WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

The idea of weight loss seems to conjure up images of myriad fad diets and philosophies, long hours marching on a treadmill as the calories in and calories out are counted and balanced. The marketing powers have done a great job of convincing us that losing weight is hard work so we will try “their” simple approach

The truth is that weight management is a complex, multifactorial issue. Your body has a particular weight it tries to maintain, like a thermostat seeking a constant temperature. The set point of the “fat thermostat” can be moved up or down according to multiple factors. In particular, the fat thermostat’s set point is influenced by genetics, sleep debt, biological rhythms, meal patterns, food choices (not just caloric intake), stress levels (emotional and physical), and exercise. By lowering your fat thermostat’s set point, your body can become effective at controlling its weight for the rest of your life. The most effective interventions are those that do not cause emotional, physical or nutritional stress.

We believe that an integrated approach to dealing with this condition is the most effective. Including as many variables as possible in our treatment plan is what will yield the greatest results.

Weight management is a complex, multifactorial issue. Your body has a particular weight it tries to maintain, like a thermostat seeking a constant temperature. The set point of the “fat thermostat” can be moved up or down according to multiple factors causing your body to hold on to more or less weight. In particular, the fat thermostat’s set point is influenced by genetics, sleep debt, biological rhythms, meal patterns, food choices (not just caloric intake), food intolerances, stress levels (emotional and physical), and exercise. By optimizing the factors that can lower your “set point”, your body can become effective at controlling its weight for the rest of your life. The most effective interventions are those that reduce emotional, physical or nutritional stress.

The key nutritional areas to address include: Food quality; food intolerances; blood sugar regulation; detoxification; and vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.

Food quality

There are 5 basic concepts regarding food quality including;

  • There is no single food plan (diet) that works for every one.
  • The body does not function based on restriction, calories, or absolute quantities of food. It functions on nourishment. Only when high quality protein (plant and animal), fats (cold water fish, plant, animal), and the nutrients found in vegetables, grains, and other plant foods are consistently delivered to the body will there be a chance to lower the thermostat set point.
  • The body is in a constant state of change, like the seasons, so our nourishment needs are also constantly changing. We must be flexible if we hope to match these needs.
  • You will have to eat everyday for the rest of your life, so the relationship a food plan creates between you and your food choices must be sustainable.
  • Be attached to the results being produced in your body, not any particular “diet” strategy. The acid test for any food plan is the results it produces in your body.

Food intolerances

All food, no matter the quality, has the potential to react negatively with anyone. For example, wheat germ and other grains within the wheat family contain lectins. Wheat germ contains a lectin that binds to receptors on your fat cells and stimulates the creation of fat and also prevents the release of stored fat. Some people are much more sensitive to the effects of wheat than others, but virtually everyone will lose some amount of body fat and experience less bloating (retain less fluid) by eliminating wheat products from their food selections. For women, high quantities of wheat are often even more disruptive than for men because the lectins found in wheat can also disrupt the balance of estrogens that are produced during the menstrual cycle. This can also affect the fat thermostat set point. Removing potential food intolerances is key in many individuals for lowering their fat “set point” and decreasing body fat.

Blood Sugar regulation

It has been estimated that up to 25% of the non-diabetic population does not have optimal control of their blood sugar. Eating high glycemic foods (those that are more rapidly absorbed and raise blood sugar faster) and highly refinedprocessed carbohydrate foods causes surges in your blood sugar and insulin levels. In many individuals body fat accumulation and increased inflammation is just around the corner. Strategies that are directed towards management of blood sugar and insulin control will decrease body fat accumulation and also may potentially impact menstrualhormonalmenopausal symptoms, arthritis and inflammation, slow metabolism (thyroid function), cholesterol levels, plaquing of the arteries, blood pressure, and fertility.

Detoxification

Toxins can come from chemicals and pollution, metabolic byproducts created as a result of medications, low quality foods, compounds created by poor digestion, and lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking. Obese persons have been demonstrated in many cases to have higher organochlorine compounds (chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides) in body fat tissue samples. It is safer to store chemicals in your fat cells rather than brain tissue and the tissue surrounding vital organs, glands, and the immune system. Diluting the fat cells in this case with more fat is the right thing for the body to do—it is protective. Studies have demonstrated that individuals who are on calorie-restricted diets show increased levels of toxic chemicals released from fat cells into the blood. Unless the detoxification system in your liver, bowel and other tissues is supported nutritionally to allow for elimination of these toxins, chemicals released from fat cells can be further disruptive and potentially damaging to the body. People can vary one hundred-fold between each other in their liver’s ability to detoxify chemical compounds from the body. Strategies directed towards improving detoxification of the liver are important for defending less body weight and improved health.

Vitamins, Minerals and other Micronutrients

Vitamins, minerals, and other healthful compounds found in plant foods act to improve the liver’s ability to transform chemicals and other compounds into forms that can be eliminated. Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are the keys that turn on the liver detoxification system. Nutritional detoxification prevents the accumulation of unwanted chemicals in tissues (like fat cells), and facilitates their removal in urine, bile, perspiration, and exhaled air. Strategies that incorporate supplemental minerals, vitamins, and other micronutrients reduce the stored accumulated toxic burden and correct nutrient imbalances and deficiencies that can inhibit detoxification. This can lead to the lowering of the body’s fat thermostat leading to less weight, improved energy, decreased inflammation and joint pain, improved hormonal balance, and many other benefits.

We believe that an integrated nutritional approach when working with weight management issues is the most effective. Including as many variables as possible in our treatment plan is what will yield the greatest results.

