Why Am I Still Gaining Weight?

People ask me all the time to help them lose weight.  Usually I cannot help because they want a diet and diets don’t work.  In fact, the research is pretty clear, if you diet, you not only gain all of the weight back that you lost, you usually gain back more than you lost. That’s because the “diet” mentality goes something like this: “I can do anything for a few weeks, or even a few months, as long as I can have the foods I love again once I lose the weight.” 

The reason dieting doesn’t work is because people on a diet eat less food instead of eating healthier food. This doesn’t work for two reasons; One eating less eventually lowers your metabolic burn because the body tries to conserve energy, so the less you eat the less you can eat without gaining weight. Two, healthy foods provide much-needed nutrients, i. e. the healthier the food the more nurturing it is to the body.

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be there food.” And he was right. US foods have some of the unhealthiest ingredients in the world added to them, many of which are fattening as well as addicting, which is why we are number 1 for obesity compared to all other developed nations. This is a bad combination; it tastes really good and it is addicting.

No wonder most people trying to lose weight do so by eating less of their favorite foods long enough to lose the weight, and then go right back to eating them again, and, of course, gain the weight back. It’s called YoYo dieting. 

It’s really not your fault.  The odds are stacked against you.  You probably have no idea how addicting and fattening many of the foods are that you eat.  Likewise, if you are like most people, you have been sold a bill of goods by the diet industry, i.e. that diets actually work.  They don’t but the diet industry makes a whopping $192 billion/year selling you their diets. 

But let’s say that you are one of the enlightened ones and you know you have to change the way you eat and not just how much you eat, but you still cannot lose the weight. Then this article is for you.  

The following is a list of the things that are regularly found in US foods that make us fat. Most  people do not know what these things are, let alone how dangerous they are. I am on a mission to enlighten folks.  Knowledge is power. It is also the first step toward regaining your health and in the process ending up at a healthy weight that you can maintain without giving up delicious food.

Glyphosate

Glyphosate is one of the most dangerous insecticides ever to be unleashed on the world population and here in America, we are drowning in it.  Banned in most other countries and constantly fighting lawsuits, the parent company, Bayer, is still able to douse most of our food in it despite the danger it poses.  We represent only 4% of the world population but we eat 34% of the glyphosate in the world.  

Why is that a problem?

Glyphosate has been shown to be an obesogen, meaning it causes obesity, a carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer, an autogen, meaning it causes auto immune disease, and an allergen, meaning it causes allergies. As far as this discussion is concerned, it is the first one that we are concerned about, i. e. it’s ability to cause obesity. In 1996 Monsanto began spraying glyphosate on all GMO corn and soy crops in the United States. When you understand that there is some form of GMO corn or soy in almost every processed food on the market in US markets, you understand how significant this issue is. 

It was also in 1996 that the United States began gaining weight. While we were a comparatively healthy country prior to that time, and the majority of us were a normal weight compared with all other developed nations, we are now the most obese nation in the world with the most obese children and we have become one of the unhealthiest wealthiest countries ranking 54th out of 57 today. 

We also have the worst infant survival rate in the developed world. Mind, we have more food and better neonatal care than any other country, but our babies still die at a higher rate than those in all other developed nations. Why? It is our food, and one of the biggest problems with the US food supply is glyphosate. 

There are a couple of other indicators that set us apart from other countries. While most wealthy nations are getting taller and living longer, we are getting shorter and beginning in 2016, also living shorter lives (a first in recorded history unless there was a nuclear event.) 

All of these problems are related to toxins in the food supply and glyphosate is the number one most dangerous toxin in my opinion and therefore at the top of my list of things to avoid if you are trying to manage your weight.

To avoid glyphosate, eat 100% organic, Non-GMO, grass-fed, wild-caught foods as a starting place.

