With the start of 2017 right around the corner, you may already be thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Not surprisingly, one of the most common resolutions people make is to lose weight.
Between all of the holiday socializing and, of course, the accompanying holiday feasts and snacking, a lot of indulgent eating is likely to take place. Right on the heels of Halloween candy often come mountains of mashed potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, apple pies, deep fried turkeys, and honey-baked hams. What’s worse: All of this takes place during colder months when we’re tempted to hibernate – complete with all-too-cozy blankets and a generous serving of carbohydrates!
When it comes to preventing weight gain during these festive months, the obvious solution is to take in fewer calories and exercise more frequently (easier said than done!).
But in addition to watching what you eat, you should pay attention to other factors as well. There are several common ways in which people consume more bad calories than they intend to. The worst part: You may not even know you’re consuming them! Unhealthy content can find its way into your life – in a myriad of hidden ways.
To maintain a healthy diet and avoid adding unwanted calories, especially during the upcoming holidays, consider these five hidden factors that can contribute to weight gain:
1. Sleep Deprivation
Not all the ways that calories can ambush you come in the form of food. One simple way to jumpstart your efforts to shed some pounds is to get more sleep. Missing out on nighttime slumber may negatively affect your weight in two ways.
First off, being overly tired for long periods of time is likely to raise your stress level. When your stress levels are raised, your body produces more cortisol. To combat its effects, your body then desires more serotonin to calm you down – which typically comes in the form of cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and fats.
The other issue that occurs when your body is missing out on sleep is the missed opportunity for your body to break down calories. You burn large amounts of calories within the first hour of hitting your REM cycle. When you don’t rest enough, your metabolism suffers. This is also the time your body prefers to break down sugars. Irregular sleep cycles can lead to high blood sugar and a slowed-down metabolic system. Bottom line: make sure to get plenty of sleep at night.
2. Overuse of Antibiotics
When you’re sick, it can be tempting to take anything you think may help you feel better. However, if you are prescribed antibiotics and you aren’t suffering a severe bacterial infection, you might be needlessly disrupting the environment in your digestive system. Medical research has shown that antibiotics can destroy good bacteria in your GI tract that aid in the healthy breakdown of calories and keep your digestion on track. If you have a viral infection, stay away from the antibiotics – they’re not meant to help with that anyway. If you do find yourself needing an antibiotic, you can work to counter its short-term effects on your gut by introducing a probiotic into your diet.
3. Growth Enhancers in Foods
Even when you’re eating healthy, you may be accidentally consuming unnatural substances that affect the way your body processes calories. Without knowing it, Americans consume tons of hormones, antibiotics and growth enhancers through their consumption of livestock and produce.
These chemicals are typically found in the highest concentrations in animals. In order to raise bigger animals that will provide more meat, livestock farmers feed growth hormones to cattle, chicken and pigs. These hormones are digested by the animal and become a part of their bodies even after death.
If you eat a lot of meat, you’re likely consuming a lot of these chemicals. Not only can these hormones and enhancers disrupt your digestion and add extra weight to your body, they also increase your chances of developing cancer.
In my opinion, it is important to eat organic whenever possible!
4. Eating Too Quickly
If you tend to be a frequent eater on-the-go, you are tricking your brain into thinking your body needs more food than it does. Eating too quickly doesn’t allow your brain time to catch up with your stomach. Grabbing a meal while on the run and consuming it rapidly tricks your body into thinking you’re still hungry.
Sit down and take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. This gives your stomach time to fill up properly and helps you avoid overeating unnecessary calories.
5. Missing Out on Important Nutrients
For your body to operate in tip-top shape, it needs the proper fuel. Skipping out on foods that contain certain vitamins and nutrients may cause digestion problems and alter metabolism.
Common deficiencies include magnesium, vitamin D3 and iron. If your body is running low on these nutrients, you’ll lack the energy to exercise and you may find yourself controlling your fatigue with increased caffeine and sugar intake.
A lack of these nutrients can also compromise your immune system, which also affects your digestion. Sunlight (as little as 20-30 minutes three times a week) can help with vitamin D3, while spinach is good for your iron, and nuts are a great source of magnesium.
About 90 percent of the patients I initially see in my office have more than one vitamin and mineral deficiency. In some cases this is due to poor diet, but in most cases the patient is attempting to eat properly, taking various supplements, and is still deficient. This is due, in large part, to greatly lowered nutrients in our soil and GMO crops. I also find that many of the supplements which are being taken are either not properly absorbed or the doses are too small to raise blood levels to therapeutic levels.
While regular serum blood profiles are very helpful in evaluating vitamins such as D3, vitamin B9 (folate), and vitamin B12, they are not helpful in measuring mineral levels. For example, minerals such as calcium and magnesium are often evaluated as part of a blood profile but will almost always be reported as normal. This is due to the fact that about 99 percent of these minerals are located in the cells and not in blood serum. The body can have greatly depleted CELLULAR levels of minerals, while attempting to keep the 1 percent found in SERUM at normal levels, as this is critical for metabolic function. So, if your doctor has told you that your blood test showed normal levels of magnesium and calcium, please keep in mind that only about 1 percent was tested!
What Is A Great, Balanced Vitamin and Mineral Formula?
I am frequently asked this question. One that is well absorbed and free of additives. One that is professional grade. One that is ultra-pure and thoroughly tested. One that is well tolerated and convenient to take.
For many years, I have recommended Foundation Vitamins. The dose is 3 tablets once a day. This may be increased to 3 twice a day for those who are depleted, stressed, fighting illness, or rundown. Many athletes take 3 twice a day as part of a good health program.
This product is also available as Foundation Vitamins with Iron and Children’s Foundation Vitamins. Both products are extremely popular and helpful in raising and balancing vitamin and mineral levels at the cellular level.
Proper vitamin and mineral testing can be done at the cellular level to accurately determine each patient’s specific needs. Amino acids and antioxidant levels are included as well. I frequently recommend this very important testing, and it can be ordered through a telemedicine consultation or visit to our Integrative Medicine Center. Please feel free to call (513-741-4404) or email (email@example.com) us with any questions or to schedule an appointment. My staff and I look forward to helping you achieve your health goals!
Photo credit: Bernie123 / bigstock.com