Was Katie Hopkins right about weight loss?
You've tried it all. You’ve spent hours in the gym, tried Zumba and spinning classes. You’ve also signed up for Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast and just plain eating less. Yet your results are disappointing - or initially positive... and then disappointing.
The thought of another 'New Year - new you' weight loss plan leaves you unenthusiastic. To top it off Katie Hopkins has done it. She gained and lost three stone. Katie says if you're overweight then it’s because you eat too much and are lazy. I say she lacks understanding of the intricate physiology that dictates our body’s ability to use food as fuel. The truth is, if weight loss were as simple as calories in - calorie used = weight gain/loss then we wouldn’t be faced with an obesity crisis and a multibillion pound dieting industry making money out of people's failure to keep weight off.
There can be a number of reasons why you're not losing weight. There are physiological reasons that cause your body to store fat, struggle to utilise it for energy and lead you to crave the wrong foods.
Adrenal issues, blood sugar problems and food intolerances will all lead to food being stored in fat cells. It’s there as an energy store. The release of fat-storage hormones, cortisol and insulin, instructs your body to do just that.
If you have adrenal issues you might carry your weight around the midsection of your body. Until you balance blood sugar levels and figure out what’s stressing your body - external or internal factors - you will struggle to lose weight.
Food intolerances can cause you to hold on to excess water. Identifying and eliminating these from your diet can help with initial water weight loss and this will help lower cortisol release which will stop encouraging your body to store fuel as fat.
Another controversial issue is thyroid function. Yes, it sounds like a cliché, 'it's my thyroid' but it could be an issue. Even if you have a diagnosed thyroid problem and are taking medication for it - it could still be your thyroid that's preventing you from losing weight. GP tests for thyroid can be insensitive. We need a variety of tests to check the uptake and conversion of thyroid hormones. We also need to consider the possibility of autoimmune issues and nutrient deficiencies.
Whilst we're on the subject of thyroid function I should mention that in the West Midlands, sub-clinical thyroid problems relating to issues with weight and fatigue are common. This is due to a simple deficiency. Many West Midland folk are iodine deficient. Iodine is vital for correct function of the thyroid gland. There may be other relevant deficiencies too - zinc, selenium for example but iodine is the biggie for us living in the middle of the UK. Iodine is not found in many of the foods we eat, but what little we have can be easily displaced in the body by chloride and fluoride. So simply put, too little iodine and too much chlorine and fluoride (which is added to tap water in the West Midlands) can lead to sub-clinical thyroid function. This can lead to a number of symptoms, two of the main ones are an inability to lose weight, the other is feeling fatigued. When this happens your metabolism has slowed and energy conversion is sluggish and eating less and exercising more won’t work.
There are other nutrient deficiencies that can lead to problems losing weight too. Essential fatty acids are what make your body’s cells fluid. If you’ve ever followed a low fat diet you could be deficient. Your body needs these to allow the fat to be transported out of the cells, to be burned for energy. Essential fatty acid deficiency can also impact on brain cell signalling leading to problems with reward deficiency in the brain.
This leads us to the role of neurotransmitters in weight loss. If we just take a look at two of the key players - serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin deficiency manifests in anxiety, emotional eating and craving carbohydrate rich foods. Dopamine deficiency results in apathy, lack of motivation and minimal satisfaction from eating - leading to regularly eating more of the wrong foods.
So, it’s not just a case of eating less. Maybe it was that simple for Katie Hopkins, but for many it is more complex.
Using nutritional therapy for weight loss is not a quick fix, but by addressing your underlying imbalances you are assured of a reaching and staying at your goal in the longer-term.