Why did you get fat?
You may find the word ‘fat’ politically incorrect, but most of us know why we got fat. Yes, I’m a Nutritional Therapist and I’m using the word “fat” because it’s not cool and it’s not healthy, yet we continue to get fatter.
But what if your weight gain isn’t down to a greedy streak, laziness or lack of exercise? Then it’s time to discover what’s holding you back. You might have the best diet in the world or your own personal nutritionist, but many people follow healthy diets and continue to be overweight. It’s not a good feeling when healthy eating works for everyone else, but not for you.
There are 10 unknown factors making you fat
The most effective and overlooked path to success is to go back to basics and ask yourself why you got fat in the first place? If it’s not obvious then you will never be slim. The old adage of calories in vs. calories out holds true, but if this isn’t working you need to rule out the 10 most common contributing factors.
1) You are programming yourself to be fat
Do you really believe you can lose weight and keep it off? If you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s unlikely you will ever have the determination and resolve to lose that fat forever.
The body and mind are so closely connected that placebo pills work because we believe them to be real. If you took a placebo fat loss pill, it’s likely you would lose weight by believing in it. So why not make your life easy? Start believing in yourself and your ability to make changes.
By really putting your mind to something, you can change the outcome and steer yourself to success, and where the mind goes, the body will follow.
2. Stress is a fat maker too
Do you have a muffin top? It’s because stress makes your body store fat around the middle. During difficult times stress hormones stimulate your appetite to replace the fuel your body has burned. Eating sugary foods prompts more cortisol production, making your store more fat than needed, usually in the abdominal area. If stress is constant, then the cycle goes on indefinitely.
Avoid stress, excessive alcohol, cigarette smoking, and caffeine because they all increase your cortisol levels, thus starting the stress fat cycle. High cortisol levels will also disturb you sleep and mood which will cause further weight gain.
3. Food intolerance and allergies will keep you fat
Have you ever binged yet felt hungrier than before? Do you crave a particular food not feeling satisfied until you get it? Then you may be suffering from food intolerances
Allergenic foods can act like drugs and nine times out of ten the foods you crave are making you fat by inflaming your tissues and causing you swell. The top offenders include: milk, eggs, wheat, yeast, tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts), fish (such as bass, cod, flounder) and shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp).
Compulsive eaters crave and continue to eat the foods to which they are addicted day after day with no idea that these cravings are based on a need to stop withdrawal symptoms caused by food addiction. Just removing an offending food often results in a rapid water loss of five to ten pounds within a week.
4. Are you waterlogged?
Do you gain weight from morning till night or wake in the morning with lines all over your arms and legs from the sheets touching them? Maybe your shoes feel tight towards the end of the day or your fingers are so swollen that rings no longer fit. Can poke your skin and find it dents easily? Guess what? Fat doesn’t dent so easily, so what is it?
Water retention can be caused by excessive salt in the diet, nutritional deficiencies, intolerances, hot weather, burns/sunburn, pre-menstrual syndrome, the contraceptive pill, pregnancy, menopause and drug side effects. Sometimes fluid retention may be caused by a serious underlying medical condition and you should always speak to your doctor if it’s an ongoing problem.
Fresh parsley is a natural diuretic and most salad vegetables also exert a gentle diuretic action, celery in particular. Follow a low salt diet, drink eight glasses of water daily, cut out junk, excessive alcohol, caffeine and eat a balanced diet of healthy complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and multicoloured fruits and vegetables. And get checked for food intolerances.
5. Sleepless nights will cause weight gain
A sleepless night is often followed by uncontrollable hunger pangs because lack of sleep affects the hormones responsible for hunger and satiety (fullness).
The hormone leptin is produced in the fat cells and is involved in regulating your body weight by telling your brain you are full. Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates your appetite. But, sleeplessness causes Ghrelin to rise and Leptin to drop making you feel hungrier and unsatisfied after eating. If these hormones are out of balance you could find yourself overeating and gaining weight.
By getting sufficient sleep you may not feel as hungry, and once you have caught up on your sleep you won’t crave sweet foods and high carbohydrate snacks just to keep you going.
