Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Post - Author Nicolette Dumke looks at how to reduce mid-life weight gain!

How Do You Reduce Mid-Life Weight Gain?
By Nicolette Dumke, author of  Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss

            Weight gain during middle age is a common problem. One reason for this is that our metabolic rate slows about 10% per decade starting in our 30s. Therefore, if we continue habits of eating the same foods in the same portion sizes in our 50s as we did in our 20s, weight gain is likely to occur. Women face additional challenges at mid-life due to hormonal changes. Indeed, some doctors tell women to expect and accept a ten to twenty pound increase in weight during menopause.

            However, mid-life weight gain is not inevitable nor is it impossible to lose. If our appetites are made to run in tandem with our actual need for food, our weight can remain stable as the years pass. It is possible to have our hunger be “in sync” with what our bodies really need (rather than with the eating patterns of youth) if we eat in a way that allows our weight-controlling hormones to function properly.

This eating plan stands in stark contrast to the conventional “calorie math” advice usually given about how to lose weight. It involves listening to our bodies rather than following the faulty assumptions and advice of the experts. (For more about listening to your body, see Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss). Case in point: I am 58, post-menopausal, and I weigh what I did in my mid-20s. I have been following an eating pattern since that age which includes protein-containing between-meal snacks when I’m hungry. This pattern is a primitive version of the eating plan presented in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss. I didn’t do anything in addition to following this pattern during menopause and didn’t gain weight.

Conventional diets say that all that matters when you want to lose weight is the number of calories consumed minus the number burned by physical activity. Although calories do have an effect, they are not the primary determining factor in how much we weigh. Our hormones, such as insulin, cortisol, leptin and others, are what really determine our weight. If your hormones are saying, “Deposit that food! A famine is in the land!” you will not be able to lose weight even if the number of calories you consume is very low. Because they work against body chemistry, calorie-counting diets rarely result in permanent weight loss. After dieters reach their goal, they usually re-gain most or all of the weight they lost. They may even be heavier than when they started; if they lost muscle mass, their metabolic rate will be lower than before their diet. So rather than counting calories, if you want to lose weight at any age, you must understand and control your weight-related hormones.

            Insulin is the hormone which is most important to the weight loss process because it regulates the activity of two enzymes that control fat metabolism. High insulin levels activate an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. This enzyme catalyzes the production of triglycerides from any fatty acids (digested fat units in the form that is absorbed by the intestine) eaten in a meal. Thus, excess insulin promotes storage of any fat we eat by our fat cells rather than using it for fuel after our meal. In a person with normal insulin levels, any recently eaten fats could have been used for energy during the two hours after a meal. If insulin levels are high, dietary fat will be stored in the fat cells instead. In addition, high insulin levels in the blood inhibit the activity of the enzyme triglyceride lipase which breaks down stored fat for use as energy. Thus, if you have chronically high insulin, you cannot burn your own body fat!

The key to losing weight easily and without hunger is to keep your body in a “burn fat” mode by keeping your blood sugar level stable and your insulin level low and stable. This can be achieved by eating protein-containing breakfasts and small between-meal snacks and by keeping carbohydrate intake at a sensible level with most of the carbohydrates low to moderate on the glycemic index (GI). (Low to moderate GI carbohydrates do not promote dramatic swings in blood sugar and insulin levels. See this page – http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/glycemic_index.html – for more about the glycemic index and how it can help you lose weight). Carbohydrates should be eaten with protein. For more details about how to balance carbohydrates with protein for stable insulin and blood sugar levels, see the third paragraph of this page: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/carbohydrate_foods.html.

            Adrenal hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline also affect our weight. When adrenaline (epinephrine) is secreted in response to stress, the body releases stored fuel (glucose) from the liver into the bloodstream. Insulin is secreted to drive this glucose into your cells to be used for energy. If you have to run away from a wild animal, you will use that glucose to give you the energy for running. However, if your stress does not involve physical activity, the glucose may be stored as fat. This is the chemical explanation of why it is nearly impossible for some people to lose or even maintain their weight during stressful times, regardless of their food intake. 

            High levels of cortisol, which is secreted with adrenaline in response to stress, direct your cells to stop taking sugar from the blood. The resulting high blood sugar levels promote the release of more insulin which, by its action on the enzymes mentioned above, can lead to the storage of fat. This is another mechanism by which stress causes weight gain. Even if you don’t succumb to comfort foods when you are stressed, this is why you may gain weight at stressful times in spite of healthy eating. In addition, some people are genetically predisposed towards secreting excess cortisol, and if overweight, they will usually have an apple-shaped body. There are supplements that can be used to moderate cortisol levels, especially if they are genetically high. See Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss for more about this.

            Surprisingly, exercise that is prolonged, too strenuous, or done without food, also causes the release of adrenal hormones and thus interferes with weight loss. Moderate exercise, such as walking, gardening, cleaning house, or leisurely bicycling or swimming, is best for weight loss because it allows your body to stay in the “burn fat” mode, and thus body fat will be burned while you are exercising. For more information about how to exercise right to lose weight, see this page: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/exercise_right.html.

            A final hormone that influences weight is leptin, the master hormone for long-term weight control. In an optimally healthy person, the body’s fat regulates itself. When weight is gained, the fat produces leptin which suppresses appetite and increases resting metabolic rate, thus causing automatic weight loss. Overweight people have abundant leptin being produced by their body fat, but their body does not respond to it. According to Leo Galland, MD, this insensitivity of the body’s cells to the signals of the leptin, or leptin resistance, is caused by inflammation and anti-inflammatory substances our bodies make in response to inflammation. Leptin resistance may be the reason that maintaining weight loss is sometimes so difficult. Very low carbohydrate diets and the yo-yo dieting that tends to occur with attempts to lose weight by counting calories have both been found to increase leptin resistance.

