How was your festive season? We really hope you had an enjoyable and somewhat indulgent time! Everything in moderation though and as the new year embarks upon us many of us think about our New Year’s resolutions, plans and goals for the year ahead.
When looking at the New Year’s Resolution statistics for 2017, the number one answer was to lose weight and eat healthier. Wow, that’s encouraging to know that so many people have the desire to make this change. However, how many of you have attempted this change only to find the weight still isn’t shifting? This can be disheartening and demotivating.
Weight loss can be complex and is different for each individual, therefore a tailored plan with a practitioner is the most effective way to go. Factors such as toxic overload, thyroid or reproductive hormone imbalance, inflammation, insulin signalling disturbances, mitochondrial or energy dysfunction, acidity, decreased muscle mass and metabolic rate, stress, neurotransmitter imbalance, emotions, inadequate sleep and of course your current diet, exercise and lifestyle can all impact your ability to lose weight. Wow, that sounds overwhelming! Don’t despair, your practitioner is equipped with appropriate tools to investigate your situation, support, encourage and get you well on your way to feeling better.
Although the term ‘weight loss’ is often bantered around, the healthiest approach is actually to aim for ‘fat’ loss. What you see on the scales alone is not always reflective of your actual health. More thorough testing of body composition can provide results on your fat, muscle and fluid status, which can all offer valuable information when analysing your condition and developing the most appropriate treatment protocol. As you can see with the examples above, other testing focussed on your hormonal status, gut or inflammation may also be appropriate.
In terms of the dietary side of fat loss, both clinical outcomes and scientific trials have proven carbohydrate controlled diets provide beneficial results. When a high carbohydrate diet is consumed the body increases blood glucose levels which will be stored as fat if not used for energy. On the flipside, consuming a reduced carbohydrate diet can lead to the body’s metabolism shifting from the use of glucose as a primary fuel to that of fatty acids for energy. The consumption of adequate protein is also a primary focus for diet as it helps to increase satiety, control insulin, increase thermogenesis and energy expenditure and increase lean muscle mass. There are also additional cardiovascular benefits gained from low carbohydrate, high protein diets such as reduced trigycerides and improved cholesterol pictures.
The prevalence of obesity and cardiometabolic disorders is rampant in Western society and one major reason is the abundance and easy access to Western comforts. If we are hungry there is always fast food available, we can even stay seated, order it on our phones and have it delivered and if we are cold we can turn on the heating with a press of a button. This has created an anabolic sedentary society. Naturally however, our bodies go through their own rhythms with cycles of ups and downs. Our ancestors would have had times of growth and times of breakdown due to availability of food supply, temperature extremes and the need to execute intense exercise for such events as hunting for food. Short term stressors such as calorie restriction, high intensity exercise and being exposed to extreme coldness for short periods can actually provide a beneficial metabolic effect on the body.
When exposed to these stressors, our bodies activate an enzyme which triggers an adaptive response in order to boost energy in our cells. These responses include prompting glucose and fat burning, activating the mitochondria in cells for energy and reducing inflammation. When addressing fat loss in our day and age, it therefore makes sense to mimic what our ancestors went through and incorporate actions which help to trigger this response. Some of these include low carbohydrate diets, high intensity interval training and the use of certain herbal and nutritional supplements.
Starting your journey towards fat loss and feeling healthier can be very motivating once you have the right tools and information from which to tailor your approach. We aim to use appropriate testing and case taking in order to provide you with the most suitable diet, lifestyle and supplement advice to make this journey easier. So, if you have joined the many who’s New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier and lose some fat then we are here to support you.
Naturopathic Practitioner Amanda O’Dwyer