You must have heard this over and over again: Lose weight. Eat less. Exercise more!
If only it was that simple.
Current medical research has established the fact that losing weight is more than just eating less and exercising more.
For you to effectively lose weight, it is absolutely important that you recognise what is causing your obesity or being overweight and target your efforts at the root cause.
If you have tried everything possible you could to lose weight in the past, do not give up. See what might be costing you weight loss success here.
You have probably seen or met one of these people. They buy french fries by the bucket load. They eat anything and everything they set their eyes upon. They are certainly no more active than you. Yet, they are as thin as the cursor on this page.
If you envy them, you are not alone!
What is different about them is that many of these people have very fast metabolism.
Metabolism refers to the process and speed at which your body build up or breakdown one chemical system into the other in your cells.
If you have a fast metabolism, your body can convert and break down the food you eat into energy and burn it off quickly. It can be compared to putting a wet wood into a fireplace and then same amount of dry wood into the same fireplace. Which of these would burn off quickest?
Those with a slow metabolism are like that wet wood that would take a long time to burn off or lose weight. If you eat the same amount of food, those with a fast metabolism would burn it off quickly, converting it into energy and those with slow metabolism would not be able to burn it off quickly, but would rather have it stored away as fat.
It is the same thing with alcohol. Those with fast metabolism could easily consume 2-3 drinks without feeling intoxicated because their liver breaks it down faster than that other fellow with low metabolism who would be drunk at the end of taking just a pint of beer.
In a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it states that "resting metabolic rate accounts for 60 - 75% of total energy expenditure in sedentary people".
This finding has a huge implication for weight loss success or lack of it. If up to 75% of fat and carbohydrate you burn off when you are not exercising, is dependent on your metabolic rate, then with a low metabolism, you stand very very little chance of losing much weight unless you are able to significantly improve your metabolism.
But, why would some people have slow metabolism and others high metabolism?
The following are why:
Several studies involving obesity in identical twins have shown that no matter whether one twin is fed less and exercised more compared to the other twin, there is a 40 to 70% chance that both of them would be obese at least overweight up to an extent.
Also, research indicates that many people who are obese might have inherited a defective gene called the "ob gene".
This gene regulates our fat cells to produce a chemical called leptin. Under normal circumstances, high calorie intake activates our fat cells to produce this chemical leptin, and leptin sends a message to our brain triggering satiety, and thus switching off the desire to eat more. When this pathway is defective, we continue to eat even when we do not need to. This is a common finding in obese people.
Leptin deficiency also leads reduced metabolic and immune function, causing weight gain on two fronts - slow metabolism and increased appetite.
Neuregulin 4 is another hormone now shown to be produced by our skin that helps regulate our rate of metabolism and weight gain. In a recent Chinese study involving 1212 obese adults, those with low levels of Neuregulin 4 were consistently found to have reduced metabolism and were obese with associated complications of obesity like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Another study revealed that if your father were obese, but not your mother, you are more likely to be obese and if both parents were obese when you were born, you almost certainly going to be obese.
So, your obesity could be in your genes.
After the age of 40, our metabolism starts to slow down, meaning that you require less food. That is why many people find out that around that age bracket, they begin putting on weight especially around their abdomen.
Are you on the oral contraceptive pill, Fluoxetine, Amitriptyline or Nortriptyline, Sodium Valproate, Carbamazepine, Lithium, Insulin, Prednisolone and a few other medications? Yes. Your medication may be contributing to your weight problem.
Take out all the medications you currently use and research them to see which of them might be contributing to your gaining weight.
Obviously, if your life depends on these medications, you must not stop them. You can discuss with your doctor or healthcare provider about the possibility for an alternative. Where such alternative medications does not exist, taking your medicine irrespective of your weight gain may remain the best option for you.
You read it right! Research shows that losing weight up to a point could then lead to a slow down in your metabolism, making it almost impossible to lose further weight within that time.
This is a protective measure by our body to prevent excessive weight loss.
Doctors usually advise patients to set a target to lose no more than 5 to 10% of their body weight in a six months period. After this target is achieved, it is best you wait for a few months before aiming for further weight loss.
The good news is that, irrespective of what is slowing down your metabolism, with modest increase in exercise, and use of natural agents like Green Tea Extract combined with EGCG, you can boost and increase your metabolism.
If you struggle with weight loss, it might be appropriate for you to see your healthcare provider to run some test to help throw more light on why it is difficult for you to lose weight.
The following are medical conditions that causes unintended weight gain and makes losing weight almost impossible:
Are you a woman with weight problems? Have you noticed that you are perhaps more hairy than your peers? Do you have a few strands of hair growing on your face and shin? What about your periods - do you tend to miss up to 3 menstrual periods in a year?
