Dr. Laura: 5 Major Factors in Menopausal Weight Gain

Menopausal weight gain is troublesome and annoying.

Menopausal weight gain can increase risks for cardiac events and insulin dysregulation.

5 Major factors in menopausal weight gain:

  • Genetics
  • Sex hormone changes
  • Sleep
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Diet

Figure out what’s going on in your body!  Learn how hormone levels, including the thyroid estrogen and progesterone, sleep hygiene, physical activity, diet and stress play a role in menopausal weight gain.

Sex hormone changes trigger menopausal weight gain

  • When the years leading to menopause set in, ovulation slows down before it stops. Ovulation is required before progesterone can be released. If you don’t ovulate, it creates irregular balances of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
  • Chemicals like BPA (plastics), cadmium, phthalates (soaps, detergents), and pesticides contribute to estrogen dominance.
  • Low progesterone against pre-declining estrogen makes for relative estrogen excess compared to progesterone. This means estrogen dominance for a time.
  • Estrogen dominance leads to poor thyroid hormone availability, reducing metabolism
  • If thyroid function is sluggish, this leads to poor estrogen clearance, more estrogen builds up in the body
  • Poor thyroid function can lead to weight gain and increase in LDL cholesterol. Elevated LDL cholesterol is linked to increase risk in cardiovascular disease.
  • As menopause progresses, estrogen declines. Estrogen decline leads to deposition of fat around the mid section.

Contributing factors to thyroid dysfunction:

  • Sagging adrenals (chronic stress)
  • Estrogen dominance
  • Low iron, selenium, iodine or zinc
  • Poor liver function
  • Poor intestinal flora.

Factors in sleep disturbance that contribute to menopausal weight gain

Poor sleep leads to disruption in balance of hormones and time for healing in the body. Lack of sleep itself can contribute to weight gain. The years of menopause are riddled with hurdles to a good night sleep:

  • decline in estrogen can disrupt sleep due to hot flushes
  • Hormone rhythm imbalance from changes in LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone are thought to contribute to disrupted sleep patterns.
  • From a Chinese Medicine point of view, the Liver Yang rises in menopause, which explains why the sleep is typically disrupted between the hours of 1-3 am. This is why, naturopathically, we look to calm the liver, cool the body and build Yin. Acupuncture and specially blended plant medicines can be very helpful.
  • sleep apnea (in you or your partner) more prevalent in those who are overweight
  • too much technology before bed, or worse yet, in the bedroom inhibits natural melatonin let down. Relative excess of cortisol as it is unopposed by melatonin disrupts sleep and contributes to midsection weight gain

Factors in depression that contribute to menopausal weight gain

Low mood and lethargy generally lend to poor motivation for exercise and healthy habits, which leads often to weight gain.

Here are some common factors in depression and menopause:

  • declining estrogen
  • sluggish thyroid
  • poor nutrient intake
  • imbalance in the intestinal bacteria
  • inflammation in the brain (usually as a result of imbalance in the intestinal bacteria)

How  Stress Relates to Menopausal Weight Gain

In menopause, the ovaries retire and  hand over their hormone duties to the adrenal gland. This is why it is important to support the adrenals at this time. How healthy the adrenals are will dictate how well our bodies will manage the stress and the change in hormone levels. Areas we may not think about in stress that could contribute to adrenal fatigue:

  • sleep disruption
  • inflammation from infections, intestinal dysbiosis, autoimmune conditions
  • too much or too little exercise
  • poor eating habits
  • conditioned stress response (post traumic stress disorder)
  • relationships with others
  • alcohol intake
  • medications and drugs
  • overwork
  • not enough fun & play time

How diet affects menopausal weight gain

  • Generally with age, metabolism slows down and less caloric intake is required. If activity slows or stays the same and intake is not adjusted, subsequent weight gain is likely.
  • Our intestinal tract flora changes as we age, and this changes how estrogen is metabolized.

It is evident that menopausal weight can happen for a lot of reasons. Some of it is a bit of a chickened an egg, like the estrogen dominance and poor thyroid function. It doesn’t matter what comes first, but if not corrected, they build on one another.  A naturopathic doctor’s role is to look at the individual as a whole, remove obstacles, rebuild the body and stimulate natural mechanisms of healing. Women who maintain a healthy habits, hormones and weight will help stave off risks for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Solutions to menopausal weight gain include healthy diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, hormone balancing with acupuncture and plant medicines, nutritional and hormonal supplementation.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

References:

Jung SY, Vitolins MZ, Fenton J, Frazier-Wood AC, Hursting SD, Chang S. Risk Profiles for Weight Gain among Postmenopausal Women: A Classification and Regression Tree Analysis Approach. Hsu Y-H, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0121430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121430.

Franklin RM, Ploutz-Snyder L, Kanaley JA. Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause. Metabolism. 2009 Mar; 58(3):311-5.

Gietka-Czernel M. The thyroid gland in postmenopausal women: physiology and diseases. Przegla̜d Menopauzalny = Menopause Review. 2017;16(2):33-37. doi:10.5114/pm.2017.68588.

Van Pelt RE, Gavin KM, Kohrt WM. REGULATION OF BODY COMPOSITION AND BIOENERGETICS BY ESTROGENS. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America. 2015;44(3):663-676. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.011.

Williams LT, Hollis JL, Collins CE, Morgan PJ. The 40-Something randomized controlled trial to prevent weight gain in mid-age women. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:1007. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1007.

Zheng Y, Manson JE, Yuan C, et al. Associations of Weight Gain From Early to Middle Adulthood With Major Health Outcomes Later in Life. JAMA. 2017;318(3):255-272. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7092.

Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Kim C. Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size, Body Composition and Obesity Status with the Menopausal Transition. Parthasarathy S, ed. Healthcare. 2016;4(3):42. doi:10.3390/healthcare4030042.

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Tips To Avoid Muscle Soreness

5 Tips To Avoid Muscle Soreness

One of the most enduring myths in fitness is that soreness is a sign of a good workout—an indication that you not only crushed it, but that your body is also transforming as a result. The reality, however, is that soreness and workout quality are largely unrelated. Indeed, it likely just means that you pushed yourself a little too hard, or that you’re trying something new.

Of course, that reality also makes exercised induced muscle soreness incredibly normal and exceedingly common. Nearly everyone will experience it at some point on their fitness journey, and many people find it invigorating as long as it doesn’t become debilitating.

