Why does stress cause weight gain? 

Why does stress cause weight gain? 

Are you a Stress Eater? Or not at all? When stressed, do you find yourself starving or stuffing your body? In my 20 years of experience, I have seen clients and family members have different reactions to their stress. 

 

In my twenties, stress caused me to lose weight and be ill. I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis, and over the years, stress has been the cause of the inflammatory response to this chronic disease. Stress has debilitated me at times. But over the years, I have come to learn that stress is in my nature. There is good stress, and there is bad stress. Constant, continuous stress affects your health negatively and your weight. 

 

Healthy weight isn’t just about calories in and out. 

 

Stress has six effects that tie into your healthy weight status. Healthy weight is the weight where your body is at optimal health based on your age, height, activity and lifestyle. Your healthy weight is unique to you, it is not what I think, or society thinks. It is part of your natural human make-up and evolving life. 

 

Health Issues linked to stress.stress and sleep

 

You will not be shocked if I tell you that your stress is negatively affecting your health. But how, maybe the question? And understanding the effects can be the ticket to help you get your weight goals.

 

  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Insomnia
  • Obesity
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Colds and viruses – physical illness
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohns, Colitis
  • Cancer

   

What is Stress? “fight or flight” vs rest and digest.”

 

Let’s start with the basics of stress. Stress is a healthy body response to a sense of danger. It is your body’s way of protecting you with a “fight or flight” reaction. Stress is essential for survival and our instinct to threat. When your body senses danger (real or imagined), it immediately reacts to alert you to be alert and fight or run away and hide ( “fight or flight”). 

 

In stressful situations, essential tasks for survival are a priority for survival. Your perception, decision-making, and energy for your muscles are heightened to respond. Less essential survival body functions like “rest and digest” are ignored until the stress levels start to fade. 

 

You probably know how stress affects you. Do you get cravings or heartburn? Do you feel more aches and pains, or get sick? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you have more difficulty losing weight?

 

Stress has a negative connotation in our busy lives. Recently someone asked me how I was doing? And I responded with, “I am stressed.” But then I felt the need to qualify my answer by stating that my current stress was “good stress”. 

 

There are good stressors and bad stressors. Identifying them is key to how stress will affect your life and healthy weight. This conversation had me thinking about good stressors vs bad stressors. Have you taken inventory of the stressors in your life? 

 

Good stress vs Bad stress

 

“Good” Stress

(Short, time limited, acute stress

“Bad Stress”

(Long term, constant, chronic stress)

  • Deadlines that make you more focused and have energy to complete tasks on time
  • Health illness or being a caregiver to someone
  • Reacting to an immediate danger or threat for your safety
  • Relationship, family problems, Unhappiness
  • Enjoying rollercoasters or dangerous activities like sky-diving
  • Work issues or busy schedules

  

Stress that is infrequent or short-lived is “good” stress. We can usually quickly identify good stress situations. When the stress is over, your body response goes back to normal. 

 

The problem is that in today’s fast-paced world, stress can go on for a long time. This type of stress is different and is “constant” or “chronic” and identified as “bad” stress. 

 

Chronic Bad Stress can affect your digestion, moods, sleep and your ability to manage your healthy weight. Studies show that chronic stress is associated with obesity and metabolic disease. And this is especially true for women. Women are at higher risk for stress-induced emotional eating and obesity.

 

Chronic stress can negatively affect your digestion, your mood, your health and keep you from your weight loss goals.

 

 

Six main areas of your health that stress is interfering with your health

 

There are six main areas of your health that stress is interfering with your health.

1. Digestion and gut health

2. Inflammation and the immune system

3. Food intake 

4. Excess weight gain 

5. Mental Health 

6. Sleep. 

 

1 – Poor Digestion and Gut Health

 

When your stress is causing your body to be in a constant “Flight or Fight” state, proper digestion is compromised because your digestive system does not give adequate time to “rest and digest.” 