MSG

Many processed foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) a powerful, taste-enhancing amino acid. When foods taste this good, they activate the pleasure centers in the brain. In other words, MSG can produce the same powerful addictive impulses as cocaine and other addictive drugs. So, we have a dual force, it tastes good and it makes us want more. Other factors may also be involved:

  1. Because of the bad name MSG has gotten over the last two decades, food manufacturers don’t want to admit that they are adding it to foods and drinks. So the government allows them to use an ever-growing list of disguised names for glutamate additives.  In fact, they are allowed to put “contains no MSG” on the label, even though various forms of glutamate are used. 
  2. Dr. John Olney, a neuroscientist at Washington University Medical Center, discovered quite accidentally that feeding MSG to mice early in life could result in lifelong obesity that resembled many of the characteristics of human obesity. This obesity was very difficult to correct through diet and exercise.
  3. A study conducted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) found that babies and small children regularly consumed MSG and other forms of glutamate in concentrations high enough to produce brain lesions in lab animals.
  4. It is also known that humans are more sensitive to the toxic effects of dietary glutamate than any other species. And babies are five times more sensitive than adults. 
  5. What’s more, the amount of glutamate food additives has doubled every decade since the early 1950s.
  6. Most junk foods — especially gravies, sauces, processed meats, and chips — contain a number of different glutamate additives. Incredibly, some manufacturers of peanuts are even adding MSG to the salt they use on their product to increase sales. Unfortunately, it works.
  7. Because the majority of glutamate additives are listed under different names, most people won’t recognize the substance even if they see it on the label. Incredibly, the government allows up to 99 percent pure MSG to be added to a food product without it being on the label. 
  8. Of particular concern is the huge amount of glutamate additives that have been found in foods eaten by pregnant women. Evidence shows that glutamate affects the unborn child for life, including contributing to higher rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver damage, and atherosclerosis.

Bottom line: Monosodium glutamate, aka MSG, is one of the most addicting food additives on the market today because it makes any food containing it taste good….. no matter what the food is. 

What to do? READ THE LABEL! If it has any of the things listed in this handy table, don’t buy it.

Sugar

Sugar has been found to be as addicting as heroin and cocaine. Seriously, the rats in the studies preferred the sugar to the heroin or the cocaine. That is saying something. For those of you with a “sweet tooth,“ you know what I’m talking about here. Even though you know you shouldn’t be eating whatever it is with all that sugar in it, you just can’t stop. That is because it is addicting and it tastes so good. 

Two hundred years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1970, we ate 123 pounds of sugar a year, but today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week! This is the average…..

In order to maintain a healthy weight, nutritionists say that Americans should get only 10% of their calories from sugar. This equals 13.3 teaspoons of sugar per day (based on 2,000 calories per day) which I personally think is way too much sugar. The current average is 42.5 teaspoons of sugar per day! Yikes!

Sugar is extraordinarily dangerous for Americans and yet we are mainlining on it. It has been implicated in the obvious suspects such as obesity and diabetes, but also in cancer and Alzheimer’s. It absolutely causes inflammation, which may take many forms and attack many parts of the body. But we just keep right on eating it, like there is no tomorrow.  That’s because sugar addiction is a real thing.  It is probably one of the most common reasons that people cannot lose weight; they cannot give up their drug.  It is very sad because there is so much natural sweetness in the world. Take for instance grapes, Fuji apples or bananas.

One regular size bottle of Coca-Cola has 12 gm of sugar in it. That is a lot of sugar.  Unfortunately, most soda drinkers drink more than one a day. I have patients that buy soda in quart size cups at McDonald’s hoping that it lasts them for a day. 

What to do? Try eating the things that are naturally sweet. It may take a minute, but your taste buds will adapt and your addicted brain will recover.

High-fructose Corn Syrup – Sugar on Steroids

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a chemically manufactured sweetener, made by converting corn’s naturally occurring glucose into fructose, which is far sweeter. It is extremely common in processed foods. Some studies have shown that HFCS consumption produces many of the hallmarks of drug addiction, including intense cravings, an inability to control use, preoccupation with the substance, and withdrawal symptoms. Some researchers point out that  it produces a type of reward in the brain that surpasses even that of cocaine. 

For that reason and that reason alone, it is fattening.  If you cannot resist eating the foods with HFCS, you are in deep doo doo when it comes to managing your calories and ultimately your weight, because it is in most processed foods. 

