Weight loss can be a tricky issue and is usually multi-factorial. The methods I use work really well to get people back to their body fat mass set-point. Most weight loss is just a byproduct of healing, solving the underlying malfunctions. For some, simple dietary shifts can dissolve excess weight in a matter of days and weeks. For the more stubborn fat deposits evaluating the function of various systems can help to pinpoint specific sources of disruption that can usually be reconciled.
The most difficult malfunction to repair is an elevated body fat mass set point. Most people should have a healthy lean set-point that they are born with. There may be some genetic predispositions to obesity but it is clear that epigenetic factors play a bigger role in the expression of those genes. Sometimes this expression happens in utero with our mother’s diet and status of her gut flora during delivery, then whether we are breastfed or not. These initial factors can set us up for a weight struggle later in life, raising our biological body fat set-point.
Research has found that this body fat regulation is handled by the hypothalamus (part of the brain), from the inputs of different systems of the body, specifically establishing the body fat set-point of each person. This set-point shifts based on the feedback from the body. On average a female gains 28lbs from the age 18-55 years old. A gradual elevation of the body fat set-point over your lifetime. Things that effect this set-point over time:
Certain modern stressors stimulate a biological defense mechanism, raising this set-point.
Inflammation (not just in the brain, but the gut and peripherally)
Leptin resistance can impair the proper function of the hypothalalmus. When this gauge gets dysregulated it can make weight-loss very difficult.
Hedonic systems- the addiction variable. The level of pleasure available to our palates is far higher than should be or has ever been in human history, affecting our reward and energy regulation systems significantly.
So without addressing this “thermostat” and recalibrating the set-point long term weight loss can be an uphill battle. Identifying and correcting all the factors involved in this dysregulation can be very complex.
Typically I don advise on calorie counting, not that I don’t think total daily calorie intake matters. I think we each do have a daily limit and bodily preference with our set-point but the battle of calories in versus energy output is not a great strategy for weight loss. For longevity I think calorie intake matters significantly.
Identifying the individual mechanisms contributing to your body fat mass and following specific strategies for each concern has been very effective in reducing excess weight. I have found that Focusing on each of these phases of healing, in this order often leads to more weight loss at each step.
1. Diet- Remove Inflammatory Foods
Grains, refined carbs and sugar, conventional dairy, artificial ingredients, GMOs, trans fats, soy and one I want to give a special shout to is Inflammatory vegetable oils:
Sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil,etc …..
These industrial seed oils are overly processed via; high heat (oxidizing the oil), petroleum based solvents (hexane), deodorized (chemical additives= transfat) and then more chemicals for color. They were original designed for use in hand soap and most of these oils were considered toxic waste. Many are derived from Genetically modified crops. They are extremely unstable.
They have a significantly disproportionate ratio of omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) to omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) creating extreme disruption in our fatty acid balance. Leading to excess stores of Omega 6 that is housed in our fat cells. At every consumption the overload can linger in the body for around 150 days. The estimated current burden of omega 6 levels within the average American will take 6 years to correct and rebalance.
The ratio of omega 6 to Omega3 should be 1:1 (like our ancestors ate). Sunflower oil is 40:1, safflower oil is 133:1 and grapeseed oil is 600: 1. This extreme excess is the fast track to chronic inflammation.
These oils are not compatible with our biology making it one of the top culprits for the chronic disease epidemic. The consumption of these “seed oils” is linked to all these conditions: asthma, autoimmune disease, cognitive dysfunction, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, IBS/IBD, infertility, inflammation, macular degeneration, osteoarthritis.
Best oils to use: Extra virgin olive oil (not for cooking), coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, pastured lard-tallow-duck fat.
2. Blood Sugar Balance
Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and glucose preference are all common problems I see in most people I work with. (A long topic for another article).
Strategies I use for balancing blood sugar: Training the body to use fat for fuel (intermittent fasting, reduce carbohydrate intake, increase healthy fat intake). For extreme blood sugar imbalances there is lots of supportive supplements; chromium, berberine, cinnamoin, NAC, gymnema, ALA, inositol, vanadium, l-carnitine, zinc, B’s, Omega 3’s.
Men and women have different responses to blood sugar strategies. Typically women do well with intermittent fasting 16hrs 3x a week and men see results with 15hrs 3x a week. This can be very individual and results best when applied gently to start, check with your doctor or health practitioner on best strategies for yourself.
The master hormone that regulates your body fat index and is directly tied to insulin levels. It measures your body fat mass and signals to the hypothalamus storage levels and energy balance. Either stimulating hunger or satiety. With excess fat from overeating leptin rises signaling to the brain and reducing hunger and increase energy expenditure to get back to setpoint. Same thing happens when body fat levels drop below set point, leptin drops and this signals to the brain to increase hunger and reduce energy expenditure. In obesity there is a constant fluctuation and excessive production of leptin which leads to resistance. More fat cells get produced to manufacturing higher levels of leptin until the message can get through to the hypothalamus.
Certain things that negatively impact leptin levels: fructose, high stress, simple carbs, lack of sleep, high insulin, overeating, grains and lectins. If your struggling with weight loss this likely a problem. Strategies I focus on to help leptin resistance can help significantly in reducing body fat mass:
Remove inflammatory foods especially Omega 6 as it can directly damage neurons in the brain.
Heal the gut and reduce the production of Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which is directly linked to leptin resistance in the brain.
Remove sugar and eat more fat and protein
Get outside in nature
Change how you exercise (HIIT)
Increase omega 3
Balance insulin levels
4. Adrenal Status
The endocrine gland that regulates the fight or flight response (among other things). It affects metabolism, insulin levels and communication with the hypothalamus. It produces many hormones but most famously cortisol and adrenaline. Elevated insulin can stimulate elevated cortisol and Leptin and vice versa, antagonizing each other. Having a healthy stress response and lower stress load can improve adrenal function and reduce this culprit.
