Doesn’t that sound good? Because weight loss can depend on your metabolic style and type and relevant medical conditions more than simply on your diet, weight loss is rarely about eating less and exercising more
Helen, a 40-year-old lady, had a distressing history of childhood stress and abuse. Her father passed away in her teenage years, and she had been exposed to further physical and emotional abuse from her boyfriend.
She presented with chronic fatigue and progressive weight gain; she ate a diet high in sugar and processed carbs but low in fruit and vegetables. She was sleeping badly and felt unrefreshed in the morning. She pursued low physical activity, given her lethargy, and because she was busy and overwhelmed most of the time.
She had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and had her gallbladder removed with multiple gallstones. Her BMI was 32 (obesity range), and her waist-hip ratio was high at 0.97.
Helen healed gradually on a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. She has adequate restful sleep. She has increased her physical activity. She has been supported with counselling and plenty of NLP and hypnotherapy.
However, she remained weight loss resistant, and interestingly, her continuous glucose monitor (CGM) showed sugar spikes following low-calorie veggies like broccoli, celery, and cucumber. You can discover the solution to her problems at the end of this blog.
I find it hard to ask people to diet. Hearing the word diet, their hearts sink. But losing weight without dieting grabs your attention. In this blog, I will share my clinical experience to help you lose weight without trying. This is based on the holistic weight management model, which enables us to understand the three main culprits of weight gain – simple overeating, genuine metabolism problems and pure medical conditions.
Why do people want to lose weight?
People want to look attractive, healthy, fit, and happy. An obvious example would be ladies wanting to lose weight before their wedding. Being a healthy weight also generates confidence and nurtures a positive body image, boosting self-esteem. We consider that obesity shows poor self-control and laziness.
Athletes want to keep their ideal body weight to compete and win. People also recognise that a healthy weight means good energy levels. Many people want to lose weight to help their joints, as excess weight leads to wear and tear and arthritis.
A healthy weight also reduces the risk of disease since obesity is the gateway to many metabolic diseases, as it promotes inflammation and weakens your immune system. Lowering your body weight by 10% reduces your disease risk by 40%!
Obesity is also associated with sleep apnoea, which lowers the duration and quality of sleep.
Losing weight helps reduce the number of medications you take – for example, a 5% loss reduces your high blood pressure medications.
Conventional weight loss strategy
This asks people to eat less and exercise more. But this strategy results in 97.9% failure for two reasons.
Firstly, eating less slows your metabolism, so you burn fewer calories, and more calories are stored as fat. Secondly, excessive and high-intensity exercise may stress your body, encouraging you to eat energy-dense, palatable food. We are all too familiar with young people running as fast as possible, with the race usually ending in the local pub!
You often need to eat more and exercise less to stay calm, alert and fully motivated.
Your metabolism style and type
Different people run different metabolisms. If you understand what style and type of metabolism you have, you have a better chance of losing weight. There are four styles of metabolism – stable, efficient, inefficient, and adaptive. (The three types are described below.)
Those with a stable metabolism gain or lose weight by increasing or reducing their calorie intake. They do present with weight problems when they overeat. Stable metabolisms can be categorised into two groups.
Those who overeat healthy food remain healthy despite having a high BMI because they store fat under the skin, and subcutaneous fat is healthy. The other metabolic parameters like blood pressure, insulin levels, Hb A1C and cholesterol levels stay within the normal range in this group. They need to understand their metabolism and advising them to reduce their overeating will help them to lose weight easily.
The other overeating group eat the wrong ultra-processed Western food. They end up having visceral (belly) fat – an accumulation of fat within or around abdominal organs, which is abnormal and starts metabolic derangement. This can progress from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease to other end of the continuum, which includes dementia, heart disease, stroke and even cancer. The solution is to change the quality of food, not the quantity. Ditch energy-dense and adopt nutrient-dense food. You may also need supplements.
Efficient metabolism is characterised by a tendency to conserve calories, burn fewer, and store the rest as fat. This makes people prone to weight gain and obesity.
On the other hand, inefficient metabolism tends to burn more calories due to hyperactivity and high energy costs per activity. For example, if an activity costs an efficient metabolism 50 calories, it costs an inefficient metabolism 75 calories. The biggest challenge here is gaining weight.
