"Eat less, move more" is BS

We’re told that excess weight is the result of eating too many calories and not doing enough exercise. Calories in, calories out (CICO), right? 

So if it’s that simple, then why are so many people still struggling to lose the extra weight?  I’ve known plenty of diligent men and women that have exercised for years and have been judicious with their diet, yet the stubborn weight won’t come off. Some of them eat very little food, but seem to either hover around the same weight or even gain more as the years progress. Others will diet and lose quite a lot of weight, but feel miserable being restricted and find it near impossible to stick to the plan. And when they resume their regular diet all the weight comes back on.

Something is clearly missing from the CICO equation. Sure, in a perfect world maybe it would work, but not in this modern world we inhabit (you’ll learn why in a bit).

What’s missing from picture is the role that HORMONES play in gaining and losing weight.

Closely related to hormone balance is the role that psychological and biochemical STRESS plays in gaining and losing weight.

You are probably not surprised to read this, but you may not be aware of how much of a role stress and hormonal imbalances play in your inability to lose weight and keep it off. Let’s unpack some of the overarching mechanisms.

 

Stress and Hormonal Dysregulation

The hormonal milieu involved in losing and gaining weight is complex. For example, all of the below hormones and neurotransmitters play a part in whether you will gain weight or lose it: 

    • Insulin
    • Cortisol
    • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
    • Estrogen
    • Dopamine
    • Serotonin
    • Testosterone
    • Growth hormone, histamine, leptin, and others

If you have insulin resistance and blood-sugar regulation, you’ve have problems losing weight. If your cortisol and other stress hormones are chronically elevated, sustainable fat loss will be near impossible. If your dopamine is low you’ll feel like crap and may gravitate toward junk foods. If your thyroid is not functioning well, it will wreak havoc on your metabolic rate (i.e. how much energy you burn). The list goes on.

See why it’s not as simple as eating less and moving more? Don’t get me wrong, we will still work to improve your diet as much as possible – it is the most important part of health, after all.

But we must also focus on reducing the various types of STRESS you’re under, otherwise your results will be lackluster at best. 

Now, you might tell me that you’re not under much stress… And here I would beg to differ. All of the below are stressors, whether we recognise them as such or not:

    • Calorie restriction / dieting
    • Low carb / ketogenic diet (most especially when used long-term)
    • Over-exercising
    • Fasting

How ironic is that? The very things people do to lose weight (reducing calories) are the exact same things signalling to the body that they are under stress (e.g. famine or war – more on that later) and need to make sure the next meal is stored up as fat AND to slow down the metabolic rate so they don’t burn through their energy (stored or eaten) so quickly!

That’s exactly why people that lose weight by dieting will often gain the weight back, and then some, after resuming their normal diet. It’s because the caloric restriction reduced their metabolic rate and their body got the signal that “things aren’t ok, so we must store up all the fat reserves that we can and use as little energy as possible.” It’s a survival mechanism. When they start eating as much as they used to, more will be stored as fat because the body is burning less calories. Furthermore, losing weight in this manner also causes loss of muscle mass, which is much harder to regain than fat. This yet another negative effect on the person’s metabolic rate because muscle is much more metabolically active than fat. Hopefully by know you can see this is a recipe for disaster.

 

On the other hand, when you exercise you’re actually stressing your body – that’s the whole point of training: stress the body so that it will adapt and you get fitter, stronger, faster. Nothing wrong with that in doses your body can handle, but when you start over-doing it (and for many people it doesn’t take much) it can become counter-productive. The worst combination is dieting or low-carb coupled with an intense exercise regimen. Throw some intermittent fasting into the mix and you have a recipe for hormone dysregulation that will eventually wreck even the healthiest of people. It literally is a matter of time.

You see, when you go low-carb, skip meals, and/or intermittently fast, your body must still produce glucose to feed the brain and help you to function. That glucose WILL get produced somehow if it’s not ingested. The means for producing it is by raising STRESS HORMONES like cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine. Cortisol breaks down your lean tissues like muscle, bone, skin, collagen, and if things get real bad even your organs (brain included). The breakdown products are sent to the liver where it synthesises glucose through the process of gluconeogenesis. Surely we don’t want to break down our bones or hard-earned and valuable muscle tissue, right?

 

Adrenaline/epinephrine and noradrenaline/norepinephrine stimulate lipolysis, which is the liberation of fatty acids from our fats cell. This must be good, right? It would be good if we could handle all of the extra fats circulating in our bloodstream, but many people with sub-optimal health status cannot. These circulating fats can actually damage our organs. One of the reasons is because a lot of our stored (adipose) tissue is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (think omega-6s predominantly). These fats are very pro-inflammatory, so having a bunch of them circulating around is not desirable because they can easily oxidise and damage things around them (cell components, blood vessels, organ tissue). Most people do not have the antioxidant capacity to handle the damage and stress of elevated lipolysis. That’s why many people feel like crap after losing a lot of weight.

