Integrative Doctor in Sydney | Functional Medicine Sydney

Handy Tips for Weight Loss

Weight loss is challenging! 42% of adults report trying to lose weight annually and then there is the even greater challenge of trying to maintain the weight loss.

Why is it so hard and are there any strategies that have been shown to help achieve and maintain the elusive goal of weight loss?

Body Weight Set-Point

Understanding that your body has a specific metabolic set point that is centrally controlled via areas in the brain such as the hypothalamus and the reward centre (ventral striatum), can explain why even though people are successful in achieving their weight loss goals, they can unfortunately also rapidly regain that lost weight.

Through a complex interplay of hunger and satiety hormones, your body will respond with a change in energy expenditure and hunger if the body weight goes above or below its metabolic set point.

But there is hope as new research sheds light on ways of lowering the body’s set point.

  • Dietary Flexibility

Low fat or low carb, which is the best diet to lose weight? Interestingly current research indicates that as long as you are on an isocaloric diet i.e. the same number of calories, you can restrict either fat or carbs for successful weight loss.

This is good news for compliance, as ultimately you can choose whatever approach suits you best. For example, if you are vegetarian, then a low carbohydrate diet may be easier to adhere to, whereas with pre diabetes or insulin resistance, a low fat diet could be preferential.

Another important piece of information regarding resetting your body set-point is that foods containing high levels of fat in combination with processed carbohydrates and additives such as flavour enhancers, stimulate the reward centres in the brain and dopamine release, thus creating a food addiction type behaviour and overriding the body’s set point. So having either a low fat or low carbohydrate diet will decrease this stimulus to reward eating.

  • Adequate Protein

This is an important factor in weight loss as protein increases satiety through release of various hormones, while reducing release of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This helps to alter the set-point which is essential for long term success.

Also protein has a thermogenic affect, meaning that it burns more calories in its metabolism than either carbohydrates or fat.

Aim for 30% of calories from protein, to help reduce fat mass, retain muscle mass and feel more satisfied.

  • Diet Breaks

When caloric intake is reduced, to defend the body set-point, the body compensates by decreasing energy expenditure and increasing hunger.

Exciting new research has shown that having regular diet breaks was able to prevent these responses and achieved greater weight loss than people on continual diets. Great news!

  • Exercise

Of course we all know about the benefits of exercise, but what most people don’t know is that exercise benefits weight loss by helping to lower the body set point.

It is difficult to successfully navigate the weight loss journey and it does require commitment and motivation. However don’t despair! With the right support and information using the latest clinical research, it is possible to achieve your weight loss goals and more importantly to maintain them.