Weight Loss Naturally
Approximately one third of Americans are obese which is defined over 20 percent above ideal body weight. Almost 25 percent of teenagers are obese. This is a trend that seems to be growing in the western world. When you go into a bookstore and investigate the weight loss section there are so many choices of exercise books, diet books, and theories behind being overweight that it is almost overwhelming trying to even decide which books are worth reading! Different books completely contradict each other and all seem to be written by experts or doctors. So who is right? Low fat or high fat? Low carbohydrate or high carbohydrate? Low or high protein? With so many choices many people just try to starve the weight off with a low calorie diet for a while, eventually become discouraged, stop dieting, begin normal eating again and gain back any lost weight plus some more! I hope in this short discussion to touch on several ideas that will help expand awareness of reasons behind weight gain.
If I were to try to lose weight...
Dysbiosis is a medical term for infections in the digestive tract, usually overgrowths of yeast or mold organisms, parasites, or certain bacteria. Although this problem sounds exotic it is extremely common and is the number one condition that I treat in my clinic. A person with infections in the digestive tract is usually suffering with multiple health complaints, among them being overweight. It is difficult for people with intestinal infections to lose weight by dieting or exercising because these infections can affect the metabolism with their toxins. Other side effects of dysbiosis are moodiness and depression, fatigue, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, skin rashes, mental confusion, food allergies, chemical sensitivities, PMS, attention disorders, and other disorders. At our clinic we do screening procedures on all patients for dysbiosis and if necessary prescribe appropriate antimicrobial compounds. Occasionally patients lose weight without even trying after infections are cleared out. Since infections in the digestive tract cause so many health problems people often have multiple symptoms clear up such as weight loss plus headache resolution, weight loss plus increased energy, or weight loss plus skin rashes clearing up.
Food allergies can cause imbalances in the metabolism and lead to obesity. Food allergies, just like infections, can have multiple symptoms and cause many problems with a person's health. Food allergies need to be identified first with quality testing. After identifying food allergies (usually 2 or 3 foods are the culprits) then a 3 week avoidance needs to be done for these food allergies. At the same time patients need to be desensitized to their allergy-causing foods with special techniques using the acupuncture system. Often food allergies and dysbiosis go hand-in-hand. When infections are cleared up people often lose their sensitivities to certain foods. (By-the-way, airborne allergies often clear up when the digestive tract and liver function are treated.) At our clinic we test for up to 300 different food sensitivities, supervise 3 week dietary changes, and desensitize patients to allergies. Just like with dysbiosis, when patients avoid certain foods their energy often skyrockets as well as shed unwanted pounds. I find that certain foods lead to mood changes, weight gain, lowered energy, autoimmune disorders, frequent infections due to lowered immune system function, headaches, PMS, and diarrhea.
Most books on the subject of weight loss agree that several small meals throughout the day are far superior to 2 or 3 large meals. When meals are more frequent and smaller they promote a feeling of satiety or fullness. You never allow yourself to become REALLY hungry and want to eat everything in sight. Several small meals throughout the day promote stable blood sugar levels without wild swings in insulin. It is recommended that each small meal contain a small to moderate amount of protein. If eating 5 small meals is challenging (it is for most people) I would encourage you to eat 3 healthy meals and have 2 meal-replacement shakes from Thorne Research that are easy to make and drink. These meal replacement shakes are hypo-allergenic, have the most bioavailable minerals and vitamins, and are excellent support for patients trying to lose weight and/or detoxify. There are other meal-replacement shakes out there but I feel that Thorne is the best. You may want to visit Thorne's website at www.thorne.com.
Water for weight loss? Yes! Water promotes weight loss through several mechanisms. Often people mistake thirst for hunger. If you are drinking plenty of water then there is no chance for this to happen. Water promotes detoxification and encourages healthy bowel movements. If we are not drinking enough water then there is a tendency to suffer from constipation. I encourage people to try to drink 1 quart of water every 4 hours for an adult. A very large adult may drink even more, children less. 1 quart every 4 hours keeps you drinking at a steady pace and keeps you properly hydrated. You may want to read a good book on the role of water titled "Your Body's Many Cries for Water" found at most bookstores.
Aerobic exercise can be a powerful tool for weight loss. Aerobic exercise burns calories from fat stores and also tends to raise the basal metabolism which burns calories for us even when we are resting. For aerobic exercise to be done correctly you must get your heart rate to a certain level but not let it go past a certain point. I recommend someone wanting to incorporate aerobic exercise into their weight-loss program to purchase a heart-rate monitor. A heart-rate monitor allows us to easily watch our heart rate and adjust our exercise intensity if it drops too low or goes too high. A rule of thumb for heart rates to lose weight is to subtract your age from 180. This number would be your MAXIMUM heart rate. If you have been seriously ill in the last year you would subtract another 5 points from this maximum number also. When exercising try to get close to this maximum rate but do not exercise at an intensity that gets your heart beating faster than this number. As crazy as it sounds, in the beginning most people feel that they are not exercising hard enough! They feel that they must suffer to burn calories. This is not true! When people exercise faster than their maximum heart rate they begin to burn sugar as fuel and not fat. When this happens you cannot sustain the exercise for long and fat-loss benefits are minimized. When aerobic exercise is properly done you burn fat, minimize injuries, promote heart health, promote healthy deep breathing, move the lymphatic system which detoxifies us, and feel fantastic! I recommend that people incorporate aerobic exercise into their daily lives. We feel better when we move and exercise. I recommend aerobic exercise sessions last from 20 to 40 minutes and to exercise 3 to 7 times per week.
