A Weighty Subject – Part 2
Hello, this is Dr. Ellen. Last month, the ‘Real Common Sense’ newsletter contained the first part on the topic of weight loss. I covered some of the health problems arising from excess body fat and began addressing some of the components of a comprehensive program to achieve healthy weight reduction, namely dietary intervention and the use of digestive enzymes. This month’s newsletter will continue that topic and cover a number of other useful if not necessary components including intermittent fasting, exercise, thyroid health, mindful eating, and supplementation.
If you didn’t get a chance to see Part 1, you can find it by going to my website, www.drellencutler.com. Bring your cursor over ‘Dr. Ellen’s Approach’ and scroll down to and click on ‘Articles’.
Exercise for Weight Reduction
Last month, I addressed the topic of dietary change and the use of digestive enzymes for weight reduction. I would like to now discuss the importance of exercise as an important component to any weight loss program. Of course, it is generally accepted that the key to weight loss is eating fewer calories than you expend (although there may be exceptions – see intermittent fasting below). In this simple equation, exercise/physical activity plays an important role, especially helping you lose body fat. Your body is designed to store fat as an energy reserve during times of famine. When taking in fewer calories, your body tends to burn the stored fat. However, if you eat too few calories or cut out all carbohydrates, the weight you lose will tend to be fluids and muscle instead of fat. In this case your body fat percentage may increase even though you are losing weight.
A review of randomized controlled trials compared diet-plus-exercise interventions with diet-only interventions. The diet-plus-exercise interventions found significantly greater loss in weight or body mass index (BMI) than did the diet-only interventions at the end of each study’s follow-up. Importantly, the percentage of body fat loss was also significantly greater for the diet-plus-exercise interventions compared to the diet-only interventions. Regardless of the appropriate dietary approach taken, exercise is a necessary component in most programs to assure healthy weight loss. By the way, Dr. Ellen has found that taking a digestive enzyme with each meal can reduce craving, increase nutrient absorption and utilization and therefor allows one to comfortably eat less calories and feel satiated.
Check out which digestive enzyme is the best for you and remember to take it about 10 minutes before each meal. And a hint, whenever you feel that craving, before reaching for a sweet, take a digestive enzyme – it just may reduce that urge.
An important question arises – which types of exercises are best for weight loss?
There is little conclusive evidence favoring high-intensity training over continuous moderate-intensity exercise on body weight or fat loss. Both have been shown to be useful for reducing weight. Interestingly, a small study showed that low-intensity, long-duration exercise produces greater fat utilization than moderate intensity exercise of similar caloric expenditure. The intensity of the exercises you choose should be based on doing those exercises that you are most likely to continue doing on a regular basis. You can set realistic goals that can be advanced as you become more comfortable with your regimen. Of course, check with your health care specialist before starting any program to make sure it is safe for you.
Some people use regular activities such as moderate to brisk-paced walking, jogging, and bicycling as the exercise they do regularly. Of course, the time spent and/or the pace of these and other activities must be sufficient to burn enough calories to exceed the number of calories you consumed. Adding strength training 2 or 3 times per week can help build muscle tissue, which in turn burns more calories than fat tissue does.
I personally prefer doing moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise. I use the Peloton stationary bike and have found it to be a daily exercise I look forward to doing every morning. There is enough variety for me in the many videos available to lead me through each day’s program and keep me looking forward to the next one.
As we have seen, limiting calorie intake will cause weight loss. Researchers have been trying to find ways of doing this that are both effective and well tolerated. Finite periods of consecutive days water fasting can be effective in certain instances but needs to be supervised by health care professionals well versed in its therapeutic use. Daily caloric restriction has been shown to help decrease weight and increase health in a number of studies but is usually not well tolerated on a continuing basis. On the other hand, several forms of intermittent fasting have been shown to help weight loss and are generally better tolerated. In fact, it appears that most intermittent fasting regimens can result in at least some weight loss. Three major types – alternate-day fasting (ADF), the 5:2 diet, and time-restricted eating (TRE) – can produce mild to moderate weight loss, consistent reductions in energy intake, and improve several markers of metabolic health.
The main difference between intermittent fasting and consecutive day water fasting or caloric restriction is the regular shifting periods within each week (or within each day with TRE) from ‘regular eating’ to calorically limited (or calorically absent with TRE) ‘fasting’ periods. Both the ADF (called by some a 4:3 diet) and the 5:2 diets have fasting days in which calories are limited to 500 calories in women and 600 in men. In the 5:2 diet, there are either three small meals or two slightly larger meals, usually lunch and dinner. High fiber and high protein foods as well as soups are often used to increase feeling full without consuming too many calories.
TRE restricts the time in which food is eaten. This can range from 10 down to six hours, meaning that the actual fasting time is from 14 up to 18 hours. An example of this is seen in a study in which thirty-four males were given a standardized resistance training program and randomly assigned to TRE diet group or a normal diet group (ND). In the TRE group, caloric intake was divided into three meals consumed between 1 and 9 p.m. The remaining 16 hours per 24-hour period were the fasting period. After 8 weeks, a significant decrease in fat mass was observed in the TRE diet group while fat-free mass was maintained in both groups. In another 8-week study of physically inactive and overweight or obese men and women that were all given resistance and aerobic training routines showed greater decreases in total body weight and fat mass in the TRE diet group (noon to 8 p.m. eating window) compared to the ‘normal eating’ group.
