Weight gain is hard. Losing weight is even harder. I prefer to use the term “weight release” because I definitely don’t want that ‘lost’ weight to be found again!
While the causes of weight gain are numerous, there are some foods which could contribute (or be an independent factor) in weight gain. Here I’m outlining the top 4. If you’re unsure of how to reduce your consumption of these foods, check out the Happy Hormone Swap I’ve mentioned at the end of each section.
I’m sorry, I know seeing this on the list may make you cringe (although it may not be new information). But the cold hard truth is that sugar casts a spell on us that’s hard to get away from. Besides the fact that refined sugar is toxic, and could be carcinogenic (cancer-causing), it definitely can pack on the pounds.
When you eat something with sugar in it, like a candy bar, muffin or even white bread, your blood sugar (aka glucose) spikes. Your body will then release sugar-controlling insulin, which helps the sugar get into your cells for energy. This mechanism works best when the ‘sugar’ isn’t refined, but rather naturally occurring sugars and carbs in vegetables and fruits. With loads of refined carbs and sugars coming into the bloodstream, more and more insulin is secreted to bring it all into the cells. The problem is that your body eventually gives up, not recognizing insulin, so sugar doesn’t get into the cell. Then you have tons of sugar and tons of insulin running around.
Insulin by nature is a storage hormone, so when you have too much of it, it will begin to store sugars in your body as FAT. People with insulin issues may notice extra weight gain in the belly and ‘love handle’ areas. Also, when insulin is constantly high, it raises your stress-hormone cortisol, which also packs on the pounds- especially in the belly area.
Happy Hormone Swap: Replace that daily store bought breakfast muffin for a homemade version using coconut flour, eggs and a small amount of natural sweetener like honey. No need to give up those muffins entirely!
I should note that I’m not 100% against dairy, if the person can tolerate it. Raw and/or organic dairy definitely has some health benefit, but most of us don’t have access to raw dairy, or don’t purchase organic (unsweetened, of course) in the store.
Here’s the scoop on why dairy might be contributing to your weight gain:
It’s commonly thought that the problem with dairy is the lactose or the fat it contains. This is not completely true, because there are other factors in dairy that tend to cause many more issues than the above parts.
The fact is, a protein in dairy called A1 casein morphs into casomorphin or BCM7 when your body tries to digest it. Why does this matter? Well, that bugger has the potential to really upset your insulin sensitivity. The casomorphin it contains causes inflammation (another Happy Hormones no-no), which in turn impairs your body’s ability to recognize and use insulin properly. When your insulin balance is off- so are your hormones. Remember what we said about insulin above? Yeah, not so good when it comes to weight management.
Happy Hormone Swap: Limit dairy consumption and choose full-fat, organic, raw and/or fermented dairy (a la yogurt/kefir) instead of conventional, low-fat, sugared-up dairy
Hotly debated, and for good reason, in my opinion. Although you may not have celiac disease, gluten can still be an issue for some. Besides the fact that many women don’t digest gluten properly because our food supply is so doctored, gluten can interfere with the thyroid gland- the seat of our metabolism. Poor thyroid function often means weight gain.
Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat and other grains (spelt, rye, kamut). When this protein passes through your gut lining into the blood stream, your immune system has the potential to tag this compound as a ‘foreign invader’, so it can be destructed. The issue here is that your immune system can forget to put on its glasses sometimes and mistakes the thyroid for gluten, causing it to be attacked. This creates thyroid issues, and as a result, weight issues.
Happy Hormone Swap: Substitute gluten free whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet and brown rice for gluten containing grains. Use flours of these grains to make your own homemade baked goods like breads, wraps, pasta and desserts.
It’s time to get your fat facts straight. Fat is good, if using the right types. Low-fat is no good, and the wrong types of fats are no good either. The biggie no-good fat being trans fats. What are trans fats? These are fatty acids which have been created through high temperatures, like during hydrogenation (as in margarine- PLEASE throw this shit away!!).
Examples of trans fats or foods containing trans fats:
- vegetable shortening
- anything fried or battered
- microwave dinners or popcorn
- cake/cookie/muffin mixes
- store bought ice cream
- canned chili
- non-dairy creamers
- and this list goes on forever
The process of creating trans fats changes the chemical structure slightly, but with dramatic effects. Over the long term, consumption of trans fatty acids can be an independent factor
for weight gain. Beyond this, trans fats mess with your blood sugar as trans fats could impair glucose disposal (aka glucose isn’t getting into the cell), which will contribute to that vicious cycle of high sugar, high insulin and high cortisol which packs on the pounds.
Happy Hormones Swap: Use butter! Butter is an extremely healthful form of fat which actually has health benefits, unlike it’s fake counterparts margarine and shortening. Avoid those foods at all costs!
Have you tried reducing or eliminating certain foods to manage your weight? What have you noticed? Please share in the comments!