Integrative Weight management by Dr Udit Khanna

Updated: May 29, 2020

Weight Management is so much more than just diet and exercise. It is a complicated process, with inputs from many systems. I will try to simplify this as best I can.

We all ingest food to supply our body with fuel, vitamins and minerals. Assuming that our gut is working perfectly, when we ingest food, the food is digested and absorbed. What happens to the food after absorption depends on many factors.

I will give the analogy of Lego blocks. Imagine we are presented with a castle made out of Lego blocks. To get it into 'our house', we will need to break it apart (digest) and take the individual blocks in (absorb). Now that the blocks are in our 'home', we may decide to build a house (rather than castle). So, even though we took in all the blocks of a castle, we decided to build something entirely different depending on the need inside our home. If we did not have a particular block, we will dismantle something else in our home to get the required block. Essentially this is somewhat similar to what happens in our bodies after we eat food.

If we just concentrate on the diet and exercise, we have not changed any of the factors that determine what happens to the food once it has been absorbed.

Chemical messengers control our body functions and may also explain why we sometimes are unable to loose weight despite calorie restriction. Chemical messengers are like hormones. I do not use the word ‘Hormones’ because it has come to signify specific hormones like thyroid, cortisol, progesterone, oestrogen, etc.

If our chemical messenger profile favours weight preservation or weight gain, our body will reduce the basal metabolic rate, make us tired and make our brain foggy so that we burn less energy, and use that energy saved into building our body mass. So, in this scenario, all we have achieved by calorie restriction is a hungry, tired, aching body, with an irritable mind, a brain-fog …. and frustration. So, how do we know what the imbalance is, and how do we fix it? Everybody is different - has a different body composition, burns fuel differently, has different motivations for choosing his/her food, has different lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, leisure), and therefore we need an individualistic approach.

A purely diet or supplement/medicine based approach usually requires a concentrated effort and will-power. It may work for some people. However there is another way.

Many factors affect our weight (through the chemical messengers). I have listed a few below:

- Timing & type of meal and any symptoms post meal.

- Timing and type of exercise in relation to meal/psychological state, and any symptoms post exercise.

- Sleep (a well rested body burns more energy): Sleep is a vast topic and I will be writing about it separately.

- Psychological state / Motivations. e.g. happy, content, stress, anxiety, relationship issues, etc.

- Medications / Alcohol / Smoking

- Any medical condition(s) or inflammation that may affect the above.

Do not ignore the symptoms. Remember, our body speaks to us through the language of symptoms. I am here to help and guide you, call me today to discuss further.

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