I have seen it so many times. A client is working out 5 days a week and still not losing weight. So what is going on? It very well could be that they are not eating the right foods or eating too much. It could be that they are not working out intense enough or too intensely. There are so many factors that effect how our bodies decide to burn energy. Calories taken in verses Calories burned is only one part of the equation. This article should help you take a look at some very important overlooked ways that our bodies can turn against us in our efforts to burn fat.
Many of us feel that we just don’t have the will power to eat a super low calorie diet in order to see weight loss. Or we just can’t stop rewarding ourselves with sweets and alcohol after a hard day. Most of us know the right foods to eat, and the right amounts. We’re smart cookies (excuse the pun). However, many of us we feel we just don’t have the will power or control to follow through. This lack of control is an important signal that something is not right inside your body.
Our bodies have a slew of mechanisms that help us decide when to eat, how much to eat, and what to choose. But first i should back up a bit…. Try to remember that in addition to the complicated systems that I’m about to explain, we also have some very direct and easy to recognize habits surrounding food intake. These are things like celebrations, holidays, and classic comfort foods that we know will effect our choices and portions.
Inside the body there are unseen signals being given to our brain that effect our food intake such as, gut peptides, hormones, and brain neurotransmitters. These mechanisms tell our bodies what to do with and how to respond to food. They are the boss. Gut Peptides such as CCK, Bombesin, and Hormones such as Ghrelin tell us when we are hungry or satiated, Leptin tells us when we are full. Cortisol should break down fatty acids for energy, but if you are stressed over a length of time than Cortisol may cause storage of these fatty acids around the belly. Stress can be a huge problem and can mess with all of these above mentioned ways that our body is supposed to regulate appetite and satiety. If you are constantly under stress than you are not receiving the proper signals that these hormones and peptides are supposed to give. You will constantly feel hungry and have cravings too often. Here are some interesting facts from studies about how stress causes changes in eating habits.
- 48% of Americans admit to overeating due to stress.
- Snacking at night has been directly related to psychological stress.
- People who eat emotionally will eat way more calories than people who are just trying to restrain their eating.
- After a stressful event people eat substantially more if the food is delicious as opposed to just decent options. We reward ourselves after stressful events with food.
- 80% of women will lose control with their eating when under stress.
- Stress is also the the #1 risk factor for heart disease.
- Stress reduces immune function.
So how do we get all these peptides, hormones, and brain neurotransmitters to do their jobs? Well a great place to start is to take care of yourself and decrease negative stress as much as you can.
10 Tips to Get your Body Cooperating:
- Lower your stress levels– Cortisol could be the culprit if you are holding onto fat around your abdomen or you feel like you can not control your hunger or have crazy cravings. When this hormone is too high, your body holds onto fat. So you will not be burning fat no matter how hard you workout. This means that it is essential that you realize it is not all about calories in vs. calories out. Make sure that you are aware of what is causing you stress. Then find the ways that you can handle it. You may not be able to get rid of all the things that cause you stress (wives, husbands, jobs) but you can reframe the way you handle it. The best way to decrease stress is with relaxing low intensity exercise. We are talking yoga, long walks, easy bike rides, meditation. These activities will allow your body to decrease cortisol levels and burn fat. It has also been suggested that decreasing or eliminating caffeine intake can also lower cortisol levels. So you might need to rethink how much coffee, soda (even diet), or energy drinks you are consuming.
- Check that your calories are not too low – Cortisol, Grehlin, leptin can all be influenced by what and how much you are eating. If you are taking your calories too low it can have serious effects on Cortisol, on sleep, on satiety, and the list goes on.
- Control Insulin by eating no added sugars and seriously decrease your carbohydrate
intake. Insulin is one of the causes of leptin resistance. So if your insulin levels are too high all the time than your brain cannot tell you when you are full and your body is not properly using the food you eat as fuel. So cut out the added sugar completely and decrease your serving sizes of fruits, grains and starches.
- Increase protein intake– If you are decreasing your carbs, and working out than you will need to get your calories from some where. So make sure that you increase your healthy proteins to maintain satiety, muscle mass, and calorie intake!
- Increase healthy fats – Not eating enough healthy fats can reduce your leptin sensitivity. If you are not responding to leptin than you never feel like you have got enough to eat. So eat more coconut, avocado, wild salmon, tuna, sardines, flax seed, chia seed, olives, and free range eggs.
- Get all your vitamin levels checked. If you are low in Magnesium then you might also have problems with Adiponectin, the hormone that tells your body to burn fat as fuel.
- Check your thyroid levels with your Doctor
- Strength Training -but do it like this. Start with High intensity cardio intervals for 10-15 minutes at the beginning of your workout. This method can help to release Catecholamines which will tell your body to release fat. Then do your strength training after that.
- High intensity cardio intervals 1-2 x’s a week. They are the best way to burn fat. However, if you are doing true HIIT Training then your body can only handle this a couple times a week for short sessions. Try once a week to start. Then add in a second non-consecutive day and see how your are feeling.
- Sleep 8 hours or more a night. If you are not getting enough sleep than you might have to much Ghrelin. This hormone can cause serious cravings and the feeling that you are never getting enough to eat.
Remember that quote from Dr. Jade Teta, “Don’t be a dieter, be a detective.” Everyone is different and it’s way more complicated than just calories in vs. calories out. You have to search and through trial and error find out the best diet, exercise, amount of sleep, amount of relaxation time and so on, that is perfect for you!
In order for you to see how this works I made a great print out for you. Click this link or the picture below for the Movement and Nutrition Guidlines to get the print out and be sure to talk to me if you are not sure how to tailor this to your specific needs. I’d love to help.
Article read for this article: