Weight Loss

Hidden Barriers to Weight Loss

If people overeat and do not exercise, it should be no surprise that they are probably going to gain weight. But what happens when they are eating properly and exercising consistently, and they still gain weight?

Unfortunately, weight control is not a simple mathematical formula. It is not a matter of subtracting the number of calories burned from the number of calories consumed. Many other factors affect weight control. We can help our patients who are striving unsuccessfully to lose weight by identifying these unknown barriers to weight loss and guiding them past these obstacles.

Sleep Deprivation
Studies show that when subjects sleep less than five hours a night (compared with seven hours or more), they do not produce adequate levels of leptin. Leptin is an adipose-derived hormone that signals satiety when we have eaten enough. Without satiety, we are prone to eat too much. Sleep deprivation can also prompt late-night snacking, leading to increased obesity. Furthermore, sleep deprivation stresses the body, contributing to excessive cortisol production, yet another factor linked to obesity.

Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone essential for health, but in excess it can stimulate increased appetite and contribute to the deposition of fat and the catabolism of muscle. Not only will cortisol influence weight gain; it will cause the fat to be deposited deep in the abdomen (versus subcutaneous deposition). Deep abdomen fat is metabolically unique and perilous to good health. The excessive accumulation of abdominal fat can cause or contribute to many diseases: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, hypertension and some types of cancer. Anxiety and physical stress, including exercise, also stimulate the secretion of cortisol.

While exercise is beneficial for losing weight, excessive exercise can provoke production of cortisol. In fact, cortisol levels can increase after 45 to 60 minutes of exercise. Ironically, many of the most devoted exercise enthusiasts struggle with weight control and fat distribution (they develop scrawny limbs and retain belly fat, characteristic of diabetes or excessive cortisol production). Stress, sleep deprivation, excessive caffeine consumption and dehydration may also provoke an increase in cortisol production.

Dehydration
Hydration is required to maintain a higher level of metabolic activity. When we are dehydrated, our metabolism slows down, and we feel tired. Our calorie burning is reduced, and we feel less like exercising. In addition, there is growing evidence that dehydration triggers an increase in the production of cortisol.

Prescription Drugs
Certain prescription drugs (upwards of 50) contribute to weight gain. In some cases, this weight gain can negate the intended effect of the drug. Steroids top the list of drugs that cause weight gain. Other culprits include certain antidepressants, antipsychotic medicines, particular diabetes medicines, anti-seizure medications, hypertensive medicines and heartburn medicines. The weight gain may be mild with some medicines or profound with others, such as prolonged high dosages of steroids. While abruptly discontinuing certain medications may be dangerous, it is important to know what may be causing weight gain.

For specific information about the effects, contraindications and interactions of drugs that can lead to weight gain, I recommend visiting www.DrugWatch.com.

Abundant Health want to Help You Make Healthy Choices
Regular exercise and healthy eating are commonly held to be the foundations of maintaining the appropriate amount of lean body mass and overall body weight, but adequate sleep, hydration, stress reduction and avoidance of unnecessary drugs all contribute to good health. We value our patients’ health, and we are agents to bring this important message to you.

For more information about weight management, go to www.acatoday.org/NCHM.

Dr. Shalona McFarland wants to see you healthy, call for your appointment 970-256-7454.

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