I am doing all the right things but I’m not losing weight – why?
Effective weight management is a basic necessity for our long-term well-being. Australians spend over 700 million dollars a year for this purpose, yet we are not seeing the results. Diet restriction and exercise are clearly important factors, but even the most compliant people can struggle to lose or maintain their weight. This can be a disheartening process if other factors are not addressed.
In my experience, effective weight management works best when there is a purpose behind the goal that really serves us, so that when we are changing habits we are doing it in honour of ourselves more than out of discipline. Being hard on ourselves can just make us stress out and release too much cortisol, which literally hangs onto fat. Changing habits (even if challenging at first) on our terms with self-regard or inspiration is more likely to release serotonin and help us to burn fat.
Secondly, fat loss is most effective when we feed our bodies with the most gene-matched foods. Fairly simply, most metabolic research over the last 20 years supports a roughly Paleolithic or ‘hunter-gather’ diet.
This diet feeds our cells adequate protein. Protein boosts metabolism for approximately 3 hours, and by replenishing muscle tissue (which burns fat while we rest!). It moderates carbohydrate (less refined sugars and starch, lower glycaemic index) and focuses on coloured vegetables as the main source. And it feeds our cells essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) which are crucial for transport of fat into or cells’ burning furnace, the mitochondria.
Thirdly, there are several metabolic factors that can impede our weight management success. These can frustrate the most inspired and committed person, thus it is crucial to investigate and address them.
- Stress (our stress hormone cortisol retains fat). This can be on a variety on emotional levels, subtle or otherwise
- Inflammation (releases cortisol) – of any kind
- Thyroid health
- Adrenal health
- Gastrointestinal health – infections (e.g. parasitic and fungal); bacterial balance in the gut (this is clinically proven to alter fat loss)
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Liver detoxification: Environmental toxins and heavy metals
- Female hormones, such as Estrogen metabolism, and polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Male hormone balance
- Mitochondrial function – our cellular ‘battery’ that converts food into energy
Treating our (whole) health has benefits far beyond effective weight management. If you are already changing to a healthier lifestyle for weight management, these initial changes are strategies that I find most effective for fat loss:
- Get enough protein. Research suggests this equates to 1g protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For most people this equates to around a palm size of protein food (eggs, meat, fish, chicken, tofu) three times daily
- Reduce carbs, but keep the right carbs in. This is individual, but generally equates to lots of non-starchy vegetables, and low sugar fruits
- Cleanse your gut wall, and replace bacteria (this is best completed with guidance of a practitioner)
- Check your thyroid function. Ask your Doctor to test TSH (optimal health ranges suggest TSH under 2.5 is best). If your thyroid is well functioning, your average temperature on waking should be 36.6-36.8
- Reduce stress or buffer stress to moderate your cortisol levels. This is underestimated! In my observation, the most clinically effective and researched strategies include therapeutic conversation; meditation; and fish oil supplements
- Get rid of (or at least minimize) caffeine – it’s like drinking a cup of stress. Studies show even 1 cup a day is enough to block effective fat burning in some people
- Cut down alcohol to bare minimum. Alcohol encourages liver storage of food as fat
- Plan your meals. Eat ‘good’ food that you like, and replace one meal at a time with your preferred meal that you actually enjoy. It will eventually crowd out obesogenic foods
- Take the right supplements. You may benefit from extra nutrients that specifically release and burn fat more effectively. The main nutrients that serve cellular metabolism include fish oil, magnesium, B complex vitamins, Coq10 and L-carnitine
If you would like to investigate your metabolic processes, referral for all testing is available at the clinic. If you are interested in the more practical aspects of food planning and weight management, feel free to book for an individualized program.