Now that the New Year is upon us, many of us have made that yearly commitment to get our weight under control and lead a healthier lifestyle. We are constantly reminded by various weight loss programs and gym companies that they are the “answer” for making your weight loss resolution a reality. We have a fresh mental picture of ourselves with flatter abs, slim sexy waistline and a life full of energy and activity for the New Year. This year, let’s figure out how to take this new found motivation and energy and make sure that we have a weight loss strategy to build upon in terms of our health and wellness next year.
So why are we stuck in this never ending cycle of New Year’s resolutions?
The answer is specifically, most of us are not well educated on the process of how the human body gains and loses weight.
There are hormones that are specifically involved in a person’s weight loss process. Everyone must understand these hormones to gain better control of their weight loss endeavors. These hormones are:
Insulin is a metabolic hormone produced by an organ called pancreas whose job is to primarily maintain stable blood sugar levels. The secondary function is more due to evolution and survival mechanism, that is, to store fat from excess fat and carbohydrate intake. When a person’s diet is not balanced, insulin production increases. This hyperactive insulin production is usually accompanied by poor diet habits such as high carbohydrate meals, skipping meals, and crash calorie restricted diet programs. The process of suboptimal pancreas function and hence over active insulin production leads first to metabolic syndrome and ultimately to Type 2 Diabetes mellitus.
In order to gain control over insulin, the first thing that needs to be addressed is to never skip breakfast. The breakfast should be rich in lean proteins and should be consumed between 5:30A.M. to 8:00A.M. The second thing that needs to be addressed is to eat a low carbohydrate, low-glycemic index foods throughout the day.
Thyroid hormone is produced by thyroid gland located near the throat. The thyroid hormone functions as a thermostat for the body which means it regulates our body temperature, metabolism, growth and development. There are two types of thyroid hormones. A T4 or throxine, is the natively produced form, but is not an active hormone until it converts to T3 or triiodothronine. The biggest symptoms of Thyroid deficiency or problems shows as inability to lose weight and lack of energy.
The best way to maintain proper thyroid function is to maintain a good diet complete with nutritional supplementation therapy focusing on iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, vitamins (A, C, E, B Complex (B2, B3, B6, B12). Also, daily salt intake using pure kosher sea salts or Himalayan sea salt has shown to be superior to regular granulated salts enriched with iodine.
Primary sources of Iodine can be fish (salmon, tilapia, haddock). Secondarily, eggs, spinach, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, and sesame seeds are also rich in Iodine.
- Selenium is rich in tuna, beef, and halibut (almost all ocean fish).
- Zinc is rich in beef, turkey, almonds, and almost all ocean fish.
- Copper is rich in beef, beans, dark chocolate, crabmeat, and sunflower seeds.
- Iron is rich in spinach, beef, and soy beans.
- Vitamins (A, C, E, B Complex) are abundant in broccoli, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, berries, asparagus, nuts, and egg yolks.
In short, it is highly recommended that a nutritional supplement including a good multivitamin, Omega III, and low glycemic index proteins are used to maintain a healthy thyroid function. It is always a good idea to get a yearly thyroid function blood test from your primary physician to maintain optimal health.
Ghrelin is a recent hormone finding that is gaining great amount of attention. These levels are not currently widely available, other than laboratory antibody tests, but none the less is an important hormone to discuss when weight loss is attempted. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach lining. Ghrelin is produced in response to period of fasting. This hormone causes a person to overeat after a period of fasting and is often associated with ravenous hunger sensation.
The best way to keep Ghrelin levels down in the stomach lining is to never skip breakfast and to ensure low glycemic index proteins are used. The proteins should be either supplemented in the form of fast acting protein shakes or food items such as eggs, cruciferous vegetables, lean animal proteins. Additionally, a person should not skip any meals and should strive to consume at least 20 grams of protein at each meal, or half the body weight in grams of protein per day. This will keep the Ghrelin levels low and keep you satisfied and under control when eating.
Leptin is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland of our brain that suppresses appetite. In short, we want high levels of Leptin circulating in our blood if we want to lose weight successfully. Leptin levels can be measured in blood tests but is not routinely ordered unless the physician is actively engaged in monitoring a patient’s weight loss progress. Not getting enough sleep will also reduce Leptin levels which in turn will raise Ghrelin levels.
Many people have problems with overeating. Leptin is the hormone that keeps eating under control. To increase Leptin levels, we need to eat foods that are rich in Omega III fatty acid, essential fats, and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
To ensure that Leptin levels are under control, foods rich in Omega III such as ocean fish (salmon, halibut, tilapia) and essential fats and EPA from eggs, broccoli, and nuts. Better yet, a nutritional supplementation focused on Omega III and EPA should be the mainstay of a basic micro-nutritional therapy.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released by adrenal glands (on top of two kidneys) in response to stress. Cortisol is an important hormone to combat physical and emotional stress. Specifically, it is a hormone when in abundance, that causes visceral fat formation. Everyone knows about the belly fat and the “tire” around the waist description. Cortisol is an important hormone in making this problem worse. While cortisol is important in maintaining correct blood pressure levels, mental focus during times of intense stress, and has many other beneficial effects, it is a hormone that is not welcome when one is trying to lose weight.
To fight the effects of cortisol and lose weight, stress management, sleep management, and cutting down on caffeine is highly recommended. A recent study performed by University of Oklahoma showed that a person under mild stress will elevate the cortisol production by 25% by consuming 3 cups of coffee per day.
Try this to reduce cortisol levels. Take daily walks and remain active. Surround yourself with positive people and laugh often. Sleep at least 8 hours per day, and drink plenty of fluids. Cut down on caffeine such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks.
In this New Year, make your weight loss resolution work for you by understanding these hormones that affect weight loss. Remember, fad starvation diet only act to increase ghrelin, cortisol, and reduce leptin while spiking insulin levels and keeping your thyroid hormone from functioning optimally. In order to lose weight, it takes hard work. Eating adequate proteins while reducing carbohydrate is important. A good supplementation with multivitamin, Omega III and EPA is important. Stay positive and stay active.
Always consult your physician before embarking on any new diet or weight loss/exercise program. If you need a more regimented program, make sure that the weight loss program you are considering incorporates these hormones into the regimen and it emphasizes proteins.
Here’s to the New Year. May your life be full of energy, vitality, and success.
Resource: Contact us for your weight loss consultation or attend a free weight loss event.
By: Dr. Brandon Kim CEO | Camelback Health Care