The Role of Functional Medicine in Effective Weight Management

If you struggle with weight management, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a problem that affects many people, with over a quarter of Canadians living with obesity in 2021. But the good news is that there are strategies that can help. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the things that can contribute to weight gain and give you some tips from a functional medicine practitioner to get you on your way to weight loss success!  

Why Is Weight Management So Difficult?

Weight management is difficult because so many things can impact our weight. While many people believe that weight management is as simple as calories-in, calories-out (i.e., if you eat fewer calories per day than what you expend, you will lose weight), it’s often much more complicated than this. Before you begin (or continue) to blame yourself for your struggles with weight, consider this: 

  1. Food is a big player when it comes to weight management, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
  2. Medical conditions and medications can impact your weight. 
  3. Heavily processed foods are designed to taste good and keep you coming back for more, and these foods are everywhere. 
  4. There is a lot of information online about weight management and it can be very difficult and confusing to navigate. 
  5. Nutrition advice from health care professionals can be vague and generic, which isn’t helpful (i.e., it may sound like, “Eat a healthy diet.”)
  6. Nutrition and other health advice change regularly as we learn more, and while this is a good thing, it can also be frustrating. 

What Conditions Cause Weight Gain?

Many conditions can contribute to weight gain. These include (but are not limited to): 

  • Hypothyroidism (e.g., Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
  • Congestive Heart Failure 
  • Kidney disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia 
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome 
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Depression
  • Menopause or changes in hormone status

In addition to these conditions, there are medications that can cause weight gain, including: 

  • Oral contraceptive pills 
  • Steroids 
  • Some medications used for depression and other mental health disorders 
  • Some diabetes medications
  • Some medications used for blood pressure

Does Functional Medicine Work for Weight Management?

Yes! Functional medicine is very effective for weight management because it uses a holistic, root-cause approach to determine the underlying cause of weight gain. Weight management will look different for everyone, so generic dietary advice is not enough. Functional medicine practitioners will dive deep to identify the contributing factors of weight gain and work with individuals to optimize all aspects of their life to support weight loss. 

In functional medicine, the health of the gut microbiome (the trillions of microbes that live in our gastrointestinal tract) is the cornerstone of each care plan, and given that gut bacteria can contribute to obesity by controlling inflammation as well as energy and fat storage, this is a key component in any weight loss journey.

What Is the Functional Medicine Approach to Diet?

When it comes to diet (or anything in functional medicine for that matter), there is no one-size-fits-all approach; however, the functional medicine approach will involve a shift towards a whole foods diet. A healthy diet will look different for every person, so functional medicine practitioners can work within many different templates to help individuals find a healthy eating pattern that allows them to better manage their weight. 

Most importantly, functional medicine practitioners can help you identify food sensitivities and whether any of the foods you are currently eating are contributing to weight retention by increasing inflammation in your body. 

What Are 5 Healthy Weight Management Strategies?

No matter the cause of your weight gain, there are several things everyone can do to optimize their health and, as a result, better manage their weight. Here are 5 strategies for weight management that you can implement today: 

  1. Aim to eat meals made up of whole, unprocessed foods most of the time. 
  2. Eat protein with each meal to help balance your blood sugar and keep your body feeling full and more satisfied. 
  3. Manage stress levels in order to reduce cortisol, which, when elevated, can contribute to cravings.
  4. Focus on getting high-quality, restorative sleep to keep hormone levels in check. 
  5. Incorporate movement in your everyday life, no matter how much or little you can commit to.  

Final Words

Now that you’ve learned about some of the things that can contribute to weight gain, it’s time to take action. Our clinic specializes in holistic health and we’re here to help you optimize your body – inside and out! Book your appointment today and let’s work together towards a healthier, happier you.