The Fatigue Weight Gain Connection

If you’re dealing wfatigue personith an energy crisis and trying to lose weight you know how hard it is. There’s nothing more important that will have a direct impact on your ability to lose weight than your energy. Sub par energy shows up in many ways but they can all be summed in this way: one takes shortcuts because of the lack of energy. Shortcuts mean you take the easy way, the convenient way instead of putting the time in that it takes. This affects many aspects needed to lose weight such as putting the time in to plan and cook a good meal and taking the time to have a productive workout. When one is lacking in energy they conserve to get through the day, instead of taking on more. You know the feeling when you’re dragging through the day or need another cup of coffee, the last thing you want to do is exercise. That’s why it’s crucial to bolster sagging energy first before trying to lose weight.

Where to Look if You Need More Energy

  • Sleep-are you getting 7-8 hours a night?
  • Check bloodwork and rule out anemia, underactive thyroid and possible infections
  • Look at stress levels and consider doing a saliva cortisol panel to assess adrenal function
  • Look at nutrient deficiencies-common deficiencies include magnesium, b-complex vitamins and vitamin C
  • Assess blood sugar levels-are you steady throughout the day or do you have swings, are you craving sweets which is a sign of imbalanced blood sugar
  • Consider doing functional testing to uncover the root of poor energy. Organic acids is an excellent test which gives great information. To learn more about this test click here
  • Look at what you are eating-how much processed food vs whole food, are you getting enough protein which can also impact energy levels

Natural Energy Boosters

  • B-complex vitamins-B vitamins help convert the food you eat into energy. Especially important is B-5 pantothenic acid which helps make adrenal hormones. B12 and B6 are also crucial and will impact energy if deficient.
  • Vitamin C-the adrenal glands use up 97% of vitamin C and those with high stress levels are using it right up. Vitamin C is also an important co-factor for those with low adrenaline levels (epinephrine)
  • Adaptogenic herbs-adaptogens have been used for many years to help improve stress adaptation and increase energy. Examples of adaptogens include ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha, licorice and more. These herbs support cortisol balance which is very important for those trying to lose weight
  • Magnesium-magnesium supports the nervous system and is often used for those with high stress and tight/ tense muscles. Magnesium also plays a role with energy and is often deficient as it’s estimated up to 70-80% of the population is considered low in this mineral.

Losing weight is difficult enough but when one has fatigue it is nearly impossible to see steady progress. If you’re struggling and need help schedule a free 20 minute strategy session and start working on your weight and energy goals.

3 Ways High Stress Impacts Your Ability to Lose Weight

If you’re strugglinmp900400322-stressg to lose weight in spite of a healthy diet and exercise, one of the key areas to look at is stress levels. In today’s fast paced environment many of us are dealing with high stress levels. While many people can tell when they are under high stress, others do not recognize the impact stress is having on their health.


3 Ways High Stress Impacts Your Ability to Lose Weight

  1. Imbalanced cortisol levels-if your dealing with high stress levels you’ll very likely have imbalanced cortisol levels. Stress causes high cortisol levels in the beginning and if not dealt with eventually one will not produce enough cortisol. High cortisol levels are clinically shown to cause belly fat. Many people are able to recognize they need  to lose in the midsection and often this is where people tend to gain it the most. High cortisol also means you are in a catabolic state which means breaking down muscle tissue. Catabolic is the opposite of anabolic as in building muscle tissue. One of the keys to losing weight is to build muscle which will in turn increase the body’s metabolism and burn fat at a better rate. It is detrimental to be in a catabolic state breaking down tissue. This is one reason why many struggle to lose weight.
  2. Cravings-higher stress levels mean more cravings. Increases in cortisol often cause more cravings and imbalanced blood sugar levels. When someone is dealing with lots of stress they often will succumb to eating something they know they shouldn’t. Most often this something is sugar. High cortisol also causes low serotonin levels in the body. This feel good neurotransmitter helps our mood as well as our sleep patterns. When serotonin levels are low many will have more cravings and in particular chocolate cravings. Those with cravings need to support blood sugar levels throughout the day. Eating protein with quality fat and fiber is a great way to support steady glucose levels. High stress does a number on cortisol which also impacts blood sugar and sets the stage for more cravings.
  3. Low Thyroid-those with high stress often also have low thyroid output. The adrenal and thyroid glands are both impacted by stress. Clinically high stress causes a poor conversion of T4 to T3. T3 is what the cell utilizes and if proper conversion is not taking place, that person will be hypothyroid and likely prescribed thyroid hormones. Thyroglobulin joins up with 4 molecules of iodine to produce T4 or thyroxine. T3 is triiodothyronine containing 3 molecules of iodine and is the predominate thyroid hormone the body uses. One of the problems with standard testing is most only get tested for TSH levels and never see T4 or T3 levels. The bottom line is that high stress causes impacts the conversion of T4 to T3 and causes thyroid problems which make it much harder to lose weight.

For more information and support schedule a free 20 minute strategy session to learn how you can benefit from individual nutrition counseling with a functional approach. Click Here to Schedule Your Strategy Session




Fat Cells and Sleep

Sick Young Woman Lying in Bed --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

In a study that challenges the long-held notion that the primary function of sleep is to give rest to the brain, researchers have found that not getting enough shut-eye has a harmful impact on fat cells, reducing by 30 percent their ability to respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates energy.