Resistance training, training with weights, or going to the gym- whatever you want to call it... it is very helpful for weight loss! Resistance training strengthens our muscles, tendons, and bones. When our muscles are challenged with lifting or pushing machines or free-weights they grow after we rest from this. We sculpt our bodies and have a pleasing shape with time. It is our muscles that give us our curves and help us look good. Both men and women benefit from strength training. Although strength training does not usually burn calories from fat while we are exercising (it is an anaerobic exercise) it promotes fat loss by increasing our metabolism. I feel that most people don't just want fat loss- they also want to look great. Strength training gives us a pleasant shape which helps us look great. Properly trained muscles help us have good posture. Strength training has been shown to increase bone density which helps prevent bone fractures and fight off osteoporosis.
The pancreas is an organ that has a dual role of helping us to digest our food and also manufacturing insulin. Insulin levels regulate our ability to pull sugars into our cells from the blood stream. When insulin levels are very high they stimulate sugars being changed into fat and stored in our bodies. If you are trying to lose weight then it is important not to let your insulin levels get too high. How can you do that? Avoid sugar. Sugar and other sweeteners such as honey promote high insulin levels. Some fruits and vegetables promote rather high insulin levels also. To better understand which foods have an unfavorable effect on our insulin levels you need to get a book that lists foods' GLYCEMIC INDEX RATING. This rating system helps you identify which foods tend to promote high insulin levels and in turn promote fat storage. As a doctor I sometimes test for and treat pancreatic disorders with nutritional medicine to promote optimal function of the pancreas. You need to have a healthy pancreas and you need to eat correctly so that it produces the proper levels of insulin. These two things will greatly aid in fat loss. Unfortunately today people tend to paint fat as the enemy and ignore the fattening effects of sugar. In France people eat much more fats and oils than people in America but a fraction of the sugar. French people are on average much less fat than Americans, too. We can learn from this!
At times people can be overweight from toxins! Toxic metals such as mercury, lead, aluminum, nickel, and others are found at increasing levels in our environment, our water, our air, our foods, and things that touch our skin. For people who are overweight toxins are often stored in the fat cells or are affecting organs that control our metabolism such as the pituitary or thyroid glands. Some patients just cannot seem to lose weight no matter what they try- and they try very hard with diets and exercise without cheating on "fattening" foods. If that is the case then toxic metals may be a part of the problem. When a substantial level of toxins are stored in fat cells the body may prevent fat loss in order to prevent release of toxins back into circulation in the body. Your body doesn't want to release poisons into your bloodstream again! It worked so hard to store these toxins in out of the way places like fat. I find that with these people often the detoxification pathways through the kidneys and especially the LIVER need to be supported. Often the liver is under functioning or diseased. Before detoxification can begin we often need to gently support rebuilding the liver and assisting it to be able to detoxify when necessary. This means nutritional medicine for the liver is necessary. We may do this for several months before we implement detoxifying. When the liver seems to be strong again we begin a slow and steady detoxification plan and many times patients report weight loss without trying! This is because the body was using fat cells as toxic storage sites! When the toxins begin leaving the body then there is no need for toxic storage sites and fat loss can follow.
The pituitary gland and the thyroid gland both affect our metabolism. The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones and these control our metabolism. The pituitary controls the thyroid function. So if there are problems with either one of these glands you can have low levels of thyroid hormones. If there are metabolic problems with one or both of these glands then I often treat these disorders with support from nutritional medicine and try to identify possible irritants such as food allergies, toxins, or a lack of vital minerals or amino acids. When we find and treat the correct problem people report a rise in energy, a loss of headaches, WEIGHT LOSS, improved hair texture, improved skin tone, more muscle mass, and increase in sexuality, and feel cold less frequently.
Sometimes weight gain or trouble losing weight can stem from emotional reasons. People can sometimes substitute food for love and affection. People who don't know how to reward themselves in other ways give themselves a pat on the back with food after a hard day's work. Some people may have hidden emotional reasons for not wanting to be slender. There may be some emotional benefits to being overweight. Some people may just be so afraid of change that they prefer the comfort of being overweight and slightly discontent to the "terror" of a new way of life. If this is the case I recommend that all people read Bob Schwartz's book "Diets Still Don't Work." Bob Schwartz talks about our emotional reasons that sabotage our desire to lose weight. This book is absolutely phenomenal and I woul recommend it to everyone. It may be beneficial to talk with an emotional counselor or therapist to help with weight loss issues or fears. The emotional aspects of weight loss may be the most important of all. If we don't want to lose weight then we never will!
Occasionally people may be overweight due to a lack in the diet of a needed nutrient. I don't recommend weight loss formulas that are unhealthy. The health of my patients comes first. I never recommend any weight loss formula that contains ephedra which is very hard on the adrenal glands. I usually test patients for nutrient needs and support with specific individualized protocols. Some supplements that seem to help patients improve in health and normalize weight have been additional organic iodine, tyrosine, L-carnitine, essential fatty acids, 5-hydroxy tryptophan, chromium, vanadium, and others.
I do not promote taking nutritional medicine to promote "fat loss." Instead I focus on the goal of getting healthy and supplying our bodies with what they want to feel good and function well. This brings about weight loss. I think that obesity or weight gain is a symptom of an underlying problem. Weight gain should not be thought of as a problem but rather as a symptom of something else. When the underlying problem is corrected then weight loss follows.
If I can be of service please call our office for a free initial consultation to discuss your needs and situation with me, Dr. Lewis Cone.