The last style is adaptive metabolism, where the body weight stays within a narrow range with increased or decreased calorie intake. It is flexible and switches between the efficient style during calorie restriction and inefficient with overeating. These people do not have weight problems.
There are also three metabolism body types. Again, which is yours?
Ectomorphs are usually thin people with a small body frame and narrow shoulders. They have inefficient metabolisms with a high tendency to waste and spend calories. Being hyperactive, fidgety, and with high energy burn, they tend to be underweight.
Mesomorphs have a strong, athletic body with broad shoulders and a good response to exercise. They build large muscles quickly with exercise but also tend to store calories as fat. They benefit from cutting back on their carb intake and exercising regularly.
The third type, endomorphs, I regularly see in the Clinic. These guys have large, round bodies with belly fat, thick arms, and legs. Their efficient metabolism makes more energy from fewer calories, and adding a sedentary lifestyle conserves more calories and stores them as fat. They are weight loss resistant. They must make a significant calorie cut (at least one-third of their daily intake) before losing weight.
Again, it is not dieting. It’s more about understanding your metabolism style and acting on it. This will help you understand the basis of your weight problem and what you can do about it.
The third factor to explore – alongside your eating and metabolism style and type – is any medical condition that could impact your weight. Let us consider thyroid over- and underactivity and body toxicity.
The thyroid hormone in your body is like the accelerator pedal in your car. With an overactive thyroid, you run a fast metabolism, meaning you lose weight despite a good appetite.
The opposite happens when your thyroid becomes underactive. Your metabolism slows down, and you accumulate fat. These patients need two things – thyroxine to replace the normal thyroid gland hormone – and to find out why they became underactive in the first place.
Body toxicity causes weight gain in two ways. Toxins catch on to the energy wheel (tricarboxylic acid cycle) and slow down the chemical reactions that make energy (ATP) – this leads to burning fewer calories and storing more as fat. The other effect is that toxins are generally stored in fat, so your body must make more fat to store them.
In summary, your obesity and weight gain could be related to simple overfeeding and re-adjusting your food intake may be all that you need to do. It could also be due to a genuine metabolism problem, and knowing your metabolism style and type would help you to overcome this issue. It can also be due to a medical condition requiring proper medical attention to resolve.
You should focus on burning fat rather than lean muscle mass to lose weight. The best way is to trade fat for muscle. A combination of intermittent fasting and low-carb intake would deplete your sugar reserve. In this case, the body will have no option but to burn fat.
The key to managing obesity is to lower the fat-storage hormone insulin. This will involve changing the quality of your diet, adopting mother nature’s real food, and moving away from an ultra-processed Western diet.
The second trick is to reduce the number of times you eat meals or snacks. Every time you eat, your body makes an insulin response, which adds up to a very high insulin level. High insulin does not allow you to lose a single gram of fat. So, lowering insulin levels is the key to that weight loss process.
How does fibre help weight loss?
Fibre is a powerful natural appetite suppressant. The Western diet contains <15 grams of fibre daily; we should aim for more than 30 grams. Cavemen ate more than 100g daily, while modern food processing removes fibre and nutrients.
Fibre slows your digestion and makes you feel full for longer, so you eat less. Fibre also slows sugar and fat absorption and controls sugar and insulin spikes.
Rich sources of soluble fibre include oatmeal, beans, flaxseed, sunflower seed, hazelnuts, Brussels sprouts, avocado, sweet potatoes, broccoli, peppers, carrots, apples, and figs.
Other considerations in your weight loss journey include micronutrients and reducing stress, the details of which you can find in my other blogs.
What about Helen?
The secret behind Helen’s weight loss resistance and high sugar spikes: she ate healthy food, but too often. Having multiple meals and snacks every day gave her multiple insulin responses, adding up to raising her insulin. The high-fat storage hormone insulin did not allow her to lose weight.
Helen went on a 16/8 intermittent fasting diet, having 2 to 3 meals a day without snacking, and she started losing weight and comfortably moving towards her weight loss goal.
So, my friends, you can perhaps lose weight without trying – or at least it may not be as painful as drastically reducing your calorie intake and increasing your exercise levels. It may be about your diet, but it could depend on a little more knowledge of your metabolic style or type; it could also be remedied by a comparatively simple medical intervention to correct thyroid or toxicity issues.
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Listen to the holistic weight management plan on this YouTube video: How to Lose Weight Without Dieting