We all know that proper nutrition and exercise are essential for healthy weight loss and maintenance, but what if you do not know what the proper nutrition and exercises for your body are? And even worse – what if you are dieting and working out and the scale is still not budging (or continuing to go the wrong way)? There are many factors that play a part in weight loss and healthy weight management, including underlying health issues that you may not even be aware of.
These are the essential elements of healthy, lasting weight loss and maintenance:
Overall Heath – Eliminate underlying issues that prevent weight loss
This is the very first place to start when you are looking to lose weight. For some people, switching to a clean, anti-inflammatory diet and reduced calorie intake is helpful, but isn’t quite enough to get them all the way to their weight loss goal. If this sounds like you, it’s very likely that there are underlying health issues sabotaging your weight loss. Many of these may not only be affecting your weight, but also causing disease and other serious health risks in your body with weight gain and/or an inability to lose weight being just one symptom. By doing diagnostic testing and seeking treatment for any of these issues, you are not only already greatly improving your health, you are also able to then focus on all the other factors that will help you achieve your weight loss goals, and actually see results.
Below are some examples of common underlying health issues that can impede your weight loss, as well as affect your overall health, and how you can overcome them.
It’s estimated that around 20 million Americans have an issue with their thyroid, but also that up to 60% of them are completely unaware of it. A whopping 90% of these thyroid imbalances are due to what is known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when you have an underactive thyroid, and one of the main symptoms of hypothyroidism is unexplained weight gain, or the inability to lose weight.
Many of our body’s processes, including metabolism, are regulated by our thyroid. When your thyroid is underactive, it slows down your metabolism, and your overall energy production decreases. Hypothyroidism causes many other symptoms in addition to an inability to lose weight, including:
If you suspect that you may have an underactive thyroid based on your symptoms then you should have proper diagnostic testing done, including a full thyroid panel. The majority of conventional doctors may only order one or two thyroid tests, as opposed to a full panel, and then use the lab reference ranges for what is “normal” as their guide which gives an incomplete picture of what is happening with your thyroid function. Be sure that your labs include TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Total T3 and Thyroid antibodies.
Once you have a proper diagnosis, you can work with your doctor on the best treatment plan for your thyroid. This can include medication, and also using dietary and lifestyle changes to restore optimal function.
We all have stress, and it can be a huge factor that can get in the way when you are trying to improve your health and achieve weight loss. Many studies have shown that even when animals are consuming the same amount of calories as when they are not stressed when they are stressed they gain weight.
This is because your body releases a flood of cortisol as a response when you experience stress. Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone,” and it is the hormone that is behind our fight or flight response. Unfortunately, one side effect of cortisol is that it can not only prevent you from losing weight, but it can actually cause you to gain even more. When it comes to the release of cortisol, our bodies cannot tell the difference between a real immediate danger or an everyday stressor. This means if you are in a state of chronic stress, your body will respond by causing your cortisol levels to go up and stay up, leading to progressive weight gain and/or a weight loss plateau.
Take an honest look at your daily stress levels if you are having difficulty losing weight. If you are constantly feeling overrun and overworked you should strive to incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine. Remember that even “good stress,” like starting an exciting new job or moving can have a similar effect.
Stress can also prevent you from making the right choices when it comes to your diet. You may have noticed that you tend to reach for ice cream or fast food over healthier options when stressed. This is sometimes because in a state of stress we do what is most convenient, but also we can develop cravings for the sugar high that can make us feel good, and may even be linked to temporarily lowering cortisol levels.
Along with doing things to reduce or remove stress from your life, if you focus on changing your diet to help improve your response to stress, you can support your weight loss efforts in more ways than one. For example, comfort foods, such as a warm bowl of oatmeal, can boost levels of the brain calming chemical serotonin and there are several other foods that can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline. Sticking to this type of diet can also help support your immune system, lower blood pressure and increase weight loss.
We have already discussed how some of the common reasons that you may not be able to lose weight can include imbalances in thyroid and stress hormones, and the same goes for insulin and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone).
Issues with insulin and blood sugar can cause many symptoms directly related to weight gain or an inability to lose weight including:
It is similar with your sex hormones, such as having high estrogen (estrogen dominance), which can lead to unexplained weight gain, especially around the abdomen and hips, as well as an inability to lose weight. Other sex hormone imbalances can also be responsible for weight gain, including high progesterone or low testosterone. The best way to determine if you have a hormone imbalance, and what type, is with advanced diagnostic testing. Many times you can improve these imbalances with natural supplements and lifestyle changes, however, in some cases, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is an option to help you body regain balance with your hormones and eliminate symptoms, including stubborn weight.
