85% of the people that work with iCoach Nutrition nail down the exercise, diet, psychology, and social parts of the fat loss equation. Under normal physiological situations, the body has no problem giving up the fat, as long as the basics are covered. However, there’s always that other 15%: people who seem to be doing everything else right but still can’t lose fat.
Believe it or not, fat loss isn’t just about diet and exercise. Human physiology plays a very important role! Unfortunately, as a population, our physiologies are more messed up than ever these days. If your diet and exercise program is not working for you, do yourself a favor and look under the hood. The better your physiology works, the healthier you will be.
Look under the hood…what does that mean?
If this is you, it’s time to look at the 4 major physiological systems that could be holding you back.
- Your oxygen delivery system
- Blood sugar management system
- Adrenal system
- Digestive system
The oxygen delivery system
The cells of your body run primarily on oxygen and glucose. If either one of these is deficient in any way, hundreds of trillions of cells in your body will not work correctly. The cells of your body produce something called ATP, this is the basic energy source for your body and allows each cell of your body to do what it does. Without ATP, nothing works correctly. In fact, reduced ATP production is one of the hallmarks of the aging process.
While there are many nutrients that help with the production of ATP, one of the most fundamental components is oxygen. If your cells are not receiving adequate amounts of oxygen, nothing in your body will work correctly … including weight loss. Standard blood work, which should include RBC, hemoglobin, hematocrit, iron, ferritin, transferrin, MCV, MCH, and MCHC can help to give you more insight into the status of your oxygen delivery system.
The blood sugar management system
Imbalanced blood sugar levels are the root problem of many health issues, including being overweight. When talking about blood sugar balance, for simplicity’s sake, there are two possibilities:
- Insulin resistance – chronically elevated blood sugar levels
- Hypoglycemia – blood sugar fluctuations – sometimes it’s high and sometimes it’s low.
Both of these imbalances result in elevated insulin.
When someone is insulin resistant, glucose can no longer effectively enter into the cell. Because blood sugar is not adequately entering the cells, it stays in general circulation rather than being stored. As a result, the body produces higher levels of insulin to remove glucose from the bloodstream, which causes even greater metabolic dysfunction.
Individuals with hypoglycemic tendencies will have periods of low blood sugar and therefore surges of insulin, rather than chronically elevated levels. During periods of low blood sugar, adrenaline is often used to elevate blood sugar, causing a sharp rise in glucose and insulin. The list below highlights some of the symptoms associated with each imbalance.
- Feels better after meals
- Sugar cravings before meals
- May have difficulty staying asleep at night
Insulin resistant tendencies:
- Feels tired after meals
- Sugar cravings after meals
- May have difficulty getting to sleep at night
The adrenal system
The adrenal glands are your body’s primary defense for managing stress. When the adrenal glands are activated, they produce a number of hormones that help your body deal with both acute and chronic stressors. One such hormone is cortisol. Cortisol’s primary function is to increase blood sugar levels so your brain, muscles, and organs have enough fuel to get you through a stressful situation. Problems occur when stress becomes chronic. Chronically elevated cortisol levels increase blood sugar levels, which then elevate insulin levels.
There are many chronic stressors in today’s society including mental/emotional stress, food sensitivities, blood sugar imbalances, infections (i.e. parasitic, bacterial), excessive exercise… basically, anything that is a perceived stress on the body. The most effective way of assessing adrenal gland function is the Adrenal Salivary Test. This test uses four salivary samples throughout the day and assesses levels of salivary cortisol and DHEA.
The gastrointestinal system
A properly functioning gastrointestinal system is critical for overall health and well-being. In fact, we should start treating our gut with care if we are interested in weight loss. How do you know if you have a dysfunctional digestive system? Any of the following symptoms can indicate gastrointestinal issues: gas, bloating, burping after meals, inadequate digestion (feeling like you have a brick in your stomach after you eat), undigested food in your stools, foul-smelling stools, constipation, diarrhea, burning in the stomach, bad breath, nausea, etc. Additionally, hormonal imbalances, migraines, allergies, eczema, and autoimmune disease all have links to the gastrointestinal system.
A dysfunctional gastrointestinal system can virtually ruin your chances of weight loss. From a compromised immune system to a stress hormone imbalance, to altered sex hormones, to blood sugar irregularities — many of these problems start in the gut. One of the best ways to stop a vicious GI-related cycle is to control inflammation and identify food sensitivities. A strict elimination diet for a period of 3-6 weeks has helped countless people alleviate their gastrointestinal issues.
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