Do you struggle to lose weight?
Most people at some point in their life want to lose weight; whether it’s a few pounds or a significant amount of weight. The motives to lose weight may be to feel more confident, or to help reduce diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. According to the CDC in 2013-2014, 37.9% of adults in America were obese and 70.7% were overweight (including those obese). Being overweight and/or obese increases your risk of diseases. Therefore maintaining a healthy weight is not only good for our health, but our confidence and overall well-being.
Leptin is a hormone produced primarily by fat cells that helps regulate your appetite. Higher leptin levels are associated with increased hunger and obesity. Leptin also increases inflammatory cytokines and a marker called c-reactive protein. This is not good as inflammation is the root of many diseases. There are several things you can do to help with leptin sensitivity- in other words, having better appetite control.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule and aim for 7.5 hours of sleep
- Eat more protein and avoid all processed sugar
- Reduce inflammation by eating whole foods and supplementing with things like turmeric, omega 3, ginger, or boswellia
- Keep cortisol levels low (stress hormone). Give yourself time to relax. This is crucial for leptin sensitivity. Try yoga, epsom salt baths, meditation, or simple deep breathing
- And of course EXERCISE.
Many of you know what insulin is, but insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps our body use carbohydrates for energy. Basically, it helps glucose in the bloodstream get into cells. It keeps our blood sugar levels in balance, preventing glucose levels from getting too high or too low, also known as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Insulin resistance is when your body cannot produce enough insulin or the receptors are resistance to the effects of insulin, keeping blood sugar levels elevated in your bloodstream. Insulin resistance causes your body to store fat primarily around the abdomen. There are several things you can do to help with insulin resistance (some are duplicates from leptin resistance).
- Limit carbohydrates and sugar, especially highly processed ones (and soda/juice)
- Eat more fiber, aim for at least 35-40 grams per day
- Add healthy fats to help slow down digestion and stabilize blood sugar
- Manage stress to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol causes increased blood sugar levels (just like long term steroid use, such as prednisone).
- Lift weight. Muscle uses glucose for energy!
Hypothyroidism, or a sluggish thyroid, slows down your metabolism. However if it is thyroid issues causing you to not be able to lose weight, typically there are other symptoms such as fatigue, dry skin, constipation, cold intolerance, and hair loss. It is important to look at several thyroid markers to determine if you have thyroid issues including TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), T3 free, and T4 free. If you think you have thyroid issues here are a few things you can try.
- Add iodine rich foods: seaweed, kelp, cranberries, navy beans, and strawberries.
- Add selenium rich foods: brazil nuts, eggs, sunflower seeds, yellowfin tuna, chicken, and grass-fed beef
- Keep stress low. High cortisol levels cause your body not to convert T4 into T3 as effectively (are you starting to see a common denominator?)
- Take a thyroid support. I love this thyroid supplement 1-2 capsules daily.
- If your thyroid is sluggish there are several medications (synthetic and natural) such as synthroid, tirosint, naturethroid, and armour. Know your levels!
The two main nutrients (in my experience) that play a role in weight are vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Optimally, I like serum levels of vitamin D to be between 60 and 80 and vitamin B12 greater than 750. It is important to know your levels and to not settle for “normal” but to thrive for optimal. Here are a few of my favorite supplements.
- Methyl B12 by Jarrow or Pure Encapsulation.
- Vitamin D + K2 by Zhou Nutrition (however, not everyone needs 5,000 IU so get your vitamin D level checked to better determine the dose you need)
Stress eating is HUGE. I hear my patients and clients struggle with carb craving on a regular basis. This may be related to serotonin imbalances. One of my favorite therapies to manage this is 5-HTP. This is an amino acid that helps boost serotonin levels.
Inflammation can cause your body to go into fat storage instead of fat burning. One of the largest things I see contributing to inflammation in my patients and clients is food intolerances. Sometimes, just giving up a food that triggers inflammation can cause you to drop weight. The most common intolerances I see are dairy, gluten, and soy; however, there can be healthy food intolerances too, such as avocados, lemons, or herbs/spices. I recommend testing for food intolerances/allergies or trying an elimination diet and reintroduce foods one at a time to see what causes the most symptoms.