After World War II, thousands of synthetic chemicals were introduced into commercial use. These include chemicals for pest and disease control, crop production, industry and more. Unfortunately, this has led to the issue that the world we live in today is full of dangerous chemicals, heavy metals, medications, and many other toxins that can wreak havoc on our bodies. In a lot of ways, this polluted world can be a true test of the genetic survival of the fittest. These toxins threaten the reproductive ability of the human race and are also big contributors to different cancers. These same chemicals also promote weight gain in various ways, including disrupting the hormone signaling system that regulates your metabolism, and damaging and adding to your white adipose tissue.
Your body’s ability to process toxins is a large factor in your overall ability to lose weight. When your body struggles with this issue, it activates backup strategies for dealing with toxic overload which can include increasing the number of fat cells and then filling them full of toxins as well as fat in order to get the toxins out of your circulation and away from your organs. This process leads to easy weight gain and can complicate weight loss because your body does not easily let go of the toxic fat it has already stored away. The disruption to your natural hormonal cycle from toxic overload can also cause an inability to lose weight, as well as other more serious issues, such as autoimmune diseases.
In order to be in control of your health and wellness, including maintaining a healthy weight, it is essential that you continue to learn about the impact your lifestyle choices and environment have on you and take the necessary steps to begin reducing the toxins that you are exposed to while increasing your body’s ability to remove them from your system. An easy place to start is by “cleaning out” your diet. After taking this most important and first step, you can then later move to other products you use daily such as cosmetics, cleaners, etc, and then begin to focus on increasing your levels of nutrients that help with detoxification like glutathione.
Nutrition – Create balance with real food
Our bodies were not designed to eat and digest the processed foods that fill our supermarket isles today. For weight loss you should aim to have a diet that includes real, fat-burning foods – meats, vegetables, and fruits – not processed foods, even those labeled gluten-free. Processed foods are nutrient-poor, packed with toxic chemicals and when we ingest them our bodies do not function properly, and our health begins to deteriorate over time. This is what can cause the pounds start to pile on, fatigue and having brain functions such as memory and focus start to decline, leaving you feeling sluggish, demotivated and depressed.
A lot of times simply switching to a diet of clean, whole foods will reverse, or at the very least reduce, these symptoms and then jump-start your weight loss. Changing your diet definitely may not be as easy as it sounds, but there are a lot of ways that you can make it easier by doing things such as removing all trigger foods from your home, meal planning and shopping for only fresh, lean proteins and products.
When it comes to weight loss, once you become more accustomed to a cleaner diet and see the many benefits of how you are feeling, you can move on to take the next steps: Targeting your calorie intake as you track your results for rapid and safe fat loss, tracking your macronutrient intake to improve your body composition and more. This process will help you get to where you are eating a perfect life-long diet for your unique health and weight loss/maintenance needs, unlike using short-term or fad diets to lose weight.
The types of food you are putting into your body are important, but the amount of those foods you are consuming is also a crucial part of any weight loss plan. You need to establish your target daily calorie intake for any medical weight loss program intended to help you lose fat, build lean muscle, or even maintain your current body weight. Generic meal plans do not take into account things such as your weight, age, health needs, Resting Metabolic Rate or activity level, making them almost worthless. Your daily calorie intake is going to be one of the primary factors that will dictate the results of all your efforts, so it’s something you really need to be sure that you get right. As your weight starts to get lower, your target calorie intake is going to change making it crucial that you continue to consider new factors over and over again in order to get the best possible results.
Today there are many calorie calculators available for free online that will take into account all the necessary factors and allow you to determine what your calorie goal should be, as well as ones that you can then enter your meals into each day to ensure that you are sticking to your plan. Many times people believe that they are sticking to their allotted calorie intake, but cannot figure out why they are not losing any weight. A few calories here and there can begin to add up, so it is very important that you track everything you eat and drink throughout the day in detail to get an accurate total for your calories – even if it is just a small bite of something here and there. A lot of people find it helpful to get started with a guided weight loss program to ensure that they are eating the right foods, and are on track with their calories.
Once you have gotten the hang of tracking your calories and staying within your recommended ranges, you can begin looking at your ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, or macronutrients. Low-fat diets were all the rage in the 80s and 90s, when fat was blamed for the excess weight and health problems in the U.S. Now we know that was not accurate, and that healthy fats are actually important and beneficial, causing more low-carbohydrate diets to gain in popularity. Another issue many people have is that they think they are getting enough protien from their diet, when they are not getting anywhere near enough. The truth is that all three macronutrients are needed for your body to function properly, but you also need to find the right balance for your body, especially for weight loss.
