Weight gain puts Americans at risk for Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke dementia, and many other conditions. We know this. Every new year…till about Spring, we eagerly jump on the weight loss bandwagon with determination and focus. We say “THIS will be the year I drop the belly fat.” We pound the treadmill, cycle, and pump iron while curbing our diets.
Nothing happens. We get frustrated and give up. “There’s always next year”, we say. This is because we’re trained to believe that weight loss is simply burning more calories than you take in. The reality is there’s much more to it.
Our bodies consist of a complex interplay of factors from genetics to endocrine imbalance causing resistance to weight loss. Environmental factors such as toxin exposure and food choices can affect our body’s fat cell function from the womb through adulthood. Chemical exposure can cause dysregulation in fat cell programming, leading to increased numbers of fat cells.
Here are some of the other causes of weight gain (or lack of weight loss) that are a bit more complex than “You shove too much food down your gullet.”
Our standard American diet contains a high amount of carbohydrate content. The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year–compared to just 7 ½ pounds 300 years ago. Highly processed foods with low nutrient content are consumed daily and the added sugars in these foods can lead to actual food addiction because of the effect on biochemistry in the reward center of your brain. Studies suggest that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine! Ultimately, the brain is calling the shots and many of us lose conscious control over our food intake.
Once we are riding the sugar train, we are subject to the constant need for insulin release from our pancreas. One of the functions of insulin is telling fat cells to store energy and hold onto the fat that they already carry. Given enough time and stimulation, the body’s cells become insulin resistant and there is a shift to energy storage specifically in fat cells.
Other factors such as stress and poor sleep quality commonly plague many Americans today. Chronic stress leads to an imbalance in our nervous system and adrenal insufficiency, leading to further release of insulin and cortisol and added weight. Reduced sleep quality is a severely under addressed factor associated with resistance to weight loss. Lack of sleep potentiates increased cortisol release and higher levels of cortisol can further increase insulin resistance. Furthermore, anyone suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will struggle to lose weight unless the problem is treated. Pituitary and thyroid function also can be altered by lack of sleep leading to reduced thyroid activation and imbalanced growth hormone function causing a potential change in glucose tolerance.
Once we are caught in this metabolic dysregulation, fat cells turn up our inflammatory levels releasing chemical signals that cause pain and fatigue. Exposure to antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills and many others can disrupt our gut bacteria, yeast, and mucus, resulting in food antigens and bacteria activating the gut immune system, increasing the level of inflammation further like adding fuel to a fire. Joint pain, muscle pain, and fatigue may follow and this can certainly lower of ability to exercise, and can drain our energy as the problem accelerates. More sedentary habits can become the norm further causing weight gain and resistance to weight loss.
Let’s not forget the increase in prescription medication use over the last 20 years. Many of the obesity linked conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression are treated with medications, which themselves can cause weight gain!
Still looking for an explanation? Schedule an appointment with our doctors so we can help you find the root cause of your weight issues.