So, Your Diet Isn’t Working?
By Nicole Ortiz, ND
I am writing yet another weight loss article, not because I want to tell you about the latest diet trends, but actually to illuminate the opposite perspective. I want to explain why your diet isn’t working.
This article is intended to help you understand why – despite your dedication, perseverance, and sweat – those pounds of fat keep sticking to you like glue. The statement that is repeated DAILY in my office goes something like, “I just don’t understand why I cannot lose weight even with all the hard work I do.” My hope is that this article will shed some light on why your diet and exercise routine is failing you.
8 Reasons Why You Can’t Win the Battle of
1. You love the treadmill and are afraid that weights will make you bulky.
Long cardio sessions (45+ minutes) can actually work against your weight loss efforts. The prolonged cardio burn is the same as a prolonged stress response, increasing the production and utilization of cortisol in your body. In the long-term, this response promotes insulin resistance and the loss of muscle, not fat. A better option? HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training (over a shorter period of time), which is characterized by alternating between periods of high- and low-intensity activity during a workout. For example, instead of running on the treadmill at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, you could alternate between sprinting for one minute and then jogging for two minutes.
There is evidence that this alternating intensity technique maximizes fat burning. According to a study published in the Journal of American Physiology, participants who engaged in HIIT activities regularly burned greater amounts of fat and improved their overall cardiovascular fitness. HIIT may work by training the cell’s energy centers to burn fat calories before carbohydrate calories.
2. You believe eating fat will make you fat.
All fat is not created equal. There is very healthy fat and very unhealthy fat, and the two should never be confused. The “bad” kind of fat consists of trans-fats, omega 6 fats, and the processed fats that are used to manufacture processed foods. Healthy fats are found in fresh, wild fish; nuts and coconut; grass fed animal meats and pasture raised eggs; avocados and olives. Eating healthy fats in lieu of sugar actually gives us sustained energy, satiation, and more burning of fat for our fuel source.
3. You think fruit is a healthy “go to” snack.
Fruit is not evil, but it does break down into glucose, or sugar, in your intestine. Your body does not care if the sugar is from a healthy source or not. Its very presence causes insulin to be released, and when excess glucose is present, the insulin will direct its storage into fat. Fruit intake should be moderated, like all sweets. The best choices are antioxidant-rich berries and pitted fruits.
4. You think DIET soda doesn’t count.
Most diet foods register as little or zero calories but still cause a spike in insulin levels, which causes the body to store fat. Other chemicals in diet foods, like MSG, have also been shown to induce obesity.
5. You think happy hour doesn’t count because you are eating small portions.
It is easy to underestimate the metabolic changes that occur after a drink (or two), especially when you are rationalizing the money saved from the happy hour discount. Add a small plate of fried food and you have just sent your metabolism reeling into a tailspin before dinner has even started.
6. You’re stressed and have been for years.
Any type of stress, whether internal or external, causes the body to enter into a state of self-preservation. This results in altered hormone levels, especially cortisol. Prolonged stimulation of the fight or flight response results in increased fat storage in the mid-section.
7. You eat gluten-free but don’t limit your grains.
As mentioned above, processed carbohydrates manipulate your blood sugar and insulin levels. Over time, your cells become insulin resistant, which makes it very difficult for your body to burn fat effectively, regardless of exercise and caloric intake.
8. You skip naps for the gym and stay up late to watch your favorite program.
Lack of sleep is a constantly overlooked source of weight gain. Our sleep patterns have a significant impact on our hormone levels, in particular, cortisol and growth hormone. Disruptions in these hormones lead to weight gain by changing your metabolism, increasing cravings and your emotional relationship with food.
In the end, the best way to lose weight is to adopt a balanced lifestyle. This includes eating good fats and non-processed, non-diet foods, moving your body regularly and effectively, obtaining adequate amounts of sleep, and finding healthy ways to manage stress. Although there is, unfortunately, no miracle diet which is true and permanent, the tips mentioned above can guide you to a healthier, fitter lifestyle which will continue even after the extra pounds melt away.
Dr. Nicole Ortiz is the co-owner of Live Well Clinic and a Naturopathic Doctor with a focus in preventative cardiology. For more information call (760) 771.5970 or visit www.livewellclinic.org.
Sources: 1) Daussin, F.N., et al. 2008. Effect of interval versus continuous training on cardiorespiratory and mitochondrial functions: relationship to aerobic performance improvements in sedentary subjects.American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 295, R264-72.; 2) Leproult R. · Van Cauter E. Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss in Hormonal Release and Metabolism Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill., USA Loche S, Cappa M, Ghizzoni L, Maghnie M, Savage MO (eds): Pediatric Neuroendocrinology. Endocr Dev. Basel, Karger, 2010, vol 17, pp 11–21 (DOI:10.1159/000262524)