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How to Lose Weight When You Have IBS

While weight is only one indicator of overall health, it is something that many of my clients with IBS are concerned about. Overweight and obesity affect two-thirds of Americans and one-third of American children. This is hundreds of millions of people. Please don't feel isolated. Obesity and excess weight can lead to many health issues, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Healthy weight, healthy eating habits, and regular exercise can all help to improve your health.

As you all know, the old saying "eat less and move more" is not enough. It is not easy to lose weight for many reasons:

  • We have plenty of food around us all day.
  • Eating is more than a way to get sustenance. It's also a means of gratification, social interaction, and sometimes even a reward.
  • Computers, cars, etc. Computers and cars have made our lives more sedentary. We don't need to all be active farmers to survive.
  • It's really difficult to reduce calories by yourself.
  • Many diets are short-term successes, but they fail to last long because they are simply not sustainable.
  • It can be very difficult to lose weight and maintain it especially for women who have gone through menopause.

Let's look at some strategies that can help you overcome the difficulties of weight loss.

How can I lose weight and what is metabolism? 

There are many factors that can affect your weight, and some of them are easily controlled. Although genetics, family history and hormones all have an impact on your weight, there isn't much you can do about it. However, you can control how much you eat and the medications you take, as well as how much exercise and sleep you get.

Here is where metabolism and weight intersect. Your body can do many things at rest, including breathing, pumping blood and managing hormone levels. It also maintains your body's temperature and grows and repairs cells. Your "basal metabolism rate" is the amount of calories (energy) that your body uses to perform these vital functions. It's roughly two-thirds (or metabolism) of all calories your body burns every day.

Metabolic refers to the way your body uses food and drinks to convert them into energy. According to the Mayo Clinic, this complicated process involves the addition of oxygen and calories from food and beverages to produce the energy your body requires to function.

Your body's size and composition have a major impact on your metabolism. People with heavier bones, more muscle mass and larger bodies burn more calories when they are at rest. Men naturally have a higher metabolism because they are larger and have more muscle. This is also true for younger people. As bone and muscle mass naturally decrease with age (and fat mass naturally increases), your metabolism will likely decrease, which can lead to an increase in weight.

Your metabolism can be affected by certain medical conditions. Your metabolism can be slowed by hormonal conditions like Cushing's syndrome, PCOS (polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), and hypothyroidism (underactive Thyroid). Many of these conditions can cause weight gain in addition to other symptoms. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you believe you may have an underlying medical condition.

Your weight may be affected by a slow metabolism, but that's just one factor. Your weight can also be affected by how your body processes food and beverages. Calories are burned during digestion. Digesting food takes about 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates and protein. You also need to exercise every day to burn calories.

Although some people gain or lose weight more quickly than others, your "energy equation", which is the sum of all your energy, will determine your weight. This means that the energy you consume (calories) and the energy you burn (calories), can make a difference in whether you gain weight or not.

Weight loss/maintenance strategies with IBS

Talk to your doctor before you begin a weight loss program. Depending on your health goals and current status, many weight-loss programs or products can be dangerous. Avoid products and programs promising quick, lasting, or easy weight loss.

Your lifestyle and habits can have a significant impact on your weight. You are free to change them as you wish. If you are overweight or obese and wish to lose weight, it is a good idea to cut 500 calories from your daily diet. You may also be able achieve your weight loss goals faster if you add some of these strategies, including adding physical activity.

 

Here are six of my top strategies for weight loss/maintenance.

1. - Establish specific, achievable, and forgiving goals

Instead of setting a goal to lose weight, set smaller and more specific goals.

You can set daily or weekly goals, such as to prepare a vegetable-rich weekend meal, reduce food cues (hiding cookies from sight or disregarding food advertisements), or walk 30 minutes per day for at most 5 days.

To make a habit a routine, stick to it for at least one week. Once one habit is established, you can add another.

It's not unusual to lose 5% in 6 months. This may make it more realistic to set a goal.

 

2 - Get rid of the "diet" mentality, and instead focus on lasting improvements to your health.

Instead of focusing on weight loss, focus on eating healthier foods.

