Weight Loss and Dieting

a woman holding a salad with a measuring tape around her waste

Written by Daniel Wagner BS, MBA, PharmD edited by Dr. Gregory H. Hoeper DC, ISSA, CPT

Obesity: No End in Sight

an overweight man having his waist measured

There is little doubt that obesity and being overweight are serious health problems in America. The prevalence of obesity has increased 65% over the past decade. Currently, it is estimated that 60% of adult Americans are either overweight (defined by having a body mass index [BMI] above 25), or clinically obese, with a BMI exceeding 30.

Overweight individuals have an increased risk of high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, stroke, heart attack, arthritis, asthma, high cholesterol, cataracts, and many other disease states. In addition to the risks that carry a disease name only, overweight individuals experience a decreased quality of life with impaired mobility, low self-esteem, lower energy levels and depression. Fortunately, overweight and obese individuals are treatable and respond favorably to moderate exercise, diet modification, and simple lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of developing or proliferating a serious disease.

Many treatments are currently available for weight loss that make “mega claims” but offer modest results. The ordinary consumer would find it hard to separate fact from the fiction, however there are all the natural products available for weight loss.

Truth: Diets Often Fail

an egg, nuts, avocado and blueberries

The new dietary trend many Americans follow are “ketogenic diets”. These diets promote weight loss through severe dietary restriction, such as high intake of proteins and avoidance of carbohydrates. Individuals who begin these diets often see early success, but fail in the long-term. Most often, this is due to a lack of sustainability. The avoidance of certain foods that may provide a balance in the form of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and micronutrients, including minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids can lead to abnormal cravings.

This approach can be restrictive because of a dieter’s inexperience of how to still provide enough nutrients to maintain optimal levels in the body, while changing dietary habits. A promising alternative mechanism is to selectively limit the caloric consumption of trans-fats as well as simple or refined carbohydrates.

Another problem about dieting that is rarely revealed or discussed in the mass-media: diet plans assume that all or most of us fit into a specific diet type. There are many different factors that can affect your optimal eating plan, such as mitochondrial haplotype, location/local environment, and current immune system status. There have been instances where clients resistant to weight-loss have followed an anti-fungal protocol and lost 12 pounds in the first week! This is why it is so important to be individually evaluate which foods and supplements work best with your body.

How We Metabolize Simple Sugars

strawberries vs. a teaspoon of sugar

One important aspect of our dietary choices is not always that we eat too many carbohydrates and simple sugars, it is that our body does not utilize them efficiently. Every carbohydrate that we eat forces the pancreas to release insulin that breaks down the carbohydrate to simple sugars, which further breaks down into energy. But in many cases, individuals have a decreased ability to properly metabolize sugars and carbohydrates because of poor mineral balance, and stress of the adrenals and/or thyroid glands.

Since one’s energy level is distinctly related to the burning of sugars and carbohydrates, people with impaired ability to properly metabolize sugars are plagued with incessant cravings for these types of foods in order to supply quick energy. These added “empty” calories can certainly add to weight gain. Eliminating these simple sugars in the diet (see chart below) would go a long way to reducing the stress put on the pancreas and its need to secrete insulin

Weight gain may not be just what you eat but directly connected to a balanced mineral level which includes zinc, calcium, magnesium, chromium, potassium, and manganese. These minerals are all necessary for the pancreas to work efficiently. When the pancreas cannot readily convert sugars and carbohydrates into energy the body starts to break down protein into amino acids and sugar. Unburned sugar is converted into fat and weight is gained.

Glycemic Index

different types of pasta

All calories are not created equal and neither are all carbohydrates. The Glycemic Index (GI) was coined to describe the blood sugar response following the ingestion of a standard amount of carbohydrates as measured against a standard test carbohydrate food. The higher the GI, the more insulin is released from the body’s pancreas, and thus a higher risk for weight gain and diabetes and its complications. These higher insulin levels result in weight gain by preferentially directing the body to store glucose (sugar) as fat and inhibit fat breakdown for energy. Thus, the type of carbohydrate eaten is more important than the percent of carbohydrates eaten.

Stress on the Adrenals and Thyroid Glands

Often times, an obese person’s reason for their inability to lose weight is because of their “thyroid gland.”  The thyroid gland is the major gland associated with hormone release (metabolism), energy, sex hormones, body temperature, and digestion. Weight gain can be associated with a sluggish thyroid gland which causes slow oxidation, or slow metabolism. This means that a person “burns” their food at a slower-than-normal rate. This can also lead to constipation.

If the thyroid gland is functionally normally (confirmed by TSH, T3, T4, RT3, and Thyroid antibody exam) and the individual still has weight gain tendencies, then often times the adrenal glands are stressed. The adrenal glands (located above each kidney) are the body’s “flight and fright” gland, that directly relate to how our body relates to “stressors.” Stressors do not just mean the obvious (anxiety, nervousness and depression), but also includes anything that stresses these glands. That could entail pain, infection, disease, allergies, over/under exercise, menopause, grief, chemical exposure, psychological stress, etc. These stressors cause a reduced ability for the adrenals to produce a hormone called cortisol which can lower the body’s defense mechanisms, cause fatigue, and negatively affect the function of the pancreas. Abnormal pancreas activity leads to poor utilization of sugars and weight gain. We all know that stress eating adds calories to our diet. When stressed, depressed or anxious, most people reach for chocolate and ice cream, not celery and carrots.

The Products

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)- a popular dietary aid that works to reduce body fat, increase fat metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity and blocking the development of fat cells. Dosage: 1,000 mg 2-3 times a day.

Garcinia Cambogia- contains hydroxycitric acid that studies have proved inhibits fat formation and reduces appetite.

Fermented Green Foods- excellent sources of usable fiber. Fermented green foods contain needed nutrients that help to stabilize blood sugar, as well as beneficial pro and prebiotics that can positively alter the microbiome.

L-Carnitinean amino acid that has the ability to break up fat deposits and aids in weight loss. Deficient in those who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Green Tea Extracta powerful antioxidant, green tea extract is high in EGCG. It increases the body’s metabolism, or fat-burning capacity. The result is more fat-loss.

Bitter Orange- has been part of weight loss products due to its “ephedrine-like” effect. This product increases metabolism and may burn fat. Dosage: as directed on package.

Rasberry ketonesstructurally close to synephrine and ephedrine. They have shown in some studies to modulate adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate metabolism.

Green Coffee Bean Extract- high in chlorogenic acid, this natural compound has been shown to help reduce fat in obese mice.

Habit Recommendations

Control binge eating. Start by eating 3 meals a day. Make sure you eat a large breakfast high in assimilable proteins from animal sources. Eating a big breakfast will help “late-night binging”. DO NOT try to intermittent fast if you have issues with binge-eating.

Healthy food choices. This may be the biggest change you can make in order to find a more desirable weight. Eat foods with high satiety and nutrient density. The highest nutrient-dense foods come from local produce, grass-fed meats, pastured poultry, and seafood.

Exercise, preferably outdoors. If you are new to exercise, start by taking long walks. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise available. It is WILDLY underrated. If you are looking to build muscle mass, I recommend using the X3 system.

Drink water, spring water. You are 98% water by molecular size! This does not include things in the water like sugar, aspartame, caffeine, Splenda, alcohol, or anything else. Drink half your body weight in ounces a day.

Eat salt. Intakes of 4g of salt a day in the latest PURE study show lowest risks of mortality, as well as food satiety.

Control your circadian rhythm. Use full spectrum light bulbs during the day and red lighting in the evening to ensure your hormones are working optimally. Artificial light at night and devices have been shown to increase insulin resistance as well as risk of developing diabetes.

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