 

One of the most apparent impacts stress has on digestion is the “transit time.” You may notice that stress can either quickly speed up how fast your food moves through you (diarrhea). Or, it may slow it down quite a bit (constipation). Neither one of these digestive reactions is ideal.

 

So, even if you’re eating the “best” diet, a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, you may become nutrient deficient because your body is not properly digesting the nutrients in the food. Proper nutrition is needed at the best of times, let alone when you’re stressed and trying to lose weight or gain weight and achieve a healthy weight balance.

 

2 – Inflammation and immune system

 

Chronic stress affects your immune system, which is responsible for controlling inflammation in the body. Stress can make your immune system more alert or less-responsive to fight common colds. 

 

When your immune system is working overtime, you can develop high inflammatory levels of hormones, and this will affect your healthy weight. In contrast, when, your immune system is less-responsive, it can allow your body to get sick more often, and stay sick longer.

 

For optimal health, and the ability to remain at a healthy weight, you want your immune system to work correctly (not too high, nor too low).

 

3 – Cravings, increased appetite, and “stress eating.”

 

When you’re stressed, do you reach for kale? Or do you prefer chips or chocolate? 

 

Many people tend to overeat when they are stressed. I know better from my training and experience about stress eating. When I am in a stressful situation, I eat lots of chocolate and comfort foods that tend to be fatty and sugary. Scientists are now looking at interactions between stress hormones and the “hunger” and “fullness” hormones.

 

Many of my clients express that their long term stress caused a significant weight gain in their lives. Even when they try to control their stress, they find it challenging to get back to their pre-stress healthy weight. 

 

4 – Insulin sensitivity

 

Insulin is a hormone produced in your pancreas that regulates blood sugars in the body. Blood sugar levels naturally go up and down throughout the day, and your level is controlled by insulin. 

 

Stress increases your blood sugar, to make sure that your muscles have the fuel (sugar) to combat the stress. If your stress is not physical and does not need help from your muscles, excess blood sugar remains longer in your blood. As a response to the high blood sugar, your pancreas secretes insulin to re-absorb that sugar back into your cells. Excess insulin causes insulin resistance and extra fat storage. Chronic excess insulin can result in Type 2 Diabetes and difficulty controlling blood sugars. Type 2 diabetes has multiple adverse effects on your health. 

 

5 – Mood-busting and demotivating

 

When you’re feeling stressed, you may start feeling moody and want just to sit around. You may be less motivated to do healthy activities. If you’re down in the dumps and not motivated to prepare healthy meals or snacks or get some exercise, then you’re less likely to do those things. And we all know how important motivation is needed to prepare and consume a healthy diet. When we are not motivated, we tend to pick quick and fast unhealthy prepared meals that over the long term will cause weight gain.

 

6 – Negatively affects sleep

 

Cortisol is a hormone responsible for metabolism and immune function. It is part of your natural sleep-wake cycle. Under normal (non-stressed) conditions, cortisol levels would increase before waking up in the morning and slowly drop during the day. Cortisol helps improve mental clarity as well as blood sugar to fuel your muscles. You need mental clarity and to move our muscles, especially when you are awake.

 

But you also need the cortisol effect to “wear off” by the end of the day so you can start getting tired and relaxed enough to get a good night’s sleep. In other words, evenings are a time for resting and digesting. Science is showing the links between not getting enough quality sleep and obesity.

 

Now that you know the six primary reasons how stress is keeping you from your weight loss goals let’s talk about what you can do about it.

 

I will share with you strategies and tips on how to manage your stress and achieve your healthy weight. 

 

Two Main Stress-Reducing Tipsyou got this

 

1. First off, you can reduce the amount of stress put on you by re-balancing some demands.

 

Start by:

 

  • l Saying “no” more often to requests that only add stress to your life;
  • l Getting more support whether in meal planning, preparation, cooking, or cleaning;
  • l Delegating to someone else, asking for help from your partner, children or co-workers depending on the stressor;
  • l Re-negotiating deadlines that seem unreasonable, manage your schedule rather than your schedule leading you;
  • l When working, focus on just one thing at a time, stop multi-tasking and juggling too many stress-inducing responsibilities. 

