In America there are many people who are overweight, including many health care professionals. It is not for lack of knowledge. There are several reasons that many of us struggle with weight problems, and I am going to focus on the 7 main reasons:
EATING TOO MUCH
If you’re overweight, it is likely it’s due to a combination of factors. This combination of factors might be causing you to eat too much. I talked about us being overfed and undernourished on my podcast – click to listen. If our bodies think we’re starving because we’re not absorbing nutrients or getting the right nutrients, the the brain is constantly receiving the message that the body needs to be fed. There is no amount of willpower or counting calories that can combat this!
RELATIONSHIP TO FOOD
I have a huge food relationship issue. I grew up in a family where my grandma was my primary caregiver when I was little because my parents were busy working. Food was love for my grandma. She would make pierogies, cookies and other very carb-dense treats. If I didn’t feel good or I had a bad day, I would go and make food with her and we would just sit there and eat. Oftentimes when many of us are bored or sad or happy, we turn to food to comfort us.
On the converse, food rewards are another common food relationship issue. After a long day of hiking or a sports tournament, we feel like we have earned a special treat. In moderation this is not a problem. But when this behavior becomes a habit, it can be detrimental to the waistline.
A lot of us have genetics that program us to overindulge in foods, to snack, or even to be obese or to not know when we’re full. There’s some genetic markers that have us programmed to gain weight back rapidly. Pathway Genomics is the testing that I use in my practice that can detect these genetic markers. If you’ve struggled over many years with your weight ballooning up and down, this could be something that you are predisposed to. It is important to keep this in mind when you’re trying to lose weight and get the body that you always wanted.
Routine is the most important aspect when it comes to addressing the reasons why you might be overweight. By that I mean that some of us have a lack of routine or struggle when our routine changes. We are creatures of habit. We love routines (even if we don’t admit it). If we don’t stick with our routine we end up with chaos. Creating a routine for your food and sticking with it even while you’re on vacation is key. When you combine routine change on top of stress, it is a recipe for disaster and weight gain so that’s why you need to master your routine.
When you’re stressed, by the end of the day you get home and turn into a bear. You’re tired and worked up and need to restore your body in the fastest way possible. So you turn to foods that are calorie dense and usually end up overeating. Establishing a solid routine can help you to avoid the stress and indulgence.
As we age, our mitochondria can start to slow down. These are the little workhorses inside your cells that make energy for you. Some folks have issues getting carbohydrates into their cells or someone might be able to get the carbohydrate into the cell but it can’t go through the cycle to make energy. This is this is the Krebs cycle. This is problematic because a lot of us are eating what we would have consumed when we were teenagers, and now we’re middle aged and it’s giving us problems. The metabolism changes with time and we have different needs.
I’m referring to leaky gut in particular here. Leaky gut is where food molecules are getting into the bloodstream and causing inflammation. We then have issues with not being able to absorb foods and food sensitivities. A lot of us eat the same thing over and over again. We are creatures of habit. You may be on autopilot at the grocery store and buy the same foods every week. You’re just giving your body the same things constantly. It will develop an irritation from that and become inflamed. If you have a lot of processed foods in your diet, this can be particularly worse for you.
Mineral and vitamin deficiencies play a role in the absorption of nutrients from food. Many people are magnesium deficient. Magnesium helps prevent insulin resistance as it helps us to get glucose (sugar) into cells for energy. If you eat too many processed carbohydrates, that eventually turn to sugar in the blood stream, the body gets sick of processing those sugars over time and lets it sit in the bloodstream to be stored as fat later.
The other side of that, which I’m starting to see more commonly in my practice, is that glucose can get into the Krebs cycle. That glucose is then sitting in your cell and gets stored as fat. This is why we see so many people that are overweight. If your body thinks it’s not getting carbohydrates in and you’re not making energy efficiently, the brain is getting a message that it needs to be fed right now. You then crave carbs, and it becomes very difficult to control how much you’re taking in. If you’re not mindful of what’s going in your mouth, you will be eating way more than you should.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
Many people have the urge to jump on a diet bandwagon such as Whole 30, paleo, or keto in order to lose weight. I do not recommend that you jump into something without addressing these underlying issues. While you’re on the diet, you might lose weight, but what happens after that? You need to address this holistically as a lifestyle change.
In my practice I will typically start patients out on a particular food plan that best suits their individual situation, get their macronutrients figured out, and go from there.
LAB WORK MAY HELP YOU UNDERSTAND BETTER WHY YOU ARE OVERWEIGHT
I highly recommend having labs done to know the status of your metabolism. How well you digest your food to how well you get those nutrients into cells is crucial. To obtain this key information I recommend the NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics. Alternatively you could also have an organic acids test by Great Plains Labs that will give you a lot of good information to improve your digestion and metabolism.
Another factor that I take into consideration about being overweight is the possibility of having food sensitivities causing systemic inflammation. I use the company, Alcat, predominately for food sensitivity testing.
Genetic testing tells you where you’re at and what risk factors you might have for particular diseases. I also recommend stool testing for patients that suspect celiac or chronic diarrhea as interfering with their digestion and metabolism. It is so important to figure out what is irritating the gut. Once we take that into account then we adjust the protein, fat, and carbohydrates based on what is right for your body.
DO THE WORK
Maintaining a healthy weight is a lot of work! That is why health care providers and even fitness gurus struggle with this just as much as the average person. Calories do matter and it doesn’t matter the type of diet you are following you have to pay attention to the calories.
Movement matters just as much as calories. Muscle mass is also hugely important. You cannot expect to maintain weight effectively if you don’t build up some muscle mass. I’m not saying you’ve got to get in the gym and do power lifting. You do need to work on building a little muscle mass. There are plenty of ways to do this outside of weightlifting such as walking with weights or body weight exercises.
STOP THE EXCUSES
I want people to get results. For that to happen, the excuses have to stop. If you fall off your routine or meal plan, just account for it. Do not quit. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not an all or nothing situation. If you address the underlying issues and devote yourself to keeping a routine, the weight will come off and you will be able to keep it off.
The big take away from this blog is that setting a routine is the best thing you can do for yourself. I want to give you a sense of hope, that there are ways to adjust your lifestyle to get the body you want. There are solutions to all of the obstacles that might be keeping you from it. You just have to put some time and effort into it for yourself.
This blog is a summary of my podcast on the same topic. Listen to my podcast episode on the same topic now!