Metabolic Resistance: Causes and Solutions

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Have you been told that the only reason you are overweight is because you eat too much? What this statement ignores is the well documented fact that people who are significantly over weight may also have metabolic disorders.

Such conditions not only cause weight gain, but also make it difficult to lose the accumulated weight. Part of the obesity epidemic we face in the United States may be due to the misconception that those of us who are overweight are simply gluttons or lazy couch potatoes. For most of the last century, the majority of doctors involved in treating obesity did not accept extreme metabolic resistance as a possible explanation for their patients’ plight, but rather chose to believe that they were being untruthful about what they ate.

This article is about extreme difficulty in losing weight and will help you understand why certain ways of eating that should lead to weight loss simply do not work.

The inability to burn fat or lose weight, the phenomenon called metabolic resistance to weight loss, is not uncommon. There are people who simply can not reach their goal weight no matter what weight loss program they try.

How to Overcome Metabolic Resistance

There are four major categories of problems that con­tribute to metabolic resistance:

- Excessive insulin and insulin resistance, usually accompanied by high triglycerides.
- The use of prescription drugs or hormones which impede weight loss.
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) function, which can
be present even when blood tests indicate no abnormality.
- Overgrowth of the yeast organism Candida albicans.

There are a multitude of other problems, as well, but they occur rarely and aren’t within ” the range of this article.

When Insulin Goes Whacko

The medical profession calls this hyperinsulinism-and it is actually inefficient insulin usage-what is called insulin resistance. There can be no question that overweight individuals whose weight control difficulties are caused by hyperinsulinism respond best to a controlled carbohydrate nutritional approach. Even the majority of people who do not lose weight on a 1,OOO-calorie low-fat diet will lose weight on an 1,800- to 2,000-calorie meal plan-if carbohydrates are limited to 20 grams per day.

The vast majority will lose weight, yes, but not absolutely everyone. For those individuals who can not lose weight , nutritionally oriented medicine offers ways to break through this barrier. In conjuction with Induction, certain nutrients can assist in breaking up weight loss logjams.

Research supports the leading nutrient to accomplish this fat-busting feat is L-carnitine. When carnitine is deficient, the conversion of burned fat to ketones is impaired. The mechanism for carnitine’s effectiveness is that it has the ability to ensure that fat converts to fuel.

- But very high doses of carnitine are often necessary.

- Most people start off with 500 mg, three times daily (taken before meals), but frequently the dose must be increased, to perhaps as high as 5,000 mg in divided doses before meals. Often, more effective responses occur with the use of aceytl carnitine, a compound that helps focus the carnitine action.

- Co-enzyme QIO (COQIO) another nutrient necessary for fat to serve as fuel, may also require large doses, often in excess of 300 mg daily. Both COQIO and carnitine are extremely valuable for other reasons, such as preserving heart health.

Other nutrients capable of overcoming slow weight loss include

- chromium
- alpha lipoic acid
- glutamine
- phenylalanine and the combinations of inositol, choline and methionine.

To get the optimum benefits of these nutrients, you should work with doctors experienced in their use to combine them.

The Role of Prescription Drugs

As much as metabolic abnormalities can cause a true inability to lose weight, an even greater number of people are held captive because of prescription medications they are taking. The truth is that the vast majority of these victims are completely unaware that the drugs are holding back their weight loss. The answer lies simply in finding safe and effective alternatives to many pharmaceuticals with unacceptable side effects.

Of the numerous prescription drugs that are frequently found to slow or prevent weight loss, these are the most common:

- Estrogens and most synthetic hormone replacement
therapies (HRTs), including birth control pills
- Anti-depressant drugs
- Insulin and insulin-stimulating drugs
- Anti-arthritis medications (including steroids)
- Diuretics and beta-blockers

Let’s take a look at each one.

IF YOU ARE ON HORMONES

How many of you on HRT are now realizing that weight gain coincides with the period during which you have been taking these powerful drugs? Many standard hormones also increase blood­sugar imbalances, causing cravings and the inability to control intake of carbohydrate foods.

Your objective, once you learn that HRT has been inhibiting weight loss, is to find the lowest dose of HRT that keeps menopausal symptoms under control. Your doctor will have to work with you to achieve this goal.

- The first consideration is to optimize the balance between progesterone and estrogen.

The majority of women with menopausal symptoms (even those who are not on HRT) and certalniy those on HRT-have a, significant dominance of estrogen over progesterone, and estrogen is a fat-producing hormone.

- Also be aware that the progesterone usually prescribed (Provera) is a synthetic version, which also tends to promote obesity.

Natural progesterone, which does not lead to weight gain, should be prescribed, and frequently can stand alone (with­out estrogen) in relieving menopausal symptoms.

Among the alternatives that have proven invaluable to ease the symptoms of estrogen withdrawal is the B vitamin folic acid, but it does require prescription dosages of 20 mg or more. It is as safe as all the other B vitamins, but to also consistently enable a significant lowering of estrogen dosage without bringing on any symptoms that indicate estrogen deficiency.