 

2. Secondly, since you can’t (and maybe don’t want to) altogether remove stress from your life, you want to learn to deal with it better. You can improve your stress tolerance by trying to:

 

  • Have some fun and laugh. Laughter lightens up your mood and produces happiness;
  • Make time for people (and pets) you love;
  • Be mindful and live more “in the moment”;
  • Get moving and do light exercise most days per week (e.g. walking, yoga, swimming, or tai chi);
  • Spend more time in nature or just outside;
  • Eat a well balanced, nutrient-rich diet;
  • Relax every evening (e.g. have a bath or read a book);
  • Meditate or deep breathing. Listen to soothing music;
  • Do a “brain dump” every night before bed where you just make notes of things you’re keeping track of in your head so you can relax more;
  • Get more, better-quality sleep. Make sleep a priority and schedule it;

 

Letting go just a bit

 

Stress has six significant effects that can keep you from your weight loss goals and achieving a healthy balanced weight. It negatively affects your digestion and gut health, inflammation and the immune system. Stress causes cravings, increased appetite, and “stress eating.” It can promote fat storage around the waist with its effect on insulin sensitivity. Stress can be mood-busting and demotivating, not to mention how it worsens sleep.

 

All of these effects can keep you from your weight loss goals. And if your food and meals are significant stressors for you, then I encourage you to book a free 15-minute call with me. My specialty is to reduce stress around wondering what you will eat next. Contact me if your stress is interfering with your health in these five ways:

  • You don’t know what kinds of foods to shop for.
  • You don’t feel you have enough time in the day to eat healthily.
  • You don’t understand how food affects your body.
  • Meal planning overwhelms you.
  • Your digestive disorder is taking over your life. 

 

If you are unsure where to begin, but want to make a change in your life and change your relationship with food, then let’s have a conversation. Together we will figure out where you’re at right now, and where you would like to be in six to 12 months. I offer a one-time, free consultation, where you and I will have a conversation about whether or not we’re a good fit to work together, and whether nutritional coaching is the right step for you.

 

Your mind and body will thank you!

 

P.S. My signature LEAP program, is a four-week program designed to help you transition stages in life around food and healthy eating. You will learn about your patterns and food choices. You will also learn to organize your kitchen to maximize success and master the flow of creating healthy food choices as well as how to enhance the flavour of your foods so that you are not “dieting” but eating better than you ever have before and enjoying your meals.

 

Each week you will receive a new meal plan with recipes, preparation instructions and a grocery list. Also, you have access to me, a Registered Dietitian, who can answer any questions that come up along the way. I will teach you how to adapt recipes to your particular needs with ease. I will also show you that you don’t need to abandon a favourite recipe because of a “diet.” Instead, you will see how you can create plans that work for all types of situations: a busy week, a travel schedule, a meal prep week, and a craving home-cooked meals week. 

 

 

The Truth Behind Before and After Pictures

The Truth Behind Before and After Pictures

Before and after pictures on social media promote body shaming and are unrealistic. These pictures make you see weight loss as the only determinant of health and wellness, and it is not. The truth behind before and after pictures is that they work to sell weight loss because they give people an aspirational vision. As a Registered Dietitian, I look for people who want to be healthier but do not want to subject themselves to before and after pictures. Instead, I want my clients to set achievable healthy eating goals.

 

Forget weight loss pictures!I want my Instagram feed to be full of before and after meals. For example, before: I ate Big Macs and felt gross.After: Now, I eat my version of a Big Mac burger with real food, and I feel great. My stomach feels less bloated.


What is your ultimate health goal?

 

When I begin working with clients, I always ask them what are their health goals. Weight loss is usually the first thing on people’s mind. Weight can be a benchmark, but I also explain to clients that weight is not the only determinant of healthy eating.

