Six steps to take before you try to lose weight
When we think of losing weight we tend to follow the formula of healthy eating (or in some cases a more restrictive diet) drinking more water, and doing more exercise. While each of these factors plays an important role in weight loss, they aren't the only factors that can impact your ability to lose weight.
To help you maximise your weight loss, achieve good health and ensure your motivation doesn't suffer due to limited results, here are six steps to follow before you try to lose weight.
1. See your doctor first
It's a good idea to see your doctor before going on starting your weight loss journey. Restricted diets can have an effect on underlying health issues so it is important you have an accurate idea of your health before you start.
Request a full blood test and get your blood pressure checked. Ask your Doctor to check your good and bad cholesterol levels, hormones, thyroid, Vitamin D levels and blood glucose all tested. Anyone of these can impact your ability to lose weight and determine what foods you need to keep in your diet.
2. Manage your stress
While occasional stress is manageable, as we know high stress over the long term can have significant effects on your health. It can increase weight gain and affect your ability to lose it.
You have no doubt heard of the 'flight or fight' response that is triggered by stress. This results in an increase in the hormone cortisol that makes the body resist weight loss. With its purpose being to give us more energy, it will increase appetite and hold onto the fat we have, particularly around the abdominal area where more cortisol receptors are found.
Stress also reduces the hormone leptin that regulates the amount of fat stored in the body, also increasing the amount of fat your body stores. Pretty good incentive to relax isn't it! To help you here are some tips to help you minimise stress.
3. Find out if you have a vitamin D deficiency
Research has shown that Vitamin D and leptin work together to regulate body weight. Vitamin D keeps leptin at an optimal level, ensuring your body signals when it is full. When you are deficient the signal is disrupted, and the body no longer knows it is full leading to overeating and weight gain.
Your Vitamin D levels are easily identified in a blood test and can be increased by having 20-25 minutes in the sun daily or through eating fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver, some mushrooms and supplements.
4. Understand the effect of hormones and weight gain
Hormones can have a huge effect on weight gain because they affect how our body responds. Leptin, insulin, and our sex and growth hormones influence our appetite, metabolism and body fat distribution.
Oestrogen dominance can cause weight gain specifically around the abdomen. The more oestrogen there is, the more fat cells grow. With fat cells also producing more oestrogen, levels can keep increasing.
In the same way, if you have an underactive thyroid you can also have weight gain. The thyroids main function is to produce hormones that regulate the body's metabolism so when it doesn't produce enough hormones it slows down your metabolism and increases the fat stored in your body.
5. Work on insulin sensitivity
Insulin plays a number of roles in the body's metabolism. It regulates how the body stores and uses glucose and fat and makes it possible for glucose to enter your body's cells.
If there is sensitivity to insulin it can mean the body is having difficulty metabolising glucose, and it can affect the body's ability to control carbohydrates, starches, fats and proteins. It can also cause underlying health issues like diabetes, so it is important to be aware of.
6. Reduce inflammation
As you gain weight you don't grow more fat cells, the ones you have grow larger. When this happens there is a reaction in the body with various hormones and immune cells as the body tries to correct the imbalances, and some of the anti-inflammatory chemicals released can interfere with the function of leptin.
This can result in a leptin sensitivity and it doesn't do its job of suppressing appetite and speeding up the metabolism. The good news is as the weight is lost the resistance to leptin decreases, and it can go back to its normal function. A diet rich with dark berries such as cherries and blueberries, fatty fish, whole grains and dark leafy vegetables can help reduce inflammation.
Food intolerances and allergies also increase inflammation, so it is important to look at the different foods you are eating and trying an elimination diet to see if symptoms reduce or disappear.