Some people would be healthier if they lost some weight, and we can help them. Perhaps you wish to lose weight because you are concerned about your heart, your blood pressure, you have low energy, or perhaps you are prediabetic. Perhaps you’ve been trying to diet, on and off, for years and have been unsuccessful and have added some additional weight. Do you feel stuck and frustrated?
Losing weight is difficult. It requires patience, perseverance, up-to-date nutritional knowledge and technology, namely, Metabolic Testing and Body Composition Analysis. Weight loss can be achieved when realistic goals are established, but the weight loss industry and society at large, has mislead dieters by providing unhealthy and unrealistic goals.
The Pitfalls Of The Usual Approach
The optimal weight for each person differs depending on sex, age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and other variables. Because of today’s diet, fashion and media industry, as well as doctor’s recommendations (based on old fashioned height/weight charts created by insurance companies in the 40s and 50s), most people’s ideal weight goals are set too low. Too many people would like to have bodies like Gisele and Tom Brady and believe that with enough grit and willpower such transformation is possible. It is not. However, even those with far more modest goals routinely fail, as is shown by the well-known statistic that more than 95% of dieters gain their weight back.
Losing weight is hard, often frustrating, and can even be harmful to your body when done inappropriately. Simply cutting calories is often not the answer. Caloric restriction can even be dangerous and backfire, since it has the ability to lower the metabolic rate. When the metabolic rate drops, the body breaks down muscle and organ tissue and uses it for fuel while simultaneously increasing and storing fat. This may seem counterintuitive, but we’ve seen it frequently in our practice, especially if the majority of the calories are consumed in the later part of the day. When fewer calories come in, the body worries about starvation, so it lowers the rate at which it burns calories, and shifts to consuming organ and muscle tissue while stocking up on fat for when it is absolutely necessary. If you would live through a real famine, this mechanism would help you survive much longer. Please watch our video for a visual representation of how this works.
With enough willpower it is possible to lose weight this way, but the price is far too steep for one sacrifices health for weight. Symptoms of food restriction include obsessive thinking, low-energy, compulsive exercising, depression, insomnia, constipation, anxiety, and distorted hunger. If losing weight this way is difficult, maintaining the weight loss is even harder. It is one thing to deal with these symptoms for a few weeks, it is another to deal with them for a lifetime – the body will fight hard to get back to an optimal and realistic weight.
Weighing a person on a scale is an insufficient measure of health because there is no way of seeing if someone is malnourished and if their metabolic rate has dropped. People of normal weight may be terribly unhealthy, while those who are slightly overweight may be very healthy, etc.
Our Better And More Realistic Approach
We need to stop focusing on the numbers on the scale and accept realistic weight goals and focus on real inner health. Losing and maintaining the weight is possible only when one fuels the body with the appropriate calories while also keeping an eye on the metabolic rate.
Metabolic testing and Body Composition Analysis can tremendously help chart sustainable and healthy weight loss paths. Metabolic testing determines how efficiently the body is burning calories and if the body is using its own muscle and organ mass as fuel if underfed. Body Composition Analysis measures the amount of fat and lean tissue (muscle + organs).
Unlike knowing weight, these tests reveal a deeper and far more accurate assessment of an individual’s health. With these tests one can monitor when cutting calories is counterproductive.
For instance, one pound of fat has approximately 3500 calories, and thus to lose one pound of fat in a week you would need to cut 3500 calories/week (or 500 calories/day). For most people, however, this rate of caloric restriction is too steep and will drop their metabolic rate. Their health deteriorates as their bodies will likely break down healthy tissue, using muscle as fuel, while stocking up on fat. We’ve seen lots of people who have lost weight, but they have far less muscle and far more fat. It is unsurprising that they feel terrible. For most people, a more realistic and sustainable goal for losing 1 pound of fat is to take at least 1 to 2 weeks. In other words, cut too much too fast, and your metabolic rate drops, and dieting doesn’t work. With these tests we can monitor each individual’s metabolic rate and customize a plan to ensure that they will actually lose weight without tripping the metabolic wire. Furthermore, there comes a point at which people reach their optimal weight, and they must stop trying to lose weight. This is a hard but necessary truth for many. To roughly consider whether one’s weight loss goals are genetically realistic, one can look at one’s family members.
Some argue that “mindful intuitive eating”, i.e. following one’s hunger signals, is the best guide to eating healthily. This, however, only works for those who are already truly healthy. For when the metabolic rate drops, hunger signals drop as well, and thus offer a very poor guide to healthy eating. They feel less hungry, and so eat less than they need, which further drops their metabolic rate, and they feel even less hungry, etc. Such vicious cycles often lead to more serious eating disorders.
Performing the Metabolic Test and the Body Composition Analysis at regular intervals enables you to know that you are on the right track, and it warns you when the line has been crossed and dieting is causing internal damage. With improved knowledge comes far more realistic goals and plans for increased wellness. And when you know that you are dealing with more realistic goals, you are far more likely to be motivated and therefore to actually reach those goals and keep the weight off. Please reach out to us and see how we can help you.