 

I give clients the option to track body measurements or weight, but this is the client’s decision. How your clothes fit and what your bra size is are good arbitrary measurements.For me, feeling comfortable in my clothes is important. Fitting my clothes well makes me feel put together, which makes me feel good about myself and my body.

 

When it comes to your health, what do you want to focus on? What is your definition of health? What will it take for you to feel healthy? When thinking about the answers to these questions, you should also ask yourself: Do you want to be the same person you were when you were 25 or 30lbs lighter? Do you want to discount all the growth, life experience and enjoyment?

 

Our bodies, like us, change as we get older and our eating habits need to respect this. This also means recognizing what works and does not work for you and your lifestyle. Can you commit to a weight loss program? Do you like going to the gym regularly?

 

The Problem with Weight Loss Programs

 

I like to try new programs to see what I am missing out on. I once followed a popular 21-day program. I was not happy about taking pictures or recording my measurements, but I decided to do it so I could get the full effect of the plan. I prepared and followed the meal plan and did all the exercises. And you know what? I did lose weight and some centimetres in my measurements. But once I stopped, I gained that weight back because I did not continue with the caloric restrictions.

 

It’s not that the plan does not work; it works, but it works because exercise and calorie deficits work, but only in the short term. What did not work was following someone else’s plan. I needed to find a plan that worked for me, that I could sustain long term.

 

Collecting Gym Memberships

 

I have a history of collecting gym memberships. I am the best customer for the fitness industry. Someone who pays their dues, but does not show up. After I cancelled my last membership, I vowed never to join another gym. I did not want to get locked into a commitment. I like to tell people that I am commitment phobic, and the only thing that I am committed to is my marriage of 19 years and my children.

 

I still wanted to exercise but on my terms. So, I sought programs where I could pay as you go. I know this is more expensive, but this was the only way I know I will commit to going.

 

What I love about Orangetheory Fitness is that they offer options that work for me. I pay for only the classes that I will attend. Therefore, when I sign up for a class, I am committing to attend. If I don’t show up, I still pay for that class. It keeps me accountable to my plan and commitment.

 

What will motivate you to achieve your definition of health?

 

If your goal is to lose twenty pounds, why? How do you think losing 20 pounds will make you feel? What is it you’re truly striving for by losing that weight?

 

Instead of solely focusing on weight loss, you should consider these milestone suggestions when it comes to a healthy lifestyle:

 

  • Absence of stomach issues/pain
  • Clear-headedness/ absence of fog
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Having a routine/order
  • Money saved or pounds saved from not ordering in or eating fast food
  • Consistency of habits, lifestyle tracking
  • Positive feedback from others on meals prepared

 

When it comes to healthy eating, you need to stay focused and motivated. More often than not, recording numbers on a scale can be discouraging, especially if you are following an aggressive weight-loss plan. And if you want to record your progress on Instagram, take a picture of your plate full of healthy foods! Imagine how colourful and inspirational a month full of healthy meal posts will look in your feed. Remember, before and after pictures can be aspirational, but they can also be very unrealistic and not a determinant of true health.

 

For more tips on how to set manageable goals or to stick to one that will lead to healthy eating success, schedule a free consultation. During this call, we can talk about your goals and whether or not we’re a good fit to work together.

Why can’t you lose weight on a Keto diet?

Why can’t you lose weight on a Keto diet?

What is the Keto diet?

In simplest terms, the Keto diet is a low carbohydrate restricted diet that forces the body to switch from using glucose for energy fuel to burning fat, thus producing ketones.  Many people lose weight on a keto diet but many do not. This article will explore some of the research, safety and risks of trying to lose weight on a Keto Diet.

 

There are different variations of the Keto diet. Some variations follow less than 50g of carbohydrates (carbs) per day, while some follow less than 20g of net carbs, and others less than 5% of total calories from carbs per day. In comparison, the recommended dietary intake for Canadians aged 19 and over is 45-65% of calories from carbs.

