In the challenging journey to lose weight, numerous obstacles can make maintaining a dietary plan or workout routine seem like an uphill battle. Bariatric surgeons, who witness the struggles of weight loss firsthand, are well-versed in what works and what doesn’t. In this pursuit, there is one commonly practiced habit that, according to medical professionals, can ultimately thwart weight loss goals.
Dr. Angela Glasnapp, MD, FACS, FASMBS, a bariatric surgeon at New York Bariatric Group, dismisses a pervasive myth surrounding obesity: the notion that it is merely a lifestyle choice. She firmly asserts that obesity is a disease, akin to cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure, necessitating an effective treatment. Dr. Glasnapp elucidates that the hypothalamus, a crucial component of the brain responsible for maintaining bodily equilibrium, plays a pivotal role. This vital region oversees various functions, including temperature regulation, appetite, mood, sex drive, blood pressure, and sleep. The “set point” is a genetically predetermined weight that the brain vigorously defends. For those who are obese, their set point is inordinately high, forming the crux of the condition.
Dr. Glasnapp reveals that when individuals with obesity attempt to lose weight through dieting, their brains sense a calorie deficit and respond by intensifying hunger hormones, diminishing satiety signals, and slowing metabolism. Thus, it is not a matter of willpower that thwarts their weight loss endeavors; their own bodies essentially work against them.
Dr. Chris Morgan, MD, a bariatric surgeon and weight loss expert at the Visthetic Surgery Institute & MedSpa Beverly Hills, outlines several factors that render weight loss challenging. In line with Dr. Glasnapp’s insights, he emphasizes that genetics and metabolism rates can hinder weight loss, as some individuals may possess inherently slow metabolisms. Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as hormonal imbalances or medications for specific health issues, can impede weight loss.
Dr. Morgan further notes that lifestyle factors, like sedentary jobs or limited access to healthy foods, emotional and psychological stress leading to overeating, lack of nutritional education, and cultural influences that promote unhealthy eating habits, all contribute to the challenge of shedding pounds.
The number one habit to be avoided, according to both doctors, is extreme calorie restriction, a pitfall into which many weight loss aspirants often stumble. Dr. Morgan warns that severely limiting calorie intake can lead to a slowing metabolism, muscle loss, and nutritional deficiencies, making long-term weight loss maintenance an arduous task. Scientific studies corroborate these findings, demonstrating that calorie restriction negatively impacts metabolism. It is essential to maintain a calorie deficit, but pushing it to extremes can backfire, as the brain compensates by elevating hunger signals and suppressing the feeling of fullness.
In designing a weight loss plan, Dr. Glasnapp recommends minimizing simple carbohydrates and sugar intake, as both readily convert to fat within the body. Instead, she advises focusing on fiber-rich foods and lean proteins, with a target of 80 to 100 grams of protein daily. Dr. Glasnapp also advises against eating while distracted, such as during television viewing or computer usage, suggesting the benefits of adhering to an eating schedule and planning meals and snacks in advance.
The two doctors concur that negative self-talk is another habit to be avoided, as it can undermine motivation and confidence, making it challenging to adhere to weight loss objectives. Cultivating a positive mindset and practicing self-compassion is of paramount importance. Dr. Morgan adds that setting realistic goals and surrounding oneself with supportive individuals can be pivotal in achieving weight loss success. Negative influences or unsupportive friends and family members may unintentionally undermine weight loss efforts, underscoring the need for encouragement from sources like nutritional coaches and personal trainers.
In the quest for weight loss, it is crucial to focus on what is attainable, be self-compassionate, and minimize the consumption of high-sugar or simple carbohydrate foods. Above all, extreme calorie restriction is discouraged, as it not only hinders weight loss but can also lead to a less than satisfactory quality of life. Life is too precious to be lived perpetually hungry.