You may be suffering with PCOS. This is a condition where your body is producing more male hormone than it needs to, leading to increase in weight, period problems and lots of cysts in your ovary.
It is treatable, though not curable.
If you have a low functioning thyroid gland, this could lead to a very slow metabolism in you and cause weight problems.
Typically, those with thyroid problems complain of being tired all the time, have poor cold tolerance, put on weight for no reason, may have thin hair and heavy menstrual period and may notice a swelling in their neck.
A simple blood test could help identify and treat this problem.
Cushing syndrome is a condition that occurs when our body is exposed to too much of the steroid hormone called cortisol. This could be from our adrenal gland, or a tumour secreting this hormone somewhere else or even from steroid medications we use.
Excessive cortisol would lead to weight gain, abnormal deposition of fat in the back of our lower neck between the shoulders, creating a hump where the neck meets the upper upper back and thinning of the skin.
Severe fatigue, muscle weakness, depression, emotional instability, raised blood pressure, bone loss, type 2 diabetes, are other associated symptoms of cushing syndrome.
This condition is treatable if diagnosed in good time.
Other medical conditions that could cause obesity include:
If you suffer with any of these conditions, it is largely out of your power to control your weight. Often times however, once a diagnosis is made, treatment instituted coupled with a clear strategy to increase energy utilization by a structured exercise, dietary and behavioural change, almost everyone with these conditions can lose some weight. So never give up. Speak to your doctor to find out of you have any of these medical causes of obesity.
Dietary habit as a cause of obesity is very important.
Yes. You are what you eat to a very large extent. Your dietary choices may be contributing to your weight gain, as could the size of what you eat as well as the frequency of food going into your mouth.
Fatty foods, fries and creams and very rich foods in large amount are not healthy for you.
What about eating irregularly and between meals... a little biscuit here and there or extra puddings and sweets?
Is it any surprise that fatty foods are contributing to the soaring obesity rates we see?
If you struggle with a large appetite, you can suppress your appetite in a healthy way by using natural agents like garcinia cambogia. The United States Food and Drug Administration - FDA, has conducted an extensive study on garcinia cambogia and found that it is effective in appetite suppression with zero side effects.
For it to be effective for you though, you would require a garcinia cambogia extract capsule or tablet with about 60 to 95% HCA.
It is not mere coincidence that obesity rate has increased with the increase in sedentary lifestyle globally, brought about by modern conveniences.
It is advised that you should be able to engage in moderate physical exercise that brings your heart rate up to a third or double of your normal resting heart rate, for at least 30 minutes a day for up to 5 days a week.
I myself, am a veteran participant in the sedentary type of lifestyle; some call us "couch potatoes".
I can vouch for the fact that without some type of exercise it will be very hard for you to lose weight.
Exercise needn't be painful or costly. Brisk walking 15 minutes to and 15minutes back, 5 days a week may be all you require to kickstart your exercise plan. Once you are able to establish a routine, scale it up gradually to what makes you really sweat.
Who you associate with most can make you fat.
Social, cultural or family perceptions, beliefs and lifestyles can influence people becoming obese. In some parts of the world, you are thought to be wealthy and doing really well if you are obese. Also, some cultures feed their women fat to "prepare" them for marriage. Imagine being born into such a culture. Being fat or obese would be normal to you.
There are some families where almost everyone is fat, yet this may not be due to a genetic abnormality.
It may just be the family influence relating to the type of food they are used to and eating habits.
Some communities likewise consume very high calorie rich meals regularly as their staple, and one needs to re-evaluate the type of food and social heritage passed down to them. This is one of the common causes of obesity in some people.
Psychologic and mental health issues are causes of obesity not often addressed by the maxim exercise more and eat less. Really? Just like that?
Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, anger, low self esteem or depression. This is what doctors call comfort eating.
Eating is used here as a means of suiting one's self and coping with stress.
Binge eating - episodic periods of eating a large amount of food to self suit is another psychological or emotional eating disorder.
Those with the most severe binge eating problems are also likely to have symptoms of depression and low self-esteem.
If you think you might have binge eating disorder, seek help from a health professional such as your GP, family doctor, a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.
Getting to the root cause of your emotional eating and treating this is the only sure way to be able to succeed in your journey towards losing weight.
Living with chronic pain - this may be coming from your knee or hip or from chronic generalised pain may be stopping you from walking and exercising and thus putting on weight.
Is this they case with you?
You should see your doctor or healthcare provider and discuss your specific limitations with him or her and see what can be done to address it.
If your knees hurt so much for example, trial of painkillers, steroid injections or patches may help control the pain while you start a modest exercise program like walking 10 minutes daily or swimming for 30 minutes daily until you are able to scale this up. Can you see how this could benefit you? Giving up completely because of your chronic pain would only lead to more weight and more pain. You can do something different.