 

Very low-carbohydrate diets or Keto (ketogenic) diets have been in use since the 1920s as therapy for epilepsy and can, in some cases, altogether remove the need for medication. From the 1960s onward, keto diets have become widely known as one of the most common methods for obesity treatment.

 

What are ketones?

Nutritional ketosis produces ketone bodies, (acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate) that is measurable in the urine. The production of ketones is the body’s normal adaptation to starvation. Ketones are then picked up by the muscle as fuel. Keeping the body in ketosis is a difficult state to maintain, and often, the benefits are anecdotal.

 

How do keto diets work?

In general terms, one serving of fruit, bread, vegetables or fruits equals 15g of carbohydrates. The term “net carbohydrates” refers to removing the number of carbohydrates that are not absorbed by the body, such as fibre and sugar alcohols. Because fibre and sugar alcohols are undigestible carbohydrates, some will subtract them from the carbohydrate count and only account for the digestible fuel content of the carb. For example, if a serving size has 15g of total carbohydrates, 3g of fibre and 6g of sugar alcohol, then the net carbohydrate is 15-3-6 for a total of 6g net carbs.

 

How does your body metabolize glucose and ketones?

We use our body’s carbohydrates (e.g. glucose) that comes from our food for fuel. If there is extra left over the carbs are stored as fat for future use.

 

With fasting, just as during extended exercise, our bodies flip from using glucose (and storing fat), to using that stored fat and ketones (made from fats) for fuel. Sometimes called the “G-to-K switch,” (glucose-to-ketone) the ability to flip what our bodies use as fuel (between glucose and ketones) is called “metabolic flexibility.”

 

This metabolic switch can explain some of the health benefits of fasting. When our bodies prefer using fats for fuel, the body starts burning our stored fat. This is why the keto diet helps with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes. When the body uses fat for energy, this decreases the amount of fat in the body. Reduced fat reduces weight and health benefits from weight loss are felt, such as lower blood pressure and insulin resistance.

 

This “flipping” of the metabolic “switch” happens after the available glucose, and the stored glucose is depleted. At this point, the fats in our cells start getting released into the blood and are metabolized into ketones. These ketones then go to our fuel cells with “high metabolic activity” – muscle cells and neurons. Since the body is burning fat and using ketones to fuel the muscles, muscle mass is preserved.

 

Is the Keto diet as good as people claim it to be?

Keto is just another diet to come along and pass into our lives. It is another variance in micromanaging your biochemistry and food intake by limiting your macronutrients.

Macronutrients are the carbohydrates, proteins and fats in our foods that provide fuel. The micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals in our foods.

Your body requires both macronutrients and micronutrients to thrive and survive. When you limit your macronutrients, you risk not getting what your body needs for micronutrients and can end up in a deficiency.

 

But can I lose weight?

Absolutely. In the short term, you can lose weight following a Keto diet and there is lots of research to support this, but as with all restricted diets, the long term sustainability of this type of diet is challenging and may not be nutritionally safe for you.

 

I have tried this diet and have not lost any weight

You must remember that you are unique and have a unique genetic makeup and unique life. No two people are the same. As a mom raising identical twin boys, I can tell you that even identical twins with the same genetic makeup are incredibly different in their interests, tastes and attractiveness to foods.

 

Some reasons that you may not be losing weight include:

  • Consuming too many calories or high caloric snacks

  • Not enough physical activity to burn your caloric intake

  • Chronic stress and lack of sleep

  • An underlying medical condition that is linked to weight management issues such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Cushing’s Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Depression and Hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels)

  • Overeating protein can also interfere with ketosis

 

The safety of the Keto diet

Research studies have shown that low-calorie keto diets that are part of short-term interventional weight loss programs are safe. Weight loss and improvement in glycemic control for Type 2 diabetes have been noted as compared to standard diabetic diet guidelines.