That’s where the tips in this article come in. We can’t guarantee that they’ll allow you to avoid the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) monster altogether, but they can help you ditch the “no pain, no gain” mantra for good.

What Is Muscle Soreness?

Intense exercise can cause micro-tears in your muscle tissue, and that leads to delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. This typically develops 12 to 24 hours after a tough workout, and can linger two or three days. The most common symptoms of DOMS include slight swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the affected joints, and increased tenderness and reduced strength in the affected muscles.

How to Prevent Muscle Soreness:

1. Pick the correct workout program

The more you push yourself, the greater your chances of getting sore. The right program—or a trainer/coach—will ease you into exercise at a pace that your body can handle. But, you know, whatever works for your psyche is probably what you’re going to choose. And that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself, and follow the rules below if you know you’re biting off a little more than you can chew.

How to Prevent (and Relieve) Muscle Soreness

2. Start SLOW

It’s very tempting to begin an exercise program with a lot of enthusiasm, but try your best to go at a reasonable pace. If you’ve never exercised before, or if it has been a long time since you have, go much easier than you feel you are capable of on day one, and ramp things up based on how you feel after each successive workout. If you’re not sore, go a little harder the next day. If you’re a little sore, take it down a notch. If you’re very sore, then there are some steps you can take to mitigate the soreness.

If you’ve been exercising, but it’s been more than a week since you last worked out, follow the same pattern but go harder based on how fit you are. A good example to use here would be to start with about half of the workout (e.g., the warm-up, cool down, and one round of exercises). When you have a better fitness base, you can advance a little faster than if you were starting from square one. In general, take about a week to get back to giving 100 percent effort. This is also the example you want to use if you’ve been training and have taken some time off.

If you’ve been exercising, but are starting a new program, base how hard you push yourself on how much advancement there is in your program. For example, if you’ve been doing INSANITY and you’re moving into INSANITY: THE ASYLUM or P90X, you can probably give it your 100 percent (although you might want to be cautious about how much weight you begin with). But if you’re coming into one of those programs from something like 22 Minute Hard Corps or FOCUS T25, you’ll want to back off a bit from what you could achieve on those first few days. Whenever your program makes a big jump in workout duration, intensity, or training style (e.g., from all cardio to all weight training or even a combination of the two)– you’ll want to hold back a bit.

3. Minimize eccentric motion

Concentric movement is the contraction of a muscle, and eccentric movement is the lengthening of it. DOMS is is most closely associated with the latter, so if you can limit it, you might also be able to limit post-workout soreness.

If you’re doing a biceps curl, you can slow down the lifting phase of the movement while speeding up the lowering phase, for example. If you’re doing plyometric (i.e., jumping) exercises, you can jump onto a stable surface (e.g., a box or bench) and then step down instead of jumping up and down on the floor.

A lot of very popular exercise programs actually target jumping and eccentric movements. That’s because they’re highly effective tools for building power and athleticism—if your body is fit enough to handle them, which it never will be unless you proceed slowly (see tip #2) and carefully.

4. Hydrate

Dehydration plays a huge role in muscle soreness. Most people are chronically dehydrated. You can actually get sore even if you don’t exercise simply by being dehydrated. And adding exercise increases your water needs. A lot.

How much water you need varies depending on your activity level, lifestyle, where you live, etc., but an easy way to gauge it is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces each day. But that’s before you account for exercise. For each hour you work out, you should add another 32 ounces (on average). This, too, varies based on the individual, heat, humidity, exercise intensity, and so forth. But you get the idea—you need a lot of water for optimal performance.

How to Prevent (and Relieve) Muscle Soreness

Water isn’t the only factor in hydration. Electrolytes are also sweated out when you exercise and must be replaced. If you’re training less than hour per day, you probably don’t need to worry about them unless your diet is very low in sodium. But if you are working up a sweat for an hour or more, it’s a good idea to supplement with something like Beachbody Performance Hydrate, which can help to maximize fluid absorption with an optimal balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes to replace what your body loses during intense exercise.

Drinking too much water can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, in which your electrolyte levels drop to dangerously low levels. While potentially deadly, it’s also very hard for normal humans to get in everyday circumstances. That’s because you would have to drink excessive amounts of water, have very little salt, and sweat profusely for a long time. So while it’s a very real danger for, say, athletes competing in Ironman triathlons, it’s not a relevant concern for most of us.

5. Feed your muscles

Unlike fats and carbs, protein isn’t stored by the body, so if you haven’t had a protein-rich meal within a few hours of working out, have a protein shake afterwards. Doing so will ensure two things: First, that the balance of muscle breakdown and growth is shifted heavily toward the latter, and second, that your muscles have all the nutrients they need to optimize their repair and growth processes.

If your shaker bottle is filled with Beachbody Performance Recover, you get another advantage: Pomegranate extract, which a study at the University of Austin, in Texas, found to reduce exercise induced muscle soreness by an average of 25 percent. And if you also consume a serving of Beachbody Performance Recharge, our overnight protein supplement, before bed, you’ll double down on soreness-fighting phytonutrients with a dose of tart cherry extract.

What Happens If You Do Get Sore?

No matter how diligent we are, we all seem to mess this up, somehow, sometimes. Depending upon how much you skewed it, you can be back at full strength within a few days. Occasionally, you’ll go way beyond what you should have done. In such cases, you can be out up to a couple of weeks. When this happens, there are a few steps you can take to reduce muscle soreness. Stretching and massaging your muscles are two ways to get on the fast track to recovery. Check out our other tips to help you relieve sore muscles and get back to your workouts feeling better than ever.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: GUT Circadian Rhythm

Insomnia, pain, fatigue, stress? How do you get to the root cause of your health problems?

SLEEP?

HORMONES?

OUT OF BALANCE?

Do you have sleep issues? Hormone issues? Or just feel out of balance?

 

Learn How Gut Microbes

Affect Your Circadian Rhythm

Join Dr. Laura M. Brown ND, Wednesday June 13, 2018 and  you will learn how circadian rhythms of gut microbes ultimately intertwine with our own circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep/wake cycles, hormone release, and metabolism.

Comprehensive Stool Analysis 

Dr. Laura is a registered Naturopathic Doctor with a functional Medicine approach. Dr. Laura gets to the root cause of your health issue and stimulates the natural mechanisms of healing. Her individualized protocols are designed with time-proven remedies and the latest scientific research. Her inviting nature will meet you where you are, and inspire you toward a more healthful, purpose-filled life.