A new approach to exercise and weight loss

The idea of weight loss seems to conjure up images of myriad fad diets and philosophies — cut out the carbs, go low fat, eat all the protein you want, or eat foods with a low glycemic index, whatever that means.

If exercise is ever mentioned in the plan, it is usually described as a calorie-burning tool. The epic wars that take place in the battle to burn off excess calories through exercise are, like most wars, destructive, unnecessary, and fraught with propaganda. Unfortunately, the weight-conscious public tends to believe that the way to lose weight is to restrict caloric intake and/or burn it off through exercise. This has led to time and effort wasted as we weigh food, restrict portions, and fill our cupboards with “low cal” products.

Exercise, that blessed relief from the sedentary epidemic, has been reduced to a necessary evil, performed grudgingly as we painfully watch the calorie stats mount.

If we stop to examine the calorie counting strategy, it becomes obvious that the battle is lost from the start. It takes about 12 hours of walking to burn just one pound of fat. To actually maintain a negative calorie balance takes heroic dedication and effort. Most of us may be able to maintain this attrition for a short period, but when you resume regular exercise and eating after one of these bouts of insanity, your body will stock up on extra fat to prepare for the next round. Small wonder most people end up heavier after a temporary attempt at dieting and excessive exercise. The body is retaliating against aggressive dieting and exercise strategies.

Paradoxically, winning the fat war means forgetting there is a war at all. The best fat management lies in a more balanced approach to exercise. It can create a body that evolves as a partner in the weight-loss process, rather than an enemy to despise and deprive.

It is important to realize that your body has a particular weight it tries to maintain, like a thermostat seeking a constant temperature. The set point of the “fat thermostat” can be moved up or down according to multiple factors. In particular, the fat thermostat’s set point is influenced by genetics, sleep debt, biological rhythms, meal patterns, food choices (not just caloric intake), stress levels (emotional and physical), and exercise. By lowering your fat thermostat’s set point, your body can become effective at controlling its weight for the rest of your life.

Appropriate exercise is one of the primary sources of information to the fat thermostat for lowering the set point and it uses two strategies. First, it will increase the resting metabolic rate, which means that you will burn more calories when you’re not active. Second, specific exercise will decrease appetite. This sounds counter intuitive, but it’s important to get the appropriate amount and type of exercise. The old cliché “more is better” doesn’t apply here. Inappropriate or excessive exercise can increase the fat thermostat’s set point. And, that set point will be raised even more if caloric restriction is added to the equation.

With regular and appropriate exercise, your fat thermostat gets the idea that carrying around all this weight is unnecessary and maybe some should be shed. The fat thermostat won’t just start dropping the set point with the first signs of exercise; it needs to know you’re serious, so be patient and keep going. This is a lifetime habit that can be maintained. On average, you can expect to lose 1.5 to 5.5 ounces of fat per week. This doesn’t seem like much, but it can continue for years and will control your weight as long as regular, appropriate exercise continues. Before you conclude you have to spend the rest of your life on a treadmill, however, read on. You may be surprised at how easy it is.

There are three important factors in using exercise for weight loss: How intensely you should exercise, how long, and how often.

Intensity

Exercise can be divided into low-, medium- and high-intensity exercise. Low-intensity exercise includes walking, yoga, Pilates, easy biking and so on. The threshold between low- and medium-intensity depends on whether your body can deliver enough oxygen to your muscles to meet demand.

You can test for this so-called lactate threshold by using the “10-second breath” as a general guide. Breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds through your nose. The breath should be continuous; don’t hold it at the end of inhalation or exhalation. You don’t have to breathe this way while you are exercising, but try it every once and a while. If you can’t maintain this breathing pattern, then you have probably passed from low-intensity exercise to medium-intensity. The level of intensity at which this occurs is different for each person depending on health and fitness. The level increases as you exercise more regularly at low-intensity.

Medium-intensity exercise includes anything that gets you breathing hard, including aerobics, jogging/running, spinning and so on. These types of exercises are good for cardiovascular conditioning, improving performance and other health benefits, but will not convince the fat thermostat to lower its set point. Conversely, medium-intensity exercise will convince the fat thermostat to increase the set point and try to store more fat.

High-intensity exercise includes weight training and short bursts of near-maximum intensity, such as short sprints. This type of exercise increases muscle mass, which helps to increase your metabolic rate when at rest. The ideal combination of exercise for weight loss includes low-intensity and high-intensity exercise.

Duration

The best benefits for weight loss from low-intensity exercise occur if it’s performed at least an hour a day, but it doesn’t have to be continuous. Exercise can occur in shorter spurts, as long as they add up to an hour. So take the stairs, walk to the store, or get off the bus a few stops early — incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

For high-intensity exercise, one repetition per set is all that is necessary to see gains in muscle strength if the set is done to fatigue. So, weight workouts don’t have to consume large portions of your leisure time. Each set should include eight to 12 repetitions with the last repetition achieving total fatigue. Consult a personal trainer to get set up with a strength program that is best suited to your goals and to ensure you’re lifting safely. It’s well worth the investment if you are going to make exercise a part of your daily life.

Frequency

Low-intensity exercise should be performed five to six days per week. High-intensity exercise should be performed a minimum of once per week for each major muscle group, with a minimum of 48 hours rest in between. Try to separate the time between high- and low-intensity workouts because the cumulative effect can be counter-productive.

The all too familiar stereotype of someone leaning on their calorie-burning machine, concentrating solely on the calorie tally, should be erased from the picture of what exercise should be. Focus instead on truly understanding how your body works to enjoy a healthy relationship with it for life. Put down your weapons, take a walk, savour yoga, and enjoy what your body can do.