Four other factors that can influence weight loss.
If you have been on the weight loss merry-go-round for a while, you are probably familiar with the diet-exercise formula: eat less, exercise more. But is that really what the research says if it hasn’t worked for you?
According to research published in the Annual Review of Nutrition successful long-term weight loss maintainers eat a low fat diet, frequently weigh themselves and self-monitor their food intake and engage in exercise regularly. The conventional advice is to ‘have the willpower and motivation’ to persevere. However, in my clinical experience over the past 16 years, it’s not willpower and motivation that get results at all. The good news is that there are several things that can facilitate the weight loss process.
1. Identify hormonal imbalances
Several studies have found it’s important to identify whether a hormonal imbalance (not only related to thyroid issues) is present. For example, a study of male participants who were treated with testosterone supplementation found that not only did they show improvements in blood pressure, blood glucose, bad cholesterol, and erectile function, on average they also lost more than 13 kg.
2. Assess nutritional deficiencies
You may be familiar with the conventional diet advice to avoid certain foods or limit portions. But even more important is to identify any specific nutritional deficiencies you might have. This includes iron, folate, magnesium, calcium, etc., which normalise the body’s natural hunger, appetite and metabolism. Blood testing is the best way to assess this. Taking a supplement without knowing what’s missing can be counterproductive – and expensive.
3. Improve sleep
Research has found that even a single night of sleep deprivation increases the hunger hormone ghrelin and orexin and the stress hormone cortisol. These inhibit weight loss, change your metabolism and decrease the hormone leptin that alerts you to feeling full. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you sleep well.
A variety of issues including medical (e.g. sleep apnoea, periodic limb movement disorder) but also mental health problems including mood disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders including PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and a variety of other psychological issues cause sleep disturbances. No diet will ever eliminate these complex disorders. Medications that are commonly prescribed by GPs will not help in the long term either.
Correct assessment and treatment of these disorders is necessary to eliminate the root cause of chronic sleep disturbances. The addressing of these sleep disturbances can ultimately have the positive side effect of weight loss and successful weight management.
4. Improve your self-esteem
Research has found that poor self-esteem is associated with emotional eating, that fad dieting, and its almost inevitable failure and link with bingeing/overeating, breaks down self-esteem even further. You need to stop dieting to stop emotional eating. Once you focus on what you can do, rather than on how badly you ‘fail’ at dieting, you have made the essential step to recovery from weight problems and chronic binge eating.
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