Yes, that’s right! Being overweight is not the problem, it is a symptom.
Common belief is that being overweight is the problem and using energy in / energy out by reducing calories and increasing exercise will solve the problem and improve your health. This is not a sustainable solution and is likely to lead to lower vitality more health issues and later weight gain.
Being overweight is a visible symptom and is therefore associated as the cause of poor health and many ailments like type 2 diabetes and auto-immune diseases are often encountered without being overweight, especially those who are very active.
Being overweight is a symptom of poor lifestyle choices of nutrition, stress, white light (screens) and a lack of exercise. Many other ailments are generally consequences of the same but can happen independently, without the excessive weight.
So what is the problem you ask? Hormones and poor gut health are the problems to solve.
Hormones are a essentially chemicals released in the body to signal responses to situations and scenarios, both real and perceived.
The gut health is essential to absorb nutrients and also to keep toxins in the digestive system, out of the rest of the body.
Insulin and Glucagon
Simply put, insulin is created when blood sugar is high, glucagon is created when blood sugar is low. When insulin is high, glucagon is low.
Insulin signals the body to process glycogen and store energy, glucagon signals the body to use fat for fuel.
Key message, if you constantly consume excessive carbohydrates keeping your blood sugar high you will remain in a fat storage state and never enter a fat burn state. You need to periodise carbs, between meals, optional fasting days.
Note I say periodise carbs not calories! For most two thirds of calories are used to sustain life, that’s breathing, digesting and thinking. Cutting calories will see your body save energy by slowing metabolism before it burns fat! To perodise we need to keep calories up by consuming more non starchy vegetables and health fats to keep calories up. Protein should not be used to prop up calories and the body will convert excessive protein to glycogen.
Cortisol is a stress hormone which is created when we encounter physical, emotional or perceived stress. Cortisol effectively puts us in a fight or flight state and encourages the use of glycogen over fat. Imbalances in cortisol has many impacts essentially in the case of prolonged stress which can lead to adrenal fatigue (another subject for another blog!).
Gut health is essential to health living. It is essentially a system which uses bacteria to break down food to nutrients which can be absorbed as vitamins, minerals and macro nutrient. Without a diverse range of bacteria or a rich diversity of food intake, our energy and health will be compromised.
Poor choice of food which irritate the gut can also lead to poor health as they can lead to a “leaky gut” where bacteria and toxins escape our digestive system and simply poison us. Common symptoms include constant headaches, unexplained aches and pains, bloating. Leaky gut has been identified as a cause for many auto-immune illnesses.
- Avoid excessive and constant carbohydrate, especially processed simple carbs!
- Avoid or minimise food which are known irritants of gut distress like processed sugar, grain flour, dairy if lactose intolerant.
- Ensure regular intake of pre and probiotics to assist in building healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Periodise carbs by having periods (daily, weekly and monthly) when glucagon is created and your body can burn fat. If you have not done this before it may take a couple of weeks before your body re-learns to burn fat efficiently.
- Ensure you have calm periods in your life to regulate cortisol, again daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Limit white light (Screen time) especially in the lead-up to sleep.
- Embrace good stress leading to learning and growth, avoid bad stress related to “what if”, worry and uncontrollables. Be at cause, not at effect!
- Participate in a sustainable exercise regime at a minimum of 2.5 hours per week. Ensure 80% of this exercise is at aerobic intensity, at a heart rate of 180 – you age or at a level where you can breath in through your noseand out through your mouth with relative ease. The remaining 20% can be at high intensity by in sessions less than 45 min in duration.
Nutrition, hormone and stress health are essential to a healthy life style. Take care of a balanced life in nutrition, stress and exercise and your weight will take care of itself with a lot less will power that habitual dieting!