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Winning the weight-loss battle

by Cecilia Ho on in Health Issues

Winning the weight-loss battle

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about weight loss?  “Eat less and work-out.” Most people know that the basic science of weight loss is about input and output. In order to lose weight you need to create a deficit of the calories in and out, and the only way to do that is through diet and exercise.  There is no magic pill.  

However, like many things in life, weight loss is not that straight forward. There are many other factors that can play a role in weight management.  If you are eating healthy and have a regular exercise routine and still struggling with your weight then maybe its time to take at look factors that could be hindering your metabolism. 

Sleep

Did you know that not getting enough sleep can make people eat more and gain weight? Recent studies shows that sleep deprivation, even for just one night, causes chemical changes that affect the brain’s ability to perceiving hunger and satiety. 

The two hormones that are keys in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and leptin is the hormone that tells you when to stop. When you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin and more ghrelin.

So make sure you get enough zzz’s! If you suffer from insomnia check out our article for natural tips for better sleep.

Stress

Many factors can cause people to gather more fat around their mid-section, and stress is definitely one of them. When you are stressed your brain signals your adrenal gland (your stress response organ) to initiate the flight or fight response and release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.  These days many of us live under chronic stress and our body is in this constant flight-or-fight mode – meaning constant stimulation from cortisol. Cortisol signals your body to store fat vs burn fat.

In particular, cortisol signals your body to store fat around the midgut.  The reason fat packs in the middle is because it is close to the liver and digestive organs where it can quickly be converted back into energy in times of stress.  Cortisol not only makes your body store fat, it also creates cravings and increases appetite to ensure you have lots of fuel to respond to the stress.  

Because cortisol increases due to stress, you have to combine diet with stress management to reduce excess belly fat from cortisol. Proper stress management will be an important factor in helping you beat the bulge.  Make sure you make time for “me time”, to relax and de-stress. Exercise, meditation and journaling are great ways to help manage stress. Learn to say ‘no’ and set healthy boundaries for yourself.  

Thyroid and Hormones

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. Its job is to secrete thyroid hormones which are involved in the regulation of metabolism (the rate at which we burn our calories). Having an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) can lead to weight gain and make it difficult for you to lose weight. Have your healthcare practitioner check your thyroid function if you are struggling with weight – it could be the missing link. 

Low-Fat Products and Diet Sodas

You think you are being healthy and even doing your waistline a favour by choosing a diet soda or low-fat yogurt over regular, but the truth is that you are actually hurting your waistline!  

Research shows that artificial sweeteners can cause you to eat more. Artificial sugar disrupts the body’s natural ability to regulate calories. When your taste buds taste artificial sugar it believes the body is receiving sugar. When your body doesn’t actually receive the calories, it craves more food. This can cause weight gain over time. On top of it all, scientists have pegged sugar substitutes as harmful chemicals that have also been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes to name a few. More reasons to ditch the “diet” sodas. 

Another misleading term to look out for is “low-fat ”.   Low-fat foods are promoted as healthier options, however, a closer look and you’ll find that they often contain the same calorie count and more sugar than their full-fat equivalents.

Cutting out diet sodas and low-fat products may be tough, but if you have been struggling with weight it could be one of the factors hindering your weight loss. 

Battling the bulge can be a daunting challenge as so many factors can be involved.  It isn’t just about calories in and out. Talk to your healthcare practitioner if you have been struggling with your weight to see if any other factors are at play and how you can best target them. 

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