When eating less and exercising more doesn’t work

I don’t like things to be more difficult than necessary. While I admit that basic nutrition isn’t rocket science, medical nutrition therapy is different. It’s a carefully guided process, which includes assessment, intervention and evaluation of a patient by a licensed and registered dietitian.

When the common sense approach of eating less and exercising more doesn’t work, nutrition becomes a little more complicated.

A lot of times this applies to those stuck in a weight plateau or a pattern of belly fat trouble where the body’s hormones are controlling the storage or use of body fat ineffectively. Or maybe a medical condition is present, like diabetes, a gluten allergy, thyroid dysfunction or sleep apnea. These are cases in which the science is more critical, and there are definite right and wrong solutions, and nutrition gets more complicated.

Recently, a diabetic male who had struggled with his weight for years contacted me for guidance. After reviewing his medical history and present state of health, I knew we needed a nutrition plan that included specifics about timing his nutrients throughout the day, and more specifically around workouts, to best manage his blood sugar. Beyond that, we needed to improve the efficiency of his insulin by choosing the right types of exercises mixed with the right foods.

We added strength training and cardio intervals, which is shown to improve blood sugar control. Progressing from walking, to elliptical training, to running, he is now able to run over two miles without stopping. We included more soluble fiber and lean proteins to his diet, and balanced his carbohydrate intake, to provide a more even release of blood sugar.

Six months of training and diet tweaks later, this client has discontinued one of his diabetes medications and one of his blood pressure pills, and has lost 35 pounds.

Even those without diabetes can benefit from this more “scientific” strategy, as improving insulin sensitivity can benefit your metabolism. When hormones like insulin work more efficiently, food calories are used up quicker, instead of being stored. The body recognizes calories as “useable” energy.

Tightening up your belt might mean tightening up your approach, beyond simply eating less and exercising more. When the “rocket science” approach is required, get your advice from a licensed professional, not from the internet or the latest diet book. Search for a registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist on www.eatright.org.