By Eduardo Castro, MD
Are you among the growing number of distressed people who do not lose weight when they diet earnestly? Or you may lose just a few pounds, nowhere near the amount you expected to lose. And easy weight gain after dieting is common, even when your diet is good.
If so, you likely have Fat Loss Resistance Syndrome (FLRS). FLRS is a chronic medical condition that prevents, or minimizes, weight loss when you diet. It is the result of triggering survival mechanisms that allowed man to live through lengthy periods of searching for food, back in time when a next meal was not a certainty.
These survival mechanisms can be inappropriately triggered today in our world of plenty, and the result is FLRS. It usually has three underlying factors that can be corrected:
- Disruption of the hormones that regulate fat storage and energy utilization
- Excessive inflammation
- Unhealthy genetic expression
We have in our genetic blueprint an exquisite ability to assess and regulate precisely how much energy we store. We do not store protein and we store enough sugar for only a burst of activity. But we adapted to store enough fat to fuel the hunt for food for weeks.
As energy stores begin to deplete, it activates a cascade of hormonal changes that preserve fat by both decreasing metabolic rate and by making more fat whenever possible. Hormones can even direct the breakdown of muscle and organ tissues for energy to preserve fat stores.
If this cascade of hormones, meant to save us from starvation, gets triggered when we have more than sufficient fat stores, the picture of FLRS emerges. The first step in correcting FLRS is to regain proper hormone regulation. The usual suspects are insulin, leptin, thyroid, and cortisol, and adrenalin and estrogen can also play a role. Typically, the following must be addressed to overcome FLRS.
- Insulin resistance
- Leptin resistance
- Low thyroid functioning even with normal blood testing
- Elevated cortisol levels
- Adrenalin resistance
- Excessive estrogen activity
Inflammation is an important part of healthy immune functioning. It is a defense against invading microoragnisms and impedes the spread of infection, cleans up cellular debris and dead cells, and promotes healing. But like a nice bonfire getting out of control, excessive inflammation damages. Excessive inflammation is not only present in FLRS, it is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, autism, arthritis, auto-immune disease, and severe allergies. It promotes asthma and cancer.
Excessive inflammation results from poor diets and from toxic substances. But in this world dominated by multinational corporations whose only concern is the bottom line, clean, high quality food is expensive and difficult to find, and avoidance of toxic substances is impossible. This means if you have FLRS, you are going to have to work harder than most people to eat well and to minimize your toxic exposures. And some will need to work at detoxification as well.
An additional problem with inflammation and FLRS is that there is a vicious cycle present: excess fat increases inflammation and inflammation promotes the hormone disruptions that lead to obesity. It is well worth the efforts to eating healthy and reducing toxic load to break the cycle.
The notion that our genes largely determine our fate has been substantially modified. It has become clear that genes can be active or inactive and that various combinations of active and inactive genes can result in markedly different outcomes.
The field of science that studies what affects gene expression is epigenetics. To our great advantage epigenetics research indicates that there are several factors within our control that significantly affect our gene expression. Since FLRS becomes established via unhealthy gene expression, take particular note of these:
- Diet – eating the foods we are genetically adapted to turns on healthy gene expression
- Bowel health – microbes that inhabit our bowels influence weight, energy levels, sleep patterns, emotional regulation
- Toxic burden – avoidance and improved detoxification are key
- Vitamin D level (specifically, the 25-OH Vitamin D level) – Vitamin D affects at least 20% of our gene expression and should be optimized to a blood level of 60-80 ng/ml
- Physical activity -
- Beliefs – not just being optimistic or hopeful but choosing to conduct yourself (thoughts and actions) as though your chosen belief is already in the process of becoming reality and having the feelings of profound gratitude (in the case of FLRS, the gratitude, relief, and joy you will experience when you are at a healthy body weight)
- Eat healthy food, i.e., foods man is genetically adapted to, but do not restrict calories until FLRS is corrected
- Reduce your exposure to toxic substances
- Enhance your detoxification processes
- Avoid foods that cause an inflammatory reaction in your gut
- Achieve optimal thyroid functioning
- Stress Management – particularly important since FLRS itself is highly stressful physically, emotionally, and psychologically
- Medications – avoiding those that cause weight gain
Eduardo Castro, M.D. is the owner and Medical Director for the Mount Rogers Clinic in Troutdale, VA where he has worked for twenty years. He attended Dartmouth College, did an internship at Georgetown University Hospital and completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Virginia Hospitals. Dr. Castro is the co-author of two books on neurofeedback with Robert Hill, PhD, Getting Rid of Ritalin and Healing Young Brains. For more information on his newest book, When Diets Work: Overcoming Fat Loss Resistance please visit: www.whendietswork.com