Dr. Phil Shares: Should You Work Out If You Are Sore?

Should You Work Out If You Are Sore?

I often get complaints from clients about being sore. Statements like “I thought exercise was going to make me feel good, but now I feel worse than ever” are somewhat common with people who are new to exercising. And there’s not too much for me to tell them. The fact is that if you have any designs on changing your body for the better, you are going to spend some time being sore, which can be a scary prospect. But, it’s inevitable so you have to get over this fear. Fact: there is some pain associated with the ultimate pleasure of being fit.

Also, if you anticipate, plan, and take the proper steps, you can minimize your muscle soreness. I’ll get to this in a sec but, first, let me tell you a little story—a very short one—that might help you out a bit. When I say we all get sore, I mean all. When I originally wrote this, I was very sore. And I got that way by doing one set of lunges. Yes, that’s right, only one set!

I wasn’t out of shape. Quite the contrary, I was cycling harder than I had in years and a member of the U.S. National Duathlon Team. So by most people’s definition, I was ultra fit. However, I’d not been doing lunges. I hadn’t done a single one since I finished 10,000 of them over a four-month span the year before. My body wasn’t used to lunges and, whenever you do something physical that you’re not used to, your muscles get sore. What this means is that most of you reading this are going to get sore—maybe really, really sore—somewhere along your road to fitness.

But I can help, because I’ve been through every level of soreness possible, from the “ahhh, I’m starting a new program” feeling to the “@#&!, I can’t walk” misery. Here are eight ways to achieve the former statement and avoid the latter and find out if you should work out if you’re sore.

8 Tips to Reduce Muscle Soreness

1. Work out when you’re sore to increase circulation

Yes, you heard that right–work out! But, take it easy. This is what is called a “recovery workout,” which is aimed at increasing circulation rather than creating micro-tears (or microtrauma) in the muscles, which caused the soreness in the first place. Exercise promotes circulation, which reduces soreness. Sitting around while you’re sore is actually worse regarding relieving your soreness than having an easy working out. What you should do is warm up and then do part of your scheduled workout. Maybe do half, or even just a quarter. Use the extra time after the cool-down to stretch and ice. But, remember, if it’s only your legs that are sore, you don’t have to go easy on your upper body, and vice versa. Nice try.

2. Learn good pain from bad

There are generally two types of pain associated with working out: from muscle soreness or from injury. It’s not always clear which is which, so tread lightly until you know the difference. I’ve had quite a few clients over the years who thought they were injured but simply had muscle soreness. There is no absolute way to tell, but if your soreness lessens as you warm-up, there’s a very good chance you’re dealing with just soreness of the muscles. Increasing pain doesn’t necessarily mean you’re injured, but it means you shouldn’t exercise that day. If this pain doesn’t change in a day or two, injury is likely and you should see a professional. Muscle soreness always improves over time.

3. Embrace the pain

This idea is going to be foreign to many of you but eventually you’ll learn that a little soreness means you’ve embarked on something that is good for you. The first time, however, you’re going to have to show a little faith. Whenever I switch up my training, I go through an initial period of soreness. While it’s always bothersome, especially say, when it hurts to take off my shoes or wash my hair, I know that it’s only temporary and that it’s an important step along the road to my goal. So I embrace it. Sure, it hurts. But it hurts in a good way. A great way even. I love the beginning of a new training cycle because I know that once I work through the pain, I’m going to be fitter than before. In fact, when I haven’t had a period of soreness in a while, I start to feel like a slacker.

 

Should-You-Work-Out-If-You-Are-Sore-1

4. Stretch after you work out

The more time you can spend doing extra stretching at the end of your workout, the better you’ll recover. Don’t stretch your muscles when cold, as you’ll risk injuring them. An extra 10 minutes after you work out, however, can do wonders. Also, easy movements and stretches right before bed and again first thing in the morning helps your blood circulate better and will also improve your recovery time.

5. Anticipate

Remember that I said I knew I was going to get sore? You will be, too! So go easy on your first day. And I mean E-A-S-Y. It’s normal to get excited on day one. You just ordered Beachbody On Demand and you’ve had visions of yourself walking down the beach turning heads. This is great, but keep your wits about you. You’re not going to get ripped tomorrow or the next day. Hammering through your first workout could end up delaying your program two weeks while you recover from your exuberance. Instead, start slow. Do much less than you feel like you could. You’ll get sore in any case. Next day, push a bit harder. The following day, a bit harder still. Easing into a program is the best way to make steady progress in your fitness.

6. Eat well

The more you exercise, the better you need to eat. Junk food won’t fuel your muscles properly. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight since you’re most likely eating less. So what you do eat becomes vital. The better you eat, the less sore you’ll be. Try to exercise on an empty stomach and then after your workout, drink Beachbody Recover or eat a small snack that is approximately four parts carbs to one part protein within an hour of finishing your workout. This will greatly help the recovery process and reduce soreness.

7. Massage

You don’t have to go to a masseuse; self-massage is another great tool to aid recovery. The only time you don’t want to massage your muscles is right after you work out because you will interfere with the natural recovery process. But at any other time, such as before heading to sleep, just five minutes of self-massage can help circulation immensely.

8. Ice

More on the circulation theme—nothing moves blood around like ice. It causes blood vessels to contract at first, and then open as you get used to it. If you’ve ever watched a locker room interview after a sporting event, you probably noticed a lot of the athletes were icing parts of their body. That’s because it’s one of the greatest recovery aids we have available. Almost all injuries heal quicker if you apply ice. Working out causes micro-tears in the muscles, which are necessary in order to get stronger but cause the pain of soreness. These micro-tears heal faster if you ice them. You can ice any sore body part up to 20 minutes at a time, a few times throughout the day. It’s hard at first, but you get used to it the more you do it.

BY:  @ Beachbody

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Reduce Holiday Stress!

How to Reduce Holiday Stress

The topic I’m going to address today is how to handle holiday stress with greater ease.

If you think about it, we could make “holiday stress” a great opportunity to teach us how to manage “any time” stress. A great place to start is having our priorities straight so you’re clear on what matters and what doesn’t.

5 Tips for Holiday Stress Relief:

1. Write in your journal

Now is a good time to sit down, take a deep breath, and write in your journal to help you get organized and remember what the holidays are really about.