Another variation on fasting-type diets is Longo’s Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD). This approach features a diet low in sugars, proteins, and calories with zero animal protein or animal fat, followed for 5 days each month for 3 months. A company created by Dr. Longo (ProLon®) provides the necessary food stuffs for those 5 days. This approach has been found to be a healthy approach to weight loss. In one study, after 3 monthly cycles, the group on the FMD had a significant drop in body weight, body mass index (BMI), total body fat, trunk fat, and waist circumference when compared to those on an unrestricted diet. Those who were initially worst off tended to get the greatest benefit. Three months after completion of the program, the FMD’s effects on body weight, BMI, and waist circumference persisted.
My weekly routine is a combination of two of the above approaches to intermittent fasting. I do not eat a breakfast per se and in that way I use a time-restricted diet approach. I also restrict my intake of calories, in particular oily plant-based foods, on two non-consecutive days each week. Thus, I also incorporate a 5:2 diet aspect to the way I eat. This is something I have also done when working with others, individualizing not only their diet but also one or more types of intermittent fasting when needed.
The bi-lobed thyroid gland, in the lower part of the throat, produces thyroid hormones to control your metabolic rate. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid is under-active, is usually diagnosed by measuring thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), released by the pituitary to promote production of thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism can cause a constellation of symptoms. In addition to weight gain, these can include feeling tired or colder, constipation, drier skin, muscle weakness or achiness, joint pain or swelling, thinning hair, depression, forgetfulness, and an enlarged thyroid gland (aka goiter).
Unfortunately, approximately 20 percent of the population has undiagnosed thyroid problems. This includes those who cannot lose weight despite their efforts, including ultra-low-calorie diets. Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (aka Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) causes inflammation and damage to the thyroid tissue and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US. There are many other causes including a deficiency in dietary iodine and/or selenium, stress and burnout, estrogen dominance, and certain medications. As mentioned above, sometimes the thyroid gland itself can become enlarged from underactivity (goiter). Another possible cause is that a person has a less common form of hypothyroidism called central or secondary hypothyroidism, in which there is a problem with TSH secretion rather than with the thyroid gland itself.
Dr. Ellen sees that many clients have underlying, subclinical low thyroid which can play havoc with weight, energy, detoxification, accelerated aging and of course energy.
We have an excellent low thyroid enzyme supplement that does not replace your thyroid hormones but supports it and can help many people who do have undiagnosed or subclinical thyroid hormone. See our enzymes and call the clinic for more information. And Dr. Ellen is now offering some coaching for those who are interested to help with wellness, and prevention. If interested please see our contact information.
When just using the TSH levels for diagnosis, hypothyroidism can be missed. This testing cannot diagnose central hypothyroidism. It also does not test the ability of the body to convert T4 into T3, the latter being the active form of thyroid hormone. Additionally, there is no standardized threshold for normal TSH levels, such that some may fall into a “normal” range with one lab and into a “high” range with another. To further complicate the issue, one study found the morning median TSH value in those with subclinical hypothyroidism to be more than 2.0 points higher than in the afternoon, with the range of TSH circadian variability reaching 73%.
I will go into further details about thyroid function and dysfunction in a future newsletter. For now, if weight loss has been difficult despite your own rigorous efforts, consider addressing the possibility of hypothyroidism with your health care provider. Especially if your weight issue is accompanied by one or more of the other symptoms described above, ruling out hypothyroidism may not be adequately done with a TSH test alone.
Mindfulness and Eating
Many studies demonstrate the benefits of including mindful eating/mindfulness as either a component or as the focus of a weight management program. One review of studies showed weight loss results when mindful eating strategies were employed. Four out of the five studies that included a follow-up assessment showed continued weight loss, with only one showing weight regain. Many of the reviewed studies found only a modest loss of weight using mindful eating strategies when compared to traditional treatment modalities. Nonetheless, mindful eating strategies may continue to enhance weight loss over time and therefore contribute to long term weight management.
ECM or Ellen Cutler method can help clear or reduce subconscious blocks or sensitivities/reactivities that can help with weight loss and help with good eating habits. And it can also help with mindfulness and balance.
If you are a health practitioner and would like to study and train as an ECM practitioner, please see or information and let us know. We will contact you asap.
Some people may be turned off by the mistaken idea that mindful eating requires a time-consuming meditation before each meal, or even a pause before each bite. However, mindful eating can simply be focusing your awareness on what you are eating and how you feel during your meal. One study compared two groups, one given mindful eating strategies and the control group that did not receive the instruction in the techniques. Those in the mindful eating group lost six times more weight than those in the control group and almost all the mindful eaters continued to use the techniques after six months.
There are several easy ways to start using mindful eating techniques. These include eating more slowly, chewing the food thoroughly, getting rid of distractions (e.g., turning off your cell phone), eating in silence, becoming aware of how the food makes you feel, and asking yourself why you are eating and whether the food is healthy. When you start to incorporate mindful eating techniques, you may want to start using it with one meal per day. As you become more comfortable and proficient, you can use these techniques with more meals.
More information focused on the psychospiritual aspects of eating is available in the blog “The Yoga of Eating: Food as a Source of Information” at https://fortelabs.co/blog/the-yoga-of-eating-food-as-a-source-of information/. It summarizes the book “The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self” by Charles Eisenstein. If you are interested in a deeper look into this perspective, you may want to check it out
Useful Supplements that May Aid Your Weight Loss Program
Last month, I introduced the one category of supplements I found to be the most helpful to the greatest number of people trying to lose weight – digestive enzymes. Other enzymes Dr. Ellen uses for weight loss are:
Low Thyroid enzyme
Blood Sugar enzyme
Learn more about these enzyme based supplements.
You may purchase through our clinic and they will soon be available on our website.
Be well, be healthy, and remember…
“One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”
– Albert Einstein