We get this question a lot and in short, the answer is generally ”yes”. But, that isn’t the end of the discussion. There is a long answer and a discussion that MUST take place before any plans are made to “lose weight”. That’s because when people talk about “weight loss” their PRIMARY goal is the reduction in weight as measured on a standard bathroom scale. Unfortunately, the number on a scale says relatively little about your HEALTH.
Our approach is much more comprehensive than that because our PRIMARY goal is to create HEALTH, not lose weight. That isn’t just semantics. There is a huge difference in these two approaches.
When a person’s PRIMARY goal is to lose weight, they do all sorts of crazy and dangerous things that don’t contribute to overall health. For instance, when a person goes on a severe caloric restriction diet or begins to exercise to excess they might lose weight in the short term but because they have damaged their metabolism even more than it already was, it will be impossible to sustain that weight loss after the “crash course” is done. Remember that whatever takes “force” to create, will take “force” to maintain. Trying to “force” the body to lose weight isn’t sustainable.
That’s why many approaches to “weight loss” actually make you fatter. It is quite common for people to try extreme methods to lose weight only to find out that they have lost more lean muscle than fat. The scales show improvement but their overall body composition has gotten worse. In addition, because they have lost lean muscle, which is the metabolic “engine” of the body, it will be even harder to maintain the weight loss than it was before they started.
What do we mean by “body composition?”
It is critical that you understand the concept of body composition. The term “body composition” is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone, water and muscle in human bodies. Because muscular tissue takes up less space in our body than fat tissue, our body composition, as well as our weight, determines leanness.
Having a healthy, appropriately lean body is a powerful biomarker for health but let me be clear, THE NUMBER ON YOUR BATHROOM SCALE IS NOT AN INDICATOR OF HEALTH OR ILLNESS. That number by itself means NOTHING to us. It is completely devoid of context. It doesn’t factor in your age, your height or your general body type. It doesn’t measure the health of your gut, your hormones. It doesn’t measure your mood and your energy.
There are lots of “skinny” people walking around that actually have a less than ideal body composition. Science calls those people “skinny fat” and they don’t have any health advantages over those that are overweight. So whenever you hear a research study about the benefits of “weight loss” you need to just translate that to a benefit of improved body composition.
So it should be obvious that having a healthy body composition, with balanced internal function is what we are all striving for.
12 Factors for Healthy Body Composition
There are a LOT of factors that determine our body composition. Here is just a partial list:
The first 3 are the basics that everyone has been focusing for decades; genes, calories and exercise.
- Genetics. Your genetics actually play a relatively small role in body composition (5-10%).
- Calories Out. The “work” we demand from our body through activity requires energy to be burned from either our food intake or our body’s stores of energy (fat and glycogen). We have a baseline metabolic rate (BMR) and then we can increase our metabolic rate through exercise.
- Calories In. When your caloric intake exceeds our energy demand, you will always store the excess for use in the future as fat and glycogen.
For some people it is easy and this is all that is needed. But for a vast majority, there is much more going on and this why so many people are frustrated and discouraged. They think that those three factors are all that there is to consider and since it didn’t work for them, they’ll never get the lean body they want.
In fact the next 9 factors are the reasons that trying to fix the first three doesn’t always lead to the result you’re looking for.
- The Right Calories. It turns out that not all calories are the same. 100 calories of broccoli is vastly different in the body than 100 calories of chocolate chip cookies. Instead of counting calories, we should be making sure that our calories count by eating nutrient-dense, whole foods with a healthy balance of proteins, carbs and fats.
- Digestive system health. Research is showing that the makeup of the intestinal microorganisms play a big role in what foods you choose to eat and how efficiently they are processed.
- Refined Carbohydrate intake. How much refined sugar and highly processed carbohydrates you eat determines your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin is a “storage” hormone. When insulin is up, you are packing on fat.
- Sleep cycles. The timing (circadian rhythm) and amount of quality sleep you get each night determines the function of hormones that control your hunger.
- Emotional health. Your physical, mental and emotional stress levels control your adrenal hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels increase, your body stores fat around your gut and organs as a survival mechanism.
- Other hormones play a role. The health of the thyroid gland determines the basal metabolic rate and to a significant level, your energy. Testosterone levels will affect your ability to gain and retain lean muscle mass. Estrogen and progesterone affect water retention and edema.
- Brain Chemistry. Your brain neurotransmitter balance plays a role in cravings, emotional eating patterns, cortisol balance and your desire to be active and engaged in healthy behavior change.
- Your Social Circle. The body composition of your 5 closest friends has been shown to impact how you think about food and exercise as well as how you handle stress.
- Your toxic burden. The level of chemical toxicity in your cells impacts the function of your energy-producing factories (mitochondria) in your cells as well compromising many other basic functions of your body. The JumpStart to Wellness program is designed to begin the process of healing and balancing your life and our companion program, the IdealBody Cleanse is designed to help you eliminate toxins from your body and to improve the health of the gut and liver so that your body becomes more efficient on a cellular level.
