A Functional Medicine take on Weight Loss
Have a resolution this year? January is here and it’s the perfect time to think about your health! We may resolve to eat less, exercise more, cut out the sugar, add in the veggies—for many of us, all of that comes down to the issue of weight.
Being overweight is not just a matter of how we look. Obesity and its underlying causes are associated with cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer and just about any disease you can think of. Despite that there is no shortage of weight loss centers, programs or books, obesity rates continue to climb. These programs may recommend reducing calories, reducing dietary fat, eating specific foods or increasing physical activity. The problem with most weight loss programs, however, is that they take a one-size-fits-all approach. By failing to address the underlying cause of inability to lose weight, you are extremely likely to gain back the weight (plus more) once the program ends.
A functional approach to weight loss seeks to discover and reverse underlying causes that are hindering your ability to lose weight. Some of the most common issues we see and address include:
1. Thyroid disorder. Your thyroid is responsible for regulating your body’s metabolic rate, so an under active thyroid can lead to weight gain or inability to lose weight. It is very important to get a full thyroid panel. By only looking at one or two tests such as TSH as is the norm, you will not get the full picture and may not receive the proper diagnosis.
2. Sex hormone imbalances. Not only can imbalances in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone cause inability to lose weight in and of themselves, but they can also lead to poor sleep and decreased muscle mass which also contribute to weight issues.
3. Unmanaged stress. Not only can stress cause us to make poor food choices that lead to weight gain, but when your body is in a constant state of stress, your cortisol levels may go up and stay up consistently. This often leads to weight gain or weight loss plateau.
4. Inadequate sleep. One of the most common issues we see is difficulty sleeping. Inadequate sleep can have a profound impact on weight management not to mention contributing to other diseases such as hypertension and metabolic syndrome.
5. Toxins. We are exposed to so many chemicals in today’s society that can impact our endocrine system and lead to hormone imbalances and inability to lose weight. If weight loss is your goal, it is important to identify and minimize exposure to these hormone disruptors and to learn how to optimize your body’s natural detoxification pathways.
In addition to identifying underlying causes that may be hindering weight loss, a functional approach focuses heavily on nutrition. This means making sure that you are eliminating junk and processed foods and eating only real, whole food. The quality of food you eat is just as important as quantity. Many of the things we eat can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a very big player in weight gain and inability to lose weight. This also includes identifying food sensitivities through a comprehensive elimination diet. You may not know that a sensitivity to even a healthy food (eggs or almonds, for example) can trigger an inflammatory response in your body that will hinder weight loss.
Perhaps you are already eating a “clean,” anti-inflammatory diet that is right for you but you are still not seeing the results you would like. With a functional approach you can optimize your weight loss even further!
· If you have ruled out all the underlying causes and you are still not where you want to be, you may simply be eating too many calories. Even though the food is healthy, excess calories can lead to weight gain. Try using an app on your phone such as My Fitness Pal to track calories in and calories burned, just until you get an idea of what you are taking in each day.
· Find the right ratio of Carbs, Fat and Protein. If you find that you are eating an appropriate amount of calories, it may be that your ratio of carbs, fat and protein are off. While it is true that carbs can cause unwanted blood sugar spikes and fat is higher in calories than protein, all of them are necessary for your body to function properly. You just need to find the right balance.
We know how frustrating it is to repeatedly try and fail to achieve and maintain weight loss. If this is the case for you, a functional approach is just what you need to put you on the road to success. Maybe you’ve tried multiple diet and exercise programs and failed. Or perhaps you have seen a keto diet work for a friend but it does nothing for you. Paleo? Counting calories? Intermittent fasting? Eliminate the confusion and consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in addition to a Functional Medicine practitioner to help you fine tune your eating habits to find what is optimal for you.
For more information or t o learn more about taking control of your weight and overall health, please call us at 850.269.9000