But HFCS is also one of the most dangerous food pollutants on the market for these reasons as well:

  1. Foods that didn’t used to be sweet, like pasta sauce and soup, are now artificially sweetened to keep consumers craving the product, with sugar levels that can rival those found in packaged desserts.
  2. A tablespoon of the super sweet stuff packs in roughly 53 calories, 14.4 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar.

HFCS is found in everything from ketchup and salad dressing to cereal and breads—foods that aren’t necessarily perceived as sweet — and sometimes even in “healthier” alternatives, like light beer. 

Studies suggest that HFCS intake may increase the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), in which too much fat is stored in liver cells. This is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. Major risk factors of a fatty liver include obesity and type 2 diabetes, though it’s also associated with the intake of HFCS.  The condition usually causes no symptoms, and is generally a benign condition.  The problem is that in a minority of patients, it can progress to liver failure (cirrhosis) which can be a life-threatening condition requiring a liver transplant.

What to do? Read the label and if it says corn anything (syrup or solids) and especially if it says HFCS don’t buy it. 

Sweeteners

So for those of you who think you’ve got the ‘Whole Sugar Thing” figured out because you use artificial sweeteners, think again. Artificial sweeteners are just as fattening as the real thing. And more dangerous.

  1. Aspartame

Aspartame and acesulefame are two of the most common sugar substitutes. Both have been shown to have neurotoxic effects. Aspartate, which is the most controversial artificial sweetener on the market, is derived from Aspartame.  It is the main ingredient in NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and other sugar substitutes found in low calorie prepared foods and diet sodas. 

While there is controversy over the benefits and risks of aspartame, one fact is undisputed, and that is that it gets metabolized, meaning that it doesn’t get excreted in the same form that it is when it is ingested. For this reason, it is life-threatening to individuals with PKU. 

Research has also shown that it is dangerous to the population at large and contributes to obesity.  If all of the above were not bad enough, it has been shown to be a neurotoxin. Yet it remains in our low-calorie foods and is often put into non-low-calorie foods, including baby foods, that aren’t labeled as low calorie. 

Dr. Robert Walton surveyed the studies of aspartame in peer-reviewed medical literature. He states that of the 166 studies relevant for Aspartame’s safety, 74 had Nutrasweet industry related funding and 92 were independently funded. Further, 100% of the research performed by the company that makes Nutrasweet confirmed its safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research found problems with consuming aspartame. Huh! Who’da thunk it?

  1. Components of Aspartame

H.J. Roberts, MD, coined the term “aspartame disease” in a book filled with over 1,000 pages of information about the negative health consequences of ingesting aspartame, which included headache, dizziness, vomiting, memory loss, fibromyalgia etc. Aspartame is composed of Aspartic Acid, Phenylalanine, and Methanol, all of which have serious side effects that have been documented.

  1. Aspartic acid, or aspartate, makes up about 40 percent of aspartame. An excess amount of aspartate in the brain releases free radicals and, in turn, kills neurons by allowing an excess of calcium to be absorbed. The effect? Multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, dementia and Parkinson’s disease are only a few of the chronic illnesses linked to excessive amounts of aspartate over an extended period of time. The FDA has also reported nausea, vision and sleeping problems, migraines and more as side the effects of too much aspartate. 

I have a patient that overcame a serious case of MS by discontinuing the use of her sweeteners. Seriously, Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that would have put her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life and ended her career.

  1. Phenylalanine, is an amino acid that makes up about 50 percent of aspartame. Phenylalanine raises blood phenylalanine levels, which can decrease serotonin, and lead to depression, seizures and even schizophrenia. The depression and low mood make people want more of their diet soft drinks, resulting in an extremely vicious cycle.
  1. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, makes up the remaining 10 percent of aspartame. This is where things get especially dangerous. Methanol breaks down into formic acid, which is harmless, for all animals except humans. In humans the alcohol dehydrogenase, (ADH) enzyme converts methanol into formaldehyde, which wreaks havoc with sensitive proteins and DNA. 

Have you ever smelled a warn soft drink? It smells like formaldehyde…..because it is.