First, write down everything that needs to be handled. Then identify things that you can let go of or delegate to someone else. Even if you need to handle everything, taking the time to write it all down will help you feel less overwhelmed.

Now that you have written down and organized your to-do list, think to yourself, “What will be my state of ‘being’ while I’m doing all of these things? Will I be joyful or stressed, grateful or overwhelmed?” And, write a paragraph on this topic. Asking these questions is really important if you want the holidays to be something you actually enjoy. The busyness of the holidays doesn’t have to cause stress if you choose a calm and joyful way of being as you check off tasks from your to-do list.

Next, let’s get more specific. Write down how you would like certain aspects of the holidays to go. How would you like to experience cooking the holiday meal or having people over? While cooking, will you feel angry that you have to cook such a big meal, or curious and excited about making a new dish for your family? Or, while shopping, will you feel obligated or resentful that you have to buy for so many people, or grateful that you have the means to buy presents to begin with?

Now, make two columns in your journal. In one column, write the names of the people you are buying gifts for. In the second column, write what you are grateful for about this person. Leave out all the things they have or haven’t done, or what they’ve said or didn’t say – all of that ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Instead, write how they contribute positively to your life. Then take this list with you shopping so that the present you purchase is an expression of your appreciation for them. This can help you remember what the holidays are really about: celebration and gratitude for our friends and family.

2. Keep things in perspective

Rather than truly celebrating family and friends, we often get caught up in how things “look.” We worry about the holiday cards, or whether our hair and outfits look alright, or if we ordered enough pies for everyone. When you start to spiral into worry, go back to your shopping list of names and why you’re grateful for these people – does it really matter if your hair looks perfect that day?

I’m not saying to show up to your holiday events in your pajamas, but by choosing what you focus on, you can allow whether a certain situation will create stress or joy within you. Are you going to focus on whether your outfit looks perfect or focus on the joy you experience with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while? You have a choice. Consciously choosing gratitude and joy will create positive situations and bring you closer to those you love.

And, if you’ve mastered this level of focused decision-making during the holidays, you can easily apply it throughout the year when there are less distractions.

3. Consider the past

Here is another topic to write about in your journal: What are the memories that get stirred up during the holidays? Which memories create a clenching in the pit of your stomach, or a fear-based emotion, or that feeling of “here we go again.” What creates that in you? Write them all down, be very real about it. Don’t let your mind take hold of the negative emotion and spiral you down into the same old pattern – nothing will change that way.

So write these memories down in your journal and what they stir up in you, then write whether they really matter in the grand scheme of things – get some perspective. And then consider whether you should communicate with someone so that this pattern doesn’t happen again, or just let it go. In either case, make that change internally to change that pattern. Do it now before it’s too late and suddenly it’s Christmas Eve and the same situation occurs. Also, write down enjoyable holiday memories and prioritize doing those activities again this year.

4. Learn to say “no”

If you have always lived the holidays with great stress, but have not done anything about it (as if the outside world will suddenly shift for you and make it all good), then nothing will change because at the end of the day nothing and nobody makes you feel in any way other than how you choose to feel, what you choose to allow in your field. That is very important to remember.

Because there are so many challenges, the holidays present so many amazing opportunities to take control of your life and to empower yourself. Let’s say you’ve cooked the turkey for your family for 30 years but never enjoyed the task, this is your opportunity to finally say “no.” You’re not a victim, you don’t owe anything, so don’t disempower yourself. If you don’t like having 50 people over every Hanukkah, but you allow it to happen because you’re not willing to experience the consequences of saying “no,” then you are allowing resentment to exist in you, once again. Am I saying that changing a pattern is easy? Of course not, but you must always remember that your life is under your control.

If spending quality time with your husband and children during the holidays is important to you, then make the time. Be more organized about the shopping, start way ahead as opposed to waiting to the last minute. Choose the events that you want to attend, and say “no” to the rest. Be empowered in what you are deciding to celebrate this year.

5. Make it a holiday for YOU

It is crucial for your well-being to learn what is important to you, and to prioritizing these things during the chaotic holiday season. It’s important to be very real and honest about the things that you never enjoy doing and yet, you still do them over and over again. You allow these situations to destroy your peace every single year. What is up with that? What would happen if you spoke up and said, “stop”? Make the holidays something different this year; make it a holiday for you, for how you feel.

Every day of this celebration, actually celebrate by having the courage to eliminate that which is not important to you. This allows a clearing for what does bring you joy. For example, if you’re not spending days in the kitchen preparing a meal for 50 people, you’ll have more time to play games with your children.

Try it and do your best not to feel obligated. If you feel guilty, engage with that experience with compassion and kindness for yourself. Remember, everybody is caught in the whirlwind of the holidays and the guilt of it all. We are all doing the best we can, so it’s nobody’s fault. But, you are in charge of what this holiday season could be for you and your family.

So, I invite you to be in a state of celebration for yourself this holiday season. In your journal, write: “What if this holiday was exactly what I wanted it to be. What would that look like? What if I had the courage to sit down with my family and discuss what we wanted to do and what we did not want to do this year?” Wouldn’t that be nice?

With these intentional actions – which are ultimately actions of love for yourself and the people who are important to you – you can make this year a true celebration, a true holiday, a true honoring of each other, peace, joy, and well-being. I hope this was helpful, thank you.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares:6 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain at Holiday Parties

6 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain at Holiday Parties

First, remember that there’s no better time of year to remind yourself of why you want to lose weight in the first place. Your friends and family care about you and want you to succeed. They want you to be happy, healthy, and on your way to becoming the person you want to be in 2018!

Also, seeing your loved ones at these gatherings is a great reminder that the holidays are about so much more than the food. Those delicious dishes and desserts are just tokens of the love you share among the most important people in your life. When you focus on what really matters, it’s not so hard to let a treat or two pass you by.

In fact, there’s no reason you can’t successfully lose weight (or at least maintain your weight) during the holidays. But it helps to have the right mindset — and a plan — for getting through holiday meals and parties keeping your weight-loss goals intact.

6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain:

1. Eat a filling breakfast and lunch

Don’t starve yourself before the big meal! You may think you’re “saving up calories,” but the hungrier you are when you arrive, the more likely you are to make poor food choices and wind up eating more than you might have otherwise. Start the day with a healthy, satisfying breakfast and a reasonable lunch, so you won’t be ravenous by the time the holiday meal is served.