 

Low-carbohydrate diets are beneficial for the improvement of weight, triglyceride levels, and HDL  (bad cholesterol), in healthy adults and are easily adhered to over 12-weeks. Longer term adherence and the different degrees of carbohydrate restriction is currently unknown.

 

Keto risks:

  • High in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease and increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol

  • Nutrient deficiency of micronutrients if you don’t eat a variety of foods

  • Liver problems because there is too much fat to metabolize

  • Kidney problems due to metabolized protein

  • Constipation due to low in fibrous foods

  • Fuzzy thinking and mood swings. The brain needs healthy carbohydrates to function

 

If you have a medical condition or take medication, you want to talk to your doctor or a Registered Dietitian such as myself, before starting any new eating regime or diet. The change in body chemistry can affect your medication dosage and effectiveness.

 

To learn more about what foods you should be eating to maintain a healthy lifestyle, book a free 15-minute consultation. I work with individuals, couples and families who are looking for ways to integrate healthy and nutritional balanced meals that are supportive of their dietary restrictions, in a way that is easy and fun. Book a time that works for your schedule by clicking here.

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Is it Healthy?

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Is it Healthy?

 

Recently, while catching up with friends, we were intermittent fasting for weight loss.

I was intrigued to understand more about why they followed this particular diet, and why one friend claimed that this is the best diet ever because he is not restricting any foods. I always find these conversations enlightening. In many of my social situations, I learn about diet trends, how diet information travels and how people interpret what is healthy and what is not.

 

Healthy is a subjective term, just like defining success. Your doctor can give you a clean bill of health following medical tests, but there is so much that we don’t know, which is why your doctor cannot tell you what diet is best for you. Even amongst dietitians and nutritionists, there is a variance in the interpretation of what a healthy diet looks like. Healthy is relative to each person.

 

So, back to intermittent fasting for weight loss. When I think of fasting, I think of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement in the Jewish religion. I have been fasting one day a year for the last 36 years, and it gets harder each year. I don’t feel great, I am dehydrated, and I feel ill. When I fast for 24 hours, I learn to appreciate food. The day culminates with a festive meal after the fast, which makes me feel even sicker from overeating. So, why would someone want to subject themselves regularly to fasting? 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is simply recurrent or periodic fasting (i.e., periods of time where you don’t eat or drink anything except water). It’s an “eating pattern,” rather than a “diet.” It focuses on regularly reducing food and liquid intake during pre-set times. It’s controlling when you eat and drink, as opposed to what you eat and drink.  

Calorie Restricted Diets vs. Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Weight loss diets typically impose restrictions on food intake and portion sizes. By consistently reducing the amount of food eaten by 15-60%, individuals with overweight and obesity lose weight and fat. This is called “continuous” calorie reduction because one repeatedly reduces what is eaten – at every meal and snack, every day. Calorie-reduced diets can include eating smaller servings, using low-calorie substitutions, and/or cutting out some snacks or desserts daily.  

 

Intermittent fasting does not regulate what you eat or how much you eat, but rather the timing of when you eat. Following intermittent fasting allows you to eat whatever and however much you want, but only during certain times.

 

For people with excess weight to lose, health benefits have been seen with a loss of even as little as 5 to 10% of a person’s body weight. Health benefits included lower blood fats (LDL cholesterol and triglycerides), better blood sugar management (lower blood glucose and insulin), lower blood pressure, and lower levels of inflammation (C-reactive protein).

 

A review article published in 2022 found that the three main forms of intermittent fasting (alternate day fasting, the 5:2 diet and time-restricted eating) produced weight loss of 3 to 8% from baseline over an 8- to 12-week period. The review also found that the degree of weight loss achieved with intermittent fasting was similar to the weight loss achieved through traditional dieting approaches (i.e., daily calorie restriction). However, it is unclear whether intermittent fasting can manage weight long-term, as studies have typically been of short duration.

