It’s January again and weight loss may be on your mind. Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolution we make. Many people make the resolution to lose weight repeatedly throughout the year. This can become a depressing cycle of trying one diet or weight loss program, one after the other, hoping for that secret combination of factors that will finally result in success. 

Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions

  • Lose weight. 
  • Exercise more. 
  • Get organized.
  • Learn a new skill or hobby.
  • Live life to the fullest.
  • Save more money / spend less money.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.

https://www.goskills.com/Soft-Skills/Resources/Top-10-new-years-resolutions

Google weight loss searches…

So many people are looking for weight loss answers, here is a list of the most common searches on Google when I typed in “weight loss” 

  • Weight loss pills
  • Weight loss tips 
  • Weight loss diet 
  • Weigh loss calculator 
  • Weight loss programs 
  • Weight loss foods 
  • Weight loss meals 
  • Weight loss plan 

There is not a diet or program that will work for everyone. If this were true, there would be one diet, or one exercise program and we could all follow it and see the same results. There is no magic pill or “tip” or diet or foods that will work for everyone. For most people who struggle to lose weight, there is no shortcut. If often requires some investigation and discovering the factors that are making weight loss difficult or even impossible. 

Maybe you have a friend or family member who succeeded with a particular diet, but you tried it and nothing happened. Or maybe you know someone who only needed to start a simple exercise program and saw incredible results. Obviously the way their body works is not how yours works! 

You have the plant-based diet, ketogenic diets Mediterranean diet, Paleo diet, Volumetrics diet, DASH diet, vegan diet…

https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g29462611/best-diets-weight-loss/

All of these have worked for countless people, yet they are all based on different dietary philosophies and physiological mechanisms. Low fat, high fat, low calorie, fasting, low carb, “healthy” carb, food combinations, portion control…on and on. 

There is not a single method for losing weight because we are all different. You may be male or female, you may be in your 20s or your 50s, you may be extremely overweight or just need to lose a few pounds, you might be taking medications that interfere with weight loss, you maybe be under a lot of stress…I could just keep listing factors that you may or may not be dealing with. Yet, all of these and many more can have an impact on your ability to lose weight and keep it off. 

This is when the help of a functional medicine doctor can be helpful. They can help you identify the barriers you are running up against that prevent successful weight loss. From a functional medicine perspective, I have listed below some of the most common reasons I have found with my patients that make weight loss difficult and in some cases impossible. Imbalances or dysfunction in these areas can significantly affect your ability to lose weight and keep it off…

Most common barriers to weight loss…functional medicine 

  • Chronic inflammation in the body / consuming foods that lead to inflammation in the body. This includes food sensitivities and allergies. 
  • Immune system/autoimmunity…which also leads to increased inflammation.
  • Thyroid gland and Hashimoto’s disease. 
  • Digestive system…leaky gut, SIBO, yeast overgrowth, etc. 
  • Elevated insulin and or blood sugar.
  • Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone imbalances. 
  • Poor detoxification. 

Many times, the diet we have been following is contributing to the problems listed above and weight gain or inability to lose weight is just another layer of dysfunction of a body that is struggling to function properly. 

It is my opinion that the best combination for successful weight loss is eating foods that work well with your body and physical activity…exercise. Most people will not be able to “out-exercise” a bad diet. So proper diet comes first and is supported by physical activity. 

Can you really “boost metabolism?” 

First of all, what is “metabolism” anyway? Here is how the Mayo Clinic defines it: 

“Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.”

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508#:~:text=Metabolism%20is%20the%20process%20by,your%20body%20needs%20to%20function 

Metabolism is the process of taking our food and drink and turning into energy. So where does metabolism occur in your body? It occurs in the cells of your body and inside these cells you have many small structures called mitochondria. We also call them the “powerhouse” of the cell 

Mitochondria! The mitochondria in your body came from your mother, not your father. 

Anything that changes the number of mitochondria in your cells or how effectively they make energy will have an impact on your metabolism. 

Get more mitochondria! 

Exercise is how you create more mitochondria. When you place a greater demand for energy production on your muscles, more mitochondria will be produced to meet this demand. This is the only way to actually increase the number of mitochondria in your body, supplements and diet changes will not increase the number of mitochondria. 

Improve mitochondria function! 

Exercise can increase the number of mitochondria and how well they function, but there are 2 other main factors that will influence how well your mitochondria will take the food you eat and turn it into energy, instead of storing that food/energy as fat. Chronic inflammation and nutrient deficiencies will reduce mitochondrial function in your cells. 

Chronic inflammation 

Chronic inflammation reduces the health of mitochondria and how well they function. As their efficiency and proper function declines they cause even more inflammation. This becomes a vicious cycle of inflammation leading to reducing metabolism and reduced metabolism leading to more inflammation. Ultimately leading to weight gain and damage to cells and tissues of the body. 

“Extensive research over the past decade has revealed that continued mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn may mediate most chronic diseases, including rheumatoid, cardiovascular, neurological, or metabolic diseases.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567724913000044#:~:text=Extensive%20research%20over%20the%20past,%2C%20neurological%2C%20or%20metabolic%20diseases

Key nutrients for metabolism 

Your mitochondria also require key nutrients to function properly…which means they take the food efficiently turn it into energy (increasing your metabolism) and not creating increase inflammation, cell damage and decreased metabolism. 

The most important nutrient for optimal mitochondrial function and metabolism are: 

  • Vitamin B1, B3 and B3
  • Cysteine or glutathione 
  • CoQ10 
  • Carnitine
  • Magnesium 
  • Manganese 
  • Iron 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684129/

“Metabolism Boosters” 

Metabolism “boosters” are usually some form of stimulant. Stimulants DO NOT increase your metabolism. They interfere with mitochondrial function, through increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Stimulants may cause you to eat less, and you may then lose weight for that reason, but the long-term effect of stimulants is increased oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial damage and ultimately decreased energy production/metabolism. So there are not “magic pills” for weight loss and in the long run will only lead to further metabolic dysfunction. 

Summary 

If you are having problems losing weight, there are underlying factors that must be identified and addressed. What works for someone else may or may not work for you. This is when the help of a functional medicine doctor may be necessary. 

If what you are doing is not working, you need to take a different approach. You can keep trying different diets, supplements and exercise programs or you can collect data and facts about the current state of your body and unique physiology and use this data to create a fact-based plan to achieve your goals. 

You can guess or you can test and find out. Functional medicine is based in testing, facts, and objective data. This information is then used to create a unique plan for the individual. 

The purpose of functional medicine is: 

Understanding how the body works, knowing how and where to investigate health issues, knowing what to look for, understanding the significance of what is found and creating a plan of action to reverse and correct the root cause the health problems.

My wish for you…health, happiness and a better quality of life! 

If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com

Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations. 

This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. This article is for information purposes and is not a substitute professional healthcare services. Contact our office for more information.