But wait, there’s more. You might not be aware that your fatty stores are actually a storage site for many toxins (look into it: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6101675/). So what happens when you increase lipolysis (breakdown of fatty stores) is you’re also increasing the circulation of a lot of harmful chemicals. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, or have too much lipolysis for what your body can handle, it will do damage to the body. Whether or not you feel that damage will depend on how healthy you were to begin with. (Most people are not that healthy to begin with.) We want to avoid as much of that damage as we can by doing important preparatory work – in other words you need to GET HEALTHY to lose weight, not the other way around. This is why the weight loss strategy I teach my clients emphasises the word SAFE – because if it is done wrong, the person may suffer in the long run.

When you’re still young and healthy, dieting, low-carbing, fasting, and exercising like a beast seem like a good idea because you tend to get results you would expect and generally don’t feel unwell when using these interventions. But that’s not necessarily because they are so beneficial for you, but rather because you still have plenty of reserves left. And running on cortisol and other stress hormones can actually feel good – until it doesn’t. 

Once we get over 35-40 year mark, things get harder for most of us. Decades of sub-optimal lifestyle choices and accumulating dysfunction mean that we need a more sophisticated strategy to lose the weight SAFELY and keep it off.

From "War and Famine" to "Safety and Abundance"?

OK, let’s say you realise that the temporary gains of dieting, low-carb/keto, fasting etc. are not worth it and you want to do this right. What is the strategy? The first thing to acknowledge is that there is one! Strategy means we have a long-term plan for SAFE, SUSTAINABLE, and STRESS-FREE weight loss. We need to do-away with the short term quick-fix tactics, fads, juice-cleanses and whatnot, and set our sights on the goal of long-term health.

The basic principle is “get healthy to lose weight”, not “lose weight to get healthy”. If a number on the scale is your goal, you can use any number of methods to achieve it, some will be more or less-healthful (often less). But if getting metabolically healthy is your goal, you”ll be working toward building dietary and lifestyle habits that will support your body to bring itself to a healthy weight. To get you there we must interrupt the war and famine cycle and signal to your body that you are in a state of safety and abundance. When we do that, amazing things can happen.

Since every person’s health status and situation is radically unique, every client gets an individualised program and support. You can expect us to cover most or all of the following areas during the time we work together.

    • Data gathering: you will get some blood work that will help us see “where you’re at” currently and guide the program.
    • Diet tracking, analysis, and optimisation: we’ll understand your dietary habits to help you remove foods doing you harm and add foods that are health-promoting (there is always room for improvement in this area, with great benefits to be reaped).
    • Dietary macro-nutrient optimisation: we’ll figure out the right ratios of protein, carbs, and fats for your body.
    • Stress reduction: Sustainable weight loss will extremely difficult unless we identify and address your biggest sources of stress (psychological and biochemical).
    • Supplementation: Intelligent nutritional supplementation to accelerate your progress and address imbalances.
    • Detoxification support: Laying down the groundwork for supporting safe weight loss. 
    • Antioxidant support: Helps you to mitigate the damage of mobilising/burning stored polyunsaturated fatty acids.
    • Gut function optimisation: An integral aspect of health.
    • Lifestyle factors: Identify and address/ameliorate lifestyle factors contributing to poor health.
    • Exercise and movement: We’ll work together to design a stress-free movement program that will support your goals.

Heath Consulting Packages

Before the Initial Consultation, you will fill out some forms related to health history, diet, supplementation, home and lifestyle factors, and so on. This information will help us to hit the ground running and focus straight to the most important issues. After the Initial Consultation you will get protocols, journals and other resources in your Client Portal to help us track changes and progress. We also have a chat feature where minor questions and details can be addressed in between sessions, so you will always have help and support when you need it.

All client packages now include access to my comprehensive course Detox Workshop (£199 value). This 13+ hour course is considered as an essential educational resource for my clients as it covers many adjunct topics such as reducing toxic exposures and supporting your detoxification system, both of which are needed to achieve optimal health. 

6-Month Package

When you're ready to take it to the next level
£ 135 p/m
  • Initial Consultation (75-min)​
  • Initial protocol design and on-going course-correction recommendations
  • 8 x 45-min consultation calls​
  • Help with ordering lab tests
  • Lab test results analysis and protocol recommendations
  • Chat support for minor questions and clarifications between sessions
  • Free access to my Detox Workshop (12 months)
  • Price if paid in full upfront: £810
  • Installment plan available (3 x £275)

Premium 12-Month Support

For truly lasting health and lifestyle transformation
£ 100 p/m
  • Initial Consultation (75-min)​​ + Protocol design + On-going course correction
  • 12 x 45-min consultation calls​
  • 6 x 25-min check-in calls
  • Help with ordering lab tests
  • Lab test results analysis and protocol recommendations
  • Chat support for minor questions and clarifications between sessions
  • Free access to my Detox Workshop (12 months)
  • Price if paid in full upfront: £1200
  • Installment plan available (5 x £250)

Schedule your free discovery session:

The best way to see if we are a good fit to work together is to book a free 15-minute discovery session. With this no-strings-attached and no-pressure call, I will get a better understanding of your health goals and how I can help you achieve them. If I feel you are not ready for coaching, I will let you know so we don’t waste our time and resources. Use the scheduler below to book the session.