Last month, we talked about how saddling ourselves with stress can dampen our summer fun and increase our risk for disease. If you’ve spent your summer burning with shame at the prospect of wearing a bathing suit, then you are familiar with the stress of weight management. This stress and the restrictive diets it leads to may be making you fat.
Weight Loss Frustration
Men and women alike come to me frustrated with their weight loss goals. They tell me they’ve tried everything under the sun and despite their discipline, they just can’t shed pounds. Oftentimes, I question them about their past efforts and discover that dieting is making them unable to lose weight. Women are especially susceptible to the contradictory effects of restrictive dieting. Focusing solely on losing weight is a narrow perspective. In it, the assumption is that eating fewer calories than you burn will result in weight loss. The calorie’s mentality ignores the complex chemical processes happening within our bodies.
Stress and Weight Gain
You already know that stress sets a series of chemical reactions in motion that lead to disease. These same chemical reactions lead to weight gain even if you restrict your calories. In fact, eating too few calories is a common stressor that contributes to obesity.
You learned last month that stress increases cortisol production and that cortisol has several roles within your body. One of cortisol’s jobs is to increase glucose availability. This glucose provides energy for your cells. Your cells can use it up quickly and it makes sense that your body raids its glucose stores during the flight or fight response.
Stress and Insulin Resistance
Now consider insulin’s role in the body. Insulin helps your cells use the glucose in your blood. When there is not enough insulin or your body is resistant to insulin, your cells are don’t get enough glucose.
But did you know that, in times of long-term stress, your body also increases its production of a group of immune cells called cytokines? Cytokines during chronic stress suppress your body’s ability to use insulin.
To summarize, chronic stress increases glucose levels and impairs your body’s ability to effectively use it. Not only is this the dawning of insulin resistance, it also leads to weight gain. First, unused glucose is stored as fat. No surprise there. But then something interesting happens.
Since your cells are unable to use glucose effectively, your pancreas increases insulin production. The excess insulin triggers your body to increase the activity of lipogenic enzymes.
Lipogenic enzymes are exactly what you don’t want when you are trying to lose weight. These enzymes stockpile fat. They tell your body to store glucose and excess cortisol in your belly.
Stress, whether in the form of restrictive dieting or some other pressure, causes you to gain weight in the place it’s most difficult to take off.
Stubborn Belly Fat
Even as you are restricting your calories to lose weight, your body is sending signals to increase fat storage. This cascade of hormone and enzyme activity does not end with the diet, or even with the resolution of the stressful situation. As the adrenals produce less cortisol, your belly fat has a storehouse of the stress hormone. Once you start losing the belly fat, the cortisol reenters the bloodstream and the fat-storage cycle begins over again.
Chronic stress, even in the form of dieting, changes your metabolism. A 2011 study acknowledged the harmful effects of diets and recommended that doctors reconsider recommending them as a way to lose weight. Click here to view that study.
Stop the Cycle
Shedding pounds successfully requires you to focus on healing, rather than weight loss. Stress, dieting, genetic and environmental factors disrupt your hormones and metabolism. All these factors affect your nutritional needs. The key to healing and weight loss is to eat according to your body’s unique needs, or your metabolic type.
Metabolic typing is not about restricting calories. It’s about providing your body with the food it can use most efficiently. Your metabolic type is determined both by your response to stress and the speed with which your body converts food into energy.
What’s Your Type?
The three metabolic types are Carb, Protein and Mixed types. While there are ways to determine your metabolic type, the easiest is paying attention to how you feel after you eat.
Protein types will generally feel tired and anxious after eating organic, steel cut oats for breakfast. Carb types will have a heavy gut and a craving for sweets after eating organic eggs. Those needing a mixed type diet feel great with a variety of healthy foods in appropriate portions.
The goal of metabolic typing is to provide a “diet” that will leave you feeling satisfied after meals with energy and good mental focus. Feeling great after a meal is a sign that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to regulate hormones and energy production.
If you are ready to determine your metabolic type and start on the path to lasting weight loss and wellness, call us today for a free consultation.
“Keep on Moving”
Luis Ponce Sr.
( 408) 778-5577