In last week’s column we investigated how hormones affect weight and body composition. We learned that insulin is probably the most important hormone for weight management. After eating high carbohydrate meals the body increases insulin production and stores excess calories as fat. We also learned that optimal production of human growth hormone is essential for increasing lean muscle mass and metabolism. Human growth hormone production is highly dependent on exercise and sleep quality. Finally, we discussed how stress hormones like cortisol lead to mid abdominal fat deposition, muscle breakdown, and sluggish metabolism. In this week’s column we will investigate the most common problems with the most common weight loss plans.
Weight Loss vs. Optimal Health
Many weight loss plans are simply weight loss plans and do not take optimal health into consideration. There can be a big difference between losing weight and becoming healthier. Weight can be lost using harsh dietary changes that actually leads to a less healthy body and promotes rebound weight gain. For example, many diet plans involve extremely low caloric intake or even fasting for extended periods of time. In these types of plans weight can be lost relatively quickly, but we must ask what kind of weight is being lost. Unfortunately, a good portion of the weight lost with these programs is muscle mass, structural tissue, and connective tissue. This decrease in structural tissue often leads to a less healthy body, impairs performance, and even leads to pain.
Successful weight loss programs should have optimal health as a fundamental principle. What is the point of losing weight if too much of that weight is healthy tissue? Good programs must protect and strengthen the body at the same time as promoting fat loss.
Diet vs. Lifestyle
There is a big difference between a diet and a lifestyle change. Many diets involve relatively drastic nutritional changes that are not sustainable over the long term. Diets almost invariably involve doing things for a short period of time that you have no intention of doing later on. A diet does nothing to help you prepare for life after the diet is over. It doesn’t teach you the skills required to shop for groceries, prepare meals and live in balance.
Successful weight loss programs should focus on lifestyle changes that are sustainable in the future. They are not temporary tricks to lose weight but long-term strategies to improve health through nourishment.
Artificial Diets vs. Real Food
Many weight loss plan diets focus on pre-made meals that are very high in artificial sugars, colours, flavours, and other ingredients. These diet plans often neglect real whole food at the expense of their low calorie artificial versions. Artificial diets may help you lose weight in the short term because they are low in calories but they can lead to an increased toxic burden on the body. This may eventually lead to weight gain because as we discussed in earlier articles, toxins are stored in fat.
Successful weight loss programs should be based on real foods that nourish the body. These foods should be as clean and pure as possible in order to promote the body’s natural processes like cellular metabolism, oxygenation, and detoxification.
In next week’s column we will investigate the natural therapies utilized by naturopathic doctors to help patients achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss and improved body composition.