What do you know about growth hormone? You might hear about this in the media as anti-aging, this wonderful thing that could keep you young forever. It’s not quite like that. But there is some evidence that potentially can be helpful for certain things. We’re going to talk about those things.
If you look at the literature out there, it suggests a lot of wonderful things that growth hormone can do. There are some wide ranges of potential effects. It can: reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, enhance sexual performance, stronger bones, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, faster wound healing, higher energy levels, regrowth of vital organs, restore immune function, hair regrowth, sharper vision, elevated mood, and improved cognition. In theory, it sounds like this does all kinds of stuff. So, is this the Fountain of Youth?
Let’s talk about what this is, where it comes from, and what it can potentially do. Is there some way you can actually utilize this? Growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland in your brain. The pituitary gland is a tiny little thing separated into an anterior and posterior gland. There are two different lobes. It’s right there at the base of your brain. It’s controlled by the hypothalamus which sends signals down to the pituitary gland and what it should do. The pituitary gland secretes all kinds of different things. Many of them are hormones. We’re talking mainly about the anterior pituitary today. It helps control how your thyroid works, how your adrenal glands work, how the ovaries work (Follicle stimulating hormone), prolactin, and it secretes growth hormone. It also secretes some other endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones. The anterior pituitary secretes many hormones very important for overall health in addition to growth hormone.
Growth hormone is a peptide that stimulates growth. That means it’s made out of amino acids. It’s a protein. It’s made by the anterior pituitary gland. There are 190 amino acids and it’s a single chain. It’s folded in a particular fashion. A hormone is just a chemical messenger. Once a hormone is secreted (by whatever gland we’re talking about), it passes through the blood stream and sends messages to tissues that have receptors to that hormone. You have to have receptors on the tissue in order to receive the message. Different tissues may receive a slightly different message to do different things. Basically, this is what all hormones do. Growth hormone is abbreviated HGH. It stands for Human Growth Hormone. You’ll often hear about athletes abusing it to improve their athletic performance. It is a prescription drug and can be used legally for deficiency syndromes. If someone truly has a deficiency syndrome in growth hormone, then potentially they can utilize growth hormone to help fix that deficiency syndrome.
You’ll often hear about it in age management. Part of the reason is, as we get older, just like most hormones, we typically don’t get as much out of our hormones. Hormones are not secreted at the same rate and same amount. The theory is that as we get older and growth hormone decreases, we could possibly prevent some of these aging processes by supplementing growth hormone. This is a very controversial subject. Right now we can’t legally use it unless you have a proven deficiency syndrome. What is a proven deficiency syndrome? If you ask many different experts, you’ll get many different opinions. It is a very controversial medication.
How do you know if you have a deficiency syndrome? It’s not easy to measure. That’s where one of the problems comes in. Growth hormone is released in a pulsatile fashion during the early hours of the deepest sleep. The half-life of growth hormones is very short, so you’d have to catch it at the exact time to know whether you’ve got enough or not. It usually happens in your deep sleep. That’s when it’s released the most. Once it’s secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, it’s taken up by the liver. The liver converts it into growth factors. Growth hormone by itself is really difficult to measure. You have to catch it at the right time. The half-life is so short. How do you actually measure it? You can measure it in your urine. If you were to collect a 24-hour urine specimen you can look at how much is secreted into the urine. It can give you an idea of whether a person is secreted enough growth hormone. One of the most important growth factors it’s converted into is insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). We talk about insulin all the time. Insulin is the antithesis of weight loss. We want to keep insulin levels low. This IGF-1 is something different. It just has a name that begins with insulin. It’s insulin-like because insulin is a growing hormone. With regular insulin it means growing fat. IGF-1 can be a growing factor of growing muscle mass. IGF-1 can be measured because it’s a longer half-life. It will stick around for a longer period of time. If someone were actually had a deficiency syndrome of growth hormone, and we gave them growth hormone, we could get an idea of what the response to that hormone by measuring IGF-1.
Typically growth hormone declines with age. The biggest time to have growth hormone is when we’re growing in adolescence and early adulthood. It declines about 1-3% per year after age 30. It goes down relatively quickly. You’ll see this in Olympians. Typically for men they’re at peak performance in their mid to late 20’s. That’s true with most professional athletes. It happens a little bit sooner with women. The reality is that most of us by the end of our 20’s will start to have a growth hormone decline. We don’t have that same physical performance that we did in our mid to late 20’s. It drops off relatively quickly, but the highest amounts are in the mid to late teens. It can be up to about 3% per year. At some point it will be really low. As we get older we start getting debilitating illnesses. The question is, if we kept supplemented growth hormone higher, could it actually take care of these illnesses of aging?
What are some common signs of low GH? The problem is that most of these signs are really vague because they go along with just feeling bad. The common signs are: premature aging, flabby and obese, stretch marks, droopy eyelids and sagging cheeks, thinning skin, reduced foot arch, thinning muscles of the hands, and prolonged skin folds after pinching skin on the back of the hand. The prolonged skin folds after pinching can also be a sign of dehydration. It could also be a sign of adrenal problems too. Those are really vague things.