Sleep deprivation has long been associated with impaired brain function, causing decreased alertness and reduced cognitive ability. The latest finding — published by University of Chicago Medicine researchers in the Oct. 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine — is the first description of a molecular mechanism directly connecting sleep loss to the disruption of energy regulation in humans, a process that can lead over time to weight gain, diabetes and other health problems. The study suggests that sleep’s role in energy metabolism is at least as important as it is in brain function.

“We found that fat cells need sleep to function properly,” said study author Matthew Brady, PhD, associate professor of medicine and vice-chair of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago.

Brady said body fat plays an important role in humans.

“Many people think of fat as a problem, but it serves a vital function,” he said. “Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, stores and releases energy. In storage mode, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the circulation where they can damage other tissues. When fat cells cannot respond effectively to insulin, these lipids leach out into the circulation, leading to serious complications.”

Esra Tasali, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and co-senior author, led the recruitment of six men and one woman, all young, lean and healthy. Each volunteer went through two study conditions, at least four weeks apart. In one, they spent 8.5 hours a night in bed for four consecutive nights. In the other, they spent 4.5 hours in bed for four nights. Food intake, strictly controlled, was identical under both study conditions.

On the morning after the fourth night following both the long and short sleep conditions, each volunteer took an intravenous glucose tolerance test, which measures total-body insulin sensitivity. The researchers performed a biopsy, removing abdominal fat cells from the area near each volunteer’s navel. Then they measured how these fat cells responded to insulin.

The researchers assessed insulin sensitivity at the molecular level by measuring the phosphorylation of a protein called Akt within fat cells. Akt phosphorylation is a crucial early chemical step in the cell’s response to insulin.

After four nights of short sleep, total-body insulin response decreased by an average of 16 percent. The insulin sensitivity of fat cells decreased by 30 percent. This reduction is comparable to the difference between cells from obese vs. lean participants or from people with diabetes versus non-diabetic controls.

They found that the sleep-deprived study participants had a decreased response to a range of doses of insulin. It took nearly three times as much insulin to provoke half of the maximum Akt response in volunteers who had been deprived of sleep.

“Sleeping four to five hours a night, at least on work days, is now a common behavior” said study author and sleep specialist Esra Tasali.

“Some people claim they can tolerate the cognitive effects of routine sleep deprivation,” said co-author Eve Van Cauter, PhD, the Frederick H. Rawson Professor of Medicine and director of the sleep, metabolism and health center at the University of Chicago. “In this small but thorough study, however, we found that seven out of seven subjects had a significant change in insulin sensitivity. They are not tolerating the metabolic consequences.”

The study was one of the first to bring together sleep research experts and biologists focused on energy regulation and metabolism in adipose tissue. The impetus came from a sleep-research graduate student, Josiane Broussard, PhD ’10, lead author of the study and now a Society in Science-Branco Weiss fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She wanted to combine her interest in sleep and metabolism with research at the molecular level.

So she pulled together a team for this project that included the two sleep researchers, Tasali and Van Cauter, plus two specialists from the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center, David Ehrmann, MD, and Brady, who studies how insulin regulates energy storage in fat and liver cells.

They focused on fat cells because of their direct links to metabolic disruption and weight gain. These cells store energy for the body, are exquisitely sensitive to insulin and help regulate appetite.

Witnessing the direct effect of sleep deprivation on a peripheral tissue such as fat at the cellular level “was an eye-opener,” Broussard said. It helps cement the link between sleep and diabetes and “suggests that we could use sleep like diet and exercise to prevent or treat this common disease.”

Brady said the study opens up many new questions.

“What signals from sleep loss affect the fat cell? What effect does dysfunctional fat have at the whole-body level?” Brady wondered. “And if we can deprive healthy people of sleep and make them worse, can we take sick people, such as those with the common combination of sleep apnea, obesity and diabetes, improve their sleep and make them better? That’s the missing link in the sleep-obesity-diabetes connection.”

This study is “a valuable contribution to the understanding of the causal pathways by which reduced sleep duration may directly contribute to diabetes and obesity,” according to an editorial in the journal by Francesco Cappuccio, MD, DSc, and Michelle Miller, PhD, of the University of Warwick, in Coventry, United Kingdom. “These results point to a much wider influence of sleep on bodily functions, including metabolism, adipose tissue, cardiovascular function, and possibly more.”

National Sleep Foundation

Stress and Your Weight

Stress plays a significant role when it comes to losing weight. If you’re struggling to lose or hit a plateau it’s a good idea to look at your stress level.

When you are under high stress levels the adrenal glands secrete more cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps you cope with stress. The problem is that high cortisol levels also cause abdominal obesity, cravings, fatigue and also break down important muscle tissue making it harder to lose weight.

I have consistently seen this in my practice as well. Clients that are under high stress have a harder time losing and in some cases will not lose weight until the stress is modified and under control. Stress management techniques help one to stay in balance and keep cortisol levels in check. Yoga, deep breathing, prayer and meditation are excellent techniques that are part of the solution.

This is an example of why only looking at calories is misguided when it comes to weight loss. Someone can be exercising, eating well and still have trouble losing pounds because their metabolism is not working properly due to high stress levels.

Cortisol levels can be analyzed with a simple saliva test that will show how much cortisol you are secreting throughout the day. This is an excellent test which shows the impact stress is having on your system.