The type of food you eat and exercise you do is critical to weight loss, but equally important is how your body is functioning. Lasting weight loss is not about adopting "the" diet, or the best "fat-burning" workout, and in fact most people that abide by strict diets often put the weight right back on. Weight loss is often seen as a battle, or a struggle, but it doesn't have to be.
Read on to find out how Naturopathic Doctors work with your body to achieve weight loss, not against it.
1. Stabilize your Blood Sugar
When we eat, our body converts carbohydrates into glucose, our main source of energy. In order to get this glucose out of our bloodstream and into our cells where it can be used for energy, our pancreas releases insulin, which acts as a glucose transporter. Insulin tells our body that we have plenty of glucose for energy, so we can hold onto our fat. Foods high in simple carbohydrates will spike blood sugar quickly, and cause a subsequent insulin surge, leaving our cells full of glucose, but our blood levels of glucose low. Low blood sugar makes us feel cranky, hungry and lethargic. So we eat more carbohydrates to feel better. Welcome to the vicious cycle of blood sugar imbalance and weight gain. Protein, fiber and healthy fats such as fish, nuts and avocados, help to stabilize blood sugar, so include them at every meal and your body will learn to let go of its precious fat stores.
2. Stress Management
Cortisol is another hormone involved in weight gain, and is released during times of stress. Stress causes a spike in cortisol which increases our blood pressure and heart rate, while also increasing our blood sugar levels, and therefore insulin levels - telling our body, once again, that it is time to store fat. This is not problematic in the short term when we are preparing to run away from a bear, but our lives are full of long term chronic stress from our job, family, relationships, kids, finances etc. As a result, cortisol keeps pumping from our adrenal glands, and our body does everything it can to hold onto that valuable fat. Proper stress management involves incorporating such things as regular exercise, meditation, yoga, adequate sleep, acupuncture and proper breathing techniques to name a few.
3. Balance hormones
In addition to insulin and cortisol, thyroid hormones are largely responsible for metabolism, and the thyroid gland can be underactive in many people. Symptoms of underactive thyroid include weight gain, dry hair and skin, lethargy and fatigue. Additionally, fluctuations in our sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) can all contribute to stubborn weight gain.
Naturopathic Doctors ensure your hormones are at an optimal level, which varies from person to person. All of the hormones in your body communicate with one another, so it is critical to ensure they are all working effectively, to enable the best conditions for weight loss.
4. Identify Food Sensitivities
Typical North American diets as well as our lifestyle and increased use of antibiotics affects the microbial balance in our gut. The abundance of unhealthy gut flora damages the gut lining, which allows partially digested food particles to enter the bloodstream, a condition known as leaky gut. The immune system reacts to these food particles in the bloodstream, leading to systemic inflammation in the body, weight gain and disruption in hormone balancing. The most common food intolerances are wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and corn. Naturopathic Doctors will help identify your food sensitivities, improve the balance of helpful gut bacteria, and promote healthy digestion.
5. Learn to Love Moving
Exercise is important for regulating your mood, hormones and metabolism, as well as preventing many diseases. Exercise is about more than spending an hour in the gym, healthier people just move more, and enjoy doing so. Remember - any movement is better than nothing - benefits in blood sugar control and weight loss are seen by merely walking 10 minutes, 3 times a day. Naturopathic Doctors can help identify and remove barriers limiting physical activity and provide motivation for initiating an exercise program. Incorporating exercise into your daily life may be difficult initially, but becomes easier and more enjoyable every day you stick with it, so start today – we’re here to help you!