In last month’s post I intended to fully cover the top 10 reasons we’re fat, and what to do about it.
But before I knew it, I had written an epically long blog post that, I was told, should be split in two (lest I overwhelm my dear readers).
So, today I bring you the second-half of that top 10 reasons we’re fat list including tips on exercise, hormonal balancing, sleep, and more!
The Top 10 REAL Reasons We Get Fat…And What to Do about it, Part 2 (points 6-10):
#6 Reason We Get Fat: We’re exercising all wrong
Though we’ve always been told that cardio will help us lean out, new research has proven lengthy cardio sessions leave us feeling hungrier(1) and produce unhealthy levels of inflammation and stress.
A better way to exercise for weight-loss, weight-management and overall fitness is through high-intensity interval training. Also known as “HIT”.
With “HIT” workouts, you do short bursts of high-intensity exercises (like speed squats, jogging in place, running up stairs, etc.) then take a break, then move onto another exercise. The entire workout can last as little as 10 minutes and has been shown to help you burn more calories throughout the day than lengthy cardio sessions, and lower insulin resistance while improving glucose levels…which is really good news (2).
#7 Reason We Get Fat: We eat too much sugar and refined carbs
We are HUGE proponents of low-carb living around here. Why? Because, due to our carb-heavy Standard American Diet, most of us have used up our ability to efficiently process carbs for energy by the time we’re 30. Bummer, I know.
Once we hit this carb-plateau, carbs become a burden to our body instead of an asset, causing all kinds of issues that lead to weight-gain such as insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance, energy dips, etc.
Plus, when we eat sugar it robs our bodies of crucial vitamins and minerals, leading to (you guessed it) more metabolic damage which leads to weight-gain and increased hunger.
The solution: adopt a low-carb lifestyle. We have a ton of resources to make this type of lifestyle delicious, easy, and pleasurable. You can find them on this website and our Pinterest board.
#8 Reason We Get Fat: Our hormones are anything but balanced
Besides making us feeling crazy and irritable, hormonal imbalance directly affects our weight in a number of ways.
For example: eating a high-carb diet causes insulin resistance, resulting in high estrogen (which causes weight gain in and of itself), which then interferes with thyroid function.
The thyroid is key to regulating our metabolism, and thus when it is impaired, leads to weight gain.
As discussed in our previous post on Hashimotos Thyroiditis, there is a serious thyroid health crisis going on in our country right now, of which weight-gain is one prevalent symptom.
But poor diet is only ONE factor in the hormone puzzle which includes estrogen-mimicking chemicals, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, nutrient deficiencies, etc.
Thankfully, there is hope.
The solution: find a qualified integrative functional medicine healthcare practitioner (like us at Merritt Wellness Center) to help figure out which hormones are out of whack, and what to do about it.
In the meantime, simple lifestyle changes like eating low-carb, avoiding toxins, (including plastics which have known-endocrine-disrupting properties), getting regular exercise, de-stressing, and making sleep a priority can go a long way in restoring hormonal balance.
#9 Reason We Get Fat: Chronic stress is fueling chronic weight-gain
As mentioned above, chronic stress has a detrimental effect on our hormone levels.
The biggest culprit here is the stress hormone, cortisol, which is produced in response to the body’s perception of fight-or-flight.
This natural process, which has helped us survive for centuries, is beneficial…except when the body is forced to produce cortisol all the time without the necessary exercise required to burn it off.
Why would the body produce cortisol all the time if we’re not being chased by wild animals?
Because we’re chronically stressed out from excess screen time, working too hard, crazy schedules, poor diet, lack of sleep, improper breathing, etc.
The solution: get serious about practicing different stress-management techniques every day.
One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to exercise outdoors(3). The exercise will help balance your hormones, reduce stress, and help you sleep better that night whilst you reap the added stress-relieving/microbiome=building benefits of green space in the great outdoors.
#10 Reason We Get Fat: We’re not getting enough sleep
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 Americans are chronically sleep-deprived making this a public health issue(4).
What does this have to do with weight-gain?
For one thing, when you don’t get enough sleep its been proven to mess with your body’s leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that controls that feeling of satiety and prevents you from overeating(5).
Plus, when you don’t get enough sleep it further stresses you out which produces more stimulating cortisol, which messes with your hormones, leaving you in a downward spiral of unexplained weight-gain
The solution: take sleep seriously. Aim to get between 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night. And if you can’t sleep, consider coming to see us and/or check out my book: “The Perfect Sleep Solution”.
And if I would make one suggestion as to the best starting point: start by cutting down your sugar intake first, as sugar (in our opinion after years of research and clinical observation) is the #1 culprit of disease and weight gain.
In closing, I hope this article has helped you see that those who struggle with weight-gain and obesity aren’t simply lazy, lacking-self-control, or gluttons. As you can now see, the issues surrounding weight-gain are typically multi-dimensional and require a serious look at several aspects of lifestyle way beyond just diet and exercise.
The good news is, by educating yourself and practicing these solutions you can help nip this insidious causal factors in the bud, and create not just the weight you desire, but the lifelong health you deserve.
1: Church TS, Martin CK, Thompson AM, Earnest CP, Mikus CR, et al. (2009) Changes in Weight, Waist Circumference and Compensatory Responses with Different Doses of Exercise among Sedentary, Overweight Postmenopausal Women. PLoS ONE 4(2): e4515.
2: Boutcher, Stephen H. “High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss.” Journal of Obesity, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639/.
3: The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. “Benefits of outdoor exercise confirmed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm>.
5: Taheri, Shahrad, et al. “Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index.” PLoS Medicine, Public Library of Science, Dec. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/.