What are common complaints with low GH? Again, these complaints tend to be really vague. They don’t mean a whole lot by themselves. The complaints are: poor quality of life, lack of inner peace, anxious, depression, low self-esteem, lack of concentration, lack of self-control, excessive emotions, thinning and weakening of the muscles and skin, exhaustion and poor recovery, feeling of rapidly aging, low libido, and lack of sleep or excessive need for sleep.
What tests can we actually do? GH has a very short ½ life and is released in a pulsatile fashion, so measuring blood levels is impractical and may be meaningless. If someone is measuring your growth hormone and trying to send it off in a lab for bloodwork, it’s pretty much meaningless. IGF-1 can be measured but there is a wide range of “normal.” GH can be measured in 24 hour urine collection, but many labs cannot do this accurately. Almost all of the signs and symptoms of GH deficiency go along with testosterone deficiency. Testosterone deficiency is really common. Both men and women need testosterone. As we age, our testosterone levels drop. Almost every complaint I just mentioned of GH deficiency is actually more likely testosterone deficiency. This might be much more fruitful to measure than to chase GH around.
Let’s say we’re going to treat you for GH deficiency. What are the risks versus the benefits? The benefits are that the complaints we just mentioned could potentially get better. In theory, it’s really safe because we use bio-identical GH. It looks exactly like human GH. If it truly were that unsafe, we would see a lot of younger people with a lot of GH problems because they have really high levels of GH. You don’t want your GH too high either because it could cause Gigantism. Every once in a while you’ll see the 7 foot person that later was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor that secreted GH. Andre the Giant was one of the classic ones. They have a very enlarged jaw and large hands and feet.
Hormone balance is a key concept. We don’t want something out of balance, whether it’s too much or too little. GH has to be given by injection. In theory could we do something to stimulate your own GH? That’s possible in theory. If it’s given by injection, it could take months to notice a clinical improvement. And, this is incredibly expensive. Unless you truly need it and get approval from the insurance company to get treated for this, good luck with getting it paid for! It would be a few thousand dollars every single month. I don’t know many people who are going to do that or want to do that. There’s always the question of because it’s a GH could it actually stimulate tumor growth? If you had some type of tumor, could GH actually make that grow? That’s a real theoretical concern. There’s never going to be a study to look at that. If someone has a tumor we’re not going to start injecting them with GH! It’s been done in animals and was determined it can actually stimulate tumor growth.
Are there certain things that we could do ourselves that would optimize GH release? That would be the optimal thing. What can we do to improve the release of our own GH? We can’t live without it even though our levels go really low with age. Things that improve GH release: strenuous exercise (like High Intensity Interval Resistance Training), deep quality sleep, and protein. These are the best ways. There are a number of potential enhancers. They are: B-vitamins, inositol (like a B-vitamin), minerals (chromium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. Magnesium also helps with testosterone), amino acids (glutamine 2g/day, carnitine, arginine 7g/day, GABA-all can be found at health food stores), hormones (DHEA, melatonin-helps with sleep-, estradiol, testosterone, thyroid, progesterone), and herbals that can potentially help. Things to avoid: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and milk products. These are a lot of things we talk about anyway. There are other things that truly inhibit GH release. Carbs-insulin inhibits the release of GH. Stress increases cortisol levels. Cortisol inhibits GH release. If you’re doing things we encourage you to do, you’re probably doing a lot of these things already.
There are some commercial formulas out there. I see this all the time in magazine and newspapers. They say a famous person takes GH and it keeps them young. That’s their secret! What they’re talking about is something that can potentially help increase the release of GH. They tend to be very expensive. They’re usually a mix of amino acids and/or vitamins and herbs. It’s a “proprietary blend.” There are a number of them out there: SeroVital-hgh, Pro-HGH, Symbiotropin, etc.… They’re combinations that, in theory, that will increase the release of GH. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of evidence that they actually work. There have been a couple of small studies, and they do tend to work in the people that don’t need it! They work really well in young adults, but they’re not GH deficient. Let the buyer beware! They tend to be very expensive with limited studies that show that they help at all. But they’re not completely lying either because it can help in the people that don’t need it.
In summary, could this GH be the “fountain on youth?” Unfortunately many of these questions are unanswered. Optimizing your own GH may be helpful in your overall health and weight loss because it does so much that we want to accomplish. For many people the easier answer may be looking at testosterone levels both male and female. There could be something beneficial there for potential weight loss. It’s something to consider and it’s much easier to measure.
Let’s talk about antioxidants. You hear about them in the media. Are these miracle workers or is this just marketing?
The antioxidants kick out the free radicals. These are superheroes! It’s the epic story of good vs evil. They are the fearless defenders of basically everything. They can cure cancer, prevent aging, and supercharge your immune system. They basically can do it all, right?! Are these miraculous disease fighting nutrients or over-hyped marketing gimmicks?
