How diet foods prevent weight loss and cause obesity

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For decades the diet industry has conned consumers into thinking good diet products are low in fat. This led to a boon in creation of low-fat, high-carbohydrate, and often high-sugar “diet” products that promote fat storage, prevent fat burning, increase cravings, and raise inflammation. Not only can diet foods make you fatter, they can also make you sicker.

Yet another new study shows low-fat diet foods lead to obesity. Rats given high-sugar, low-fat foods that mimic many diet products not only got fatter than the control rats, they also experienced liver damage and brain inflammation.

The sad thing about this study is that the low-fat rats didn’t eat more calories. They consumed the same amount of calories as their counterparts that were fed a balanced diet yet they still ended the study fatter and sicker.

Liver and brain damage from low-fat, high-sugar

The excess fat accumulated around the rats’ livers was similar to the liver damage caused by heavy alcohol use. This study and others similar to it show that brain-inflammation from the high-sugar, low-fat diet also impaired function of the vagus nerve. This is a nerve that runs between the brain and the gut and is vital to both healthy brain and gut function.

Diet foods skew hunger and satiety hormones

The impacts on the vagus nerve and the brain also alter hormone signaling around hunger and satiety. This explains why people on high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diets often feel hungry all the time despite how much they eat.

Dieting signals the body to store fat

The hormones that control hunger and satiety also play a role in fat burning and fat storage. When this system is dysregulated due to a high-sugar diet, this prompts the body to favor fat storing over fat burning.

The best way to reverse this process is to fuel the body with a lower carbohydrate diet that is adequate in proteins and fat, and abundant in vegetables. How many carbohydrates a person needs to consume depends on many factors and varies from person to person. Ask my office for advice.

Dieting makes the body efficient at fat storage

Add a low-calorie diet to the poor performance of mainstream diet products and you have a recipe for lifelong super-powered fat storing abilities. This means a person has to consume fewer and fewer calories simply to avoid gaining weight.

This was best evidenced among former contestants of the popular TV show The Biggest Loser  Although contestants lost weight through a stringent regime of low-calorie dieting and intensive exercise, most contestants piled the weight back on after the show ended. They also had to consume 500–800 fewer calories below maintenance calories simply to avoid gaining weight. This is because the extreme dieting and exercise, though effective, had lowered their resting metabolic rate so that they were burning fewer calories each day compared to before participating in the show.

How to lose weight and stay healthy?

Often people lose weight simply by following a diet that lowers inflammation and removes foods to which they are intolerant, and by stabilizing blood sugar, repairing leaky gut, and addressing chronic inflammation. By focusing on a vegetable-dominant diet you also increase the proportion of gut bacteria that promote fat burning over fat storage.

The key is to gradually switch yourself over to a life-long way of eating you enjoy because it makes you feel better.

For more information on healthy weight loss, contact my office.

Can’t lose weight? Look at underlying health issues

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Do you keep trying weight loss diets but can’t seem to drop the pounds? Are you instead exhausted and frustrated by an ever growing layer of fat?

Calorie-restricted diets have been popular for decades as a way to lose weight, but clearly more is at play as many people under eat and still can’t lose weight or keep it off.

If you’re doing everything right and the fat isn’t budging, the culprit may lie in underlying health issues slowing metabolism and blocking fat burning.

Feast or famine? Dieting slows metabolism for years

For most of human history, life vacillated between feast or famine, with plenty of bouts of famine. The human body body has smart coping mechanisms to get us through hungry times — lowered metabolism and increased fat-storage hormones.

As far as the body is concerned, a low-calorie diet is a famine and it employs the same measures to save you from starving. As a result, each low-calorie diet can add weight in the end when you resume normal caloric intake.

This dieting-caused metabolic slow-down can last for years. The phenomenon was recently documented in participants from the The Biggest Loser reality TV show. Six years after participating, contestants’ metabolic set point was below what it was when they started. They burn up to 800 fewer calories per day! After all that hard work, most of them returned to their pre-show weight and have to under eat in order to prevent weight gain.

Dieting disrupts key hunger hormones

Conversely, if you have a history of overeating or eating too much sugar, you may suffer from leptin resistance, which hinders fat burning.

Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite, satiety — that feeling of being full and satisfied — and whether your body burns or stores fat. A diet is high in starches and sugars causes frequent swings in blood sugar. This leads to chronic insulin surges, which, in turn, cause cellular resistance to leptin. With leptin resistance, you’re constantly hungry and you store fat.

Lowering intake of processed carbohydrates and exercising regularly help sensitize the cells to leptin so your hunger cues and fat burning abilities return to normal.

Underlying health issues hinder weight loss

For most people, weight loss is not as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Sometimes inflammation and other metabolic factors can be a driving factor behind the inability to lose weight.

Many people are surprised to find unwanted pounds drop away when they follow an anti-inflammatory diet. These nutrient-dense diets void of inflammatory triggers are used to manage pain, digestive problems, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression  anxiety, and other health issues.

Why do they work? Excess weight can be a symptom of underlying health imbalances that slow metabolism and block weight loss. Systemic inflammation, leptin resistance, hormonal imbalances, stress, leaky gut, blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, and hypothyroidism are examples of factors that block weight loss.

How do autoimmune protocols and diets fit in?

The autoimmune diet and protocols are effective for people suffering from various chronic illnesses. Anti-inflammatory in nature, special attention is given to gut health and food reactivity.

While highly effective for many in not only managing autoimmunity but also dropping unwanted pounds, sometimes people take these diets to low-calorie extremes. Even if you’re eating healthy foods and avoiding the inflammatory ones, it’s still important not to starve the body and trigger the famine response that holds onto fat.

In fact, increasing healthy fats, protein, and nutrient-dense foods encourages the body to drop pounds. Meeting your nutritional needs, providing healthy sources of fat to remind the body it’s not a time of famine, and enough protein to keep blood sugar stable are key for helping the body increase its metabolic rate and drop extra weight.

Functional medicine has effective ways in working with underlying health issues that hinder weight loss.