6. Constipation makes you heavier
You should pass between 1- 3 well formed bowel movements a day. But, if you don’t experience a daily bowel movement then you are probably constipated which can make you gain weight and cause bloating.
In fact, more of your body weight could be caused by compacted faecal matter than you think. Compacted faecal matter could make up anywhere from five to twenty pounds depending on your age and diet.
Keep your colon clean by drinking plenty of water and eating lots of raw fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Drinking hot water and lemon in the morning will also to help get your system going.
7. Blood sugar imbalances and uncontrollable eating
Do you find it hard to control your cravings and find yourself binging uncontrollably? When blood sugar levels are balanced you will be more successful in controlling your weight and stop cravings.
Sugar is everywhere! And you need to know where so you can learn to avoid it. Start by limiting your sugar intake, and not just the sugar from cakes, biscuits and chocolate!
Refined carbohydrates including white bread, rice and pasta are high in fast releasing sugars which cause a rush of energy followed by a steep fall and uncontrollable cravings. Alcohol has the same effect. Replace refined carbohydrates with slow releasing whole grains like rolled oats, rye, brown rice and wholegrain bread.
Combine lean protein and complex carbohydrates in your main meals to make you feel fuller for longer. This combination slows down digestion and the release of sugars into your blood stream
Fiber also balances blood sugar so increase your intake from healthy cereals, flaxseed and fenugreek seed and cinnamon, garlic, onion, bitter melon are good to reduce blood glucose levels further
Exercise also plays a very important role and you should try to exercise three times weekly.
8. Hormonal imbalances pack on the pounds
Overeating and lack of activity are not the only culprits for weight gain. You may have an underactive thyroid gland or adrenal burn out.
Insufficient thyroid hormones can cause weight gain, apathy, tiredness, depression, poor concentration, dry skin and constipation. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient amounts of the thyroid hormones which help regulate the body’s metabolism.
Both nutritional and mainstream approaches can help to support your thyroid gland and normalise weight. A nutritionist will recommend zinc, B vitamins, omega 3 and 6, iodine and the amino acid tyrosine – the essential nutrients required by the body to manufacture thyroid hormones. A doctor will prescribe thyroid hormones. Both approaches work, but one approach provides the natural ingredients your body needs to manufacture its own hormones, whilst the other approach simply gives the body the hormones it’s lacking.
9. Why poor digestion could be making you fatter
Improper digestion is the cause of many weight problems, and it’s difficult to lose weight if you have poor digestive capabilities. You are not what you eat, you are what you can digest and absorb. So with poor nutrient absorption your body screams for simple sugars just to get its glucose levels up.
The simplest way to support digestion is by chewing your food properly and eating less to enable your digestive juices to work more effectively. Eat when you are hungry and your digestive capacity will improve since your stomach is physically ready to receive food. And only drink liquids within 20 minutes of food to avoid diluting your digestive secretions further.
Digestive bitters are popular in Austria and Germany because they stimulate digestion. Yet our obsession with sweet foods means we have largely ignored the bitter taste in recent years and forgotten its benefits. Try adding bitter foods 20-30 minutes prior your main meal, a rocket salad, radicchio, chicory or some dandelion leaves.
Taking sufficient fibre from fruits, vegetables and whole grains improves transit time throughout the digestive tract and you should also nurture your gut flora with unsweetened probiotic yogurt.
10. Is your medication making you fat?
It’s a bitter pill to swallow but there are fifty or so medications on the market which could be making you fat. Luckily in almost every case your doctor will be able to switch you to another medication which will not cause weight gain.
Various prescription drugs used to treat mood, seizures, migraines, diabetes and high blood pressure can cause weight gain. Some steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives can also cause unwanted pounds to creep up. However sometimes weight gain can’t be attributed to the drug itself and in various cases when an antidepressant makes people feel better, they restore their appetite and eat more.
Stopping prescribed medication on your own can have very serious consequences and must be done very carefully alongside your medical practitioner.