Weight as a Sign of Other Conditions
Some people think that losing weight is just about the number of calories taken in and the amount used up by exercise. So they say that the important thing is just to push away from the dinner table. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality there are numerous conditions that make it difficult to lose weight and it is important to address all of those.
High Insulin: Growing up in this country involves being exposed to a lot of candy and sugar. This causes one to develop insulin insensitivity where the body has been used to high levels of insulin and develops a tolerance to high insulin levels. This high insulin level tends to cause weight gain. Metformin is a medication for diabetes but is now touted as an “anti-aging drug” as it lowers insulin. There is also a new weight loss drug called Saxenda that is also used for diabetes and helps to lower insulin.
PCOS: Lot of women have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) where female hormone instead of being released from the ovary accumulate as a cyst and the progesterone gets converted to testosterone. Progesterone counteracts the weight gain effects of estrogen so not having this hormone causes “estrogen dominance” which makes it difficult to lose weight. Adjusting hormones make it easier to lose weight.
Testosterone: Because we are surrounded by a lot of chemicals in our environment that are like estrogens, men can often run low testosterone levels. This low testosterone causes men to become couch potatoes, lose muscle mass, have low sex drive and Erectile Dysfunction. Adjusting these levels can make it easier to lose weight.
Menopause: Starting even in the 30s, lot of women can have declining hormone levels that tend to make it easier to gain weight. Adjusting hormones can make it easier to lose weight.
Stress and Anxiety: When we are stressed and anxious we tend to gain weight for two reasons. The first being that high stress causes cortisol to be high and that causes weight gain. The other being that many of us are stress eaters where we eat to relieve our stress. Some anti anxiety medications such as Wellbutrin are now used for weight loss as helping people feel better make it easier to lose weight.
Bowel Flora: The bacteria that we have in our gut can help us or hurt us. There was a recent study done where bowel flora from obese adults was put into rats and the rats ended up becoming obese. Yogurt has different bacteria that are beneficial for us so eating this regularly is a good idea but taking a probiotic pill also helps. Use organic chicken that has not been given antibiotics as we can indirectly get antibiotics from the chicken we eat. These antibiotics kill the good bacteria in our gut.
Cravings and Food addiction: Many of us have cravings and can even have food addiction. Some of the cravings can be from yeast overgrowth in our gut which likes sugar and makes us crave sugar. Eliminating yeast from the gut can help with these cravings. Contrave is a newer medication that helps with cravings and food addiction.
Thyroid: Many people can have subtle thyroid abnormalities that make it difficult to lose weight. It is important to not just check TSH but to also check T3 and T4 as many people have trouble converting the inactive T4 to the active T3. Medications like Armour thyroid can sometimes be better than levothyroxine as they contain the active thyroid hormone T3 in addition to the inactive T4 in levothyroxine.
Inflammation: Just like a car burns gasoline and produces fumes, we produce oxidative free radicals when we burn food for energy If we do not get enough antioxidants or have other conditions that do not allow us to reduce these oxidative free radicals, we tend to get weight gain. Inflammation causes damage to the body and tends to tell the fat cells to store up for a difficult period. Reducing inflammation by having more antioxidants helps to make it easier to lose weight.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your weight is due to poor control on diet alone. There are many other things that make it difficult to lose weight.