This guide discusses and provides answers to serious questions about weight loss. These go beyond the same old helpful advice as to what to eat.
Here you will learn about the interaction your weight has with different vital organs and glands in your body.
This is a two-way street. Your weight is affected, and sometimes largely determined, by the function (or loss of function) of these organs. But also, your weight affects how well they function also.
This is especially true of being overweight, which can have very negative effects on the ability of our glands and organs to function as they need to, to perform the duties they were designed for.
Does Your Stomach Shrink When You Lose Weight?
When you carry extra weight, it has a bigger impact on you than you realize. In addition to your self-esteem, there are real health risks at play.
Carrying too much fat, particularly around your middle, leaves you at higher risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
As you embark on your weight loss journey, you will expect your belly to shrink, but will your stomach shrink alongside it?
To Shrink or Not To Shrink
The short answer is not physically. However, it isn’t quite as simple as yes or no. The stomach is equipped with receptive relaxation, which is a reflex. Your stomach muscles relax and expand as food enters the stomach. This allows it to accommodate more.
If you compare a stomach pre-meal to post-meal, you will see it can expand as much as five times in volume.
There are suggestions that it’s possible to control that reflex. That is, altering the response of the neurons surrounding the stomach and within it which do that job. This reflex can also be due to hormonal shifts that alter how your mind and body react to feelings of thirst or hunger.
All of these factors sway whether you feel full or still hungry. None of them have anything to do with the size of your stomach, although, you may feel like it.
As you become accustomed to smaller portions it will feel as though your stomach has shrunk, especially when you overdo it on a meal. However, it isn’t the case. The actual size of your stomach hasn’t changed, your attitude to food has and your body has adapted to catch up.
Intake & Potential
The actual size of the human stomach in its normal state is the size of a fist. Once you eat, though, the muscles expand and contract. If you’ve ever sat down to a large meal (think Thanksgiving), then you will know how you often have to unbutton your pants because they feel tighter.
It feels as though you can’t breathe without that extra bit of space in your waistband. Your stomach returns to normal size once the digestion process is complete. That is completely unrelated to weight loss. It’s just biology.
When it comes to weight loss, grazing might be a helpful strategy. You can enjoy regular meals of moderate size and this will keep you satiated, as well as prevent you from overeating. Ideally, you should space these meals two or three hours apart.
It will help you avoid the bloat you experience after eating and you won’t need to pop any buttons open. Of course, if you are eating the correct portion sizes at regular meal times this isn’t something you should need to do, unless your clothes are the wrong size.
When preparing meals, make sure to include fiber. Fiber is something that will help you feel fuller and for longer. It can also help you beat your high cholesterol, as well as reducing the risk of heart problems, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. Your diet should include plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of water.
The only way to literally shrink your stomach is to have surgery. Essentially, the stomach is divided into two sections. The top is where the food will go and it holds a very small amount of food.
People who have this surgery completed must follow a very strict diet with small portions in order to maintain their weight loss and prevent the surgery from reversing.
How Does Weight Loss Affect Your Brain?
You already know that excessive weight has an impact on your body. Did you realize that it can also negatively affect your brain? Which means that weight loss can have a positive influence on your brain.
In truth, obesity affects the majority of the body’s organs. So, why would your brain be an exception? Perhaps, more importantly, is the fact that researchers have found shedding your excess fat can and will improve brain function.
Meaning, the ill effects of that extra weight can be reversed.
A study from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University in Augusta focused on a group of people who had undergone bariatric surgery. They discovered that the operation had a positive effect in the brain, however, additional research has shown that exercise and other weight loss strategies can have the same impact.
Why Does This Matter?
Well, right now 160 million Americans are classified as overweight or obese. Further, people who are obese in mid-life are more likely to develop dementia compared to people who maintain a normal weight.
This is according to a joint-study on Body Mass Index in midlife and dementia, which reviewed 19 studies comprising over half a million participants. They also concluded that midlife obesity increases your risk of developing depression.
Essentially, these studies look at how body fat affects the brain and the fact that when studied in mice, the fat cells are responsible for releasing a substance that causes inflammation in the brain.
According to one study on Potential Hormone Mechanisms of Bariatric Surgery, before bariatric surgery, the brains of the obese patients metabolized sugar quicker than the control group who were all normal weight. All of the patients were given cognitive function tests both before and after their procedure.
Following bariatric surgery, the obese patients experienced improvement in the brain activity that was detected before they underwent the procedure. Additionally, their performance, when tested on cognitive function, also improved.
In particular, executive function improved, which is the area of the brain you use when you plan and organize. Ultimately, the findings of this research show that when you lose weight, it helps to reverse the negative effects body fat had on your brain. You’re reversing the issue.
There is still much research to be done on the subject when it comes to how or why body fat negatively impacts the brain. However, many people believe that it’s a simple chain of events.