   

Some studies also show that intermittent fasting makes our metabolism more flexible so it can preferentially burn fat while preserving the muscles. However, most of these studies have been conducted in animals, and it remains to be seen whether similar effects are seen in humans.

 

For my friend, who claimed that “this is the best diet ever”, the benefits of intermittent fasting came after years of trying to fit the mould of typical weight loss diets or counting calories. He much preferred intermittent fasting because he could experience weight loss without guilt.  

 

Numerous studies show what we know already: it’s challenging to sustain a (continuous) calorie-reduced diet for a long time, regardless of the diet followed. This is the reason many people prefer intermittent fasting – it gets similar weight and fat loss results, but it’s easier for some people to stick with.

 

Who Should NOT try Intermittent Fasting?

Before you try intermittent fasting, I recommend that you check with your healthcare provider to determine if it is suitable for you.

 

Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting

Before starting, you should consider some of the potential side effects of intermittent fasting:

  • Bad temper
  • Low mood
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling cold
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Swelling
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Uric acid in the blood and reduced kidney function
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Abnormal liver function tests
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Mild metabolic acidosis
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Erratic eating patterns
  • Bingeing
  • Hunger pangs.

 

If done too often or for too many days, intermittent fasting can have more serious effects. Excessive fasting can lead to malnutrition (including vitamin B1 deficiency), decreased bone density, eating disorders, susceptibility to infectious diseases, or moderate damage to organs.

 

Disordered Eating and Intermittent Fasting

Another issue with intermittent fasting is that it can promote disordered eating behaviours. In fact, a study published in 2022 found that men and women who reported following intermittent fasting also reported engaging in significantly more eating disorder behaviours.

 

If you’ve struggled with an eating disorder in the past, or have disordered eating tendencies, intermittent fasting likely isn’t a good idea for you.

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Intermittent Fasting

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may be tempted to try fasting during a flare. However, there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support this, and for some people, fasting could actually make your IBS symptoms worse. This is because you tend to eat larger portions in the “eating window” of intermittent fasting, and large meals could worsen your symptoms.

 

Also, we don’t yet know the effects of intermittent fasting on the gut microbiome. Since the gut microbiome plays an integral part in our digestive health, we don’t want to do anything that could negatively disrupt it.

 

If you are struggling with IBS symptoms, a more effective treatment would be the low FODMAP diet. If you’re planning on implementing a low FODMAP diet, it’s best to do so with the guidance of a dietitian, as the low FODMAP diet is very restrictive.

 

Diabetes and Intermittent Fasting

Finally, intermittent fasting could be dangerous for people with diabetes who are taking insulin or other blood sugar-lowering medications. In these cases, fasting could result in dangerous low blood sugars.

How Long Should I Fast?

There are many ways to intermittently fast. Here are a few different intermittent fasting patterns documented:

 

  • Alternate-day fasting (ADF) – One day of fasting, one day of “feasting.” Continue fasting on alternate days.
  • Alternate-day modified fasting (ADMF) – Eat 25 to 40% of your daily needs one day, then eat normally the next. Continue alternating days.
  • Periodic fasting (PF) – Each week has 1 or 2 days to eat very few calories per day (e.g., 0 to 880 cal per day). The other five days you eat normally. Example: 5:2 diet, where you eat no more than 500 calories per day for two non-consecutive days each week.
  • Time-restricted fasting (TRF) – Fast for 12 to 16 hours every day and eat normally during the other 8 to 12 hours.
  • One 24-hour period of fasting each month.

 

Some researchers suggest that the alternate-day modified (ADMF) fasting is preferable because it is likely the easiest to follow and may cause the least amount of stress on the body and mind.

  

Keep in mind that reducing your food intake also reduces your nutrient intake. It’s important to ensure you get enough essential nutrients for long-term health.

 

Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?