What we’re trying to address is the oxidative challenge of life. A paradox of metabolism is that the majority of complex organisms (humans) require oxygen. Oxygen is a highly reactive molecule that not only sustains life but also produces reactive oxygen species: hydroxyl radical (OH) and super-oxide anion (O2-). They are free radicals. These free radicals are by-products of our energy producing process (cellular respiration). Cellular respiration is how the cells produce energy and sustain life. We can’t live without this happening on a cellular level. The trick is to keep these highly reactive free radicals under control to prevent cellular damage. These free radicals can cause cellular damage. It’s thought that this cellular damage done by the oxygen-free radicals can cause a lot of health problems. We want to keep them under control. Antioxidants can potentially help us here.
Are you getting “rusty?” I wanted to find a simplified version to think about this. Oxygen and iron produce rust. You can actually do it without the oxygen. In order for rust to form we have to have oxygen available. Are these oxygen free radicals causing some damage within our body? That’s the real question. Just like the Tin-Man got squeaky in the Wizard of Oz, potentially we may need to be oiled up a little bit. What are the ways we can prevent this damage from occurring?
What are antioxidants? The oxidants are producing damage. Antioxidants may be able to prevent that. They are molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. If you’re inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules, we’re preventing the rust. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons from one substance to another. They’re just moving electrons around. Part of this is that oxidation reactions are crucial for life (respiration and production of energy). If we’re not doing this, we are dead. We can’t live without it, but we want to prevent the damage. When we’re breathing in and out oxygen is travelling throughout our body. Every single cell in our body needs it because oxidation reactions are crucial for life. We want to limit the by-products that can cause damage. So, the oxidation can produce these free radicals. These oxygen free radicals can lead to chain reactions that cause cell damage and cell death. These oxygen free radicals are even more reactive than oxygen is. They can cause damage. We don’t want to cause damage to the DNA. When the cells re-produce and there’s damage to the DNA, potentially you’ve cause damage that will keep on going. Tumor cells can come from normal cells. There’s DNA damage and all of a sudden they’re growing out of control. Antioxidants can stop some of these chain reactions. It does this by removing the free radical intermediates. It’s done by giving up electrons. Then it can stop these reactions by occurring.
We can think of antioxidants in two different ways. They’re either Hydrophilic or Hydrophobic. Hydro means water. Phyllic means loves water. Hydrophobic means fear of water. Some work well with water and others do not work well with water. There are different types of antioxidants and they’ll do different things in different parts of your cell. They specifically can do different things for different reactions. They want to neutralize these free radicals.
Where do these free radicals come from? Typically they come from different things in our life. It could come from the following things: ultraviolet rays, atmospheric pollution, stress, and poor nutrition. All these things affect all of our cells. They can cause free radicals. If these free radicals occur they can cause cellular damage. We want to protect these cells with antioxidants.
How does an antioxidant work? For an oxygen free radical to form, the molecule has to lose an electron. Then it becomes unstable, thus becoming the “free radical.” They want to steal an electron from somewhere. They try to steal it from some nearby molecule. This causes a chain reaction. It can go all through the cell and cause cellular damage. An antioxidant is an electron donor. It can donate an electron and still remain stable. It has to be able to donate an electron to these free radicals and still remain stable. This stops the damage. The antioxidants bind to the free radicals to form stable molecules. Stable molecules will prevent the damage. It’s a relatively simple concept. It’s not quite that simple in chemistry.
What are common antioxidants? There are a lot of them out there but many vitamins are antioxidants. Vitamin C is one of the best out there. Vitamin A and the carotenoids are antioxidants. Those are found in the following: carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots (bright colored fruits and veggies). You’ll find that many of these antioxidants occur naturally in bright colored fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, leafy veggies, strawberries and tomatoes. I don’t encourage people to eat a lot of fruit, especially if they’re sensitive to carbohydrates. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in nuts and seeds, green leafy veggies, vegetable oil, and liver oil. It’s in a lot of things that we typically eat. We talked about selenium with thyroid. It’s very important for thyroid function. It’s found in the following: fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, and garlic. There are a lot of vitamin-like antioxidants. You’ll sometimes see these sold as antioxidants. Coenzyme Q10 is very important. It can be helpful if you’re on a cholesterol medication (statin). If you’re on a statin you ought to be taking Coenzyme Q10 because there’s a lot of damage that occurs in the cells with statins. Coenzyme Q can offset that. It’s an important carrier in mitochondria during energy synthesis. Glutathione is often sold in health food stores because it’s a good antioxidant. The problem is that it’s digested in the intestinal track so you don’t just absorb it. You have to eat the precursors that can make the glutathione. It’s an electron donor and can be increased by supplementing with ALA, melatonin, and milk thistle. Flavonoids/Polyphenols are in a lot of whole foods. They are found in soy, red wine, purple grapes, pomegranate, cranberries, and tea. You’ll often see on the labels, “high in flavonoids.” Lycopene you’ll see on every ketchup bottle in the world. It’s in tomato and tomato products, pink grapefruit, and watermelon. Lutein is found in dark green veggies such as kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussel sprouts, and spinach. Lignan is in flaxseed, oatmeal, barley, and rye.
