solution to pollution is dilution
There is a distinct connection between body toxicity and weight gain. Long term exposure to toxins in the environment, such as pesticides, cleaning chemicals and medications, can build up in our system and get stored into fat cells. As toxicity (pollution) increases, the fat cells enlarge in size in order to “dilute” the toxins. If we can successfully remove such toxins, our body has one less reason to hold onto the fat. Some may scoff at this since fat loss obviously isn’t this straightforward, but it is very apparent that toxicity can play a large role in fat and water accumulation in the body. Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily, eating a healthy diet of organic vegetables, fruits and lean meats and detox support supplements can help release toxins (and fat) from the body. We do not suggest starting a detox program unless you are under the care of a trained medical professional.
Lack of Good Fat Believe it or not, you need fat to burn fat! Studies suggest that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) may help reduce fat stores and, ultimately, promote weight loss. Suggested amount of omega-3 is 1000 to 2000mg per day, but higher doses may be necessary in some individuals. Be sure you are getting pharmaceutical grade omega-3 such as EPA, DHA and ALA. Many health food grade supplements contain high amounts of omega-6 or omega-9 fish oil. These “other omegas” can increase inflammation in the body, which could lead to weight gain.
Your weight loss efforts may be thwarted by something as simple as not getting the right amount of vitamins, minerals and/or amino acids. Many of these micronutrients are necessary to help your body properly metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore, a deficiency in these micronutrients could cause your body to store more fat. Some micronutrient deficiencies can lead to insulin resistance, causing higher levels of insulin which leads to increased fat storage.
Taking a pharmaceutical grade multivitamin daily may help ensure that you are getting the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for proper metabolism. However, some individuals may need more of certain micronutrients than are available in an over-the-counter supplement. Also, if there are micronutrient deficiencies, it is possible that the nutrients are not being absorbed properly, in which case supplementation will not help.
High quality protein shakes are a good way to get the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) and work great as a meal replacement to help reduce calories.
A low functioning thyroid makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. In addition to making you feel sluggish and tired, having too little thyroid hormone can cause you to gain weight, or at least make it hard to lose weight. Low thyroid function is a very common disorder that often goes undiagnosed. Many general practitioners will check a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to evaluate thyroid function. However, the TSH may be in normal range despite abnormal thyroid function. Looking at TSH or even total T4 is not always adequate for complete thyroid evaluation. Simply put, T4, which is an inactive hormone, needs to be converted to T3, which is the active hormone. You may have normal levels of T4, but you may not be converting to T3 and, therefore, will have symptoms of low thyroid. In addition to weight gain, you may experience hair loss, dry skin or brittle nails, cold intolerance, menstrual irregularities, low energy and depression. If you are vhaving trouble losing weight and have other symptoms of low thyroid, then you should consider having a more complete thyroid evaluation.
Hormone Imbalance in Women:Estrogen Dominance
Many women between the ages of 40 and 50 suffer from estrogen dominance. That means that your progesterone is declining faster than your estrogen. Estrogen, when not balanced with the appropriate amount of progesterone, leads to weight gain. This is because estrogen is a “fat storage” hormone, and progesterone is a “fat burning” hormone. Progesterone drops very aggressively after the age of 40. Ask any woman when they noticed a change in their weight gain and a large percentage will tell you… in my 40s. Yet many doctors still do not measure their patients’ hormone levels. In addition to weight gain, women with estrogen dominance often experience depression or anxiety, sleep disturbance, night sweats, fluid retention, heavy menstrual bleeding, cystic breasts or breast tenderness. Rather than treating the underlying problem, which is progesterone deficiency, many women end up with multiple prescription medications, such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills, and diuretics (water pills).
If you are having trouble losing weight and/or are experiencing any of the other symptoms above, consider having your hormones tested.
Hormone Imbalance in Men:Low “T”
Testosterone naturally declines with age in men starting at age 30. By the age of 40, it may decline as much as 1 percent per year. Testosterone is a hormone that is involved in burning fat and building muscle. Therefore, as testosterone levels start to decline, so does the physique. Men may experience less muscle mass or less effective workouts and increasing fat around the mid-section or breasts. Other signs of low testosterone include low energy levels, decreased focus/concentration, depression or irritability, low sex drive or decreased sexual function.
If you are a male that is having a difficult time losing weight and have other symptoms of low testosterone, consider having your hormone levels evaluated.
Success by Design has helped countless patients meet their weight loss goals and go on to live healthier, happier lives. For some patients, diet and exercise alone are not enough to lose the weight desired and keep it off. Metabolic disorders or nutritional deficiencies prevent them from dropping the unwanted pounds. It is not until diagnoses and proper treatments of these disorders that they reach their ultimate goals.
To learn more about how Success by Design can help you reach your weight loss goals, attend one of their free seminars, call 727-548-0001, or visit SuccessbyDesignWeightloss.com. See ad page 10.