Where to Start with Weight Loss: Tips from a Naturopathic Physician

Root Whole Body Blog

A recent interview with Dana James, the author of The Archetype Diet, revealed THE weight-loss equation: 

Weight change = food + movement + hormones + inflammation + gut microbiome + sleep + medication + genes + unexpressed emotions + shame 

I completely support this methodology; if anything I would have to add one modifier: + stress.  When it comes to sustainable weight management, we have to evaluate each of these factors. 

Given these factors, my top 3 to focus on are as follows: 

  1. Chronic Stress: Cortisol is a powerful hormone, and it can impact your body in multiple ways, including powerful effects on your reproductive, immune, and endocrine systems (metabolism). The very impacts of cortisol can be exaggerated by stress that does not let up.  Among other things, persistently elevated levels of cortisol can alter hunger and metabolism.  Cortisol then triggers an increase in another hormone; insulin. Having a higher insulin level in your body triggers your body to store more calories as fat (especially around your abdomen).  Higher cortisol and insulin levels also cause blood sugar levels to be more irregular, which can trigger hunger and food cravings, especially for sugary foods that raise blood sugar and give you short-term energy.  
  2. Gut Microbiome:  Did you know that 90 percent of all disease can be traced back to your gut?  When you eat unhealthy foods and are exposed to chronic stress or inflammation your probiotic flora shifts towards unhealthy and can disrupt your ability to thrive.   Unhealthy flora feed of stress hormones, sugar and starches which can cause sugar cravings which negatively affects our fat burning pathways. Combine this with inflammatory or allergenic foods (such as gluten, dairy, sugar) and your body is easier taken out fat burning mode. 
  3. Movement.  A recent study found the average person spends 55 percent of waking house sedentary or sitting.  If you reduce the  amount of time you spent sitting, you’ll reduce the risk of gaining weight, developing health issues, brain fog and especially muscle loss.  Simply; the more you exercise the better.  Find something you enjoy doing; the more enjoyable fitness habit, the more likely you will stick with it. 

Another secret weapon that is not a part of the mentioned equation is nutrient timing or better known as intermittent fasting.  One way to start is to consider consuming solid foods for a maximum of eight hours per day (the average American eating window is 16 hours or more!).  By limiting food consumption to a certain window of time, your body has a change to absorb nutrients, cleanse and recharge. 

Despite the complexity of the weight change equation other great ways to get started is to see what your body is telling you in regards to nutrients and metabolism.  Starting with labs that contain the following labs can be a great place to start: 

  • Thyroid function – TSH 
  • Carbohydrate metabolism – insulin and HbA1c 
  • Stress hormones – cortisol and DHEA 
  • Sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone 
  • Vitamin D  

Need help getting started or want expert support? We’re here to help! Book now with myself or Dr. Kilian and we’ll guide you every step of the way. 

-Dr. Katherine Walker, ND

Clinic Lead/Naturopathic Physician

Dr. Katherine Walker is a Naturopathic Primary Care Physician working to optimize health and wellness for the whole family. Dr. Walker believes the only way to optimize true health is by engaging in a whole-person approach to wellness that nurtures the mind, body and spirit. Her goal is not only to connect and listen but to encourage proper care and nourishment of families, self and community. Learn more about Dr. Walker.