There are antioxidant enzymes made by the body. These enzymes can help produce the antioxidants. Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) stabilizes that superoxide anion. It can donate electrons. Catalase is another enzyme that converts H202 (hydrogen peroxide) to O2 (oxygen) and H2O. Glutathione peroxidase also breaks down H2O2 to O2 to H2O. The simplified definition of an antioxidant is they are electron donors. They stabilize potentially damaging molecules. Are there health benefits? Yes!
Where are the best antioxidants? Not necessarily in a pill form. Just like when we talked about fiber. The best fiber comes from food. The best antioxidants come from food. It’s the bright colored veggies and fruits (be careful if you’re carb sensitive) that are very high in antioxidants.
You’ll often see what’s called anti-aging antioxidants. It’s a lot of marketing but there’s something to it. I think a lot of the damage of aging is these oxygen free radicals. They can cause damage to the cells, specifically the DNA, and then cause aging. Can we prevent that by taking antioxidants? Most things that have antioxidants in them are very healthy. I encourage you to eat these foods but they’re not necessarily going to stop the aging process. These foods are: acai berry, pomegranate, passion fruit, blueberries, kiwi, cranberries, apricots, prunes, and more. If they’re whole foods, they will typically contain antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Just a little though…
There are a lot of common myths about antioxidants. Part of that is free radicals must be destroyed! Again, as we mentioned at the beginning, free radicals are actually normal byproducts of normal metabolism. If we stop that, we’d be dead. We can’t stop that and we don’t want to stop that. We want to do it in a controlled manner. Another myth is that all antioxidants are created equal. All these different foods have different antioxidants in them. They have different jobs. You want to get your antioxidants from a broad variety of foods. Another myth is that all antioxidants come from fruits and veggies. That’s not true because you can find them in meat, dairy, and eggs. Typically whole foods are a good source. The next myth is antioxidant fortified foods are healthier. There’s no evidence of this. You can get the antioxidants from whole foods. Adding more antioxidants to those foods has never been shown to be healthier. The last myth was a theoretical concept a few years ago. The myth is if I exercise and take antioxidants I will become super fit. However, the way muscle function improves is to have some stress on the muscle in order for function to improve. That’s why when we exercise we get sore. A little bit of soreness is good. A lot of soreness is not so good. The way we improve from a fitness standpoint is that you need to have some muscle growth there. Part of the way a muscle grows is by undergoing stress. To improve muscle function it is some of the result of this oxidative stress. If we prevent the oxidative stress during exercise you could potentially doing yourself more harm than good. You need to stress the muscle. Just be careful. You don’t want to injure yourself. Some of the best fitness gains occur during the aerobic into the anaerobic energy systems. By taking antioxidants, it may be harder for that to happen.
Here are a few tips for success! Eat your colorful veggies! The evidence is mixed about whether taking antioxidant supplements is beneficial. There’s never been a big study that’s shown that it’s really helpful. Eat the whole foods. Most of what you see is marketing! The “Basics” is always important: eat right, exercise daily, take your vitamins, get plenty of rest, and handle stress. You have to do these things right. Throwing some supplements on top of that is not doing a whole lot to help. Adding antioxidants to the “Basics” potentially will be helpful. I will encourage you to go the whole food route.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a message below or email them to Success@CFWLS.com. Also if you think of some once we’re all done, give us a yell and we’ll answer them. Stop by the Center for Weight Loss Success and get your Body Composition Analysis done. You need to make sure you’re losing fat and preserving lean body mass.
You’ve regained some weight. It happens. What are you going to do about it?
First, lets talk about the reasons for re-gaining weight and recognizing some of this back-sliding. Take charge of your thinking. We’ll talk a little about self-management skills and some tips to get you back on track and lead you to success. picked up a very good book recently. It’s written by a psychologist who’s very attuned to this problem. She’s written previous books. She wrote The Beck Diet Solution. Her name is Judith Beck. I would encourage anyone who is struggling with weight to read it. It’s not a diet book but how you actually change your behavior towards eating. She and her daughter took it one step further. They put together the next step in all this called The Diet Trap Solution. It looks at different behavior traps and mindsets that we fall into and what do you do about it. Very good book. I haven’t quite completed it yet. I might take some of those ideas and put them into a talk like this.
What are the typical reasons for regaining weight? The biggest reasons are shifting your calories to more carbohydrates and not exercising. I hear so often that a patient is doing so well and then they drift off on the exercise. I preach on this over and over again. Keep that carbohydrate ratcheted down. Everyone has a carbohydrate tipping point. When you get above that tipping point you will struggle. For those people who have a really high tipping point, they’re probably not struggling. For those of us who have a low tipping point, we shift and we struggle. Count your carbohydrates!