The JumpStart to Wellness Program
For most of our patients, a beginning step to health gain and subsequent weight loss is the JumpStart to Wellness program. This 28-day guided program is a well balanced lifestyle approach that addresses all 7 of the crucial Pillars of Wellness throughout the program. We’ll have you eating real food, drinking real water, engaging in real movement, enjoying real sleep, removing false beliefs, falling in love with real relationships and celebrating life with real play.
In case you didn’t know, the scientific research is in. It is clearly understood that EACH of these 7 Pillars contribute to your BODY COMPOSITION and that contributes to your health.
JumpStart to Wellness “Lean Body” System
When the lifestyle factors are in place and underlying conditions are being managed, targeted nutrients can really work to turn on the metabolic engines. These powerful compounds have been shown in rigorous clinical studies to improve the ability of the body to burn fat while preserving lean muscle and to increase metabolism with harming or stimulating the hormone system. These nutrients are available in a convenient pack that can be taken as part of the JumpStart to Wellness lifestyle program.
- Stabilized Creatine – important for energy reserves and helps to increase muscle mass, strength and endurance.
- Glucomannan and fiber – included to support feelings of fullness, balance blood sugar and make for a silky smooth drink texture.
- Conjugated Linoliec Acid (CLA) – naturally occurring fatty acid shown to be useful in supporting proper fat burning, healthy blood sugar levels, and in modulating inflammation.
- Bitter Orange extract – Bitter orange extract has been shown to increase thermogenesis and basal metabolic rate (BMR). It contains a family of agents that mimic the actions of the sympathetic nerve system but without the stimulant type side effects. These properties help to speed up the metabolic process while increasing the breakdown of fat. They also help to increase lean muscle mass by encouraging the uptake of amino acids into muscles and may have a mild appetite-suppressing effect.
- Fucoxanthin – Fucoxanthin has ben shown to be a non-stimulant thermogenic, having no effect on the sympathetic nerve system (no adrenalin released). Animal studies show that fucoxanthin has the ability to release energy by increasing thermogenesis within white adipose tissue, the type of fat responsible for excess weight gain. It works by targeting a particular protein that helps increase the rate at which abdominal fat gets burned. This protein diverts the energy in the cells toward heat production. Additional benefits of fucoxanthin include helping to reduce blood sugar and plasma insulin levels, which, along with a healthy reduction in body fat, are helpful in combating metabolic syndrome. FucoPure© is the most purified extract of fucoxanthin available on the market. The proprietary purification process reduces the content of heavy metals and iodine in the seaweed to insignificant levels without diminishing its beneficial qualities. The decrease in body weight from daily intake of fucoxanthin is shown to be unrelated to any dietary or caloric changes but these effects are improved with dietary and exercise interventions.
- Naringin and Hesperidin – These two antioxidant-rich bioflavonoids found in grapefruit and many other citrus fruits are powerful thermogenic compounds in their own right. They are added to this formula to work synergistically and to amplify the thermogenic effects of the Bitter Orange.
- Green Tea Extract (decaffeinated and standardized to 4% EGCg) – EGCg has been shown to stimulate thermogenesis by enhancing basal metabolic rate. It works by stimulating the release of fat from fat cells. Green tea also helps to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
- Coleus forskohli is a root extract of the perilla plant and it has been shown in scientific studies to support lean body mass.
- Garcinia cambogia is a unique source of HydroxyCitric Acid (HCA), which has been used for centuries in Southeastern Asia to prepare more filling meals. HCA has been shown to decrease the body’s storage of fat and is effective in weight management studies in both animals and humans. What this means is that this unique ingredient helps your body store more energy in your muscles as glycogen than storing them as fat or triglycerides. Bottom line; less sugar is stored as fat and more fat is disposed from the body.
- Banaba and green tea along with the chelated minerals chromium, vanadium, magnesium and zinc improve entry and metabolism of glucose in the cells and help to normalize insulin levels. One of insulin’s jobs is to store excess sugar as fat. Keeping insulin levels in normal range means better control of weight gain, better control of appetite, less cravings for sugars and starches and better energy.
- GABA is an important neurotransmitter that helps to level anxiety and feelings of stress. Additionally, American ginseng, N-aceytl-tyrosine, B vitamins, and zinc all support normal stress hormone levels. These two effects have the intention of improving a sense of well being and less stress eating.
- L- Carnitine has the ability to support the preservation of lean body mass, especially during anaerobic exercise and fat loss. In several studies it has been shown to create an increase in lean muscle mass and reduce the amount of exercise-induced muscle damage, regardless of the type of exercise the participant engaged in. Taken prior to exercise results in less post-workout soreness.
If you are interested in discussing a holistic answer to sustainable health gain/weight loss program, schedule a consultation with Dr. Duggar today.