Overcoming Plateaus in Weight Loss
Dr. Joel Guillemin is a Naturopathic Doctor in Moose Jaw. Growing up in Assiniboia, he attended the University of Saskatchewan and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology. During his time in Saskatoon, he worked as a fitness and wellness consultant for the city of Saskatoon, as well as a student trainer for the U of S Huskies Track and Field team. After attending the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, he received a 4 year Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine. Through these articles, Dr. Guillemin hopes to promote health and community, with many of the articles focusing on chronic disease management, healthy diet and lifestyle, and integrative medicine.
The dreaded weight loss plateau, a situation all too common. But what causes this plateau, and more importantly what is the solution to overcoming it? For many people, a weight loss program often follows a similar pattern: two weeks of positive results, followed by an abrupt stop in weight loss. During this time, people usually report having low energy; they may experience an increase in food cravings, and claim they lack any will power. It’s this barrier that quite often results in an ineffective weight loss program.
All the cells in our body have a role and a purpose. The role of the adipose cell (also known as the fat cell) is essentially a storage tank within the body. When we consume extra calories, the body stores this in the form of glycogen molecules, a method that reserves additional energy for times of need. Additionally, the adipose cell is the storage site of toxins that may enter the body. These toxins may come from several different sources including metabolic by-products and environmental exposures. The water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe all come with the potential risk of toxin infiltration. By storing these toxins within the adipose cells, it ensures they are unable to freely cycle throughout the body causing harm to other organs. During the initial phase of a weight loss program, glycogen is needed as an energy source for our muscles and organs. As a result, the fat cells begin to release their stored contents - both glycogen molecules and all those toxins that have been stored over time. In order for the body to manage this, it’s important to focus on the role of the liver and its biologic function. In weight loss, the liver has two very important roles: converting glycogen to a useable form of energy, and breaking down any toxins so that they may be removed from the body. After two weeks of a weight loss program, the heavy demand on the liver results in metabolism slowing down, a higher amount of toxins cycling throughout the body, and a reflex response in calorie conservation. When we put all of this together, it summarizes what is actually occurring during the weight loss plateau. Whenever I approach weight loss cases, the liver is always an important focus. The way the liver fulfills its functions is through enzyme pathways that utilize different cofactors. These factors include several different vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Liver support is required through specific dietary interventions and by decreasing inflammatory responses. Ultimately, by focusing on liver support strategies, and implementing individualized support protocols, the infamous weight loss plateau may be overcome.