There are other things that tend to affect this. Lack of sleep increases stress which leads to eating more comfort foods. Lots of things occur when we don’t get good quality sleep. Sleep is the way we recover. We get worn out during a day. We need to recover. If we don’t get good quality sleep we never actually recover. Stress hormones don’t go down. Increased stress causes an increase in cortisol. You become leptin resistant. It’s a hormone made by your fatty tissue. It makes you feel satisfied when you eat something. Therefore, we increase comfort foods again which causes increased fat storage. Certain medications can cause weight gain. The biggest culprits are the psych meds like anti-depressants. The only exception I’m aware of is Wellbutrin. It has a chemical appearance similar to some of the appetite suppressants. For some people, Wellbutrin helps them lose weight. A lot of the blood pressure meds and most diabetic meds cause weight gain. Depo Provera causes weight gain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone not gain weight. I would encourage you to use a different birth control. Medical conditions such as thyroid problems can cause weight gain. The thyroid regulates your overall metabolism. Menopause obviously affects half the population. Aging is also a culprit. As we age, some of the hormone levels go down, specifically testosterone. Estradiol levels go down with menopause. Estradiol and testosterone both help you preserve lean body mass which keeps metabolism higher. As estradiol levels go down during menopause, estrone levels go up and cause fat storage. It gets easier to gain weight as you go through menopause. There are things we can do to combat that.
Many times we gain weight back because we start going back to old behaviors. Almost all relapses occur within 90 days. It occurs fairly early. Sometimes during that 6-9 month period we really see people starting to struggle again because the old behaviors start sneaking back in. New behaviors have to become a habit. Backsliding occurs when you overeat any food after a lapse. This is often triggered by an event or situation (stressful relationship, social influences, etc.). Once we start doing this we drift back to our old behavior. You need to use coping responses to combat the relapses. The following helps: positive self-talk, exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and discussions with supporters. You want to have these coping mechanisms in place because these backsliding situations will always develop. It can be a positive situation or negative that causes the backsliding. Sometimes this happens when we start categorizing food. I’m not a big fan of diet depravation. The exception is that if there is truly a trigger food that sets off your eating (you can’t eat just one potato chip-you eat the whole bag) then you need to stay away from it. That’s something you have to figure out yourself. But for most foods I don’t like to categorize them as “bad.” If we treat things as truly bad, it creates tension which leads to obsession. It’s really working on portion control. If others are telling you that you can’t have certain foods, it often leads to rebelling.
You want to take charge of your thinking. Typically errors in thinking almost always accompany ineffective coping skills. We want to change the strategy to help take control of your thinking. Avoid the trap of perfectionism and unrealistic things. An unrealistic goal would be to be the same size you were at age 18. Use positive self-talk. Listen to yourself. What are you saying? Are you making excuses?
Are you making rationalizations? You want to challenge yourself, but you also want to be reasonable with yourself. Challenge yourself to commit to your goals. Learn to make better decisions. Don’t let your emotions cloud those decisions. We are emotional animals. We let emotions take control and that never works.
Develop self-management skills. Learn how to identify and change behavior patterns. Self-management tools include learning to: communicate effectively (be open and honest), problem solving (assess, plan, take action), self-monitor (track coping skills), mange conflict (handle relationships effectively(, cope with emotions (recognize healthy/unhealthy feelings), avoid thinking traps (challenge irrational beliefs), manage stress effectively (meditation, exercise), and mange time (“to do “ list, et priorities, follow a plan). There’s never enough time so we have to prioritize things.
Tips to help get you back on track. First, don’t beat yourself up. We all backslide. Try to figure out what event triggered a relapse and learn from it. Second, be patient. Creating new habits takes time. It’s something we have to work on over and over. Third, think outside the box. If you’re doing something that’s not working for you, it’s time to change what you’re doing. By doing the same things you’ve always done, you’ll get the same result. Those are one of the definitions of insanity-doing the same thing over and over again and think we’re going to get a different result. Take a different approach. If you’re struggling and have questions, talk to one of the counselors here at The Center for Weight Loss Success. We have multiple programs here. I’m not a counselor. I’ll tell you what you need to do. A big part of it is how you make that happen in your life. Sometimes sitting down with one of the counselors and figuring out what you’re struggling with and what the solutions are can be a big help. How can I change this? Change is hard!
Tips to re-start! Try one of the “Jump Start/Quick Start” 2 week programs at CFWLS. It simplifies things using some of the shakes. It’s a simple thing to do. You have to translate that eventually into long-term. If you’re struggling and you’re going to do just one thing: count your carbs! You’re getting the most bang for your buck right there. Even when we think we’re doing well, we drift. If you’re going to do two things: count your protein! It’s easy to count. You want to make sure you haven’t drifted on that too. If you’re going to do three things: count your exercise! Write it down! If you don’t how we are going to know what was really wrong? We may think we’re doing everything right. But if you don’t write it down, we’ll never really know that. Typically writing it down will change your behavior. So simple things but not necessarily easy.
Tips for success! Arm yourself with knowledge. Use the info through the programs and staff at CFWLS to help you recognize backsliding and take the steps to stop it in its tracks. Go back and review the information. Acknowledge and celebrate when you take control of that first slip. Realize that we’re not going to be perfect. Keep supportive people around you. Recruit people to help you. The staff at CFWLS is always ready to help.
