Inflammation Prevents Weight Loss

In my office, I see a steady parade of patients who tell me that they have been eating well and exercising… but the pounds just won’t come off. It’s so frustrating for them, and many of them feel like their doctors simply don’t believe them and assume that they’re not telling the truth about their diet or lifestyle. This is an incredibly common problem.

These people are not deceiving their doctors… they’re telling the truth and some fancy new biochemistry studies have recently helped to explain why this happens. These folks are have a problem called weight loss resistance.

This new biochemistry research, conducted at the University of Bonn, will have huge implications for people who are trying to lose weight. It involves a new understanding of how specific inflammatory markers (which can be found in the bloodstream) can cause resistance to weight loss. Chronic inflammation causes high levels of these markers in the blood…which in turn, inhibits the body’s ability to turn white fat into brown fat.

Brown fat is the type of fat you want — it enhances your metabolism and allows your body to burn fat more effectively. White fat is the opposite, it’s the kind that can be very difficult to shed. When white fat is converted into brown fat, weight loss happens much more easily. So, elevated levels of inflammation in the blood can make it much more difficult to lose weight, despite improvements in diet and exercise. It’s a frustrating roadblock for those people suffering from chronic inflammation.

The solution to overcoming this roadblock is to do everything you can to reduce inflammation, which starts with a focus on an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. The place to start is with a whole-food plant-based approach that is rich in “good fats” like the omega-3s found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados. Including some cold water fish is a great idea, because it is high in these types of healthy fats (the kind that don’t actually make you “fat”).

This study is also a strong case for including herbs and spices such as turmeric and boswellia into your diet, as these have been shown to help reduce inflammatory markers. Although they are not “weight loss pills,” they can help your body to correct the resistance to weight loss.

In fact, natural products like turmeric and boswellia act upon some of the same biochemical targets found to affect white fat to brown fat conversion in the University of Bonn study. For one example of the research, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) helped to stimulate cGMP, the same biochemical messenger found to influence the conversion of white fat to brown.

This new research sheds a lot of light on why some people have such a hard time losing weight, even if they’re doing all the right things. If the struggle to lose weight sounds familiar to you, put your focus on decreasing inflammation, along with keeping up a healthy, active lifestyle and you’ll soon see the pounds coming off much more easily.

Take good care,

Dr. Josh