You probably hear that diet and exercise are the keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. While those two factors are the foundation, half-a-dozen other factors also influence metabolism and body weight.
Even the diet-exercise formula is not so simple.
For example, eating foods with empty calories from sugars causes metabolic toxicity. And you can’t remedy the problem by “burning off” the extra calories, as I exposed earlier this month. (I’ll discuss the metabolic toxicity of sugar in further detail in the May 2017 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. So — if you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.)
Beyond diet and exercise, these eight factors can affect your body weight:
- Your age
As you get older, your metabolism slows and your ability to quickly use up calories diminishes. This change happens at the cellular level. Calories only provide the fuel. But you need a healthy metabolic fire to keep going by making sure your cellular mitochondria are working well.
For example, Co-Q10 stokes the metabolic fire as does aspal (rooibos, or red bush). These fires not only generate energy but also water, making it the main source of cellular hydration. But many drugs snuff it out (see below).
Muscle mass also decreases with aging, which reduces overall metabolic activity. That’s one reason I recommend you get two to three hours of moderate physical activity every week — preferably walking, hiking and/or swimming outside in Nature.
- Skipping meals
You may feel tempted to severely restrict caloric intake or skip meals to lose weight. But those practices are self-defeating and slow the metabolism. As I discussed last month, moderation is the key.
Some so-called health experts claim that diet supplements or foods with caffeine, capsaicin and/or green tea help boost metabolism. However, as I exposed in the September 2015 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, these foods and supplements only increase energy expenditure and fat-burning by a very small amount. They won’t make a meaningful contribution to maintaining healthy weight, according to clinical studies.
There is only one remarkable ingredient shown to reduce body fat: rose hips. I told you about rose hips back in February in my Daily Dispatch. Research shows daily doses of 1,000 mg (1 gram) a day — found in dry, water-soluble, powdered extract — can help reduce body fat.
Illnesses can make maintaining a healthy weight more difficult. Specifically, low thyroid (hypothyroidism) and other endocrine conditions can slow down the metabolism and cause you to gain weight.
If you suspect you have an endocrine disorder, ask your doctor for a screening test. Doctors can treat most endocrine conditions medically. And you can also use natural approaches to avoid sources of thyroid and adrenal toxicity.
Many medications actually make it harder to maintain healthy weight. In fact, drugs for mental health, such as those for bipolar disorder or depression, notoriously cause patients to pack on the pounds.
In addition, statin drugs and many pain-killers poison the mitochondria that fuel cellular metabolism. If you think your medications are causing weight problems, ask your doctor about your alternatives.
Many non-drug, mind-body techniques and dietary supplements help with mood and mental health. To find out which might work best for you, take my emotional type quiz.
- Your sleep habits
You might think that sleeping more simply slows down your metabolism, but it doesn’t really work that way. Getting too little sleep can actually alter your metabolism, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
Studies show that even one night of insufficient or poor sleep disrupts metabolism and increases insulin resistance, which contributes to obesity, Type II diabetes and cardio-metabolic heart disease.
Of course, stress is the secret, silent killer behind all disease — including obesity. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, the hormone produced by the adrenal glad. Researc halso links cortisol to weight gain and aging, as I published with Dr. Ken Seaton almost 20 years ago.
High cortisol also leads to fat deposition that is hard to lose in areas of the trunk. Fat in the mid-section also poses a metabolic risk for developing Type II diabetes and heart disease.
Cortisol (as in the drug cortisone) also suppresses the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections.
- The weather
It seems like two of the most popular topics of conversion are trying to lose weight and the weather. But did you know that weather affects weight?
Some evidence shows that exposure to colder temperature — and keeping the room colder at night while asleep — causes an increase in metabolism. If you get too cold and even start shivering, this activity increases muscular activity, burns calories and produces body warmth.
On the other hand, some other research associates living in cold climates with increases in body weight. Low temperatures, less sunlight, and long winters affect mood. And lower mood can prompt weight gain, either through direct metabolic changes or simply by eating more. Lower vitamin D levels, from lack of sun exposure, also has serious metabolic consequences for every cell in the body.
So — this spring as you’re out and about — consider these factors when it comes to controlling your body weight. But try not to worry too much about it. Remember, carrying a few extra pounds is not the urgent problem it’s often made out to be.