Why you can't lose weight.
Updated: Sep 8
Why can’t I lose weight?
You were always told that in order to lose weight all you have to do is “Eat Less and Move More.” Well now it's 3 months in and you haven’t lost a single pound, or you’ve been training and lost some initially and now you’ve been at a stand still for the past 6 months. What gives? Is it will power? Should you give up your social life? Should you quit training because clearly your genetics don’t support the lifestyle? Should I be doing a Keto, Paleo, Pegan, Vegan, Low Carb diet, Low Fat, or one of those cleansing diets where you only “eat” shakes? There are many variables that make up why we gain weight in the first place, stress, genetics, autoimmune diseases, the list goes on. The solution is simple, the execution is challenging.
The solution is learning to control your bodies response to the food you eat, and that brings us to insulin! Can we say that insulin leads to weight gain—100%. So how do I reduce the amount of insulin I produce?
Stop snacking - unless you're hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), you do not need to snack multiple times a day. Remember every time you eat your body releases insulin in order to use that food for energy. If the fridge is already full, your body has no choice but to use the freezer. Meaning, if your liver is already full with stored glucose (glycogen) then insulin is going to breakdown that extra glucose down and turn into fatty acids and store it in the freezer for later. Now imagine you do this 6-10 times per day. Your body is constantly producing insulin which is refilling the fridge every time you somewhat empty it (like after a Kellie Palmer Evolve class.) In order to burn off that extra fat, you need to allow your insulin levels to fall so your body can start using the fridge to get to the stored stuff.
Stop eating processed foods - remember processed simply means broken down, the more something is broken down the higher the insulin response you will have. Example bread, whole wheat has a much lower effect on insulin and blood sugar then white bread. White bread is bleached and broken down for production purposes. 99% of the whole wheat bread that you buy at the store is not fully grown whole wheat, it is actually dwarfed wheat - fun fact. Anything that your body can break down quicker because of its processed form is not only probably filled with large amounts of chemicals and sugars, it also leads to a higher insulin responses. Which leads me to my next point.
Eat your food, try not to drink it - The reason will all love processed foods is because it is convenient. Grab a Larabar and off you go. Pick up a shake for lunch and back to the conference call. Don’t get me wrong, I will have a shake a few times per week, however I watch how much sugar is in it (including fruit), and if you are not at a place of comfortable homeostasis (happy with the way you look and feel) then I would try to keep as much whole foods as possible.
Large meals and protein - Gluconeogenesis is how the body breaks down proteins into glucose. If you eat a large amount of protein in one sitting, your body will have a much higher insulin response. Large meals will also create the same effect. Don’t stuff your face. The more healthy fats and quality proteins and plant starches (watch potatoes) you consume the higher the leptin response. Leptin is a satiety hormone. Leptin is the body’s natural thermostat for weight gain or loss.
So how do I spend more time burning what’s in the freezer(stored fat) - Fasting my friends, fasting. The longer you go without an insulin response the more the body has to go to its secondary source of fuel, FAT! All that time spent in a fasted state, the body needs energy, even if your not exercising. So once you’ve exhausted most of your glucose and stored glycogen levels, the body makes a switch to oxidize fat from glucose. This is where ketosis is found. When you do eat, stay away from snacks, processed foods, and SUGAR! Even though healthy complex carbohydrates won’t spike insulin the same way simple (non or low fibrous) carbs will, you will still continue to fill the fridge instead of emptying the freezer and using like fatty acids to keep the oxidation process going.
Be realistic. - Weddings, birthdays, vacations are all times where you should celebrate with a cocktail or a rich dessert. Allowing yourself to have times of enjoyment is what makes this process sustainable. Losing weight can take a very long time. It is more important to find a balance of how to live your life. Sacrifices will have to made in the beginning, but the results speak for themselves.
With so many different opinions on weight loss it is hard to sort through which is the right path versus the wrong path. The studies on insulin control and fasting are the closest to scientific evidence of weight loss we have yet to discover. If you have struggled with weight loss ask yourself how many times have you tried the Low Calorie Diets, Eat Less Move More, and all other fad diets. They didn't work because it wasn't de pair of pants you used to be able to fit into. How did that turn out? Where are you now?
A little more Science.
How does the body gain fat? Well, what happens is we consume more calories than we burn so we gain weight. Right? WRONG. Gaining weight either muscle or fat is a hormonal response. We eat something, our body releases certain hormones that help us break the food down and use it for energy. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose from the food we eat to provide energy for the body. When we have stored enough glucose into the liver (glycogen), the body turns the remaining glucose into fatty acids and stores it in adipose tissue. This is the excess weight we’ve been trying to burn off. Technically, insulin is to blame for stored fat. So which foods trigger an insulin response? ALL OF THEM. Proteins, fats, and carbs all trigger an insulin response. The difference is some trigger more than others. Carbs both simple and complex (sugar and grains), produce the highest responses of insulin, then protein, then fat. So how do we control insulin? The solution lies within what you eat and when you eat it. More details in next blog post.