How many times have you been on a diet? Or have you lost count? And my guess is as soon as you stop ‘dieting’ the weight piles back on and more. We are a nation of yo yo dieters, always looking for a quick fix to get results. We want to lose weight just before a holiday, for the summer months so we can bare our bodies, and even before Christmas, or even because we ‘over did it’ at the weekend.
We all have good intentions, ‘I will cut out this’, ‘I will skip breakfast’, ‘I will cut out alcohol’, ‘will eat fat free’, go on this diet or that diet etc etc and then religiously stand on the bathroom scales watching in excitement and disappointment the numbers going up and down on the scales.
Yo-yo dieting really doesn’t work. It will never be the solution to long term weight loss and a healthy body composition or a healthy mind.
Numerous factors can be involved in the ability to lose weight and our ability to keep it off for good.
Stress and the adrenal glands
Stress and the adrenal glands can partly be to blame. When you are under stress, you release the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. Cortisol has a number of effects but can raise blood sugar levels which ultimately raises insulin levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone (meaning it breaks down tissue) and this results in muscle breakdown, which although will make us lighter on the scale, it is the muscle tissue that is metabolically active and helps to burn the calories, hence we need to eat less and less to stay the same weight.
Blood sugar dysregulation
When we consume a high sugar diet or we are under stress, this can result in our blood sugar being out of sync. As already mentioned, cortisol releases glucose into our blood supply which ultimately raises our blood sugar levels and triggers the release of insulin to put the glucose back into storage. Unfortunately, insulin is a fat storage hormone, so ultimately once the cells are full of sugar, it will be stored as fat for long term use. Eating a high sugar diet has the same effect.
Hypothyroidism is linked to weight gain. Symptoms include feeling cold, headaches, constipation, dry skin, poor memory, high cholesterol, low mood. Even if your blood tests come back within the reference range, there can be a degree of subclinical hypothyroidism and often the adrenal glands and thyroid (plus insulin and sex hormones) go hand in hand. Addressing the adrenal glands often supports the health of the thyroid. Often dieting decreases our metabolic threshold and lowers the functioning of the thyroid gland (in case we go into famine – not so likely in todays times!), hence it will promote our bodies to use less energy and more likely to store fat. As a result we will need to eat less and less to stay the same weight.
Lack of nutrients
Overeating can lead you to nutrient deficient diets and also crash dieting can reduce your intake of essential nutrients to support health and a healthy weight. Hormones and neurotransmitters all require nutrients to function optimally.
An imbalanced gut microbiome
Our gut microbiome plays an important role in our ability to maintain a healthy weight. Research has shown that obese Individuals tend to have a different microbiome from lean individuals. 1
Having a food intolerance may also contribute to an inability to lose weight. With a food intolerance, you may become bloated, have more fluid retention and have a low-grade chronic inflammation which is also linked to weight gain.
Poor sleep is linked to high cortisol and this may increase hunger and appetite. We often crave caffeine and sugary foods after a night of poor sleep . As already mentioned, cortisol has a knock-on effect with other hormones and also can increase inflammation which may also contribute to weight gain.
Lack of physical exercise
Exercise burns calories and everyone has good intentions but do not persevere to see the benefits. Exercise is also great for the brain and raises the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline and also our production of endorphins, making us feel good. This also helps with our motivation towards eating healthier. Getting into a good routine will really reap rewards when it comes to weight loss and keeping it off. Cardio exercise is great for burning the calories, but don’t forget to include some resistance exercise to build muscle so that you are more metabolically active and burn more calories. Exercise has the added benefit of leading to a greater physique. And it is false to say that if you are a woman you don’t want to get too muscular – that is very unlikely unless you take up bodybuilding!
Weight loss and nutritional therapy
Nutritional therapy takes into account biochemical individuality and addresses all the body systems involved. We do not have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Seeing a Nutritional Therapist will involve a detailed health history taking into account the genetics, environment and lifestyle factors and how they influence health. The body systems assessed include digestion, absorption, elimination, immune, hormonal and neurotransmitter pathways (communication) and how the body heals and repairs itself, A healthy weight can be achieved by addressing the body systems involved and involves no calorie counting or ‘diet’.
- Crovesy L et al (2020) Profile of the gut microbiota of adults with obesity: a systemic review. Accessed: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-020-0607-6 28th December 2020.
I am a degree qualified BANT and CNHC registered Nutritional Therapist supporting clients with weight loss/management, stress resilience, optimising energy, immune and digestive health and provide nutrition programmes for runners. I am also currently training in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and training at the prestigious Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training Centre. I am registered with the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
Please see www.clarehayesnutrition.co.uk/nutritional-therapy/ of how nutritional therapy can help.