Is weight loss as simple as going on a diet?
I remember when I was a young girl, a doctor decided I needed to go on a diet. He gave me a calorie counting diet that said you can only eat X calories per day. That was the beginning of many diets and, spoiler alert, I did not become a thin healthy person on that path! How many of you relate to that experience? In fact, more than $71 billion was spent in the U.S. in 2020 on weight loss and diets. If it were as simple as going on a diet, we would have easily solved that problem by now. In Functional medicine, we have learned how many people get stuck in their health pursuits and I want to focus on some of the weight loss myths we see.
- MYTH: All calories are equal, a calorie is a calorie and it's all about counting calories. If you had 500 calories of broccoli or 500 calories of gumdrops-how could they be the same? It's hard to imagine that the candy and the broccoli take the same ride in the body and have the same effects. In fact, the candy creates metabolic issues, raising blood sugar, calling for high levels of insulin, creating inflammation in the body, and leaving us hungry for more. The broccoli on the other hand is high in fiber and nutrients and if you ate 500 calories of broccoli (~16 cups) you would be full and not craving more. In functional medicine, we know food is information for our bodies, not just calories. In the example of broccoli versus gumdrops, the information your body gets from those calories is completely different. At Index Health, we are looking beyond calories to create a personalized eating plan for you.
- MYTH: Exercising will burn off calories- you need to exercise more to lose weight. The idea that it’s just math, calculating how many calories have you eaten and how many calories have you burned is no longer valid. We know that movement is important, but we also know this isn't not just calories in and calories out. There are a lot of people who exercise who are not healthy and are still overweight. Different stages of life require different levels of movement. Too much exercising can actually be inflammatory and create stress on the body. For example, postmenopausal women generally don't have good outcomes when they focus only on high-intensity aerobics. It creates inflammation and can be connected to stubborn weight issues. Creating a lifestyle plan including the right type of movement that is designed for your body is part of our philosophy at Index Health.
Some of you may have recognized yourself in one or both of those myths and have felt frustrated. When we consider weight loss, we look at your whole story, not the math of calories and most importantly we look at root causes. Functional Medicine asks important questions to unravel the root cause of weight issues.
To know how to give you the proper plan, we start by knowing you.
- WHO ARE YOU? Each of us have a history of life events, medical visits, unique genetics and habits and patterns. Root Cause medicine takes the time to understand your whole story. Weight gain can have its roots in other inflammatory processes in the body. For example, the status of your gut can drive inflammation and alter metabolism. Assessing gut health is a foundational piece at Index Health. Exposures to toxins, food sensitivities, and unhealthy gut bacteria are just a few of the drivers of inflammation and affect our body composition. Genetics, particularly variations in genes, can influence how we absorb calories, our tendency towards inflammation, and how our body “detoxes”. Knowing that information can unlock the mystery of resistant weight loss.
- WHAT ARE YOU EATING? While there are some generalities we all agree on like, fast food, high sugar and processed foods as well as poor quality fats are not anyone's friend. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all eating plan. Looking at the types of foods and even when you are eating them can prove very significant in helping the body release excess weight. Your body is wise and when it gets poor-quality calories, it has no choice but to create inflammation and even store fat. Finding the right foods for your body is a key step to lead you to achieving your health (and weight) goals.
At Index health, we acknowledge the unique story of every patient and create personalized assessments and plans to support the “whole” body to come into balance.