Sunday, August 14, 2016

Revealed, the five reasons you can't lose weight, from drinking coffee to breathing all wrong

With his broad, muscular shoulders and rippling abdomen, Hugh Jackman knows a thing or two when it comes to keeping in shape.
So when he calls someone 'a one stop shop for health and wellbeing', most aspiring dieters might want to stop and take note.
The Wolverine star enlisted the help of health expert and nutritionist Dr Libby Weaver and it seems he has never looked back. 
So what do they know that we don't when it comes to the quest for the perfect body?
Speaking to Healthista, Dr Weaver reveals the underlying factors that can thwart dieters' best-laid plans.
At the time Dr Weaver studied dietetics at the University of Sydney in the late 90s, the prevailing wisdom was that weight gain was simply caused by eating too much.
It therefore made sense that eating fewer calories would result in weight loss. 
But back in the real world, Dr Weaver found clients who were running marathons or calorie counting obsessively would sometimes gain rather than lose weight.
Now 13 years and hundreds of clients later, she is convinced there are lesser known but powerful reasons people can't lose weight. 
It caused her to turn back to her biochemistry textbooks and ask the question -what leads the human body to get the message to either burn fat or store fat? 
The author of ten nutrition books, Dr Weaver believes that while eating too much and exercising too little contributes to weight gain, there are less obvious factors at play.
From stress levels to how our bodies process insulin may lay behind an inability to lose weight - factors all too often overlooked by dieters and those advising them.

ARE YOU STRESSED?
The link between stress and obesity is being increasingly confirmed in scientific research and for Dr Weaver, it's one of the prime reasons people can't lose weight. 
That marathon runner was putting her body under so much stress that she gained 12 pounds, Dr Weaver remembers. 
What was going on?
'When we're under stress we're constantly churning out the stress hormone adrenaline and that prepares our body to fight an attack or flee from it,' Dr Weaver explained.
'Blood supply is diverted away from processes such as digestion to the muscles so we can run or fight and causes the body to use glucose, not body fat as its fuel. It's why stressed people crave sweets as their bodies need it for fuel.' 
When stress is prolonged, the body starts to make another stress hormone called cortisol which breaks muscles down and having less muscle subsequently slows down metabolism. 
Plus, studies have found that people with high cortisol levels tend to put weight on around their middles. 

Tip: 'When you spot a spare few minutes in a day, stop and breathe properly.' Diaphragmatic breathing is best to lower stress levels, where you breathe in slowly ensuring your belly – not your chest – expands on the in breath. Try doing 20 of these once a day, Weaver suggests.

YOUR MONTHLY CYCLE CAN INTERFERE 
For women in the week leading up to their period weight gain can be no illusion. 
Dr Weaver sees clients put on up to six and a half pounds pre-menstrually which can be down to retaining fluid caused by rising oestrogen levels. 
Levels of progesterone drop at this time which makes matters worse.
'This hormone is an anti-anxiety agent and diuretic that allows us to get rid of excess fluid,' said Dr Weaver.
'This state of low progesterone can impact the type of food a woman chooses and lead to sugar cravings in an effort to calm herself down, it will also impact her motivation to exercise'.
If you get bloated, try cutting out coffee and replacing it with herbal tea

Tip: If you tend to get fluid retention symptoms such as bloating around the tummy, swollen breasts or weight gain, try cutting out coffee and replacing it with herbal tea for four weeks (or one cycle at least) to see if symptoms subside. 
It's believed that substances called methylxanthines in caffeine-based products (even after they have been decaffeinated) can contribute to symptoms.

HIGH INSULIN LEVELS
Insulin is the hormone made in our pancreas that helps the body move sugars from food into the cells of our bodies. 
It transports glucose first to the liver and then to the muscles where it's stored as glycogen to use as energy.
'If there's any leftover, which there usually is, it'll take it to the body fat cells and store it there,' Dr Weaver explained.
Carbohydrate foods all break down into glucose in the blood and refined carbohydrate foods and sugars can lead to excess insulin as they cause sharp spikes in blood sugar and signal the body to make more to process it. 
But that's not the whole picture.
'Adrenaline spikes blood sugar too.
'If you haven't eaten for a ​while and you are sitting at your desk and receive 16 emails about an unexpected crisis at work or home, your adrenaline production increases because your body now thinks that there's danger and that spikes your blood sugar'. 
Sat at your desk you're not going to use the extra glucose available to you because you haven't got a physical threat to fight or flee from, she explains.
'So once again, more insulin has to be made to get the excess glucose out of the blood, leading to more fat storage'.
If you have spent months committing to exercise and eating well with no results, have your blood glucose levels and your blood insulin levels tested with your GP, Weaver suggests

Tip: Get your carbohydrates from whole foods, especially vegetables and fruit.
Make sure your meals contain protein such as lean meat, fish, eggs or pulses with some fat such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oils and olives.
This combination can slow the release of glucose into the blood, requiring less insulin. 
It's why having a little butter on your bread can help slow down the rate at which glucose from the bread is released into your blood.

NERVOUS SYSTEM 'IMBALANCE'
Our brains are wired for survival in primitive times and this can disrupt how our bodies burn fat. 
Here's why. 
The autonomic nervous system is the part of your brain that 'runs' your body behind the scenes and it's not under our conscious control, explained Dr Weaver.
'It regulates our heart rate, respiration rate, temperature control, and immune and hormonal systems while we get on with our lives'.
It has two parts: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) our 'fight or flight' system and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) our 'rest and repair' system. 
Both these systems should work in balance – but for most of us they don't. 
Most people exist in a state of SNS dominance which means we're constantly in the fight or flight response, which causes adrenalin overload leading the body to only use glucose as fuel and not body fat'.
The PNS on the other hand helps restore calm, balance and functions such as digestion and skin that suffer during stressful periods and it's stimulated by rest and relaxation (it's why you look and feel better after a holiday).

Tip: Try a weekly restorative practice of some kind, Dr Weaver advised. 
'One of the best ways to activate your PNS is by lengthening your exhalation, and Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates all help you do that'.
Failing that, upon waking and before bed try taking 10-20 breaths in for a count of four and out for a count of 6-8, it's instantly calming.

EMOTIONS GETTING THE BETTER OF YOU
'The question I love to ask my clients is 'Why do you do what you do when you know what you know?' said Dr Weaver. 
'It's not a lack of education that leads someone to polish off a packet of chocolate biscuits after dinner, it's a subconscious feeling of ''I am not enough'' and I see it time and again'. 
So what's going on? 
'At work, my clients will all day be living between polarities of acceptance versus rejection, successes versus failure based on all the little interactions of their day. 
'Then, whether it's been lousy meetings, something they interpreted as a dirty look from a co-worker or a heated exchange – or all of the above – they show up at home at night with all that piled onto their inner world, so their emotions are in chaos and they want a way to feel whole again. 
If food is their thing – as it is for so many people – they'll end up with the contents of the pantry in their tummies,' Dr Weaver said. 

Tip: Next time you're tempted to eat to numb negative emotions, don't judge yourself but be curious as to why it happened. 
'Try mindfulness practices to help you feel the feelings and acknowledge that the feelings themselves can't hurt you and will eventually go away – but binging can by thwarting your weight loss efforts. 

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