I mentioned we have the “Back on Track After Weight Loss Surgery.” We also have the whole digital program as well. You do it yourself. There are PDF’s you can download and print. There are a lot of things that go along with it.
If there are questions give us a yell here at CFWLS. You can email us at email@example.com
The phone number is 757-873-1880. Stop by and get your body composition analysis done. You should be receiving the recipes and weekly weight loss tips. Tune in to Losing Weight USA each Tuesday at 6:00pm for the next webinar. Remember it’s your life. Make it a healthy one!
Today we’re going to talk about those dreaded weight loss plateaus. What do we do about them? What should you look for? We all dread them. They are going to happen. It doesn’t matter what we’re taught. You’re going to go through plateaus. What do you look for? What can you do to break through the plateaus? At some point you need to think about whether it’s your weight maintenance. That’s a slightly different topic. We’re not going there today. I’m going to just assume that you’re not where you want to be and not where you can be. So subsequently you’re at a weight loss plateau.
What is a weight loss plateau? Sometimes we look at the scale and it hasn’t budged in three days and therefore it’s a plateau. That’s not really a plateau. A weight loss plateau is when you’re doing the right things and your weight is stuck for a few weeks. So, for two or three weeks nothing is happening. Subsequently then, yes, you can be in a weight loss plateau. Shorter than that means there can be just a lull in the action, so-to-speak. Your body adjusts. As it adjusts, it’s going to try and turn off weight loss. It doesn’t want you to lose weight. With any weight loss plan, your body is going to assume you’re in a state of deprivation. So, it doesn’t actually want you to lose weight. It wants to hang on to that energy source if you truly were in a famine.
We’re in a weight loss plateau. What is going on? What I usually do is give people questions to ask themselves about certain things. I’m going to give you this list of questions and we’re going to talk about what some of the solutions are.
Question #1—Have you actually cut your calories too low? Sometimes people do cut their calories down too low. If you cut them down too low, your body is going to go into starvation mode and you’re not going to lose weight very well. It’s hard to put an exact number on that. Potentially if you’re going lower than 1000 calories and you’re not in a medically supervised plan, that’s generally not the greatest thing. In the surgical plan right after surgery you’ll often be between 700-800 calories. Long-term that’s really not the right answer either. You want to make sure you haven’t cut calories too low.
Question #2—Are you getting enough water? This is probably one of the most common reasons I see initially in a weight loss plan and especially after surgery when things start slowing down. If you start to get a little behind in your water, the body will tend to hang on to everything-fat included. I encourage people to push the water.
Question #3-How many carbs are you really taking in? At The Center for Weight Loss Success we talk about restricting carbohydrates. Everyone is going to have a tipping point with carbohydrate. If you go above that tipping point you struggle with weight loss. Are you above your tipping point? If you don’t know what your tipping point is, it’s hard to know that answer. It is something we can figure out. It’s not necessarily easy to do. You have to write it down! That goes along with one of our solutions-Journaling! Write these things down, especially carbohydrate. If you’re going to measure one thing, count your carbs. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that over the past couple of years.
Question #4-Are you getting enough protein? Carbohydrate influences insulin. You want to keep your insulin level as low as possible. Insulin is a hormone we can’t survive without. You’ve got to have some but you want to survive with the absolute smallest amount possible. Insulin can cause so many problems. Weight gain is just one of them. If you’re not getting in enough protein, your body will preferentially break down lean body mass, slowing your metabolism down. Protein manipulates other hormones too. Protein is more satisfying so you stay fuller for a longer period of time. It also increases growth hormone and glucagon. Glucagon is the opposite hormone of insulin. Insulin is telling your body to store fat. Glucagon is mobilizing the fat. As adults we don’t need that much growth hormone, but we make it because we can’t survive without it. If we can optimize what we do make, it’s going to help you preserve lean body mass, keeping your metabolism higher. So you want to make sure you’re getting in enough protein.
Question #5-Is your exercise too routine? Your body will get used to whatever exercise program you’re doing. When you’re body gets used to it, it doesn’t get the same out of it as it did originally. If your exercise gets too routine you don’t get as much out of it. The real trick with exercise is you want to preserve lean body mass to keep your metabolism as high as possible. Exercise alone typically doesn’t make you lose weight, but if you can preserve or build lean body mass you’re going to increase your metabolism and keep you on a weight loss track. The flip side to your exercise routine is whether you are exercising too hard? That can also slow down weight loss. Inherently that doesn’t make sense but it actually can do that because too much exercise can cause our stress hormone, cortisol, to go way up. When cortisol levels go up, it’s hard to lose weight. It makes us resistant to weight loss. This was a survival mechanism when we were stressed. Typically our biggest stress was not being able to find food. Stress typically makes us resistant to losing weight. It leads us into the next question.
Question # 6- Are you handling your stress alright? If you’re going through a stressful event, whether it be social, work, family, or medical, if you’re not handling stress well then it could turn on the plateau.