For example, there have been linked between insulin resistance and a number of neurodegenerative diseases. We associate insulin resistance with inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatty acids.
This metabolic disorder can be triggered by obesity. It may also be down to particular types of fat. The worst type of body fat is visceral fat. This increases the risk of insulin resistance.
Additionally, fat around your middle can release stress hormones which cause issues for your brain in terms of cognitive function.
Stress hormones also trigger signals to your body that you’re hungry, which will further contribute to your weight issue. It’s a snowball effect, it starts with one thing and becomes a host of issues that all feed each other.
Ultimately, inflammation is consistently an issue related to body fat and a number of disorders, from brain diseases to depression. Body fat comes with a long list of negative body effects, and your brain is at risk as well.
So, if you plan to lose weight, you can think about the positive effects it will have on your brain as well as your body.
Is Your Liver Preventing Your Weight Loss?
When we think about our liver, we likely think about how alcohol affects it. What we rarely consider is its role in weight loss. Yet, it’s the liver which is responsible for metabolizing fat.
The liver produces bile and bile breaks down fat while serving as a filter that strains toxins from our blood. This helps us to maintain our energy levels. So, by optimizing the health of your liver, you can improve your weight loss.
An unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle will overburden your liver. Your body will be less effective when it comes to digesting foods and breaking fat down. This causes weight gain.
You feel sluggish, you feel heavy, and you feel bloated. Your liver is vital for a number of key roles in the body. It controls the breakdown of fat, it impacts your metabolism, and your circulation as well.
If your liver isn’t functioning properly, then it can contribute to weight gain, particularly in your stomach region. Include these foods into your diet to help detoxify your liver and positively influence your weight loss attempts.
Papayas – papayas contain papain. This enzyme can aid the digestion process and help your body properly process food. Additionally, they reduce inflammation. You can eat a small number of their seeds, which are packed with liver detoxifying nutrients.
Grapefruit – it doesn’t have to be just grapefruit, all citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. These will help promote the liver’s natural detoxifying abilities.
Enjoy a small glass of grapefruit juice each morning (squeeze it fresh) to boost the liver’s detoxification enzymes. This will help flush your body of toxins, as well as help protect your body from damage.
Carrots & Beets – these delicious vegetables are packed with flavonoids and beta-carotene. These are key to stimulating and maximizing the liver’s overall function. As it happens, the two combined make for a delicious juice when you add apple juice.
Avocados – avocados are famous for their creamy texture, healthy fats, and versatile uses. Those healthy fats are also great for your liver! They also contain a chemical that can slow the damage of the liver.
This nutrient-dense fruit triggers the production of a compound known as glutathione.
It plays an essential role in keeping the liver healthy so that it can continue to cleanse the body of harmful toxins. Of course, there’s the added benefit of the avocado’s fiber content, which will help you with your weight loss. Spinach and okra are also excellent sources of glutathione.
Broccoli – while cruciferous vegetables get a bad rap on a number of fronts, one thing they can brag about is their fat burning power. Vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts help prevent fat from building up in the liver, which can help with your overall weight loss attempts.
Remember, this multi-tasking organ is your body’s second largest. Don’t underestimate the power and sway your liver holds in the body. It performs so many crucial functions; it’s important that you treat it well and ensure that it is operating at it’s optimum. Your liver is vital to maintaining your fitness and health.
If you can’t keep your liver healthy, then it will impact your health in a number of ways. If you are struggling with weight loss, it might be as a result of your liver. Introduce the foods we suggested above as well as plenty of fiber to help bring your liver back to operating at its best.
How Body Weight Affects Your Thyroid
About halfway down your neck, just below your larynx, you will find the thyroid. This butterfly-shaped gland is vitally important. It’s in charge of regulating a number of things within the body, including metabolism.
If it’s not producing enough hormones or if it’s malfunctioning, then it can become an underactive thyroid.
When you carry extra weight, you are putting far more stress on this gland, as well as the rest of the body’s organs. It’s also possible for the thyroid to produce too many hormones, which is an overactive thyroid, that causes weight loss.
You might think that sounds good, but that weight loss comes at a cost – people with an overactive thyroid are left with nervousness and anxiety.
The Function of the Thyroid
When your thyroid is functioning properly, it releases two hormones – T3 and T4. The more technically names are triiodothyronine and thyroxine, respectively. These are both crucially important to the health of your thyroid, and as a result, your total health and wellbeing.
Your metabolism has an important role to play when it comes to how your body reacts to exertion, illness, food, and stress.
Thyroid health both affects and is affected by your body weight. If it isn’t working properly, then it can affect your weight. Also, maintaining your ideal weight is one of the ways that you can keep your thyroid healthy.
The Benefits of Weight Loss
If you are carrying excess weight, then now is the time to consider trimming down. It will improve your overall health, but as importantly, it will influence the health of your thyroid. Your thyroid doesn’t need to work quite as hard to maintain your metabolism when you’re a healthy weight.