2. Avoid “grazing” before and after the meal

Whatever time your family typically sits down at the table to eat (our holiday mealtime is around 4pm) — hors d’oeuvres, snacks, cocktails, and even desserts are often passed around before and after the meal for guests to “graze” on. To avoid overindulging, I set the time when I plan to start eating, as well as the time when I will stop. Then, once I get up and leave the table, I move on to other activities, such as reminiscing with grandma or playing with the kids. Just like I tell my clients — “Dinner and done… find other fun!”

3. Prioritize your treats

We all look forward to treating ourselves during the holidays, but all those temptations can quickly become overwhelming! When I’m at a holiday party, I scan the entire table of food first, and then choose the two or three that I want the most — the ones that are most likely to make the night feel extra-special. Then, I take my time and savor each bite!

4. How do you want to feel as you’re leaving?

Before even arriving at the party (and perhaps once again before taking your first bite), imagine how you want to feel when it’s time to leave. Stuffed like a turkey? Or happy, satisfied, and proud of yourself for keeping your goals on track? You’ll be amazed at how powerful this mental exercise can be in allowing you to enjoy the gathering to the fullest without overindulging.

5. Be active

Try building a healthy activity into your day, whether it’s a hike or a neighborhood game of touch football. Last year, my family and I laced up our hiking boots and hit the trail before dinner! If you’re giving gifts, think about toys and games that promote an active lifestyle. If you’re too old for toys (is anyone too old for toys?), then get out there and play with your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or even your pet.

6. Incorporate healthy food swaps

If I’m hosting the party — or even contributing a dish for the table — I like to share traditional dishes made using healthy food swaps designed to be every bit as filling and delicious as the originals. Greek yogurt makes a creamy stand-in for mayo in dressings and pasta salads. Mashed cauliflower rather than potatoes for a healthy swap that still tastes delicious (for the skeptics, try half-and-half cauliflower and potatoes). “Noodles” made with veggies are another big hit in our house. And for dessert, I serve cinnamon-spiced baked apples, either by themselves or topped with a little dollop of whipped cream, to satisfy apple-pie cravings.

Most of all, be sure to stay positive! If things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t beat yourself up. Just stay focused on your goal and the weight loss will follow. There are plenty of weight-loss days ahead in 2018! And I’ll have lots more helpful advice to share with you when the 2B Mindset launches. Meanwhile, together with the entire Beachbody community, I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: 7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

 

There’s an equal amount of confusion and hype surrounding a low-carb diet.

Research shows low-carb diets can be an effective way to shed pounds — although not necessarily superior to weight-reduction results achieved by other diets, such as a low-fat or reduced-calorie diets.

But a low-carb diet plan isn’t as straightforward as the name might have you believe.

“A low-carbohydrate diet can have a wide, unclear definition,” says Holly Klamer, M.S., R.D., “but in general terms, it means following a diet that has less than 45–65 percent of [total daily] calories from carbohydrates.”

(For reference, the recommended carbohydrate range for adults, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is 45–65 percent of total daily calories.)

Some low-carb diets, like the modern Atkins diet, for example, limits trans fat and sugar in addition to carbs, while a ketogenic diet drastically reduces carbs and replaces them with fats.

In general, however, most low-carb diets focus on limiting refined grains and starches (like white bread, pasta, and potatoes) in favor of lean protein, whole grains, non-starchy veggies, and low-glycemic fruits.

But with so much varying information out there, it can be easy to misinterpret a low-carb diet or to implement its principles in an extreme or unsustainable way.

The intention behind the diet — to reduce the amount of unhealthy carbs you consume on a regular basis — isn’t inherently a bad idea, but you need to be smart about how you execute it. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid.

low carb diet, lose weight, weight loss

7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

1. Ignoring the nutritional value of carbs

Carbs aren’t the enemy. There are plenty of nutritious and super yummy carbohydrates you can and should be eating in moderation. Think: fruit, whole grainsbeans, and vegetables, to name a few.

These foods provide our bodies with the natural, sustained energy we need to function and stay active. “A carbohydrate-dense fruit such as a banana can give you the fuel you need to increase the intensity of your workout; [you might] burn more calories [as a result],” says Klamer.

High-quality carbs are also chockful of vital nutrients like B vitamins, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Klamer says reducing your carbohydrate intake to super low levels puts you at risk for deficiencies in these areas.

low carb diet, weight loss,lose weight

2. Eating too much unhealthy fat

Eating low-carb isn’t an excuse to go nuts on beef, pork, eggs, butter, cheese, and other foods with high trans or saturated fat content.

Eating a diet high in trans fat isn’t heart-healthy, says Sharon George, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. Consuming high levels of trans fat may cause your liver to produce more LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.

According to the American Heart Association, too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and not enough “good” cholesterol (HDL) may put you at risk for certain types of disease.

In fact, one study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a low-carb diet high in animal protein (dairy and meat) was associated with higher all-cause mortality, while a low-carb diet high in plant protein (veggies, tofu, lentils, etc.) and lower in trans fat was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates.

Monitoring saturated fat intake is also an approach to maintaining good cardiovascular health. One review of research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the issue of what to replace saturated fat with in the diet.

Researchers found that substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and limiting consumption of refined carbohydrates may be beneficial for overall health.

The overall takeaway: Cut back on trans and saturated fat consumption, while also reducing refined carbs (think: white bread, pasta, rice, sugary pastries, cookies, etc.).

Instead, eat healthy fats, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Great sources of these types of fats include salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, seeds, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.

low carb diet, diet mistakes, lose weight, weight loss diet

3. Misunderstanding portion sizes

If you don’t have a basic idea of portion sizes — say, what a single portion of brown rice or steel-cut oats actually looks like — you’re likely to either over- or underestimate how much food you need.

Understanding portion sizes can help prevent overeating while also ensuring you consume enough nutrients to fuel your body properly.

(Pro tip: For a crash course in proper portion sizes, Portion Fix’s color-coded containers make it super easy to meal plan and lose weight.)

Denis Faye, M.S. and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition, says the Portion Fix plan advocates for a healthy balance of macronutrients: 30 percent of your total daily calories from protein, 30 percent from healthy fats, and 40 percent from carbs — the majority of which should be unprocessed and unrefined.

“By going with 40 percent carbs, we’re able to make the majority of carbs [in the plan] produce-based without crushing people [who are] new to healthy eating under a kale, broccoli, and mixed-berry avalanche,” says Faye.

