How Stress is Keeping You From Losing Weight
By DR. ALAN CHRISTIANSON
If weight gain isn't the result of too many calories and too little movement, what is the cause? The top theories include a diverse number of reasons, including:
* Environmental toxins
* Sugars, especially fructose
* Shift work and other causes of insomnia
* High levels of stress
* Noise pollution
* Electromagnetic fields
Many of these may not seem to be obvious causes of weight gain. How could invisible chemicals or loud sounds cause people to pack on the pounds? The one common thread among all of these factors is that each changes adrenal hormones in ways that lead to weight gain. Why is that?
All mammals are able to control their body weight, even when their food intake goes up or down by a bit. All mammals are also able to gain weight without eating more food when preparing for hibernation or when threatened by famine. "Survival mode" is the phrase given to this storage reaction, and it happens to us too.
When we're not in survival mode, our main stress hormone, cortisol, has a healthy daily rhythm. The adrenal glands put out a big burst of cortisol in the morning, and as the day goes on they make less and less of it. When things like toxins, noise and stressors send us into survival mode, the timing of cortisol production gets thrown off. When cortisol timing changes, the energy in the bloodstream gets hijacked by the belly fat and is used to enlarge the fat cells.
[Read More: What is to Blame for the U.S. Obesity Crisis?]
Once we realize weight gain is a preparation for famine, it becomes clear why eating less food seldom leads to lasting fat loss. When you go on a new diet, your food intake goes down. If your body is already in a state of getting prepared for a food shortage, this only makes it worse.
Even though long-term weight loss won't happen from pushing yourself harder, it will happen from comforting yourself more effectively. Rather than the old standbys of diet and exercise, the new solutions look more like:
* Regular sleep
* Detox and cleansing
* Time spent in nature
Healing the Cortisol Cycle
All of these solutions can help heal the cortisol production cycle, and this is the ticket to lasting fat loss. The only bad thing about these new solutions is that they take time, and many people just don't have enough time for the things they already have on their plates.
A simple diet has been shown to heal the same cortisol cycle all by itself. It works because good carbs like squash, buckwheat and navy beans can effectively lower cortisol. Since it's good to have higher cortisol in the morning and lower cortisol at night, you can eat these carbs into the evening and reset the rhythm.
[Read More: Why Your Workout Isn’t Working]
A group of 42 volunteers tested this diet and showed that, in as little as 30 days, the hormones of fat storage can be fixed . In the study, participants lost an average of nine pounds of fat, and many lost three to five inches around their waists. Other findings: Unlike with typical diets, participants gained energy, had improved sleep quality and noticed greater mental focus.
If your weight has been a struggle, please don't think that you're weak-willed or lazy. Once you understand that stress hormones drive weight gain, it becomes clear that feelings of shame and self-doubt by themselves may make the problem worse. Understand that the modern world is full of famine triggers and that your body is just doing what it can to protect itself. The way to being lean and energized comes not through more extreme deprivation, but from more effectively honoring and comforting yourself.
Readers -- Have you unsuccessfully tried to lose weight through diet and exercise? If you’ve lost weight, have you been able to keep it off? Do you think exercise and diet are enough to lose weight, or do you think there are other factors involved? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Dr. Alan Christianson, N.M.D., specializes in natural endocrinology with a focus on thyroid disorders. He is the author of theNew York Times'best-selling book, The Adrenal Reset Diet. He also co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Thyroid Diseaseand the e-book original Healing Hashimoto's.
In 1997, Dr. Christianson founded Integrative Health, a physicians' group dedicated to smart, safe, natural solutions for the entire family. He was named a 2011 Top Doctor in Phoenix magazine and has appeared on national TV shows, including The Doctors, Today, The Insider and in countless leading magazines.
1. Christianson, Alan NMD. The Adrenal Reset Diet. Pp 66-68. Harmony Books. 2014.