Busting the Myths Surrounding Weight Loss:
Weight loss is a billion dollar industry, so naturally there are more schools of thought than is possible to list. Solutions range from the simplistic to the metaphysical and span every theory in between. One guru will suggest that you work harder to manage your calories while another maintains that increased exercise is the key to burning off the fat. A third may try to convince you that a ‘balanced diet’ is the only sure path to your dream body. We’ve been taught not to ‘deprive’ ourselves, to fear fat as the root of all evil, and that it’s okay to eat large quantities of carbs as long as they’re ‘complex and brown’. Clearly none of these solutions are working, otherwise obesity and diabetes would not be estimated to bankrupt our healthcare system in the near future. Let’s go over each of these common arguments and see where they fall short.
If consumed calories alone determined body weight, how come Joe can eat everything in sight and not gain an ounce, while Molly gains weight if she even looks at food? On the surface, it does not make any sense. If we are to truly understand the varied individual responses to food intake, we must delve into the roles that stress hormones and adrenal fatigue play in relation to weight gain. Different bodies react to stressors in different ways, releasing norepinephrine, the “fight ” hormone, epinephrine the “flight” hormone, or cortisol, the “defeat” hormone (located in the adrenals). Elevated cortisol levels have been tied to obesity, hypertension, hyperglycemia, cravings for fat and sugar, and immune suppression, revealing just how important it is to address and manage stress on a daily basis. Furthermore, as these levels must be evaluated in a laboratory, comprehensive hormone testing is one of the most critical benefits of employing my nutritional program.
No one can argue over the value of exercise in our lives, as it helps us to increase muscle mass, maintain cardiovascular health, increase oxygen and circulation to the brain, and release the happy chemicals that help fight stress.
That being said, I cannot tell you the number of women who walk into my clinic and report that they are working out all day long and hardly eating a thing, yet are still struggling with their weight. Traveling down this road can only bring frustration and despair, because over training and under eating serve to slow down the metabolism. This undermines the stability of the blood sugar, triggers inflammation, and ultimately leads to weight gain as the body braces itself for famine and crisis.
Inflammation is a crucial topic because of how it relates to weight gain. Experts such as acupuncturist Chris Kresser even go so far as to label obesity ‘an autoimmune, inflammatory disorder’. When a person is constantly putting stress on the body through over training, it creates a cycle of inflammation that begins in the gut. The GI tract is where the majority of the body’s defense mechanisms originate. Thus over-exercising causes the very negative results that it is meant to ameliorate.
It is also imperative to note that the kind of exercise one performs can make all the difference when it comes to slimming down. Compound training, rather than strictly cardio-based exercise, is a method of working out that not only burns fat at a higher rate, but also protects the body from inflammation, stress and injury. It is a more organic way of targeting muscle groups that imitates and reinforces the activities we carry out in our daily lives, creating a body that is more resilient, flexible and sturdy.
A Balanced Diet:
By definition, a balanced diet is one in which you neither gain nor lose weight. If this is the case, then we must create an ‘imbalance’ in order to tip the scale up or down. Let’s pretend that in one barrel we have glycogen and sugar, and in another we have fat and muscle. The way the body works is that no matter what kind of carbohydrates you consume, the body will always burn fuel from the sugar barrel before the fat barrel. We therefore must temporarily reduce the content of the sugar barrel by decreasing carbohydrate intake so that the body is forced to burn fat instead of sugar. In my program, we do this by only consuming a combination of lean meats, healthy fats, vegetable sources and protein meal replacements.
You may wonder if straying from the FDA’s food pyramid is a wise idea. I will explain why the typical food pyramid is perpetuating weight gain rather than eliminating it. At the base level lies a band of carbohydrates: grains, starches, pastas, breads and cereals – you name it! As I just mentioned, the body will always burn sugar before it burns fat. Therefore when you bulk up on carbs and then exercise, you are only burning the sugars that you just ate. Now our bodies are hungry again, telling us to replenish our sugar supply, so we run out and eat more carbs. Before we know it we are like rats caught in a maze, aerobicizing our brains out without burning any fat.
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