Lesser Considered Nutrition Facts – Diets Focus On Calories And Carbs But Skip These Important Ones
When we think of weight loss, we’re so programmed to immediately think of calories and carbs. As if counting these nutrition factors contain secret insight to the health of our organs or how long we’re going to live. Or perhaps calories and carbs hold the key to seeing that wished-for number show up on the scale in the morning. For decades (and even centuries), men and women have focused on counting calories when it comes to anything involving weight loss. In the last few decades, more focus has been placed on carbs and the evils of indulging in them. What about the factors that make us feel healthy and don’t involve calories or carbs: eating a diet of foods that give us an abundance of energy, moving the body in whichever ways feel best on a regular basis, and prioritizing our mental well-being, however that looks to each of us? Here are five factors that are not prioritized by most people, but can have substantial influence or our weight loss successes:
Hydration - Proper hydration is crucial for every function of the body, so of course it can affect our weight too. If our body becomes dehydrated, it slows down the metabolism. The amount of water we drink is directly coordinated to helping our body function at its best, and this is especially true for helping weight loss. Besides just the physical effect of hydration, hunger cues are often thirst cues, which means we may be eating more than the body needs when we’re not properly hydrated.
Sleep - Bad news for night owls or early risers: Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight. Insufficient sleep contributes to obesity and weight gain in many ways. For one, when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies release hunger hormones like ghrelin. Sleep also affects thermo-regulation, and how the body regulates its temperature affects weight. Lastly, sleep enables lipogenesis (fat synthesis) in the digestive system, so we can better use fat for energy instead of storing it.
Vitamin Levels - For people who are struggling with weight loss, it can be vital to maintain optimal vitamin levels, particularly vitamin D. Optimal vitamin D levels are crucial for weight loss for three reasons: Lack of vitamin D can increase hunger levels and appetite, vitamin D speeds up metabolism by 20-30% so we can burn more fat, and vitamin D blocks non-essential fat absorption. Difficult or stubborn weight loss can be a symptom of insufficient vitamin levels or our body’s way of telling us it needs something, and that something might be a certain vitamin or nutrient.
Stress – Stressing about our weight is worse for our body than the actual weight itself. It sounds like an unfair cycle that stress can actually prevent us from losing weight, but it’s also an important reminder that the way we feel emotionally is more important for our health than what we eat and how we move. Chronic stress can result in increased inflammation, high blood pressure, and brain fog, which impacts both our emotional and physical health and leads to weight gain. Find quiet time to relax and partake in hobbies we enjoy to help reduce stress and mental strain.
Food sensitivities - food sensitivity is another reason why diet is not just about what we eat but also how our body responds to what we eat. Even what a nutritionist or doctor has deemed “healthy” may not be healthy for our body; one size does not fit all. If we eat foods that we are sensitive to, our body can react as if the foods are invaders, causing inflammation and water retention that can make us gain weight and eventually damage our cells and organs. Eliminating the foods that we are sensitive to can result in a rapid and dramatic weight reduction.
Considering these five lesser-known factors can have a tremendous impact on any effort we make to lose weight.