And, finally a couple things to look at as far as asking yourself about weight loss plateaus. What about caffeine and artificial sweeteners? Inherently both of those don’t make sense in a weight loss plan of turning off weight loss. But some people are sensitive to caffeine because it will increase your stress hormone because it’s a stimulant. Increasing stress hormones can make your resistant to losing weight. You want to be cutting back or getting rid of the caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate appetite which makes it harder to stick with the plan.
Artificial sweeteners can turn off weight loss for a couple of reasons. They can make us want sweet things. We get used to the sweet taste. They tend to be so much sweeter (even 1000 times) than sugar. Artificial sweeteners have no calories but it trains us to want something sweet. It makes it harder to stick to the diet plan. Also, they can often increase insulin levels. Inherently that doesn’t make sense. The sweetness you’re tasting from the artificial sweetener make the body think that you’re getting something that has a lot of calories. It’s expecting those carbohydrate calories so the body releases insulin. Hunger and cravings will increase. Insulin tells your body to store fat. Artificial sweeteners can turn your body into fat storing mode even though there are no calories in it.
What do we actually do about this? These are questions to ask yourself once you’ve hit a plateau. What are we going to do about these things? Some of these answers I hit a little bit on during the questions themselves. What can you do?
Write it down. Go back to journaling. It is a basic thing. If you don’t write it down, you’ll never really figure out where the problem area it. You have to write down everything. I’m referring to what you’re eating, drinking, and how much activity.
You need to make sure you’re counting the carbohydrate, protein, and water. You want to watch all those things. If they’re all good, then we have to figure out how we work with that. Push the water. Hydration!!
Go back to the beginning. Many people do the Jump Start diet. It’s using some of the protein meal replacement shakes. It gives you a good protein source, controlled carbohydrate, calories will be fairly low, and it gives you exact numbers so that you know exactly what happens when you have X amount of calories, carbs, and protein.
Look at the exercise. Is it routine? Now it’s time to change gears. You really want to make sure you’re doing plenty of resistance training. You can do body weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats). You don’t necessarily need weights to do it. The best exercise for weight loss is high intensity interval training (HIIT). The best piece of exercise equipment you can have is a heart rate monitor. You’re pushing your heart rate up to near max, back and forth. Potentially you’re going into the anaerobic training where you go up to your heart rate max. You’re crossing over into anaerobic metabolism which gives you the best fitness gains. You can’t do that if you’re just starting in fitness. But if you are into fitness and you’re good at that, this is something that can really get you going and get you back on that weight loss plan.
Something I mentioned is ratchetting down that carbohydrate and lifting up that protein. You can do it with food. Again, you have to count it.
We can start looking at over-the-counter products. There are a lot of different things out there. Green tea is actually one of the things that can be helpful. It can boost your metabolism about 4%. In a 2000 calorie diet that’s about 80 calories. If you’re on a 1000 calorie diet, it’s about 40 calories. It’s not really that much but enough that can help to get you back on the weight loss curve. Cayenne peppers as a supplement or eating the food can boost your metabolism. There’s some evidence that probiotics can change your intestinal flora. Often it can help with weight loss.
Make sure you’re doing the basics. Are you taking your vitamins? We often think of B-vitamins as our energy vitamins. You can either do B-vitamin injections to potentially jump start a weight loss plan or a high dose of B-6. I would encourage doing an activated form of B-6. It can bump up your metabolism some. We’re talking about 50 or 100mgs. If you’re buying B-6 by itself it’s usually 1 or 2 tablets.
It’s kind of like an amino acid. It helps mobilize fat molecules into the mitochondria. The fat molecules are what you’re trying to get rid of. The mitochondria are your energy furnace. That’s what is actually being burned for energy and truly converted to energy. By itself it’s not energy until it’s converted to ATP. That happens in your mitochondria. Carnitine helps mobilize fatty molecules into the mitochondria. It’s like a steam engine. You’ve got to get the fuel into the furnace. Carnitine gives you a bigger shovel so it’s easier to move the fuel into the furnace. Typical you may need to take 1-2 grams of carnitine. You can find it in most health food stores.
Those are some things you can do as far as working through some weight loss plateaus. We went through a lot of information. Weight loss plateaus are very common. It happens to everybody until their finally in maintenance. So it’s literally going to happen to everybody. You want to work through it. The last thing you want to do is throw in the towel. You can go through those questions as well as the solutions that I talked about. You can also use appetite suppressants. They are carefully regulated by the FDA. But if you’re in a medical or surgical weight loss plan and are stuck or have cravings, appetite suppressants can be very helpful. They just have to be monitored very carefully. Some people are not candidates for them. Another thing that helps with cravings is chromium. It’s a mineral just like sodium and potassium. We need minerals in tiny amounts. If we take them in higher doses it can help with cravings. You can buy it at health food stores, pharmacies, and here at CFWLS. You do need to take it three times a day. It will say take one a day on the bottle. That doesn’t work. You usually need to take it three times a day.