Another useful nutrient to allow reduction in HRT dosages is the mineral boron, which serves as a building block for the liver to manufacture natural estrogens. Boron, which is valuable for preventing and reversing osteoporosis, is usually recommended in the 6 to 18 mg-per-day range. You will get additional benefits by bringing the normal precursors of the sex hormones, such as DHEA and pregnenolone, to the levels considered normal for a 30-year-old woman.

Once the above nutrients and natural hormones are provided, most women are usually able to reduce the HRT dosages by seventy-five percent-sometimes more, sometimes less.

ANTI-DEPRESSANT DRUGS

Another drug category that matches HRT in providing obstacles to weight loss is the anti-depressants, particularly those which are in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) category.

Strangely enough, these drugs-such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil and Celexa were originally touted as drugs that would accelerate weight loss, but a reality check soon put an end to those misleading statements. In general, these drugs have certainly been overprescribed, and many people who suffer from depression would get great benefits from metabolically innocuous, natural anti-depressants. Many of the older psychotrophic drugs (tricyclic anti­depressants) are also known to cause weight gain.

An Alternative Approach to Depression

Serotonin drugs are effective because this natural neuro­transmitter helps the brain function, relieves depression and relaxes the mind. But the drugs work by blocking the body’s normal ability to destroy serotonin once it has been created. Blocking agents block other normal chemical functions as well, resulting in such unwanted side effects as diminished sex drive and performance, dry mouth and constipation, to say nothing of slowed metabolism, which, of course, can stall weight loss.

The safe way to build up the serotonin level is to enable the body to manufacture its own serotonin by taking the immediate precursor to serotonin. This natural substance does not block a reaction, but simply enables a reaction to take place.

- The precursor to serotonin is a chemical called tryptophan; its immediate precursor is 5-hydroxy tryptophan, a popular nutrient available in health food stores.

- Other natural substances for depression include N-acetyl tyrosine, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), St. John’s Wort, acetyl L-carnitine, phosphatidyl serine and most of the B complex vitamins.

These supplements relieve anxiety, as do inositol, GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), kava kava and valerian.

You can get off anti-depressant pharmaceuticals with the help of a physician experienced in managing depression and anxiety.

DO DIABETICS NEED INSULIN AND OTHER DRUGS?

A large number of diabetics are overweight because they put out too much insulin.

As you might imagine, nothing would be more inappropriate than to give insulin to these overweight diabetics, who already put out excessive insulin and have elevated blood sugar resulting from insulin resist ance, rather than lack of insulin.

Are you a Type II diabetic taking insulin, or one of the oral drugs called sulfonylureas, which work by increasing your insulin levels? And do you seem to be metabolically resistant to weight loss? Then chances are a hundred to one that you are a diabetic who is simply a victim of a poor assumption on the part of your physician. An alternative approach with those already diagnosed diabetics on oral medications and/or insulin is to determine if they can produce insulin on their own.

Here’s how you find out if the insulin you are taking is necessary or not: Have your doctor run a test of insulin levels (as well as glucose levels) both before and ninety minutes after a typical low-fat high-carbohydrate breakfast (including perhaps a blueberry muffin, cereal with skim milk and eight-ounce glass of orange juice).

Make sure you take no long-acting insulin after 6 P.M. the evening before and no diabetes medications of any kind the morning of the test until after the second blood sample is drawn. (The blood drawn after eating or after drinking a glucose solution is called a post-prandial reading.)

Here’s how to interpret the results: If the second insulin level is 10 or more points higher than the first, it means your pancreas is working and that you probably can get off insulin. If it is 20 or more points higher, it is almost a certainty that you can do so.

Do not discontinue medication, except under the care of a doctor.

The only drug useful for overweight, insulin-resistant, but not insulin­dependent, diabetics is metformin; And that chromium; vanadium, alpha lipoic acid, zinc, biotin and Co-enzymeQ1O can also help individuals who are insulin resistant.

ANTI-ARTHRITIS MEDICATIONS

If you cannot lose weight and are taking powerful arthritis medications known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti­inflammatory drugs), it’s time for you to consider getting off the drugs. The story is simple. Virtually all drugs known to be effective in controlling the pain and discomfort of arthritis may lead to weight gain. Some do so more than others, but no one has ever funded a study to find out which drugs had the most impact on weight gain.

The best solution is for you to try to recall whether any of your weight gain coincided with the use of one or more arthritis drugs.

The good news is the truly impressive number of nutrients documented in scientific journals that can relieve arthritic symptoms. When arthritis has an inflammatory basis (the painful joints get red and swollen and a blood test shows your sed rate is high), the most effective natural ther­apies are MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), cetyl myris­toleate, copper, bromelain, ginger, turmeric and pantethine (vitamin Bs). For the non inflammatory type (osteoarthritis), natural therapies include glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin, sea cucumber, fish oil, niacinamide and the B complex group of vitamins.

Using nutrients to substitute for drugs in the case of arthritis is somewhat more direct than the previous examples. Since reducing the quantity of pharmaceuticals is the objective, the dose of alternatives should be on the liberal side. Since most pharmaceutical drugs do afford pain relief, determine what is the lowest dosage they feel comfortable with and settle for that. Any significant dose-lowering will probably allow for weight loss to resume.