The formaldehyde, or methanol poisoning, is a neurotoxin causing such conditions as:

  1. Headaches
  2. Ear buzzing
  3. Dizziness
  4. Nausea
  5. Gastrointestinal disturbances
  6. Weakness
  7. Vertigo
  8. Chills
  9. Memory lapses
  10. Numbness and shooting pains in the extremities
  11. Behavioral disturbances
  12. Neuritis

Hydrogenated oils

In the oil chart attached you will find that other than the exceptionally healthy saturated fats at the top of the chart, most of the truly dangerous fats are those that are not saturated. That is because they have been hydrogenated and or refined in a way that damages them and makes them both fattening as well as toxic. Good fats are Grass-fed (raw if possible) butter, Ghee, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil and Avocado Oil. 

Thyroid disease

60% of the US population has undiagnosed thyroid disease. The thyroid‘s only job is to burn calories and provide energy. But because it doesn’t do this efficiently or effectively for the vast majority of Americans and because it goes undiagnosed most of the time, people with thyroid disease blame themselves for their sluggish metabolism, get frustrated trying to eat healthy because it doesn’t work and end up bingeing and over eating. In other words, undiagnosed thyroid disease leads to disordered eating and often obesity. Like any good vicious cycle this does more damage to the thyroid.

For example, when the individual compensates by engaging in restricting, bingeing or God forbid, purging, it damages the thyroid even more causing more disordered eating. Even worse is the fact that the thyroid, although it’s primary purpose is metabolism, impacts every organ and system in the body. When it is damaged other organs and systems ultimately fail as well. Rarely is the source of the problem(s) identified and the correct solution(s) applied.  It is for this reason that I have all of my patients get blood work to rule out thyroid disease.  In close to 60% of the cases, they tested positive for thyroid issues. 

Please note that conventional thyroid parameters are too broad and miss most thyroid disease according to the American Endocrinological Association. It is for this reason that I suggest working with a functional endocrinologist/physician who is more likely to accurately diagnose thyroid disease.

Exercise phobia

Many people today find it difficult, if not impossible, to commit to being physically fit. Of course, it got much worse with COVID which is one of the reasons we saw a huge increase in body weight during the COVID pandemic. But generally, many Americans are exercise phobic with or without COVID. 

Maybe gym class was a bummer and you never want to have that experience again or maybe you’re so depressed by our abysmal obesity stats that you can’t rise to the occasion. But there’s no question that exercise is critical to our well-being. It doesn’t have to be extensive and it doesn’t have to take a great deal of time.  Indeed, you don’t even have to leave your house for the exercise to be effective. In fact, the most efficient and effective exercise is called pulse-training and takes only 20 minutes a day. 

In a nutshell it is as follows: 

Pulse training – Uses 4 sets of 5-minute exercises in which you push until you can’t, rest until you can. I do 2 upper body (curls and fly’s) and two lower body (squats and lunges.) For each set, start by doing as many as you can, stop when you cannot do another rep and wait until you can start again. Keep going for 5 minutes with that exercise. At the 5 minute point, move on to next exercise. It’s amazing! You will be sweating, panting, (so you are definitely getting an aerobic workout) and building muscle and all in a 20 minute workout.  I think we can all agree that that is a good deal.

Conclusion

At the beginning of this article, I said that I cannot help people who do not want to change the quality of what they eat.  What I didn’t mention is how amazingly delicious real clean food is.  If you are not mainlining on HFCS, a Fuji Apple is divinely sweet and crunchy.  Likewise, a banana that is not too ripe is blissfully sweet.  And a fish wrap can turn even the most anti-fish eating individual (like me) into a fish lover.  

What I should also mention is that restricting is not an option, as it often leads to even more serious problems than dieting. Restricting actually damages the parts of the brain that regulate eating behavior, not to mention the damage it can do psychologically if you get carried away and end up being anorexic.

I’m just saying clean food is the bomb.  For more information about clean eating check out my Clean Eating Protocol here. Or get in touch and I’ll show you how to make it work for you and how to actually shed that weight and keep it off.


Dr. Renae Norton specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call 513-205-6543 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form for someone to call you to discuss your concerns. Tele-therapy sessions available. Individual and family sessions also available.

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