June 17, 2021
Weight Loss… So what actually works?
It’s a holistic lifestyle approach
It’s likely going to take a holistic lifestyle change or switch. There’s not going to be one thing that’s going to work for everyone and likely it’s going to be multiple factors that work. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcuts that can be taken.
When you’re trying to improve an area of your health, you can’t expect to keep doing what you have always been doing, but maybe take one pill or take a supplement shake, and expect that this one thing is going to change your whole life or change the root cause of what is causing the weight gain.
All aspects of your lifestyle, can and will make an impact on weight loss and metabolic health. So, let's break them all down.
Evidence shows that things like counting calories and low-fat diets can definitely work but there is now good evidence to show that lower carbohydrate, low sugar, ketogenic style diets have a much greater efficacy and can be sustained in the long term as well. Consult with your doctor or health professional if you feel like this would be a good approach for you especially if you are taking any medication.
There is also evidence that various forms of fasting, can be great for metabolic health. The jury is out on whether it is going to result in long-term weight loss alone, but definitely something worth considering if you feel like not only weight loss but other areas of your metabolic health like Type 2 Diabetes management or cardiovascular risk need addressing.
The next lifestyle factor to talk about is exercise. Exercise alone is not very likely to get you the weight loss that you desire. This is because often the root cause of the weight loss is hormonal and affected mainly by nutrition as well as other lifestyle factors.
However, exercise has many benefits, that will not only help your weight loss, but other areas of your health. Improved mood, reduced anxiety and improved motivation and self-esteem are some benefits that can then help guide the process towards weight loss that we see with exercise.
We know that prolonged aerobic exercise can help promote the shift towards fat utilization for energy when done in conjunction with lower sugar, lower carbohydrate diets. We also know that resistance exercise can improve muscle insulin sensitivity and increase basal metabolic rate. Both of which can have huge impacts on weight loss.
Exercise can benefit many areas of your health including cardiovascular health, neurological health, type 2 diabetes and so on.
If you are wanting to get started on or need some help with exercise, Health in Balance Exercise Physiologists in Caulfield South are here to help you.
The next factor that probably sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to weight loss and health in general is stress.
Stress is an important survival mechanism for humans, but we know that chronic stress where cortisol is chronically elevated in the body is harmful to health. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in response to stress, but chronically elevated cortisol can lead to things like more glucose in the blood and therefore impact your insulin levels as well. High insulin = more fat storage and less fat loss.
We know that chronic stress is strongly linked also to increased visceral fat, which is fat around your organs and around your midsection, which is linked with Cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and various other health conditions. Whether it is de-stressing through exercise, yoga or meditation, incorporating some kind of stress reduction is likely to help when it comes to your weight loss journey.
The last lifestyle factor, which again probably gets overlooked sometimes, is your sleep.
Sleep links quite strongly with stress. If one is not optimal it is unlikely that the other is going to be optimal. So we can imagine how being stressed, whether it is with problems at home or problems at work, can be problematic for trying to get to sleep.
Poor sleep can lead to things like worsened insulin sensitivity and higher cortisol, both of which as we now know can drive weight gain, and many other unwanted cognitive outcomes like poorer memory and less alertness and more tiredness throughout the day.
We have often heard that if you are doing everything right from an exercise and nutrition standpoint, but you know you are only getting a couple of hours of good sleep a night, it is like trying to do all this with both hands tied behind your back.
It is going to be very challenging and it is a really important aspect of your health that is often overlooked, especially when it comes to weight loss.
Weight Loss is different for everyone
Losing weight requires several lifestyle changes and interventions for each person and for each person it is going to be a little bit different. There is not one approach or one way it is going to work for every person, it is going to be very individualized.
Your nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep will impact your success and optimizing these will lead to better health and weight outcomes.