The universal advice of, “eat less and exercise more” doesn't work.
Despite the pushing of this dogma for the past 35 years by main-stream media and pop-culture, obesity rates continue to rise and heart disease and stroke numbers are at all time highs.
The challenge is, you to have to run 700 miles, and take 117 hours of your life to lose 20 pounds.
70% of all American adults are overweight or obese.
That means it doesn't matter if you're a truck driver, or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company — you’re either one of these statistics, or you're at risk at becoming one.
To say unhealthy weight is a big deal is an understatement. In this post, you’re going to learn why it's so important to have this conversation with your doctor. The age-old advice to eat less, exercise more has literally been the dogma we have believed for at least the last 35 years. "Just push away the plate. Go work out a little more. That's how you'll lose weight." Meanwhile, this dogma, although really good for selling gym memberships, is not doing a very good job of helping us lose weight, and the statistics tell us that we've never been fatter as a nation.
Weight is just a theory.
We are all obsessed with the number on the scale, and somehow we extrapolate that number to mean our health is up or down based on our weight being up or down. For example, if I told you a client of mine weighed 278 pounds, you would probably assume they were unhealthy, right? But what if I told you this client was 6 foot 8, had, 7% body fat, and was named LeBron James? He doesn’t seem so unhealthy now, does he?
Weight = Earth's gravitational pull on your body.
The number on the scale has absolutely nothing to do with how healthy you are. Now, sure, there might be a correlation between the two, but correlation does not always equal causation. I’m not concerned about your weight as much as I am concerned about how much of that weight is fat. That's the question. How much of your body weight is fat? Because there IS a specific correlation between body fat and overall health.
Two things that happen when you exercise: your appetite increases and your scale goes up.
Have you noticed what happens the very first week you're at the gym? Have you noticed how hungry you get? Well, of course you do. That's by design. When you work out, you break down muscle. Broken down muscles needs to rebuild. In order to rebuild our muscles, we need to increase the basic building blocks of muscle. And as a human, our basic building blocks are nutrition. So the harder you work out, the greater your appetite becomes.
The other thing that happens when you go to the gym is that you can't wait to jump on the scale, right? But what happens to the number on the scale? It goes up. Of course it does. When you break down small muscles and they grow back bigger, you have bigger muscles. Bigger muscles weigh more than smaller muscles. So you have this double effect of an increased appetite, along with the psychological burden of gaining weight while you're working out. This is an awful recipe for somebody who's really trying to lose weight.
conversations to have with your doctor about weight loss.
1) Whatever goal you have for your weight, 80% of that achievement will be done through what you put in your mouth and 20% will be done in the gym. As a general rule, I prescribe a low carbohydrate diet to my patients, because low carbohydrate diets stabilized blood sugar which prevent you from making fat.
Examples of low carbohydrate diets are, Atkins, Mediterranean, Paleo, Ketogenic, South Beach, and many others.
Fix your diet, first.
2) Talk with your physician about medications. Specifically, identify medications you are currently taking that cause weight gain. Some examples include high blood pressure medications, like beta blockers. Antidepressants, especially SSRIs like Prozac, can also cause weight gain. The good news is, there are alternatives available to treat depression or high blood pressure that don't have a weight positive effect.
Come off weight positive medications.
On the flip side, some medications will help you achieve your weight loss goals. One question to ask your doctor is “are my thyroid levels optimal?” You may have gotten your thyroid levels checked and been told by your doctor that they are normal, but they may not be optimal. (I’ll cover this is much greater detail in a future post). Or maybe you’re currently taking thyroid medication, but you still don’t feel quite tuned up enough. Your thyroid levels probably aren't optimized. There’s a difference between normal and optimal.
Do you have underlying pre diabetes, or something we call insulin resistance? A medication like metformin can help treat the fundamental underlying cause of diabetes, which is insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, your body is ignoring the very hormone that you were given to lower and normalize blood sugar. If your body is ignoring that, you're going to have high blood sugars. We call this diabetes. Metformin, is fantastic at helping you lose weight if you are insulin resistant.
Optimize your thyroid and treat any underlying pre-diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about adding a micronutrients like daily vitamin, probiotic, and vitamin D3 to your regimen. Probiotics help support gut health and metabolism. And there's a lot of really great data showing that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to your struggle with weight. If you have never gotten your vitamin D level checked, please have your doctor check it. This is a very treatable and very effective way to tie up a loose end that most people overlook. Most of my clients are on 2,000 to 5,000 units a day of vitamin D to optimize their level. It supports good bone health and there great data which suggests there is a link vitamin D and fat metabolism.
Add micronutrients: Daily Vitamin, Vit D3, and Probiotics.
3) The third conversation that I think you need to have with your doctor is to ask “what are the things I can do today to get the fastest fat loss possible?” Because, at the end of the day, your time is everything. Your health is the most important thing.
Need more tips for fast weight loss?
Humans are 80% water. Most of us walk around with mild to moderate amounts of dehydration daily, especially if you live in the southern states, and during the summertime. We just can't drink enough water. And if you're not measuring it, you're not getting 100 ounces. It's more than you think. I'd get yourself a 20 or 30 oz bottle, and measure that out. And it's a challenge. But you feel so much better. Even trivial amounts of dehydration can have a negative impact on fat metabolism.
Drink about 100 ounces of water per day.
I know we live in a world where we brag about how much sleep we don't get. But here's the deal - most human beings need about seven hours of sleep a night. That doesn't mean you can't function without it. It just means that if you're not consistently getting seven hours of sleep a night, it's coming at a cost. That cost is an interruption in your fat burning processes. Getting enough sleep also helps with stress.
Get 7 hours of sleep a night.
Protein does a number of things in your body. First, it hits an “off switch” in your brain which makes you feel full and satisfied after you eat it. Second, it is the basic building block of your musculoskeletal system. In order to build lean, strong muscles, you've got to have adequate protein to build that infrastructure. Third, When it comes to raising your blood sugar, protein hardly raises it at all. Elevation of blood sugar is the holy grail of fat making, and normalizing it is the holy grail of weight loss. So protein is very good for that.
Eat 80-120g of Protein daily.
Carbohydrates are the #1 culprit for raising blood sugar. If blood sugar is elevated, the body makes fat. As a general rule, I teach my clients to aim for 50 net carbs per day. If you don't know how to calculate net carbs, it's super easy. Take total carbohydrates, subtract the fiber, and this equals a net carbohydrate. 50 net carbs per day or less will put you in a really good position to burn excess fat throughout the day.
Limit yourself to 50 Net Carbs daily or less.
Once you fix your diet, you’re drinking enough water, you’re sleeping 7 hours a night, your doctor has adjusted your medications, and you’ve added in some macronutrients — THEN you should add fitness.
Once you do, add a level of fitness that is interesting to you. If you don't like physical contact, don't sign up for a Tae Bo class. But, if you love tennis, go play tennis. If you love weights, do weights. If you love riding a bike, ride bikes. If you live in Minneapolis and it's November and you like bikes, sign up for a spin class. There's a way to get you active. Be active. Exert yourself. Get your heart rate up. Give yourself a little resistance. Push against something, and find an environment that fits what you like to do. If you do those things, you'll be really set up for success, and that's what this is all about.
Ramp up your fitness plan.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that you are able to put some of these simple things into practice. Please leave me your comments, questions, and let me know if there are other topics you would like me to discuss in future posts.
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Take care —
Aaron Wenzel, MD