At every social gathering, conversations no longer begin with “Hi, how are you doing?” It usually is, “Wow, look at you… you have lost weight!” Weight loss has been on top of the list for almost everybody. Weight management isn’t just aesthetic; it has become common knowledge, hopefully common sense as well. Weight gain significantly increases your risk for every chronic disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels (the bad kind), heart disease, and stroke. More than 60% of adults above the age of 35 in our country have fallen into the ‘overweight’ bracket. Sadly, our children are following suit much earlier. A large percentage of adults might be driven to this state because of an unavoidable work-life imbalance. Then there are those who, despite crazy work timings, do manage to find time to hit the gym, sweat it out, do some workouts, and ensure they eat healthy (so-called ‘healthy’ – home-cooked food – at the very least). Many among them do manage to lose 5-10kgs with a lot of effort!

Losing weight isn’t that hard. Thousands of books, diets, dieticians, personal trainers, gyms, boot camps… will help you do that once you set your heart to it.

Anybody can lose weight. That isn’t the biggest challenge…

The grandest challenge is keeping this weight off you completely. More than 95% of those who manage to lose weight gain it back within the next 5 years. Only 5% are able to keep the weight off permanently.

What could possibly be the secret of the 5%? – read on…

Here’s why you might be among the 95%:

  1. The Insulin trap: Everything in your body – your cells, tissues, organs are made up of protein, fats and minerals. Nothing, absolutely nothing in your body is made up of carbs. When you consume carbs, your body either burns it for energy, or stores it as fat. This decision of what to do with your carbs, is usually the authoritative direction of your hormones. One extremely prominent decision-making hormone is Insulin. Insulin is particularly vicious (in this scenario) because Insulin diverts all the carbs you consume to be stored as fat. Insulin also prevents your body from breaking down fat to use it for energy production. When the body is unable to access fat as a source to fuel energy, it begins to rely on the sugars in the carbs as an alternative source of energy fuel. Why is this an issue? The sugar from your carbs burns fast and depletes fast…which leaves you hungry and exhausted within 2 hrs post a meal…that’s when the craving for the donut, chocolate, boba tea…or pretty much anything made up of sugar or processed flour or other simple carbs, begins. The more carbs…the more insulin your pancreas produces…the more insulin…the less you will burn fat…and more frequently you will need to replace your sugars – carbs. When you are floating around with excess insulin, you will absolutely not be able to lose weight, even if you run like a hamster on the treadmill until you turn blue. As you continue to produce excess insulin…continue to store more and more fat…your fat cells begin to expand to a point where the insulin receptors around your cells get distorted…they no longer respond to the presence of insulin. You become insulin resistant. One of the first things I always check, when my clients complain about not being able to lose weight, is their insulin levels.
  2. Sleep-disturbances: Disturbed sleep interferes with your body’s ability to get into the ‘slow wave sleep’ stage. Even symptoms such as snoring which are quite commonly associated with weight gain contributes to disturbed sleep. When you experience good deep sleep, your body celebrates by producing growth hormones – the juice for production of muscle mass. When you lack sleep, you become deficient in growth hormones, decreasing muscle mass and increasing fat mass! If you do lose weight, but seem to gain it back again, find a sleep lab near you and check out your sleep pattern. There are several gadgets available that help track sleep patterns as well.
  3. The Hormone: Excess estrogen both in men and women slows down your metabolic rate. Estrogen also pushes your body to increase fat storage.
  4. Toxins! Fatty Liver! oh god the condition itself has the word fat in it…). I have even heard medical professionals, who come for detox at my center, say, “everybody under an ultrasound scan will have a marginal amount of fatty liver…that’s part of aging.” Well they are not wrong…most people do have Fatty Liver…and most people age…the issue is…they are aging faster than they should…a 35 year old in a body of a 65 year old…Fatty Liver doesn’t get sorted unless you intervene and help your liver squeeze out toxic bile and flush out fat. Else your liver’s journey maps pretty much like this:
    Mild Fatty Liver – Grade 1 – Grade 2 – Grade 3 – and permanent Liver damage. Fatty Liver interferes with your ability to produce some very valuable antioxidants like Glutathione…oh yes…the one that makes your skin all pretty…this also plays a key role in keeping you sane…preventing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s…so if not for your brain…at least for your pretty skin…get a periodic liver detox.
  5. Vitamins! Vit D – your sunlight Vitamin is key to production of many hormones and fat metabolism. If you sit on your butt inside your air-conditioned work place all day…I am not surprised you are deficient in Vit D…The deficiencies I see in my clinic are so severe, oral supplementation just won’t do the job. Supplementing with just Vit D wouldn’t do the job either…Vit D supplementation needs to be taken in conjunction with other vitamins to be absorbed into your system.

Here’s how you can join the 5% club:

  1. Consult a functional medicine practitioner who addresses your nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. Who is a functional medicine practitioner? A Doctor who takes into account ‘you’ as a whole…body, mind and life’s experiences included; finds the root cause and treats you at a cellular level to reverse you to a state – nature intended it to be.
  2. Detox – Gut, Liver, Blood and Thought process. A gut filled with toxins prevents your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals which you ingest from your carefully curated diet and expensive supplements. Blood filled with free radicals (from pollution, air conditioning, processed food and a gazillion other sources) and heavy metals (from smoking, polluted water and a gazillion other sources), will damage your arteries…increasing your LDL levels contributing to fat deposits, weight gain and heart disease. Thought process – the most vicious…among all…I am never get tired of repeating this: Every thought you are thinking is creating a biochemical reaction in your body…certain specific deep rooted emotional hurt and insecurities, significantly contribute to weight gain…emotional eating…and more chronic psychological disorders leading to even Bulimia.
  3. Learn to exercise right. Most people think if they burn themselves to a point where they huff and puff and keep themselves there, they are burning more calories…they probably are…but not by breaking down fat to fuel energy…that’s is the point when your body accesses sugar to fuel energy…Design your phase and focus on breaking down fat to build muscle mass. You will then be burning fat even while sleeping.
  4. Hydration and Diet…of course is common knowledge…
    Most vital: Be on a constant vigil…hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies creep in
    stealthy…sometimes without years of symptoms. Watch out for food cravings…if you are not comfortable with your hunger…it is time to review your diet and your gut. Monitor your fat to muscle ratio. Permanent weight loss isn’t an off and on switch…you cannot follow it once and expect lifetime change. Run…Rest…Repeat!
  • The author of this article Dr. Ashmita Boopathy Moturi, is a Doctor of Naturopathy, a PhD. in Psychology and has completed her Masters in
    Medical Engineering. She is the founder of NineO2 Detox Center and the
    Director of Wishing Well Center for Integrative Medicine.