Steroids such as prednisone are powerful medications that can be lifesaving but have a definite metabolic downside, especially if used for long periods of time. They are often prescribed for arthritis as well as for autoimmune disorders, inflammation of the bowel and any other inflammatory condition. These drugs actually cause water retention and weight gain. They can also damage the kidneys and pancreas and cause diabetes.

The same nutritional supplements that can relieve arthritis are safer alternatives that will not hinder weight loss.

DIURETICS AND BETA-BLOCKERS­HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATIONS

No medication has proven easier to get off than blood pressure drugs. And, if you can get off of them, since most widely used medications carry considerable side effects, there is an additional motivation to wean yourself.

At the top of the no-no list are the diuretic medications, which work by preventing your kidneys from doing one of their most important jobs: reabsorbing the minerals your body needs. Blocking the kidneys’ ability to reabsorb sodium and chloride takes salt out of the body and lowers blood pressure by lowering the fluids that stay in the body.

But those blocked kidneys also lose their ability to retain valuable minerals: not only potassium, but magnesium, calcium, chromium, zinc and many others. Prescription diuretics induce mineral deficiencies that can cause many problems. Numerous studies demonstrate that diuretics aggravate diabetes, elevate blood sugar and increase insulin levels, triglycerides and body mass index (the measure for obesity).

For all these reasons, plese consider if you are taking diuretics discontinue them and replace them with L-taurine, the natural amino acid that is a powerful diuretic but has no ill effects on kidney function.

The other types of anti-hypertension drugs that aggravate all of the above are beta-blockers. If you are on a beta­blocker, you have little cause for concern about discontinuing your medication. In the first place, the controlled carb lifestyle that you are adopting lowers blood pressure itself. In addition to L-taurine, you may control blood pressure with magnesium, hawthorne, Co-enzyme QIO’ carnitine and garlic.

Again, speak to your doctor before discontinuing any medication!

HOW MANY OTHER DRUGS DO IT?

Beginning to see how frequently the very drugs that people take for granted as necessary are in fact problematic?

Safer, more natural options exist, and even people with no weight problem should consider using them. There are probably hundreds of other drugs, certainly including psychotropic drugs and lithium, which also create difficulty in losing weight.

Here is some general advice.

- If you have been on medication for any length of time, try to recall whether weight gain, increased appetite or lack of responsiveness to weight loss efforts might have coincided with the time frame in which you began that drug. If so, you probably will be able to find a set of nutritional alternatives.

REPLACEMENT TECHNIQUES

How do you replace a drug in question with a natural alternative?

- In most situations, you begin the nutrient program that will replace the drug and work with your doctor to gradually lower the drug dosage by some ten to fifteen per­cent each week, as long as the condition that the drug is meant to control does not worsen.

The Role of the Thyroid

Your thyroid gland’s main purpose in life is to regulate the speed of your metabolism.

So it is not difficult to understand that if it is underactive the medical word is hypothyroid your slowed metabolism makes you more resistant to weight loss. Among other things, your thyroid gland regulates your body temperature.

- In fact, sensitivity to cold is one of the first signs that you may have a sluggish thyroid. Like other hormones, thyroid production naturally diminishes slightly with age; in fact, easily twenty-five percent of adults suffer from low thyroid function.

The swings of estrogen production in perimenopause or menopause can also throw thyroid function off. To find out whether you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will do blood tests to evaluate your production of thyroid hormones T4 (also known as thyroxine) and T3 (your body converts T4 to T3), as well as another hormone called TSH(thyroid stimulating hormone), which is produced by your pituitary gland.

First think about whether you are experiencing any of the signs of an underactive thyroid-which include the aforementioned

sensitivity to cold
as well as weight gain or inability to lose weight
hair loss
fatigue and lethargy
depression
dry skin
chronic constipation
poor nails
poor memory
elevated cholesterol levels.

If so, there is a simple way – the Barnes technique of basal metabolism to ascertain if you are hypothyroid.

It doesn’t even require a trip to your doctor.

1. Simply take your temperature orally four times a day (before each meal and before you go to bed) for four days.

2. Average your temperature each day, and if it is consistently below 98 degrees Fahrenheit, you are likely to have hypothyroidism. If it is significantly lower, you almost definitely do, and you should bring this infornation to the attention of your physician. (Be prepared: Not all doctors take basal metabolism as seriously as they should.)

Occasionally, the reason for an underactive thyroid is the deficiency of the amino acid tyrosine and the mineral iodine, both of which help make T3. Zinc and selenium help produce the enzyme that converts T4 to T3. But nutritional deficiency is rarely the cause of hypothyroidism. There are other causes, one of which can be an autoimmune response.

The major reason for hypothyroidism is simply the body’s own attempts to preserve the status quo while on a weight loss program.

Candida

There is one other potential reason for blocked weight loss: Candida albicans, known as yeast. Candida is very important. If you think this problem may be interfering with your weight loss, please consult your doctor.


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