When you maintain a consistent weight, you are directly and positively influencing the thyroid. This will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.
This is an underactive thyroid, and it means that your body is simply not producing enough of the thyroid hormone. There are a number of common symptoms, including depression, pale skin, sensitivity to the cold, weakness, fatigue, brittle nails, and unintentional weight gain. This can make it difficult to lose weight, and exercise can be a major challenge.
When you receive treatment for the issue, (usually by prescription medication), there’s a good chance you will experience some weight loss more easily. However, you will still need to adjust your diet and increase your fitness levels in order to lose the unwanted weight.
Your metabolism is in charge of controlling the energy that you get from the fuel you provide it. This goes far beyond weight control and involves the chemical reactions within your body, as well as growth, your cognitive function, and how energy is distributed.
When you fuel your body with nutritious food then you are giving it the fuel that it needs. By eating healthy, you are protecting your thyroid, boosting your metabolism, and contributing to your weight loss.
Even a small weight loss can improve the function of your thyroid. If you already have a diagnosed thyroid issue, speak to your doctor about the type of diet that will support its health.
For example, cruciferous vegetables are not friendly to people with Hypothyroidism. They have a tendency to interfere with how the thyroid functions and uses iodine.
If you have all you can, diet-wise, and are still struggling with a sluggish metabolism, ask your doctor if the health of your thyroid might be a factor.
Why Is Belly Fat Difficult to Lose?
It’s hard to shift, and it’s stubborn. Of course, it also just happens to be one of your body’s most prominent areas. So, no wonder we feel so self-conscious about it constantly adjusting our clothing in an attempt to hide it.
We wish we could just drop pounds from it, but even when we diet hard, it seems to be the last place to change shape.
Aside from your physical appearance, excess belly fat has a long-term impact on your health. It increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The real question that so many of us have, though, is why is it so difficult to budge belly fat? Let’s talk about it.
The reason you gain fat around your belly is the same reason it builds up anywhere else. It’s because you consume more fuel than your body can burn. So, because it can’t use that energy, it stores it as fat. The real question is, why does it seem to settle there and become impossible to move? It’s simple.
There’s a higher number of fat cells in your belly, and they don’t respond as quickly or easily to lipolysis, which is the process of breaking down fat.
We carry two different types of fat cells – alpha and beta. They respond differently to lipolysis. Your alpha cells accelerate the process because they respond quickly to the process. However, beta cells just don’t, which makes it much more difficult to lose weight. So, because some areas of your body have more beta cells, you will find it more difficult to shift weight from those areas.
That is all well and good, but why? Why is fat laid down first on the belly, and it is also the last place to give it up? Simply, our bodies evolved in a more primitive space than we now inhabit. Mobility was crucial to our survival, and so was storing some body fat as insurance against starvation.
Typically, we see weight changes quicker in our legs, arms, and face simply because there are more alpha cells in these areas. Meanwhile, beta cells populate your belly, thighs, and hips, which means they are last to join the weight loss party.
Unfortunately, this slow weight loss can be discouraging. Don’t give up! It can take as long as 12 weeks before you start to see any change in your belly fat, it’s just so much more difficult to break down.
However, if you reduce your intake of sugar and other simple carbs, increase protein and healthy dietary fat, and get regular exercise, you will eventually experience change.
Additionally, there are a few key reasons why you might be struggling to shift those additional pounds from your belly.
There are a lot of calories in alcohol. One can of beer comes with over 150 calories, and a standard glass of wine isn’t much better. That’s just basic alcohol, cocktails come with even more calories.
That means your body has diverted its attention from burning fat. It’s possible to drink responsibility and still lose weight, but that will limit you to one drink a day. Also, your mixers may be more a factor than the alcohol.
The Wrong Exercise
Is your focus on cardio? It’s not enough. You should also work weights and strength training into your exercise regimen. That will help you build muscle mass, which will allow your body to burn more fat.
The Wrong Fats
Your body doesn’t love all fats, even if your taste buds do. Saturated fats, like the kind you find in dairy and processed meat products, increase the likelihood of visceral fat if eaten in large quantities.
Monounsaturated fats found in avocados and olive oil are good for you, as are the polyunsaturated fats that you find in oily fish and nuts. The key is to enjoy the right amount of all of these.
We all take our body’s organs and glands for granted. Hidden away inside, they keep churning away, automatically carrying out their vital functions. Until they stop working as well as they should.
More often than not, this is because we have not treated them as well as we should have, unintentionally of course. Environmental and dietary pollution puts a huge strain on our magnificent organs, and eventually they succumb.
You have the power to prevent this decay, and to a large degree, reverse any damage already caused. Now you know how and why this happens, you can take the necessary action to regain your health, and get a better-looking body as a bonus.