Intermittent fasting is a way to get the benefits of a regular calorie-reduced diet without restricting what you eat. Intermittent fasting reduces both weight and fat (at least in the short term) and can improve blood sugar and blood fats. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure and some markers of inflammation. Losing weight and excess fat reduces the risk of diabetes, improves health, and increases the function of both the body and mind. However, it remains to be seen whether intermittent fasting effectively reduces weight in the long term.

 

If you’re going to try intermittent fasting, it’s important that you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. This includes eating a variety of foods including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein foods; staying hydrated (with water as the drink of choice); and engaging in regular physical activity.

 

If you want to know more about safely following an intermittent fasting meal plan, I’d love to work with you! Click here to get in touch and book a free 15-minute consultation today.

Ditching the scale for a healthy lifestyle

Ditching the scale for a healthy lifestyle

“I need to lose weight.”

Does this statement pop into your mind several times a day? Do you make deals with yourself that start with “Once I _________, I will _________?”

What would you say if I told you that you enjoy having this problem? I think you would look at me incredulously and say that is preposterous, and that you have been trying to lose the weight for X amount of time and the number on the scale is just not moving.

When people talk to me about their weight struggles, I often hear:

“For years, I could eat whatever I wanted and now I can’t.”

“I go on a diet, lose a few pounds and can’t keep the weight off…it creeps back.”

“I am researching all the diets to see what will work.”

 

Are you committed to making a change?

 

Before joining any weight loss program, ask yourself: are you committed to making a change? Or are you joining programs but not doing the work? Are you continuously switching diets to match the “success” stories that people are telling you, and feeling like you are doing it all according to the plan but achieving none of the results you desire?

I empathize when people tell me they are starting a new diet and this IS the one. I know the feelings of wanting to lose weight. Last year, I went through a terrifying time in my life as a mom. Eating became what I did to soothe myself and fuel my body to deal with the next issue thrown our way. As I continued to gain weight, I told myself not to worry because it was not important considering everything else going on. I was hiding and ignoring my health. The truth was, my weight and body had been changing the few months before the trauma, but once I was in this vortex of survival, I just ate without paying much attention.

 

What are the real reasons you are not losing weight?

 

When thinking about losing weight, consider the following:

  • Reflect on the true problems behind your excuses to not lose weight.
  • Create your definition of health. Is it a number on the scale? Is it how you feel?

When I am feeling down about my weight or my confidence, I think about the 2018 movie, I Feel Pretty, starring Amy Schumer. It illustrates how our, “Once I achieve_____; then I will______” mindset. This mindset can hold you back from living a fearless, happy life. Your current weight is not what is holding you back; instead what is holding you back is your insecurity and comparison of what you “think” needs to happen.

Keeping yourself on the diet treadmill or a “yoyo” diet cycle is being short sited on a truly healthy lifestyle. By focusing on your weight as the roadblock to doing the second part of the sentence, “I will________” you are only increasing your body shame, anxiety, and depression.

 

Ditch the scale and take a leap for your health with these simple tips for an everyday healthy lifestyle:

 

  • Learn about your patterns and food choices.
  • Organize your kitchen to maximize success and master the flow of creating healthy food choices.
  • Enhance the flavour of your foods so that you are not “dieting” but eating better than you ever have before and enjoying your meals.
  • Adapt recipes to your particular needs with ease. Never abandon a favourite recipe again because of a “diet.”
  • Create plans that work for all types of situations: the busy work week, the travel schedule, the meal prep week, and the craving homecooked meals week.
  • Be consistent and commit to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Ditch the excuses!
  • Break up with the social media cycle of perpetual FOMO and why not me? Why is it not working?

I can teach you to feel more confident in your ability to eat well and how to reduce your anxiety around living a healthy lifestyle. I work with busy professionals and families who are looking for ways to integrate healthy and nutritional balanced meals that are supportive of their dietary restrictions, in a way that is easy and fun. To learn more, book a free 15-minute consultation. You can ask questions and discuss whether nutritional coaching is right for you. Book a time that works for your schedule by clicking here.

Keren

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