We are all too familiar with COVID-19, which is an abbreviation for Coronavirus Disease 2019. While the disease is named by the year it was identified, it wasn’t until 2020 that most of us knew anything about it. Now after a year of significantly altered lifestyles we all know COVID-19 far too well. One of the major impacts of the reduction of social contact associated with COVID-19 was a change in our eating habits. Some of us lost weight, but most of us gained weight as our anxiety rose and we turned to food for comfort.
As vaccines are being rapidly deployed and natural immunity increases, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Life will gradually be going back to normal in the weeks and months of 2021. Finally! Now what do we do about those extra pounds you’ve packed on during this pandemic?
When you think about it, there is only one reason that a human being stores fat and thus puts on weight. It is to survive when food is not readily available. This skill was undoubtedly beneficial to our ancestors as even in the last several centuries, food scarcity was real. In the United States, even the poorest of us can gain access to food most of the time. Yet, our biology maintains the skill of fat storing when we overeat, just in case!
For decades now, conventional wisdom has been that the accumulation of body fat is the result of more calories consumed than calories expended. This theory continues to dominate and is held by most health care professionals to this day. In this scenario, there is a deeper and insidious assumption. It is that if one has excess body fat it is because of overeating AND overeating is simply a lack of willpower. Thus, being overweight has become the outward manifestation of a character flaw related to the proper ability to CONTROL ONESELF!
Nearly everyone who has lived beyond 30 years understands through experience that there is SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON! Changes in food intake that controlled weight when they were younger are far less effective, if effective at all! Women are especially impacted following the birth of children. Women who suffer from hypothyroid also tend to suffer weight gain that is unresponsive to simple reduction in calories.
What do these things have in common? HORMONES! More specifically hormonal shifts leading to hormones that are out of balance. Thyroid hormones wreak havoc on the rest of your system when they are out of balance. According to a 2014 study, subclinical hypothyroidism (not yet defined as disease) is associated with insulin resistance.
Most people know that insulin is the hormone associated with regulating blood sugar levels. What most people don’t know is that insulin is also a primary fat storing hormone. The more insulin you have the more fat you will store!
To further complicate things, people misunderstand their lab results related to both thyroid and insulin hormones. People often tell me that their thyroid and insulin are fine. As a matter of course, they confuse blood glucose as a measure of insulin when in fact insulin is rarely, if ever tested. Insulin levels will rise years, if not decades before blood sugar does. And when patients tell me their “thyroid is fine” it is typically based on the results of TSH and perhaps T4 (one of multiple thyroid hormones). Remember that the study cited above relates to “subclinical hypothyroidism” meaning not detected by standard testing.
Add to this the discovery of hormones like leptin, ghrelin, resistin and adiponectin in recent years and you begin to get a picture of a highly complex endocrine driven system of fat storage and the liberation of stored fat, which goes well beyond the simple “calories in and calories out” understanding.
So, what is one to do to lose weight in 2021? Employ strategies that balance these hormones and get beyond willpower to get your body to let go of that body fat that you would love to get rid of. Effective strategies have two important features. First, you need to eat quality (real) food. And second, you need to increase the time between feedings.
There is no “one size fits all” diet, but there are strategies that will work for nearly everyone.
Michael Buyze, L.Ac. is a healthcare entrepreneur with nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare and expertise in acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, functional medicine, clinical exercise physiology, and nutrition. He owns and operates East Wind Healthcare, an acupuncture and wellness clinic with a 20-year history of helping people in the Fox Valley with offices in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. He holds Master of Science Degrees in Chinese Medicine, Business Administration and Exercise Physiology. He and his team offer acupuncture as well as wellness programming for acute and chronic pain as well as many chronic disease states. Acupuncture consultations and wellness consultations are available by appointment. Contact information: East Wind Healthcare, 3000 N Ballard Road, Unit#3, Appleton, WI 54911; 404 N. Main St., Suite 201, Oshkosh, WI 54901 and 180 Knights Way, Fond du Lac WI 54935 (inside Fox Valley Wellness); Tel: 920-997-0511; Website: eastwindhealthcare.com.
“What most people don’t know is that insulin is also a primary fat storing hormone. The more insulin you have the more fat you will store!”