Your current weight, as well as your goals should be factored in when figuring out what your macro ratio should be. Below is an example of how your macros can change based on what your goals are:
One of the biggest things that can sabotage a healthy diet plan is sugar. Sugar is high in calories and low in nutrition and is the root cause of the obesity epidemic and most of the chronic disease in the U.S. Investing high amounts of sugar causes heart disease, dementia, cancer, type 2 diabetes, acne, depression, and even infertility and impotence. A lot of people have cravings for sugar, making it difficult to enjoy eating without it. Our brains are hardwired to crave sugar for survival, causing people to actually become addicted to it. You do not need to eliminate sugar completely to lose weight, but you do need to reduce your consumption of it. However, in order to reduce or eliminate cravings, and to have more success with weight loss, you should consider trying to commit to a period of time with zero sugar consumption.
Make sure that you are reading food labels for sugar content. Look out for ingredients that signify added sugar such as molasses, corn syrup or sweetener, sucrose, malt, maltose, dextrose – anything that ends in -ose. It is also a good idea to reduce your sugar intake gradually. Start by cutting the amount of sugar in your recipes by, and reduce what you put in your coffee or tea by a teaspoon or two. Doing this gives your taste buds a chance to adapt without as much of a shock.
Here are some tips on how you can reduce your sugar intake:
Supplementation – Ensure maximum results
Having one or many nutritional imbalances can be a big obstacle for many people who are trying to lose weight. Studies show that nutrient deficiencies are even more widespread than you might think with over 80% of Americans having low Vitamin D levels and 90% of people deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which, among other things, are helpful for controlling blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation. Over 30% of American diets do not have enough nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin E. Additionally, chronic stress can deplete nutrients, including B vitamins.
Oral supplementation can be helpful for starting to help these deficiencies, but it is very difficult to absorb all the nutrients we need from diet and oral supplementation alone. Nutrient therapies that bypass the digestive system, such as IM vitamin injections and IV nutrient therapy treatments, allow you to deliver high levels of nutrients into the blood stream without the loss of absorption and potential side effects that can occur when taken orally. We recommend a combination of these types of treatments with oral supplements to maintain optimal nutrient levels in order to improve overall health, as well as aid in weight loss.
In addition to helping with your basic nutritional needs, many natural compounds and ingredients can help you stave off cravings, speed up your metabolism, increase energy levels, improve your mood, increase your stamina in the gym or even relax you without making you tired. These compounds are completely safe, and they can do an amazing job of supporting your diet and exercise efforts, maximizing your results. These can be found in Lipotropic injections, as well as non-prescription weight loss aids.
Exercise – Lose more fat, prevent muscle loss and energize your body
Exercise has many benefits besides fat loss, including promoting restful sleep, allowing you to digest food better, balancing blood sugar, relieving stress, ridding your body of toxins and balancing hormones. It is recommended that you get at least 40 minutes of exercise 4 times per week, preferably including resistance training. There can be extra benefits to working out in the morning, as it can jump-start your metabolism, as well as balance your brain chemistry, blood sugar, and hormones for the day so you make better choices when it comes to your diet.
When it comes to exercise, everyone must start somewhere. If you do not regularly exercise, you can begin by doing 15-30 minutes of brisk walking – a leisurely walk does not qualify as an exercise in this case because it is important that you raise your heart rate. You can increase your exercise intensity and experiment with other activities as you become stronger. Resistance training is strongly recommended to elevate your heart rate and increase muscle mass. This will be a huge help in your ability to lose weight and increase overall wellness. Strength training has a large impact on your natural hormone levels and body composition, as well as brain function.
For many people, following a specific exercise program can make them more accountable and lead to better success. You can try taking group classes, starting a workout and accountability group or working with a trainer to be sure that you are more likely to stick to your routine and see results from all of your efforts.
Rest/Recovery – Nurture your body so that it can heal itself
Getting adequate sleep is equally as important managing your stress levels while you are working on achieving a healthy weight. Along with contributing to weight gain directly, chronic stress and/or lack of sleep also depletes B vitamins, as well as other nutrients. Your sleep patterns affect how well your body is able to detoxify, repair and heal itself. When you have poor sleep it can increase inflammation, contribute to disease and chronic illness, and can have an affect on your nutritional choices. Many of the things that keep us up at night are the same things that give us stress during the day. If you have trouble falling asleep, consider trying deep-breathing exercises or meditation. Do things regularly to help you physically and mentally relax, like getting a massage, sweating in a sauna, taking a stress-relieving bath, listening to soothing music or reading a book. Simply find anything that you can do on a consistent bases that creates calm and peace of mind. Once you have learned how to relax, it will not only lower your overall stress level, but also can be beneficial in helping you relax when it is time to go to sleep.
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