Factors influencing weight gain
There are many reasons why people gain weight, and often it is the result of a combination of factors. Factors leading to weight gain include: dieting (yes, really), too much food combined with not enough exercise, certain prescription medications, eating the wrong types of food and even food allergies. Underlying medical conditions can also make it difficult to manage your weight -– for example an underactive thyroid, gut problems like an overgrowth of yeast, or excessive stress.
Why diets don’t work
When you restrict your calorie intake, your body lowers its production of appetite-suppressing hormones, and increases it’s production of appetite-stimulating hormones. Your metabolism also slows down, to conserve energy, so when you go back to eating normally more food will be stored as fat. Not only does counting calories rarely help you lose weight and keep it off, it is time-consuming, difficult to do and it makes you miserable! So instead of worrying about calories, think about maximising the nutritional content of the food you eat.
Blood sugar balance: the cornerstone of weight management
Blood sugar concentration refers to the amount of glucose, or sugar in the blood. Keeping blood sugar levels constant is the cornerstone of a long-term weight management strategy. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate from being very high, such as after a meal, stimulant or a stressful episode, to being very low, say if you skipped a meal or didn’t eat for several hours. The hormone insulin works to keep blood sugar levels within the desired range. After a meal insulin stimulates the body cells to take up glucose for energy or storage. Stress, stimulants like coffee and tea and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and rice release glucose very quickly into the bloodstream, and as a result insulin can get a little out of control. While these foods lead to a sudden burst of energy, the effect is short-lived as the body will promptly release high levels of insulin to try to return blood sugar levels to within the desired range. This often results in blood sugar dipping too low, and subsequently energy levels crash, leading to cravings for sweet foods and stimulants, and thus begins a rollercoaster of energy highs and lows. When your blood sugar is out of balance, it affects many systems in your body – and can lead to cravings for sugary snacks and weight gain.
Nutrition for weight management
When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady really does win the race! Aim to lose 1-2lbs per week for long-term success. Crash diets can result in rapid weight loss – but it is mainly muscle and water weight, and generally causes rebound weight gain.