There are three containers for carbs in the system: Purple is for fruits, green is for veggies, and yellow is for other carbs like whole grains. You fill each one up with its corresponding foods anywhere from two to six times a day, depending on your predetermined calorie target range; no measuring or overthinking necessary.

Faye also notes that the 40 percent carbs guideline isn’t a hard-and-fast rule: “Starting your diet at 40 percent carbs allows you to experiment and increase your carbs to a level that best works for you, which is much easier than trying to slowly reduce carbs to find your sweet spot,” he explains.

4. Eating too much protein

“Getting enough protein is hugely important for both health reasons and because it aids muscle recovery,” says Faye. (Protein breaks down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.)

Eating less carbs certainly means you’ll need to eat more protein (especially if you want to crush your workouts), but it’s important not to go overboard.

“When [your] carbohydrate intake is significantly decreased, the body starts breaking down stored carbohydrate sources [glycogen, for energy],” says Klamer. “When these stores get depleted, the body will start altering fat and protein to make carbohydrates.”

Gluconeogenesis (which means “creating new sugar”) is the metabolic process by which the liver converts non-carbohydrate sources (like fats, amino acids, and lactate) into glucose to regulate blood sugar levels.

Gluconeogenesis usually occurs when your body doesn’t have sufficient carbohydrates to properly fuel your brain and muscles.

Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can’t be stored for long-term energy, which means the body has to convert this excess protein into either glucose or fat storage, possibly negating the effect of eating low-carb and making it more difficult to lose weight.

To avoid getting too much of a good thing, aim for protein to make up a solid 30 percent of your diet, not half. For ideas, check out these healthy, high-protein snacks for when you’re on the go.

5. Not considering activity level when determining carb intake

“Carbs are fuel. They’re massively important and the body is super efficient at processing them, which is a blessing and a curse,” says Faye. “If you get the right amount [of carbs], they’re the ideal fuel for exercise, health — even for fueling your brain.”

But what’s the ideal amount? That depends, in part, on your level of activity and how much weight you want to lose. If you exercise a few times a week and make a point to move often throughout the day, you probably don’t need more than 40 percent of your daily calories from carbs. This amount ensures you get enough carbs to energize and fuel your body, but not so many that you can’t burn them off through regular exercise and your daily 10,000 steps.

Just remember, the carbs you eat should be of the clean, whole-grain variety: fruit, vegetables, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or wild rice, for example.

6. Eating too many carbs

Just as it’s possible to eat too few carbs when starting a low-carb diet, it’s also possible to eat too many.

What constitutes an excess of carbs varies for each individual depending on metabolism and activity level, but in general, consuming more than 45 percent of your total daily calories from carbs isn’t technically a low-carb diet plan, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

If carbs make up half or the majority of your food consumption, you may be missing out on other essential macronutrients like lean protein and healthy fats. Protein is necessary for building muscle, and healthy fats provide our bodies with energy, aid in nutrient absorption, and facilitate cell growth and function.

7. Eating too many processed low-carb foods

Just because a food is low-carb doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. Highly processed foods like bacon, certain deli meats, and low-carb snack bars don’t have many carbohydrates, but they’re often loaded with excess sodium, trans fats, and other additives.

Eating low-carb foods with refined and processed ingredients may not provide you with the nutrients you need to feel satisfied and energized. Before you load your shopping cart or plate with any item that has a low-carb label, consider the quality of the food in front of you.

If a food contains refined grains, artificial additives, added sugar, or ingredients you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t cook with at home, it’s probably highly processed.

Whenever possible, choose whole or minimally processed carbs. “Naturally occurring carbohydrates like the ones found in whole foods such as whole grains, dairy like yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables, provide important nutrients,” says Gorin.

How to Reduce Your Carb Intake in a Healthy Way

Go slow

Adopting new eating habits takes time and patience, which is why it’s important to go slowly and be realistic about your expectations for weight loss.

“Many people get discouraged when starting a low-carb diet because it can take weeks to see results [from actual fat loss],” says George. Though you might see a lower number on the scale in the first week of eating low-carb, this change is probably a result of losing water weight.

The process of shedding fat and gaining muscle, however, might be more gradual. If that’s the case, remember that slow and steady wins the race.

Cut back on less-healthy carbs first

“If you’re looking to reduce carbohydrate intake,” says Gorin, “I recommend reducing the types of carbs that aren’t beneficial — [like] processed foods that contain added sugars and refined [grains].”

Items such as soda, candy, desserts, chips, and other processed foods don’t supply your body with enough vital nutrients. You don’t need to completely nix these foods from your diet, though (unless you want to!).

Instead, aim to enjoy them sparingly and with smart modifications. With Beachbody’s Portion Fix Eating Plan, for example, you can indulge in the occasional treat made at home using whole foods and natural ingredients, such as unsweetened applesauce, pure maple syrup, or extra-virgin coconut oil, to make treats like peanut butter chocolate chip cookiesstrawberry lemonade bars, or red velvet cupcakes.

Eat carbs with more nutritional value

“If you are choosing to eat less carbs, it is important to make the carbs you do eat as nutritious as possible,” says Klamer. Try to eat low-glycemic, high-fiber carbs whenever you can.

Low-glycemic carbs such as legumesnutssweet potatoes, berries, and green apples help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide longer-lasting energy, says Klamer.

For more fiber and nutrients, Klamer recommends whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice. Other fiber-rich foods include black beans, lentilsbroccolibarley, artichokes, and raspberries.

(Pro tip: Need ideas on how to lose weight and get fit? Download our free “100 Ways to Lose Weight” guide here!)

High-Quality, Nutrient-Rich Carbs

Not sure which carbs to enjoy? Here are some examples of totally delicious and Portion Fix-approved carbs to add to your diet:

*Yellow container:

  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Beans (kidney, black, garbanzo, white, lima, fava, etc.)
  • Lentils
  • Edamame
  • Peas
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Potato, mashed or ½ medium
  • Corn on the cob, 1 ear
  • Oatmeal, rolled
  • Pasta, whole-grain
  • Couscous, whole wheat
  • Bread, whole-grain, 1 slice
  • Pita bread, whole wheat, 1 small slice (4-inch)
  • Bagel, whole-grain, ½ small bagel (3-inch)
  • Tortilla, whole wheat, 1 small (6-inch)

*Green and purple containers:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers (sweet)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Winter squash
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Orange
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Figs

The 20-Second Takeaway

Many people who start low-carb diets take them to extreme measures, and can end up drastically reducing their carb intake, consuming large amounts of unhealthy fats, or not incorporating enough nutrient-rich carb sources into their meals.

