If you’ve ever felt that the harder you try to lose weight, the harder it is to lose it, you’ve experienced the sinister side of biology.
While it’s true that to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories and burn more of them through exercise, that formula is woefully lacking some critical details. And that lack of information is what makes people abandon their weight loss efforts and makes the business of weight loss a $78 billion industry.
Dr. Darrien Gaston and our team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in Chicago, Illinois, partner with patients every day who struggle to lose weight, even though they’ve tried every diet and exercise program available.
Here, Dr. Gaston discusses a few of the obstacles that may be standing in your way as you work toward your healthy weight, and offers some options that might help you get there.
A sluggish or slowing metabolism
You probably know that a faster metabolism burns more calories and helps with weight loss, but it’s not that simple.
Everyone’s metabolism — the process that converts food to energy — works at a different pace. And many variables can mess with your rate, including gender, age, genetics, and how much fat and muscle your body has. Your metabolism works on three levels:
- Resting metabolism: how much energy it takes to maintain your body when it’s doing nothing
- Thermal effect of food: how much energy it takes to eat and process food
- Thermal effect of activity: how much energy you expend during physical exercise
Your resting metabolic rate accounts for up to 75% of your daily energy expenditure; physical activity, about 30%; and eating and digesting only about 10%.
Here’s the cruel twist in this biological math: when you lose weight, your metabolism slows down. That’s why it seems to come off easily at first, and then you hit a plateau and nothing seems to budge your numbers. The heavier your body is, the more calories it burns even at rest.
Your weight loss plan isn’t sustainable
If you’re a yo-yo dieter, it may be because you’ve chosen to follow a method that’s not sustainable. Here’s why extreme diets don’t work for long.
Imagine your metabolism as a spring. If you’ve eaten an unhealthy diet, led a sedentary life, and become overweight or obese, your metabolism “spring” considers this normal. But when you diet, exercise, and lose weight, you stretch the “spring” and it responds temporarily during the process.
But as soon as you cheat, the “spring” snaps back, and you gain the weight again — your metabolism constantly seeks its normal state.
Another biological consequence of crash diets is that you may lose up to 5% of lean muscle mass, which is essential for weight loss. And if you stay in a state of starvation too long, you endanger your organs and your life.
The only way to retrain your metabolism and find a new normal is to make changes you can maintain for life.
Hunger hormones sabotage you
There are many reasons we eat food, and most of them have nothing to do with being hungry. We eat to celebrate when we’re happy, to comfort ourselves when we’re sad, and calm ourselves when we’re angry. Sometimes we eat when the clock tells us it’s mealtime, or simply because we love the taste of food.
Once you wade through all those food triggers, you’ll discover that your body actually calls for food when there’s a need to replenish nutrients — it’s called hunger, and it’s regulated by hormones. One of those hormones, leptin, sends hunger and fullness messages to your brain, so you know when to start and stop eating.
But since leptin is released by fat tissue, it drops when you lose weight, so your body gets confused and thinks it’s starving. What happens next? Binging and weight gain.
How to break through your weight loss obstacles
Dr. Darrien understands all these frustrating obstacles and can help you get past them. It starts with a thorough medical exam and an honest discussion about what you’ve tried in the past. Once he gets the full picture of your weight loss journey and physical health, he recommends a medically supervised weight loss program, such as:
- ORBERA™: a noninvasive, inflatable balloon that reduces the capacity of your stomach
- AspireAssist®: a minimally invasive, reversible way to eliminate a portion of your stomach’s contents
During your consultation, Dr. Gaston lets you know if either of these procedures is right for you. If so, you may soon join our many other thrilled patients who have lost significant amounts of weight and have kept it off with Dr. Gaston’s help. To learn more, schedule an appointment by calling our friendly staff or book it online today.