Strategies I use:
Sleep and rest (balanced circadian rhythm)
Hydration (with electrolytes)
Adaptogenic herbs (Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola, Schisandra)
Vitamin support (B,C,D)
Deep breathing and mediation
Reduce training load (change exercise)
Consume enough calories, carb cycling and gentle ketosis
5. Metabolism issues
Metabolism issues are often attributed to thyroid dysfunction such as; autoimmunity, toxicity, liver congestion, conversion issues, t3 resistance, hypothalamus feedback disruption, pituitary issues, reverse t3 excess. 80% of women I test have some type of thyroid imbalances
Common Causes: diet (inflammation and sensitivities), deficiencies, toxins, infections (biotoxins, LPS), leaky gut, poor sleep. If untreated can lead to other autoimmune issues, cholesterol imbalances, heart disease, brain problems, kidney problems, neurological damages, metal health disorders.
Common symptoms of thyroid dysfunction; weight gain (#1 for most people)
Strategies I use to support thyroid ; functional testing (conventional tests often miss these imbalances [lack of markers] and conventional ranges are not optimal), reduce toxins (especially fluoride and bromide), reduce stress, thyroid support factors (iodine, tyrosine, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium, omega 3), liver support (supplements and coffee enemas), heal the gut, natural glandular if indicated to lower antibodies and reverse T3 levels.
Everyone I have tested has some type of imbalance. Pathogenic, opportunistic or commensal ranges often out of balance or they have migrated outside of the healthy regions (SIBO). The variety of species we measure in the gut include; Yeast, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Certain gut health markers can help determine pancreatic function, inflammation level, detoxification capacity, immune activity and leakiness. Gastric function and HCL status are often impaired, our first line of defense and initial breakdown of nutrients for proper assimilation.
A very common imbalance I see is an excess of firmicuties. The 2 main phyla (families) of good bacteria we have in our gut comes from either the firmicuties family or the bacteroides family. When these 2 are not balanced and firmicuties is higher its correlated with elevated lipogenesis (fat production) and increased insulin resistance. Most probiotics are bacillus strain (firmicuties) driving this imbalance further.
Strategies I use for healing the gut: The 5 R’s- Remove (pathogens), Replace (digestive support), Re-inoculate (proper probiotics), Repair (gut lining and immune health), Rebalance (sleep, diet, exercise, stress management)
GI detox with Diet and supplements for 45 days; Antimicrobials, digestive enzymes, HCL, bile, immune factors (IGG, Colostrum,) Probiotics (saccromyces and bifido), mucosal repair (l-glutamine, licorice, aloe, quercetin zinc)…
7. Sex Hormone Imbalance
Such as; estrogen dominance, PCOS, estrogen metabolism pathway irregularity (estrone, estradiol, estriol [16-OH-E1, 4-OH-E1, 2-OH-E1]) prolactin elevations (Pituitary signals), poor methylation activity, 5a reductase activity. These issues have become fairly common and can easily contribute to weight struggles. Following the first 6 phases is essential in helping to balance sex hormones before addressing this issue specifically.
Strategies I use: avoid birth control, manage stress, reduce exposure to xenoestrogens, supportive adaptogens (maca is my favorite).
Heavy metals (mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, nickel, iron), glyphosate, pesticides herbicides, chemicals, radiation (EMFs included), pollution etc. These toxins often get stored in fat cells. Detoxification of these burdens is lifelong. Building back some vitality through the other phases of healing helps to prepare the body for safe chelation of this current load. Future article will address this issue in depth. I believe it is THE leading cause of chronic diseases in the 21st century.
9. Pychological and Emotional Support
Stress turns on the biological defense to increase body fat mass. Controlling the hedonic systems and balancing our reward center is important in every phase of healing. In the past pleasurable food was rare and an important craving for survival, to acquire those nutrient dense and tasteful foods. Now scientist manufacture food to be highly rewarding and desired and the availability of this pleasure is endless. Psychologically creating a behavior that reinforces overeating. Over a billion dollars has been spent making food more craveable (ie. MSG). It has now become an addictive relationship with the vicious cycle of signaling from the dopamine and opioid peptides created by these foods and the CB1 (endocannabinoid) receptor stimulation constantly increasing our appetite. Things that alter the dopamine signal have been shown to affect body fat mass and over exposure to high rewarding food leads to dopamine resistance. This could be the original gateway to recreational drug abuse. This reward value is not just in flavor but appearance and marketing techniques, significantly increases our craving and behavior to overeat them. Reducing our consumption of the highly palatable foods especially synthetic versions can significantly reduce this impact.
Weight loss is a byproduct of getting the body back into homeostasis. There are some common dysfunctions that contribute to excess weight, further investigation into these systems can help further weigh loss goals. Over time constant struggles with obesity can elevated our body fat setpoint and lead to a plateau in weight loss, this can be the hardest issue to overcome or correct, these methods can help in lowering the setpoint to some degree, results vary and science is still investigating methods for altering the setpoint without using gastric bypass surgery.
Diet (no grains, reduce all carbs and simple sugars, no inflammatory oils)
Don’t eat after 7pm
Implement intermittent fasting- monitor ketones occasionally
Balancing intake with output
Reduce palatable foods
Carb cycling around workouts
Supplements: Omega 3, specific probiotics (counter to bacillus strains), B complex (methylated whole food source), vitamin D, Vitamin C, iodine, Selenium, tyrosine, zinc, curcumin, enzyme support, maca, GI support, magnesium, activated charcoal.
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