Dr. Amy Bader, ND
Hello, Ladies! This month I am covering a topic many patients ask about in my practice: losing weight. Overweight… I’ve been there, done that. I’ll be honest, I like being lean better. But, I believe the goal for any woman is to feel good in her skin. After working with so many patients, I have a few beginning thoughts. First, don’t focus your actual weight. Who really cares what you weigh? It’s justa numba. The composition of your body is what matters. This is about maintaining or building lean body mass, reducing fat and feeling healthy. Second, I am an advocate of focusing on WHAT you eat rather than how much. It all comes down to biochemistry. Fighting against our bodies’ programming will make anyone frustrated. So, if fat is “weighing you down”, here are a few of my favorite simple, yet powerful tips.
When a patient approaches me for help with weight loss, the first conversation we have is about setting a solid foundation. Forget about willpower and cultural messages suggesting you might just be lazy. (BOO!) Excess body fat is a SYMPTOM of imbalance, NOT failure on your part. Since it is a symptom, let’s treat it as such by dealing with root causes. Fat loss is much easier and more sustainable if you have first dealt with underling inflammation, toxicity, hormone imbalances, gut problems, etc. I may treat a patient for up to a year before we do any kind of focused weight loss efforts. The GOOD NEWS? This process of “setting the stage” often results in fat loss… without dieting! Why? A body in balance naturally starts to adjust fat mass to healthier levels. With this said, your assignment is to follow the tips in my previous articles and possibly see a naturopathic doctor for guidance.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for sequestering blood sugar into cells. It also happens to turn on the production of chemicals in our bodies that promote inflammation. Both of these mechanisms make us store fat! A one, two punch! More insulin means more fat, especially the dreaded fat around the waist. Minimize your need for insulin by eating less sugar and carbohydrates as a matter of routine.
One of the best ways to control appetite is to EAT. (Love irony.) Let’s look at two appetite regulators we can control with food.
First, our bodies make a chemical called ghrelin (think gremlin) that is a POTENT hunger generator. When you haven’t eaten, your stomach spits out ghrelin in droves to signal a gland in your head called the hypothalamus. The message the hypothalamus gets is “YO! LET’S EAT! NOW!” Trust me, you CANNOT out run this gremlin. Many have tried, few have succeeded. So, let’s work WITH body chemistry instead of against it and actually eat! To be more specific, let’s eat protein. You don’t need a ton. (This is not a Flintstone’s diet.) You just need a little bit throughout the day. This will satisfy you, level out your blood sugar, and keep that darn gremlin happy for quite awhile.
Second, Eat fat! Yah, you heard me. Fat. Remember when your mom used to say “Don’t eat that, you’ll ruin your dinner?” Well, go ahead, ruin your dinner… with fat. The trick? Eat a small pat of grass-fed butter, or a teaspoon of coconut oil about 20 to 30 minutes before you eat your meal. When this fat enters your small intestine, it signals the production of a chemical called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK makes it way up to your hypothalamus and tells it you feel full. So, if you eat fat before your meal, you are already getting signals you have had enough to eat. Viola! You end up eating less and feeling more satisfied. Portion control becomes automatic. No weighing, measuring, and most importantly, no depriving.
About 30 minutes after you begin eating your fat cells make a chemical called leptin. Like CCK, leptin travels to your hypothalamus and tells you you’re full. Think about it–leptin is made by fat cells in response to eating. This means fat is a self-regulating! That’s right… Your butt literally tells your head to put down the fork! How cool is that? In order to maximize this mechanism, eat SLOWLY to give your fat cells time to get this signal going. One last thing, studies show getting adequate SLEEP helps leptin work much better. So, get your ZZZZs. It is one of the easiest ways to lose weight and keep it off.
Parting thoughts. You are not your weight. Your size does NOT determine your value as a human being. A patient of mine once said her goal was to be able to comfortably get down on the floor to play with her grandkids. Excellent goal! Focus on your health, wellbeing, and the things you want to be able to do. Happy eating.
Take care of your (whole) self—
Amy Bader ND is a doctor, teacher, speaker, writer and entrepreneur. She is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine, where she is now an adjunct clinical faculty member training naturopathic medical students. She has private practices in Northern California and Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her beautiful daughter. She has a passion for treating patients with chronic diseases using clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, biotherapeutic drainage, and homeopathy. She has a particular interest in working with patients who want to lose weight and feel comfortable in their bodies.
Dr. Bader has been interviewed as an expert in natural medicine and natural healthcare for radio, newspapers, magazines and television. She has been a contributing expert columnist for a large online health resource website. Dr. Bader was a founding co-director of NCNM’s Integrative Skin Care Clinic. She is a member of the Advisory Counsel for Kamedis, a bio-herbal skin care company, and is a trainer for Radiancy, maker of LHE phototherapy systems.