Behind being overweight are diet-related hormonal and metabolic imbalances. We can correct them by introducing certain foods and habits. Here is the most effective strategies to lose weight with health.
Overweight is the increase in body weight above a given pattern. To assess whether a person is overweight, experts use the so-called body mass index (BMI), which is the result of dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. When the BMI is over 25 it is considered overweight, and obesity when it exceeds 30.
But BMI has its limitations: athletes can have a lot of muscle weight and not so much fat; in this case, its weight does not represent an increase in fat. Therefore, in addition to using the BMI, it is necessary to assess the percentage of body fat with other tools such as special scales or a caliper to measure skin folds.
The health consequences of being overweight and obese can be very serious: strokes, insulin resistance, chronic inflammations, loss of mobility, alterations of the microbiota, immune problems … It also greatly reduces the quality of life and increases the possibility of suffer other conditions. Therefore, we are all interested in preventing or remedying it.
Here is the tips to lose weight in a healthy way.
FAT IS NECESSARY, BUT NOT EXCESS
One of the main causes of obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat in the body caused by excessive consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates and sugars, processed products, sedentary lifestyle and other factors.
But it is not necessary to demonize fats, but their excess. In fact, the fat in the body is necessary for the proper functioning of the hormonal, reproductive and immune systems, as thermal insulation and as an energy source.
It is necessary to have between 10 and 14% of body fat in men and up to 20-22% of body fat in women. When these percentages increase, it is when the problems and pathologies appear.
We must also bear in mind that not all organic fats are the same. There is essential, brown, subcutaneous, intramuscular and visceral fat, although it is visceral and brown fat that have a greater relationship with obesity.
WHERE DOES FAT ACCUMULATE IN YOUR BODY?
The most dangerous is the one that accumulates around the organs (stomach, liver, intestines, kidneys …) and can interfere with their functions; If we accumulate triglycerides in this fat around the viscera, it increases the size of the cells of the adipose tissue and generates a dangerous inflammation. The good thing is that it responds very well to physical exercise, since it is the first that the body uses as fuel.
Its main function produce heat, and does so using visceral fat and glucose. Babies have a high percentage of brown fat in their bodies. As adults, we retain some brown fat in the neck, upper back area, and chest.
This fat is important because it is metabolically more active than white fat: at rest it consumes more calories and helps to dissipate a good part of the excess calories in the form of heat. That is why it is worth knowing that we can increase our amount of brown fat with small exposures to the cold, and also with exercise, although with less effectiveness.
Adipose tissue or fatty tissue can be considered, in fact, as an endocrine organ, since it secretes hormones that are involved in the regulation of hunger and satiety. It also produces other hormones that are involved in metabolic processes.
When we eat, the body releases one of these hormones, leptin, into the bloodstream to warn the brain that we can already finish eating food. But if the brain sensor has become resistant to leptin, the possibility of transmitting the message of satiety disappears and we continue eating and accumulating calories.
This resistance to leptin is the consequence of an inflammation caused by excess fat in the body. Inflammatory substances travel through the body and the body responds by secreting other agents that prevent it from reaching the brain to protect it. But doing so also hinders the arrival of leptin and its satiety message. This is what is called the “leptin short circuit”.
The hormonal disorder does not end there. In addition, resistance to dopamine is produced , a hormone that makes us want to do things. The body, then, wants to move less and spend less if it does not receive leptin or dopamine, and slows metabolism, creating a vicious circle. In conclusion, you have a very good store of accumulated energy, little desire to spend it and more hunger.
INSULIN AND GLUCOSE UNDER CONTROL
Another hormone, insulin, also has a clear relationship with obesity and our health: it is produced by the pancreas every time we eat carbohydrate-rich foods (sugar is one of them).
Insulin enables cells to use the glucose necessary for energy and to maintain the functions of organs and systems. That is, it opens the door for glucose to enter the cells and can be used.
When we eat a lot of carbohydrates and sugars or the deposits are already full of sugar, excess glucose turns into fat and accumulates as triglycerides in adipose tissue, increasing our body fat, especially visceral fat.
In addition, the body tries to compensate for the excess glucose circulating in the blood by producing more insulin, but there comes a time, if the excess is maintained, that the tissues become saturated and do not respond to the action of insulin, they become resistant to it . We have already created another vicious circle.
Insulin resistance is a phase prior to type 2 diabetes and is also related to pathologies such as polycystic ovary syndrome, arteriosclerosis, excess cholesterol in the blood, chronic low-grade inflammation, alteration of the microbiota and Alzheimer’s, among many other situations.
In relation to weight, insulin resistance not only produces an increase in body fat, it also decreases the ability to break down fats as an energy source, making it difficult to lose weight.
CULTIVATE THE RIGHT MICROBIOTA
Finally, we cannot stop talking about the importance of the intestinal microbiota. The diversity of our microbiota can make us enjoy health or not, and we can lose weight easily or not. Let’s see how it occurs.
The bacteria in our intestines control our metabolism and influence inflammation and fat accumulation, making us more or less prone to being overweight and obese. If we enjoy bacterial diversity, we will enjoy digestive , emotional, immune and endocrine health.
Specifically, overweight and obesity have been linked to an imbalance between the three main groups of intestinal bacteria: bacteroides, firmicutes, and actinobacteria.
Ideally, there should be a higher proportion of bacteroides than firmicutes, and within the bacteroides, more Prevotella spp than Bacteroides spp, since these – by metabolizing resistant starch, fructooligosaccharides and xylan from legumes, whole grains and vegetables like onions, leeks … – they produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which reduce the production of fat in the liver, lower cholesterol and make us feel full.
To lose weight in a healthy way, the goal should be to reduce inflammation through diet. Avoid sugars, pastries, hydrogenated fats and processed products, space meals and practice intermittent fasting with the aim of improving leptin resistance. Finally, keep these three habits in mind:
- Chew well. It is also essential to chew each bite a lot to ensure proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
- Do exercise. To improve insulin resistance, exercise at different intensities that include aerobic (running, swimming, cycling, etc.) and anaerobic (toning and strengthening of the muscles through resistance and weight exercises).
- Sleep enough. Lack of sleep and stress cause inflammation and hunger due to the increase in cortisol, a hormone that increases blood glucose levels, favors insulin resistance and