Leptin function can be improved by decreasing inflammation. This can be accomplished by avoiding allergic foods, eating anti-inflammatory foods, keeping insulin levels low and stable, and reaching a healthy weight, which will allow leptin to function well and result in a healthy permanent weight. For more about inflammation, its effect on weight, and how to resolve it, see this page: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/inflammation.html.

            Hormones rule when it comes to weight loss! To keep your weight at a stable healthy level in mid-life or lose weigh successfully and permanently, discard all the faulty assumptions you’ve heard about weight in the past, and embrace the pursuit of real health and hormonal control by understanding how to work with your body. You will be amazed at how easy weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight can be.

About The Author:

Nickie Dumke enjoys helping people with food allergies and gluten intolerance find solutions to their health and weight problems. She began writing books to help others with multiple food allergies over 20 years ago and the process culminated in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide. She says, “This book contains everything I know to help with food allergies,” and it has helped many people come back from near-starvation. Her other books address issues such as how to deal with time and money pressures on special diets, keeping allergic children happy on their diets, and more.

 A few years ago, while listening to the struggles of an allergic friend on the Weight Watchers™ diet, she remembered her own weight struggles* many years ago and thought, “There has to be a better way.” This was the beginning of a new quest, and she is now helping those who are overweight due to inflammation (often due to unsuspected food allergies) or high-in-rice gluten-free diets, as well as those who are not food sensitive but want to lose weight permanently, healthily, and without feeling hungry and deprived.

Her unique approach to weight and health presented in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss is based on body physiology and reveals why conventional weight-loss diets work against rather than with our bodies and therefore rarely result in permanent weight loss. * (Nickie’s weight loss story, briefly, is that in her early 20s she could not lose on a calorie-counting diet in spite of repeatedly further reducing the number of calories she ate and swimming vigorously and often. Then she found a diet based on blood sugar control, lost weight without being hungry, and still weighs what she did in her mid-20s). Nickie has had multiple food allergies for 30 years and has been cooking for special diets for family members and friends for even longer. Regardless of how complex your dietary needs are or how much or little cooking you have done, she has the books and recipes you need. Her books present the science behind multiple food allergies and weight control in an easily-understood manner.

She has BS degrees in medical technology and microbiology. She and her husband live in Louisville, Colorado and have two grown sons. You can visit Nickie’s websites at http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/ and http://www.food-allergy.org/.  

About Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss:

Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss answers the question, “Why is it so hard to lose weight?” Because it’s hard to put a puzzle together if you’re missing some of the pieces. We’ve been missing or ignoring the most important pieces in the puzzle of how our bodies determine whether to store or burn fat. Those puzzle pieces are hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, and others. In addition, we’ve been given some puzzle pieces that don’t belong or fit in the weight-control puzzle. Much of what we’ve heard about dieting and exercise is incorrect and can cause loss of muscle mass instead of fat or even result in weight gain.

The idea that weight is determined solely by “calories in minus calories out” is an assumption not based in reality. Most weight-loss diets require us to endure hunger much of the time, but hunger means that our blood sugar is falling or low and our insulin level may be rising. Prolonged hunger leads to the release of adrenal hormones, and the hormonal cascade which follows results in the inability to burn our own body fat as well as causing any fat we eat to be stored rather than burned to give us energy. Another problem with most weight loss diets is that they strictly dictate food choices, lack the flexibility that those on special diets for food allergies or gluten-intolerance require, and deprive us of pleasure.

Individuals with food allergies face additional weight-loss challenges such as inflammation due to allergies which can lead to our master weight control hormone, leptin, being unable to do its job of maintaining a healthy weight. Those with gluten intolerance often eat a diet too high rice. Rice is the only grain which is high on the glycemic index in its whole grain form; thus eating too much of it will raise insulin levels and cause the body to deposit fat. Although the recipes in this book were developed for those on special diets, non-sensitive people will enjoy them as well, and the weight loss principles in this book will help anyone lose weight. (A chapter of recipes made with wheat and other problematic foods is included for those on unrestricted diets).

The most frustrating deficiency of conventional weight loss diets is that they don’t work long-term. Low-calorie, low-fat diets can lead to loss of muscle mass, and with less muscle to burn calories, this type of diet effectively reduces metabolic rate so we need less food. Rare is the person who loses weight by counting calories and keeps it off after they liberalize their diet! However, continual dieting for the rest of your life is not the way you need to live, and you do not have to be deprived of pleasure in order to lose weight.

Overweight is not due to a lack of willpower. Rather, it is due to a chemical imbalance in our bodies. Once we begin to correct that imbalance by applying the principles in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, we can lose weight without hunger or deprivation and can maintain a healthy weight permanently and easily by regaining normal self-regulating hormonal control of our weight.

My Thanks to Nicolette Dumke for this fascinating look at weight loss, and to Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for including me on this book tour.


Admin said...

You know, I used to be skinny. I blamed the weight gain from sitting on the computer all the time but Nicolette makes a lot of sense...she's great! Thank you so much for hosting her today, Sharon!

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

You are so welcome! Thanks for dropping by!!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Great guest post today! I really appreciate the information - and I love the comics :)

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

Thanks for coming by Mary!