That doesn’t mean low-carb diets are bad, though — they can be an effective weight-loss strategy, but you need to be thoughtful about the approach you take.

In general, focus on limiting processed and refined carbs, and eating more high-quality carbs from whole grains, fruits, and veggies. You’ll gradually lose weight and get all the nutrients you body needs to thrive.

BY:

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Is your thyroid to blame?

One in eight women will develop thyroid disease in her lifetime and 15 Million women have a dysfunction, but don’t even know it. Men can have issues too, although at a less rate than women.

Environmental toxins are largely to blame for the rising rates of thyroid disease. Years ago, it was mostly iodine deficiency and this is why iodine was added to salt. Now we point the finger more often at the rising rates of hormone mimickers in our environment like BPA’s and their alternatives in plastics, cadmium, circadian light disrupters, pesticides, herbicides and more.

Untreated thyroid dysfunction can lead to feelings of:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Brain fog, difficulty focusing thoughts
  • Unexpected weight gain, and with it increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease
  • High LDL cholesterol – the thyroid plays an important role in fat metabolism
  • Depression – as many as 15% of women on antidepressants have an undetected thyroid problem as the root cause of their depression –but their problem hasn’t been fully investigated. When I check thyroid I check more than the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).  I look sub functioning gland by checkin TSH, T3, T4, thyroid antibodies and look for how well cortisol is clearing on the DUTCH hormone test.
  • Anxiety – often because cortisol is not clearing
  • Increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure due to the regulatory control of this hormone has on heart rate and rhythm.

Troubles in the digestive track and liver can lead to poor activation of the T4 to T3 hormones. When I work with patients I am always looking for clues in the skin, stress, and sleep and how well the micro biome functions. A good clue to micro biome function is the Comprehensive Stool Analysis by Doctors Data.

If you suspect you may have a thyroid issue, get it tested!  I’ll look at results from a functional medicine perspective, which mean optimal performance, not disease levels of lab markers.

From the heart and research of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Avoid Eating All That Leftover Halloween Candy

How to Avoid Eating All That Leftover Halloween Candy

Let’s be honest: We all say Halloween candy is for kids, but it’s hard not to reach for a piece — or seven — once it’s in your house. While we can’t come to your house and physically prevent you from housing the whole bag at once, we can offer you some tried-and-true tips to keep your candy binge in check.

7 Ways to Stop Yourself From Eating Halloween Candy

1. Hold Off On Buying Candy

Buy candy for trick-or-treaters as close to Halloween night as you can. “Having treats in the house is a huge temptation and can cost you extra money if you have to go buy more,” says Ann Marion Willis, a R.D. in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

2. Buy Less Candy, Give Out More

Willis also advises that you should “Buy less than you think you will need. This will help you avoid having leftovers hanging around the house. It’s better for you to run out of treats than to be left eating them yourself.” If you find that your Halloween candy bowl is still full as the night goes on, start handing out more candy to each costumed kiddo that rings your doorbell. They’ll be thrilled, and you’ll be saved.

3. Buy the Stuff You Like the Least

One simple way to prevent yourself from eating leftover candy is to buy stuff you don’t like, whether that’s candy corn, atomic fireballs, or Good & Plenty. “Buying what you don’t like will make you less likely to indulge and reduce the urge you have to sample treats as you hand them out on Halloween,” says Willis.

It’s not that I want to be cruel to others by feeding them waxy candy corn. Some kids love it. I just know I won’t eat a single piece.

4. Eat Well

Sugar cravings can strike when you’re hungry and haven’t consumed enough fuel to keep your blood sugar in balance. Eat protein and fiber-rich meals in the days before and after Halloween, advises Willis. It’ll make you feel less tempted to create a dinner out of mini candy bars.

5. Savor a Single Treat

Mindless eating is a good way to eat way more than you mean to — whether that’s nuts, chips, or candy. Rather than sitting in from of your TV munching your way through a bag of chocolate, try mindful eating.

Select the one piece of candy that you most want to eat. Tune out all other distractions and focus on savoring the experience of eating it. Chew slowly, let it melt in your mouth, enjoy the the sweetness, and notice how it makes you feel. Cutting that piece of candy into smaller pieces will make the experience last longer, and may even make you feel like you’re eating more. Make your piece of candy go even further by chopping it into tiny pieces and sprinkling the bits on top of plain Greek yogurt.

6. Keep Your Mouth Minty Fresh

I’ve had adult braces for months and my candy consumption — especially the chewy, sticky stuff like caramels and gummy bears — has drastically decreased. Installing orthodontic hardware just to avoid eating candy is a pretty drastic solution, but brushing your teeth can be a similar deterrent. When you get the urge to unwrap handfuls of Halloween loot, give your pearly whites a quick brushing and see if that curbs it.

7. Just Chuck It

This will likely put you in the running for Worst Parent Ever, but Wills says, “Ask your kids to choose their favorite treats and then donate or throw away the rest. The longer treats stay in the house uneaten, the more likely you are to give in to temptation.”

Some dentists now offer to buy candy off kids in exchange for cash. This way they get a little spending money and you’ll get that calorie-filled temptation out of your house and mind.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Does Yoga Work for Shedding the Pounds?

Does Yoga Work for Weight Loss?

While there are some styles of yoga that can help one burn more than 500 calories per hour — such as Vinyasa (see below) — overall, yoga doesn’t top the list of calorie-torching weight loss workouts one can do to see relatively quick results. But research shows that practicing yoga may work for weight loss when combined with a healthy diet. And the more often you practice yoga, the greater the results you’re likely to see on the scale.

In a massive study of more than 15,000 adults, those who had been practicing yoga for at least four years clocked in at a lower weight than those who went without a regular session. But you don’t have to have do yoga for years to see results. A small study from South Korean researchers found obese women who practiced yoga for 16 weeks saw significant improvements in body weight, body fat percentage, BMI, waist circumference, and visceral fat compared to those who didn’t exercise. In addition, one study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that a short-term yoga program could reduce weight in overweight and obese men.

So how can yoga help you lose weight? Read on.

