Weight Loss

Are you overweight?

The amount of body fat that you have determines whether you are overweight and therefore unhealthy. Research is still being done in this area as it is still unclear how much body fat is healthy or unhealthy. It may vary from individual to individual and it also varies throughout your life.

There are different methods used to determine if you are considered overweight, purely observing your overall weight is not enough. The main factors to consider when determining if you are overweight are:

  • Body Fat Percentage

  • Waist Circumference

  • Body-Mass Index (BMI)

You are considered to be overweight when your body fat is more than 30% for women and 25% for men. For females a waist size of more than 89cm or for males a waist size of more than 102cm is likely to mean you are at a higher risk of diseases associated with increased weight.

BMI Chart

How is being overweight bad for your health?

Being overweight or obese is defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat. Accumulating excess body fat is not just a problem with your appearance but may increase the risk of many diseases.

Some of the diseases associated with being overweight are as follows:

  • Type II diabetes

  • Joint problems including osteoarthritis

  • Heart problems including high blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Cancer

  • Sleep apnea

  • Liver disease

  • Fertility and pregnancy complications

Dietary fats and weight loss

"Current thinking, which is based on low fat calorie control, will initially result in weightloss but long term leads to rebound fat storage and stubborn weight gain"

When you eat fat it seems logical that you will store more body fat, but biochemically this is not the case. Being overweight comes from an inability to burn fat. Current thinking, which is based on low fat calorie control, will initially result in weightloss but long term leads to rebound fat storage and stubborn weight gain. The following list highlights some of the reasons for including traditional fats to facilitate weight loss.

  • Saturated fats, as part of a meal or snack, leaves you feeling satisfied. When eaten your body produces hormones in the stomach and intestine that signals your brain that you are full or satiated. Ongoing satiation also indicates to the brain that food is abundant. Without this mechanism your metabolism is geared toward fat storage. A low fat diet indicates to the brain that there is a food shortage

  • Medium chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil boost metabolism by supporting thyroid function and by providing a good source of steady energy that is not easily stored as body fat

  • Saturated fats, more so than any other food, help reduce cravings by stabilising blood sugar levels. Fluctuating blood sugar levels mean fluctuating energy levels and increased chances of reaching for a chocolate bar to make it through the afternoon

  • Saturated fats also provide a fabulous steady supply of energy making it more achievable to exercise regularly

  • Saturated fats also reduce cravings by increasing nutrient absorption from the food that you eat. When your body is nourished with the essential nutrients it needs you are less likely to experience cravings. Being overweight you are more likely to be under-nourished with essential nutrients

Sugar, starches and weight loss

"Avoiding sweet foods and starches and increasing fats, vegetables and in some cases protein, leads to a leaner more energetic body"

The body needs essential nutrients to metabolise foods. Essential nutrients include vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. Sugars and starches contain fewer essential nutrients than the body needs for metabolism. This has led nutritionists to regard sugar as having empty or negative calories. Consumption of sugar can be likened to drawing on an essential nutrient savings account, if more is taken out than is put in then the account will soon be empty. The energy centers of our cells require vitamins and minerals to create fuel for metabolism, this is essential for fat burning.

Eating sugar and starches also leads to increased weight gain by promoting fat storage. This happens because of the effect on 2 important hormones, leptin and insulin, which determine if energy is stored as fat. Repeated exposure to sugars and starches leads to leptin and insulin resistance. With reduced sensitivity to these hormones the body is wired to fat storage rather than fat burning. Body fat cannot be burned if insulin is present. Research is slowly unraveling what clinical experience has shown me, ie that avoiding sweet foods and starches and increasing fats, vegetables and in some cases protein, leads to a leaner more energetic body.

Gut flora and weight loss

If you are one of my weight loss patients you will probably be surprised to learn that your gut flora or more specifically the flora in the stomach can influence your weight-loss efforts. Pathogenic or bad bacteria produce toxins (endotoxins) that create inflammation in the body. This influences weight as it halts energy production in the powerhouse of our cells, the mitochondria, and diverts calories to fat storage. These endotoxins from gram-negative bacteria also have an influence on insulin resistance. Beneficial gut flora is our main source of some B group vitamins as they produce them for us in our gut. B vitamins are essential for weight loss as they stabilise blood sugar levels, reducing cravings and are required by the mitochondria for energy production.

Reasons for eating apart from hunger

The body is designed to let you know when it needs nourishment. There are many mechanisms for monitoring what and how much nourishment it needs. However throughout a person's early years these mechanisms can become dysfunctional due to many different reasons and we may eat for any number of reasons:

  • Emotional eating: Eating is such a sensory stimulus that it can mask any uncomfortable sensations or emotions for a while. Chewing relaxes and tasting distracts

  • Habit: We are trained from a very young age to eat to a certain pattern. Three meals a day with a snack in between and many of us were untrained to listen to our own bodies cues about when to eat, how much to eat and what to eat

  • Toxicity: Acids or toxins in the gut can give the impression of hunger. These may come from poorly digested foods or from toxins the body is clearing out that are not expelled via the channels of elimination. Food helps to buffer these acids and toxins and helps us feel better for a short time

  • Physiological cravings: If the body is missing an essential nutrient or has a high demand for a particular nutrient it can provoke strong cravings

  • Modernized foods: Contain many additives and empty calories which can confuse the body's appetite/satiety mechanisms. These foods can leave us feeling a bit stuffed or physically full but not satisfied or not feeling nourished