There are lots of little solutions. Hopefully something there will help you with your weight loss plateau. Work through it. If you have questions please let us know. We’re here to help. If you want more information go to our corporate website which is www.cfwls.com If you want to join me each week in a webinar, we talk about all kinds of different topics about weight and overall health. You can go to losing weight USA and sign up there. The website is: www.losingweightusa.com Sign up and you’ll get access to me plus recipes and tips every week. Thank you all for listening. If you have questions just give us a yell here at Center for Weight Loss Success. I will talk to you on the next podcast. Remember-it’s your life. Make it a healthy one!
Low Carbohydrate diets actually have a lot of misconceptions. So we’re going to go through a bunch of them. Let’s start out with the first two I hear most commonly.
The first misconception: Ketosis is dangerous.
The second misconception: Low carb diets make you lose bone mass and are bad for your kidneys.
Ketosis just means you have ketones in your bloodstream. We have ketones in our bloodstream all the time. It’s just the level of ketones. Ketones are really just an energy source. They come from the breakdown of fat. Isn’t that what you want in a weight loss plan? You want to have some ketones in your bloodstream so you can use them as an energy source. Ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, and that’s a completely different thing. That occurs when the ketones get about 10 times the level of what would happen in a low carbohydrate diet. Ketosis by itself is not dangerous at all. It’s just an energy source.
Initially in low carb diets we saw that there was some extra calcium in the urine. But long-term we found that we actually absorb more calcium. So for a little bit of calcium that’s lost in the urine, there’s still a positive calcium there. We don’t actually lose bone mass. We can actually improve bone mass. Kidney failure doesn’t happen. There’s a difference between kidneys that can have low carb diets and kidneys that shouldn’t have low carb diets. What I mean is, with kidneys that are normal, there’s no problem with having a low carbohydrate diet. Kidneys that are abnormal should not be on a low carbohydrate diet. Typically, on a low carbohydrate diet, you’re going to have a little more protein, and it’s the protein that’s the problem. It’s the extra nitrogen in protein that kidneys can’t handle if you’ve got bad kidneys. If you have normal kidneys, it could actually improve kidney function.
It’s often thought that low carbohydrate diets are only good for short term weight loss because they cause you to lose water. Isn’t that bad?? Yes it is good for short term weight loss is because you lose water. The reason you lose water is because insulin levels will go down on low carbohydrate diets. Insulin is a hormone that tends to make you retain sodium. When you retain sodium, you’re going to retain water. So, when insulin levels go down on a low carb diet, you no longer will retain sodium. Subsequently you’re going to get rid a lot of that extra water that goes along with the sodium. One of the nice things about that is you can actually have a little bit of extra sodium because you won’t retain it. So, yet, you will lose weight fairly quickly on a low carb diet because you lose some water weight. But you’re also losing fat.
It’s no secret that eggs pack a great little protein punch and are extremely versatile in your diet. They average about 70-80 calories and contain 6-7 grams of protein. They are rich in choline, which helps promote normal cell activity and aids in the transportation of vitamins and minerals through your system. Eggs contain all 9 of the amino acids that are essential to your diet. What don’t they do? They don’t add to your carb count!
This time of year, you’ll see eggs everywhere – have you colored a batch yet? (You don’t need a child’s help but it could make it more fun). Pick up a dozen – or two – and make your own this weekend! We made a batch last weekend with this no-mess trick that’s great for little fingers.
You’ll need a bag of rice and some basic liquid food coloring along with a number of small plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. I picked up the rice & containers at the local dollar store.
Put about 3/4 – 1 cup of rice to each container and add 8-10 drops of coloring to each cup.
Shake the container to distribute the coloring to the rice. Open the container and add a hard boiled egg, reseal and hand to a small child to shake!
Remove the colored eggs from the cups and lay on a paper towel to dry completely. You can make them multi-colored by tossing them into a second color. If the rice seems to be drying out, add a few more drops of coloring and shake before adding a new egg.
Enjoy these colorful treats & Happy Easter everyone!
Long-term weight loss is achieved through permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices, not through fad quick fix diets or pills. Before beginning on your weight loss journey, make a commitment to your health and stick with it!
Regular exercise is a critical component of permanent weight loss. We recommend a minimum of five 30-minute sessions per week. Read our exercise tips on this blog for ideas on how to stay motivated and enjoy your exercise routines.
Go slowly and keep your expectations realistic
Remember that drastic weight loss in a short amount of time is not healthy, and it is more likely the loss is coming from water and muscle, not fat. Fat loss is best achieved when weight is lost slowly. Strive for a weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week.
Tracking your foods & fitness
Tracking in an app or keeping a weight loss journal can be very helpful for long-term weight loss and keeping you focused on your goals. Each day, record what you have eaten, how much, and your mood and emotions. A journal not only keeps you accountable for your food choices, but can also help you identify any behaviors or emotions that trigger overeating. (We recommend an app like Baritastic to track daily)
Don’t go it alone
An important factor of long-term weight loss is the support and encouragement from others, whether it’s from your doctor, nutritionist, family or friends. Connecting with others helps you stay motivated, learn tips and techniques, and keep focused on your weight loss goals.