What Type of Yoga is Best for Weight Loss?

yoga for weight loss

“If you’re looking to burn the most calories, you want to find a class that incorporates a lot of strength positions and sun salutations, particularly chaturanga dandasanas [essentially, yoga push-ups],” says yoga instructor Seth Kaufmann, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Iron Lion Fitness Studio in Florida. “In order to burn calories efficiently, you need to be moving and using the most amount of mass and muscles.”

You’ve probably heard about people sweating like crazy in heated yoga classes like Bikram, which has to translate to a ton of weight lost — right? Kaufmann says, “In theory a hot yoga class would burn more calories than a non-heated room because anytime the external temperature is extreme (hot or cold), your body has to work harder to maintain your core temperature homeostasis, thus burning calories.”

However, a small study from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found that yoga students in a non-heated yoga class showed the same increase in core temperature and heart rate than in a hot yoga class. Researchers found that the students’ perceived effort was higher than what their vital signs revealed, leading scientists to wonder whether students didn’t end up pushing themselves as hard during some poses to compensate for the added heat and humidity in the room.

Another study from the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found 30 minutes of just sun salutations is invigorating enough to qualify as cardiorespiratory training, and helps a 130-pound person burn an average of 230 calories. These studies point to the idea that your final caloric burn is tied more closely to how hard you’re working than how hot the room is.

Calculating Your Caloric Burn

As mentioned previously, the style of yoga you perform can play a significant role in the amount of calories you burn. But other factors such as your weight, gender, body composition, and effort level are also important. What follows are averages based on the Health Status calories burned calculator.

A 165-pound woman will burn the resulting number of calories during an hour of yoga:

  • Hatha Yoga: 207 calories
  • Ashtanga/Power Yoga: 386 calories
  • Bikram Yoga: 524 calories
  • Vinyasa: 653 calories

A 190-pound man will burn the resulting number of calories during an hour of yoga:

  • Hatha Yoga: 239 calories
  • Ashtanga/Power Yoga: 445 calories
  • Bikram Yoga: 604 calories
  • Vinyasa: 752 calories

How Slow Yoga Helps Burn Fat

OK, so should you do the most intense yoga possible if you want to lose weight? Not so fast. Even super mellow methods have their weight-loss perks. A small study at the University of California, San Diego, found that overweight women who practiced restorative yoga, which focuses less on increased heart rate and more on relaxation and stress reduction, lost around three pounds and about five inches of subcutaneous fat after six months.

This may surprise you, but it makes sense to the experts. “If you’re super stressed, your body may actually respond better to yoga than [high intensity] cardio,” says Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., personal trainer and adjunct faculty of exercise science at San Diego Mesa College.

Physical stress (as triggered by high intensity exercise) and psychological stress (caused by work, family, etc.) both activate the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the “fight or flight” response. When you go into “fight or flight” mode, your body increases its production of the hormone cortisol. In the short term, that’s a good thing; cortisol is a performance enhancer, increasing the concentration of glucose (your body’s primary fuel source) in the blood. But if levels never return to normal (e.g., because of chronic stress), cortisol can also promote weight gain. That’s why doing high intensity workouts might hamper weight loss efforts if you’re already (and chronically) “super stressed”—you’re layering stress on top of stress, and cortisol on top of cortisol.

To counteract that, you need to activate your parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. “By going to a gentle yoga class during a stressful time, you’ll be surprised that you’ll come out of it calmer — and actually lose weight,” says

Kaufmann agrees, “There are many physiological benefits to yoga, including stabilizing our nervous systems, improving respiratory efficiency, stomach function, hormone production, and, of course, increased strength and energy levels. These benefits in turn lower stress, improve sleep, and help the body recover and run more efficiently.”

Plus, more than half of people who do yoga report that it helps them sleep better, according to a survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Scoring less than five hours a night is directly related to more abdominal fat and an increase in body mass index, according to a study performed over five years on adults younger than 40 and published in the journal SLEEP. It’s hard to deny the importance of sleep — not just for your quality of life but also for weight loss.

How the Psychological Benefits of Yoga Can Aid Weight Loss

yoga for weight loss

“The greatest benefit of yoga for weight loss is learning how to love and care for yourself more, which helps you make better lifestyle decisions when it comes to caring for your body,” says Kaufmann.

And the research agrees: A study in Qualitative Health Research found that practicing yoga helped people develop physical self-empowerment, and better awareness of the self and the present moment. The women who participated in the 12-week yoga treatment program for binge eating (in the study mentioned above) reported an overall reduction in the quantity of food consumed, decreased eating speed, and an improvement in food choices.

“The core essence of yoga is to teach us to live fully present in the moment, accepting what is, and letting go of anything that doesn’t serve us,” says Kaufmann. “When we can live our lives with more mindfulness we will make better decisions when it comes to what we do for our health.”

To most Westerners, yoga is more often associated with trendy fitness studios. But the practice originally began as a philosophy in India roughly 5,000 years ago, and incorporates so much more than merely the postures and poses it’s famous for today.

The true practice of yoga encompasses eight limbs: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). It’s the combination of all eight of those limbs (not just the one that stretches the limbs) that can lead to weight loss for men and women.

“There are many studies that suggest that stress and the hyper-palatable food supply filled with refined carbohydrates create an internal biochemistry that activates the amygdala of the brain and make us less thoughtful choice-makers,” explains Annie B. Kay, RDN, E-RYT 500 registered yoga instructor, and lead nutritionist at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. “Yoga helps reduce stress as well as provides movement, which helps change that internal biochemistry to one that supports a more balanced brain activation (the cerebral cortex or executive function), which makes us better choice makers.

“From my experience, the primary way yoga helps with weight management is through stress management, and with its philosophy of compassion and cultivation of contentment,” continues Kay. “With yoga, there is an entire philosophical guide for living in balance with yourself and with others that can be helpful from an emotional standpoint. It provides a framework through which to look at life issues.”

Yoga is a path toward a deep self-discovery, and the practice not only helps unearth the difference between physical and emotional hunger for those who practice, but it also stretches the mind and body in new ways to open students up for more active lifestyles. Because yoga operates on so many levels (physical, mental, emotional), it has a way of making following an overall healthful lifestyle more easily attainable.

If you’d like to give yoga a try, check out the 5-Day Yoga Body Challenge to burn calories while you stretch, or try 3 Week Yoga Retreat to learn the fundamentals of yoga.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health

Thank you to Beachbody.