Weight loss seems intimidating. Sometimes even impossible. Having insight into how your body functions and how medical weight loss works can help alleviate some of the mystery that comes with wanting to lose those extra, unnecessary pounds. Let us explain why you’ve hit a plateau in your weight loss journey even when you seem to be doing everything right.
Mitochondria and Your Metabolism
Mitochondria is a big word for a tiny organelle found in your body’s cells. On average, there are between one to two thousand mitochondria in each individual cell that you have. If you multiply the number of mitochondria in each cell by the number of cells you have in your body, you have a lot of these little guys.
These organelles are the powerhouse of the entire cell. They take the nutrients found in food and break them down into energy that the cell can use. Your cells cannot run straight off of the food you eat, just like a vehicle cannot run straight off of crude oil pumped from the ground. The oil must first be refined and turned into gasoline. The food you eat must be refined by the mitochondria and turned into a molecule known as ATP that can fuel a cell.
How does mitochondria relate to weight loss? Most people associate the word “metabolism” with weight loss, but not many think of their mitochondria. When a doctor refers to your metabolism, they are more than likely referring to your mitochondria. The two words are basically synonymous.
The effectiveness of those little mitochondria powerhouses control the effectiveness of your metabolism. If your mitochondria burn lots of the calories that you intake and turn them into energy, then you have a fast metabolism. But if your mitochondria don’t burn lots of the calories that you eat, then you have a slow metabolism.
These organelles are vitally important. The natural act of aging and most chronic diseases (including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia) are related to mitochondrial dysfunction. To keep your mitochondria (i.e. metabolism) in tip-top, working shape, you need to avoid inflammation.
The top sources of inflammation are diet and environmental toxins. Overeating as well as sugary, processed foods overload and damage the mitochondria. Eating real, whole foods and only eating as much as your body needs are two quick ways to avoid inflammation caused by your diet.
Believe it or not, while avoiding environmental toxins seems inevitable, you have the ability to rid yourself of lots of exposure. Phthalates, PERC, Triclosan, QUATS, 2-Butoxyethanol, Ammonia, Chlorine, and Sodium Hydroxide are all found in household items like cleaners, drain openers, laundry whiteners, fabric softeners, dishwashing detergents, toilet paper, and tap water.
Switching your body care, home fragrances, and cleaning products to natural, less harmful alternatives, in addition using a water filter will do wonders. One last, simple step to eliminating inflammation, boosting mitochondrial function, and freeing up your metabolism is to move more often and take energy boosting nutrients such as Acetyl-L-carnitine, Alpha-lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10, N-acetyl-cysteine, NADH, D-ribose, Resveratrol, and Magnesium.
After eating, blood flows through the pancreas. This organ detects the high levels of glucose (that your food was broken down into) and knows to release insulin, a hormone that it produces in order to allow the cells throughout the body to use the glucose.
Your cells have insulin receptors that allow glucose to enter, then the cell either uses the glucose to make energy right away or stores it as a future energy source. The hormone that has the greatest relationship with weight gain and disease is insulin.
For some people, though, this system has gone haywire. Their cells’ insulin receptors have stopped acknowledging the insulin, which means the cells don’t get the glucose. Instead, the glucose builds up in the blood, where the pancreas notes the escalating glucose levels and pumps out still more insulin in response. The cells are starving because the fuel they need isn’t being absorbed at the insulin receptor site.
When you have too much insulin, your body is unable to pull glucose into the cells, which means that excess levels of glucose build up in your blood. With nowhere else to go, your body turns this extra energy into fat and stores it for later. But you can’t lose weight because your body is in survival mode. To help naturally regulate this, reducing calorie intake by portion control or counting calories can lead to lower insulin levels.
Thyroid And Proper Nutrients
Your thyroid plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight. Hypothyroidism, or low-thyroid function, is a major player in weight-loss resistance. One in five women are affected by hypothyroidism, along with one in ten men, but half of the cases are undiagnosed.
Gluten accounts for up to 30% of the autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. Why? It’s often a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. Therefore, the antibodies that are designed to annihilate gliadin also attack your thyroid. Apart from gluten, pesticides and heavy metals are other major culprits that interfere with function.
Your thyroid needs specific nutrients to run optimally: selenium, zinc, iodine, and omega-3 fats. Some of these are found in pumpkin seeds, oysters, and Brazil nuts. Try incorporating some of these foods into your diet to insure that your thyroid is being fed. Limit soybeans, raw kale, and other raw cruciferous veggies (such as cauliflower or broccoli) which might contain thyroid-blocking compounds.
It is okay to eat cruciferous veggies, but in this scenario, it is not good to eat them raw. Try adding iodine rich food (like wild-caught, low-mercury fish and seaweed), fish oil, multivitamins that include the previously stated nutrients, and avoid overexposure to fluoride and chlorine to encourage proper thyroid function.
Stress and Cortisol
Stress makes you gain weight. Crazy as it may sound, it’s true. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that helps you to run faster, see further, hear better, and pump fuel into your bloodstream for quick energy. It helps you survive in the face of danger. But while doing this, it also shuts down digestion and slows your metabolism which does nothing but cause you to gain weight.
Prolonged, unchecked stress creates high levels of cortisol that cause high blood sugar, increased belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and muscle loss. Prevent stress by practiced relaxation — whether that be in the form of exercise, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, etc..
Understanding your body and its functions can help alleviate some of the mystery that comes with weight loss plateaus. They are common and normal, but easily fixed. Our nurses here at Kare Health & Wellness will always be happy to help you identify the underlying causes of your weight loss plateau or answer any questions you might have.