Difficulty Losing Weight? : 3 Forgotten Factors of Fat Loss

Joe Condora
Difficulty Losing Weight? : 3 Forgotten Factors of Fat Loss

Vegan, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting; there are countless popular diets promising you the world. All of these restrictive dietary approaches claim that their way is the best way to lose weight and promote health.

In reality, each of the dietary approaches mentioned above have their upsides, but they also have their downsides. Regardless which of these (or any other) diets you choose to adopt, there are some often overlooked factors of weight loss that you should remember on your journey.

 Below are 3 forgotten factors of weight loss:

1. Getting Good Quality Sleep is Crucial

Did you know that one night of sleep deprivation can make your bloodwork look similar to a type 2 diabetic patient?

Sleep is the most overlooked aspect of health and wellness. With obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise, inadequate sleep has become the topic of conversation. Getting high quality sleep is a vital part of glucose control. In other words, if you aren't sleeping properly, your blood sugar will be out of whack, causing elevated insulin, possibly contributing to diabesity (diabetes + obesity) .

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, a research review published in the Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America showed that up to 30% of middle-aged Americans sleep less than 6 hours per night. Over time, this leads to sleep debt.

If you should be sleeping approximately 8 hours/night but you are only sleeping 5 hours/night, you will find yourself in 16 hours of sleep debt by the end of the week. Over the course of 1 month, the sleep debt will rise to 64 hours and over the course of a year, 832 hours.

Remember the study mentioned above showing that 24 hours of sleep deprivation can throw your blood sugar out of whack?
Just imagine what 832 hours will do.

Aside from the negative impact that sleep deprivation has on blood-sugar management, poor quality sleep can also alter cravings and food desires. Research published in 2013 in the Nature Communications journal found that sleep deprivation directly leads to changes in the brain activity, resulting in a "significant increase in the desire for" obesogenic foods. 

Main takeaway: Make sure you are sleeping between 6 and 9 hours per night to optimize blood sugar control and prevent exaggerated insulin resistance and weight gain.


2. Most exercises aren't effective for weight loss

The modern paradigm for weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. While burning calories through exercise sounds like an effective weight loss method in theory, research shows that "burning calories" through exercise simply results in individuals eating more calories throughout the day, never actually losing weight or inducing the caloric deficit and hormonal response necessary for weight loss.


So should you stop exercising?

Of course not. Exercise is a vital part of any health and wellness strategy and can have beneficial effects on body composition. I prefer to not worry about what the number on the scale says and let that arbitrary number dictate my feelings of success of failure. 

If you are using exercise to help create a calorie deficit and assist in your weight loss efforts, be sure to use a nutrient tracking app such as MyFitnessPal or Cronometer to track your macronutrients and be mindful not to over-consume.

Main takeaway: Don't expect exercise to help you lose weight. Producing a calorie deficit through a nutrient dense diet should be the first step in a weight loss protocol.


3. Real Food Always Wins

Don't be fooled by the "healthy" protein bars and fiber bars on grocery market shelves. Most of them are processed junk backed by clever marketing. In reality, these type of bars are made with ingredients that are doing you no good on your weight loss journey. Prioritizing real, whole food is going to provide better results than following any dogmatic dietary approach.


One study published in the Food and Nutrition Research journal compared two different meals (whole food meal vs processed food meal) of the same calories and a similar macronturient breakdown to assess their effects on calories burned after eating. The whole food meal consisted of multi-grain bread with cheddar cheese while the processed food meal consisted of refined white bread and "cheese product". Both meals contained the same amount of calories but the whole food meal was comprised of 40% carbohydrate, 39% fat, and 20% protein while the processed meal was comprised of 50% carbohydrate, 33% fat, and 15% protein. 

The results of the study showed that the whole food meal produced nearly 50 percent higher Dietary Induced Thermogenesis (calories burned from nutrient assimilation, digesting, etc), proving that regardless of macronutrient breakdown and caloric content, real food is superior to processed food in the context of weight loss.

Main takeaway: Before adopting any dogmatic dietary approach, start with real food and let your body get accustomed to proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. Don't over-complicate things. Keep it simple and eat real food.

If you're interested in having a personalized 3-week meal plan designed for you, contact Valley Integrative Pharmacy at 908-658-4900 and speak with our Nutrition & Health Coach Joe Condora.

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