A Functional Medicine Approach to Weight Loss


True or False?

Weight loss is an easy equation. If you eat fewer calories than you use, you lose weight.

The answer, unfortunately, is not necessarily black or white. There is a lot of grey area when it comes to weight loss and this is why so many continue to fail at their weight loss attempts. There are many patients who eat a very low-calorie diet and still cannot seem to shed the unwanted kilograms.

 

 

What Could Be Go Wrong?

  • Adrenal Dysfunction. If one is chronically stressed or has an underlying chronic condition, chances are that the adrenal glands are over-worked and not functioning optimally. This can cause bloating throughout the body (also known as the adrenal bloat). The dysregulation of cortisol (the main hormone produced when we are stressed) within the body could cause blood sugar imbalances leading to weight loss resistance.

  • Thyroid Problems. Thyroid dysregulation can also cause one’s inability to lose weight as thyroid hormones are the ignition of the energy-production process. If a person does not produce enough thyroid hormones or the thyroid hormones are not getting into the cells, this person will also have trouble losing weight.

  • Estrogen Dominance. This is a condition that is associated with many chronic conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), that is not conducive to losing weight. Having too much estrogen compared to other hormones within the body means that certain detoxification pathways are not working optimally to clear any excess estrogen from the body. These detoxification pathways need to be addressed in order to reverse this issue and to get the scale to ultimately move in the right direction.

  • Sluggish liver. The liver has many functions. It is not only our main detoxification organ, it is also an endocrine and blood sugar regulator. This is why people with insulin resistance often have a difficult time losing weight. It is because the liver is not working optimally to regulate blood sugar within the body.

  • Total toxic burden. This term refers to the burden the body takes on from constantly having to deal with too many toxins circulating within it. If there are too many toxins stored in the fat cells (where toxins usually like to reside), the body slows the fat loss process in an attempt to decrease the number of toxins that would flood into the blood. This is the precise reason why many people complain about feeling very ill after losing a lot of weight quickly.

  • Food intolerances. Just because you do not have an obvious allergic reaction to certain foods does not mean that certain foods do not bother you. They can still cause low-grade inflammation in your body. This low-grade inflammation sets the stage for weight loss resistance as the immune system is too busy dealing with the inflammation to think about weight loss.

  • Low diversity of the microbiome. There is significant research today that shows us that people who have a more diverse microbiome, meaning that they have many types of good probiotics in their gut, also have an easier time losing weight. People who do not have as many good bacteria are more likely to be overweight or obese.

 

There are more reasons why someone may have a more difficult time losing weight, but these are some of the main triggers to weight loss resistance.

 

 

What Can You Do Today to Help You on Your Journey to Slimmer You?

  • Decrease the stress in your life. Strange that we didn’t begin with food, right? Not really. Increased stress decreases the optimal functioning of our digestive tract as well as the hormonal signalling needed to tell us when we are hungry and when we are not. Therefore, working on this first and foremost is key to help us to lose weight. Make sure to implement deep breathing exercises throughout the day, to partake in activities that make you happy and fill your spirit, to avoid or change our reaction to toxic people, or to work with a coach who can help you to prioritize your life so that it does not seem so overwhelming.

  • Sleep better. Sleeping 7-8 quality hours every evening is a very important part of weight loss. Sleeping helps to balance the adrenal glands and to optimize our hunger and satiety hormones. It is recommended to sleep by about 10:30 pm and to wake around 7 am to help our hormones function optimally.

  • Check for any hormonal imbalances. To check for adrenal dysfunction, you can try a 6-point saliva test to understand how your cortisol levels are behaving throughout the day. This will help you and your health practitioner to understand which interventions can help you to balance your cortisol levels. A general list of adaptogenic herbs you can use to regulate the adrenals are ashwagandha, Rhodiola, licorice, and phosphatidylserine. Work with your functional medicine practitioner or naturopath to help you to decide which ones work best for you. To do a full hormonal panel, we recommend the Dutch Test, which is a dried urine sample that gives insight into cortisol levels, sex hormone levels, and detoxification pathways of these hormones.

  • Clean out your cupboards. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a very powerful tool. If you have junk in your pantry, there is a high likelihood of you reaching for it. Therefore, simply get rid of all the junk in the house as a way to keep it out of your body.

  • Increase your fibre intake. In order to increase the good bacteria in the gut, it is important to feed them! How do we do this? By slowly adding 9 cups of fruits and vegetables to your diet daily. (More vegetables than fruits). This will help to feed the good guys in your gut to work for you and to get to your weight loss goals. You should get 35-50 grams of fibre daily to achieve this.

  • Add probiotics to your diet. You can supplement to do this, but eating fermented foods (if you do not have bloating issues) is the best way to go. Try some sauerkraut or fermented vegetables as well as kombucha or coconut water kefir.

  • Eat good fats and protein to help with satiety. Add avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins from organic meat, chicken, fish, and eggs to help you to stay full. Remember to add a colourful salad or roasted vegetables to accompany your proteins and fats.

  • Eliminate Inflammatory Foods. Try eliminating known inflammation-causing foods like gluten, wheat, conventional dairy, sugar, and white-refined flours. You may not necessarily need to stay completely gluten and dairy-free for a lifetime but trying an elimination diet in which you remove the suspected foods and then reintroduce them can help you to understand if you have a food intolerance that is adding to your weight.

  • You do not necessarily need to be eating every 3-4 hours. This is a tip that most dietitians give, however it does not apply to those who do not have blood sugar issues. In fact, if you have insulin resistance or a hard time losing weight, it is recommended to leave about 5 hours between meals to allow the intestines and the liver a chance to rest and repair. Trying some intermittent fasting, or allowing a 12-16 hour break between dinner and breakfast has helped many to lose weight and to detoxify at the same time. However, it is not for everyone and should be discussed with your nutritionist or health practitioner before beginning.

  • Stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime. This window allows for the proper time for digestion without disrupting sleep.

  • Find ways to replace instead of avoiding. Instead of store-bought ice cream, make ice cream with frozen bananas and cacao. Instead of crisps, make some kale crisps with salt, olive oil, and herbs. Instead of a milkshake, have a smoothie with greens, berries, and coconut milk. There are many ways to have your cake and eat it too. In other words, you do not have to deprive yourself of your favourite foods or taste. All you have to do is think about nutrient density instead of calories.

 

Weight loss definitely can be a difficult journey as many focus too much on the destination. The trick is to make small, daily, and sustainable changes that will allow you to change your lifestyle and your life overall. Enjoy the journey and allow weight loss to be a nice side effect.

 

 

For more information on Neomed’s weight loss programme, or to book a session, please use the form below to contact us.



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