The functional medicine approach to weight loss isn’t all about diet and exercise (although healthy lifestyle choices do play a role). Instead, weight loss in functional medicine is all about understanding and addressing your body’s unique needs and imbalances.
This article dives into the complex world of functional medicine and how it can support your weight loss journey. From common nutrient deficiencies that could be affecting your metabolism, to the role of supplements and peptides, we will guide you through cutting-edge approaches to weight loss.
Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, wants to help you uncover and address the hidden causes of stubborn weight gain. So, whether you’re just beginning your weight loss journey or looking for new strategies to enhance your progress, this guide is for you.
Diet and Exercise for Weight Loss
The first aspect of your health that you need to address for weight loss is diet and exercise. How much and which foods you eat, how often you exercise – these factors dictate how well your body processes fat.
Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine dietary recommendations for weight loss are:
- Eat mostly plant foods with some healthy proteins
- Skip the grains as much as possible, especially white rice, pasta, and bread, as they can cause inflammation in the body.
- Try fasting for a “stuck” metabolism.
- Always remember to stay hydrated!
- Adopt nutritional lifestyles like ketogenic diet or an anti-inflammatory diet for increased weight loss.
When it comes to exercise, the amount of energy you put out has to be more than the energy you put in (or food eaten). The benefits of exercise are enormous, and include weight loss, mood regulation, and optimum health and longevity.
Exercise should include both strength training and cardio, three to five times a week. But even a brisk 30 min walk will help. Get out and move your body, you will feel better in every way!
What Causes Inability to Lose Weight?
Many of Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine’s clients are frustrated by an inability to lose weight. They think that they don’t exercise enough or maybe they blame their diet, but truthfully, an inability to lose weight could indicate an even greater imbalance.
Your weight is tied to your hormones and affected by inflammation. Weight gain could be the result of adrenal dysfunction, sleep deprivation, a high toxin load, or a myriad of other factors.
Because an inability to lose weight could start in many different systems, you should always work with a medical professional. Especially if you live an overall healthy lifestyle where you get plenty of exercise and eat a well balanced diet.
Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of weight gain and an inability to lose weight.
Sleep deprivation disrupts the normal balance of hormones that regulate hunger and satiety, leading to increased appetite and calorie consumption. Additionally, fatigue from poor sleep can result in decreased physical activity, further promoting weight gain.
Other hormone imbalances may also contribute to weight gain. For example, low testosterone makes it more difficult to build muscle mass and makes workouts feel harder. In women, menopause may also cause weight gain.
If you or your doctor suspects hormones may play a role in your ability to lose weight, you should check the levels of all of your hormones.
Inflammation is often the root cause of weight gain and obesity. Gut dysfunction, undiagnosed medical conditions, and exposure to viruses and other pathogens are just a few of the many causes of inflammation in the body.
At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, the first step to decrease your inflammatory load is to do 1) a food sensitivity and allergy panel and 2) a stool study. Unknown food sensitivities will significantly increase your inflammation levels and removing trigger foods may have a dramatic effect on your overall health.
A stool study can show you if you have overgrowth of bacteria, parasites, or yeast; the treatment of which can also dramatically decrease your total body inflammation levels.
Both of these tests also give you a snapshot of the diversity of your microbiome or lack thereof. Your gut microbiome is your biggest immunomodulator, meaning it is responsible for increasing good immune signaling and decreasing immune dysfunction. Immune dysfunction includes inflammation, auto-immunity and allergies.
Probiotics are extremely helpful for people with gut dysfunction. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends ProbioLEAN to improve the beneficial bacteria that help boost your metabolism.
Adrenal dysfunction can contribute to central weight gain, or weight gain in your midsection.
Your adrenals are your stress response and are critical for survival. A prolonged state of stress is unhealthy in many ways, one of which is an inability to lose weight or weight gain. Elevated stress hormones also contribute to poor insulin and glucose control, further accelerating metabolic issues that can result in weight gain as well as other poor health outcomes.
Most environmental toxins are either fat soluble or become “less toxic” when stored in the fat cells of the body. A high toxin load is toxic to your cells, and as a result, your cells force your body to store more fat in an attempt to dilute the toxicity.
This is how environmental toxic burden can contribute to weight gain. For some people, a detox protocol is exactly what they need for weight loss.
Nutrient deficiencies and mitochondrial dysfunction are also big contributors to stubborn weight gain. Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies are B12 and Vit D.
Micronutrients that are needed for optimum mitochondrial function are also critical for your metabolism. Some of these nutrients include all of your B vitamins, glutathione, Vitamin C and Alpha lipoic acid.
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD)
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a coenzyme that is essential for metabolism and mitochondrial function. Some of the precursors to NAD can increase the metabolism. This coenzyme can reduce fatigue and cognitive dysfunction while improving athletic endurance and weight loss.
Supplements for NAD support include:
Blood Sugar Dysregulation
Your body will not start breaking down fats until you have no glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. If there is a constant flow of glucose, the body has no need to break down your fats.
Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends blood sugar regulation supplements that regulate or decrease your blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity. These improve the body’s ability to go into ketosis, where the body breaks down fats into fatty acids to use as fuel and maintain a steady blood sugar level.
Supplements for blood sugar dysregulation include:
- Berberine ES
- AMPK charge
- AlaMax CR
Semaglutide is a peptide injection, originally developed to treat Type 2 Diabetes. It can help with weight loss by improving blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity, decreasing appetite and slowing gastric emptying.
This injection does come with some risks and we always suggest that our clients carefully consider the risk to benefit ratio. Talk with your functional medicine doctor to see if it’s appropriate for you.
Schedule an appointment with your functional medicine doctor to get a blood draw that includes a full thyroid panel, sex and stress hormone levels (including testosterone and DHEA), micronutrient levels, etc. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine also recommends an adrenal panel for stress response, a food sensitivity to identify allergies, and a stool study for microbiome health.
Weight Loss Solutions
In addition to the specific solutions listed above, Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine has a list of weight loss supplements that can support your body’s ability to detox, stimulate your metabolism, and speed up fat burning processes.
As always, speak with your functional medicine provider before you add or change your supplements to assist with weight loss.
Weight Loss Supplements
Green tea phytosome: boosts metabolism without giving the jitters
NAD: Resveracel, NAD platinum, Collagen Plus support healthy mitochondria and energy production
Skinny shots: B-12 inositol, choline to support energy and fat burning potential
Berberine ES-5: improves insulin sensitivity, healthy blood glucose levels, wt loss
ProbioLean Probiotic: lean body mass supporting probiotics
AMPK Charge: nutritional ketosis, blood sugar regulation, weight loss support
Peptides for Weight Loss
Semaglutide (Ozempic) troche: Semaglutide is a weight loss medication that works in a few different ways. It helps the pancreas release insulin when blood sugar is elevated. It also slows the movement of food through the GI tract, which in turn decreases appetite, therefore causing weight loss. Finally, it mimics a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which regulates our hunger.
Weight loss medications like semaglutide should be taken seriously and combined with healthy diet changes and a standard exercise regimen. Lifestyle changes are a must when combined with weight management medications because without them, the medication may not be as effective and can cause rebound weight gain once it is stopped.
A healthy weight loss medication rule of thumb is up to 2lbs/week.
The main side effect of weight loss medications is nausea. Other side effects you may experience are vomiting, diarrhea, headache, tiredness, dizziness, and heartburn. You should also learn to monitor your blood sugar and be aware of the signs of low blood sugar.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any other labs you should monitor while on this medication. There are other potential serious adverse effects of semaglutide, so we recommend proceeding with caution.