Get lots of fruits and vegetables.

Saturated and trans fats should be replaced with healthier options such as olive oil, nuts butters, avocadoes.

 

3 - You can try eating differently to see if it works for you.

Each meal should take no less than 20 minutes. So eat slowly. Take more time to enjoy your food and pay attention to the signs that tell you when it's time for you stop eating.

Focus on what you eat and enjoy it. This will help you eat more mindfully. As you eat your food, pay attention to its texture, smell, and taste.

You can try putting your fork down, sipping water between bites, and chewing thoroughly before swallowing.

You might try replacing the snacking you do with water or other unsweetened beverages if you are prone to snacking in front a computer or TV screen.

 

4. - Exercise doesn't necessarily have to be done to become more active, but you can.

Get active. Move at least 30 minutes per week. Even three 10-minute sessions can be helpful. More movement can lead to greater health benefits.

Aerobic activity (e.g. walking, cycling, etc.) The best way to lose calories is by exercising aerobically.

Weight training, i.e. using weights or pushing against gravity, builds muscles and increases metabolism rate. It is recommended that you include at least two weight-training sessions per week.

You don't need to exercise to be physically active. You can walk farther, take the stairs, do housework, and garden.

Fidgeting is also a good idea. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, such as shaking a leg, tapping one foot or even twirling the pen, can also help burn calories.

Keep in mind that any type of physical activity is better than none for your health and weight loss goals.

 

5 - Reward your success

The National Institutes of Health states that small rewards for achieving smaller goals are more effective than larger rewards that require long and difficult efforts.

Reward yourself with a non-food item or activity each time you achieve a goal, no matter how small.

You might want to purchase a book, movie, song, or video game you have wanted for a while. You can also re-read, watch, or listen to an old favorite.

You might be able to put aside a little money to save for a bigger reward.

You don't need to get a monetary reward. You can enjoy some personal time, such as a bath or a manicure, or even try a new hobby or craft.

Perhaps you prefer to watch funny videos or comedy skits online.

 

6 - Persist

It is difficult to lose weight and many people must keep trying until they find the right way.

Every day is a new beginning. You can get back on the right track if you do err.

Don't give up. In September 2020, a study found that attempting to lose weight repeatedly (also known "weight cycling") can dramatically reduce your chance of dying. The National Institutes of Health stated that repeatedly losing weight and regaining it was more effective than giving up after a few attempts, or worse, not trying at all.

 

Takeaway

Although weight is only one indicator of health, it is an important concern for many people. It is difficult to lose weight. Many factors can influence your metabolism. Some you cannot control (e.g. genes), while others you can (e.g. what and how much you eat).

There are many ways to lose weight. You can change the way that you approach diet and eating, how you reward yourself and persevere, and even the way that you set goals.

Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD

 

References

Harvard Health. (2018, May). You can burn calories even if you don't exercise. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/burning-calories-without-exercise

 

Harvard Health. (2018, July). These are small tricks that will help you lose weight and keep it off. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/small-tricks-to-help-you-shed-pounds-and-keep-them-off

 

Harvard Health. (2019, March 19, 2019). The lowdown on thyroid slowdown. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-lowdown-on-thyroid-slowdown

 

Harvard Health. (2019, November 20,). Simple habits to help you lose weight. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/building-simple-habits-for-healthy-weight-loss

 

Mayo Clinic Healthy Living. (2019, 21 February). What is the cause of my overweight metabolism? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/slow-metabolism/faq-20058480

 

Mayo Clinic Healthy Living. (2019, 21 February). How can I increase my metabolism to lose weight Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/metabolism/faq-20058346

 

Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle. (2020, November 10,). How to lose calories through metabolism Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508

 

NIH Intramural Research Program. (2020, Dec 8). A Weight Loss Program that is linked to a Reduced Death Risk Retrieved from https://irp.nih.gov/blog/post/2020/12/attempting-weight-loss-linked-to-reduced-risk-of-death

 

NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2017 September). Weight Control. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/weight-control

 

NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Maintain a healthy weight. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/index.htm

 

NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Guide to Behavior Change. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/behavior.htm


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