Maintaining Weight While Following a Healthy Lifestyle: Strategies and Tips
Maintaining a healthy weight while following a healthy lifestyle is a common concern for individuals who are already at their ideal weight or underweight. They often worry about embarking on a new lifestyle that may lead to further weight loss. In this article, we will explore effective strategies and tips on how to maintain or gain weight while following a healthy lifestyle. By focusing on gut health, addressing underlying causes, and making appropriate dietary adjustments, you can achieve your weight goals without compromising your overall well-being.
Eating for Gut Health and Weight Maintenance
Proper digestion and absorption of nutrients are crucial for maintaining weight or achieving weight gain. If your gut is inflamed and leaky due to prolonged illness, autoimmune disease, or conditions like Candida overgrowth, SIBO, or IBS, your body may struggle to effectively digest and absorb food. This can hinder weight gain despite consuming an adequate amount of calories.
To promote gut health and weight maintenance, it is essential to adhere strictly to the dietary guidelines of your chosen program. Start by eliminating toxic foods from your diet, including sugar, alcohol, caffeine, junk food, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs. If you have an autoimmune disease, it is also recommended to avoid grains, legumes, and nuts. By removing these inflammatory foods for a period of 30 days, you allow your gut to repair itself as the gut cells regenerate rapidly.
During the healing period, focus on consuming foods that your body is designed to digest, such as meats, vegetables, and fruits. These foods are rich in essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that promote healing and support gut health. Once your gut has healed and your weight stabilizes or starts to increase, you can gradually reintroduce foods one at a time to identify any sensitivities that may cause inflammation in your body. This process helps you personalize your diet and find the perfect balance that suits your unique needs, laying the foundation for lifelong health. If you haven't started a program yet, there are various resources available to help you implement these dietary guidelines easily.
Overcoming Underlying Causes of Weight Loss
In some cases, weight loss may persist even after adopting a healthy lifestyle and following an anti-inflammatory, gut-healing diet. It is important to explore potential underlying health issues that could contribute to weight loss. Here are four possible causes and the appropriate steps to address them:
Malabsorption: Factors such as infections, medications, toxins, and food sensitivities can lead to malabsorption. A comprehensive stool test ordered by a functional medicine doctor can help identify the specific cause of malabsorption and guide the appropriate treatment.
Overactive Thyroid: Hyperthyroidism, characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, can result in rapid weight loss. Testing for thyroid function should include a complete thyroid workup, as conventional tests may not provide a comprehensive evaluation. Consulting with an endocrinologist is recommended for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Small Bowel Infections: Small bowel infections, such as Candida overgrowth or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), can disrupt nutrient absorption. Tests like hydrogen breath tests can help diagnose these conditions, and adopting a low-carb diet is often recommended to starve the bacteria or yeast causing the infection. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional specializing in gut health is advisable.
High Basal Metabolic Rate: Some individuals naturally have a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), which makes it challenging to gain weight. Adjusting the diet and making strategic dietary changes can help maintain a healthy weight. Increasing caloric intake, incorporating calorie-dense foods, and focusing on strength training exercises can aid in weight gain for individuals with a high BMR.
Fine-Tuning Your Diet for Weight Gain and Maintenance
After adopting a clean diet and addressing underlying causes, fine-tuning your diet is crucial for weight gain or maintenance. Consider the following tips to optimize your diet and lifestyle:
Track Caloric Intake: Temporarily using calorie and fitness trackers can help identify if you're not consuming enough calories, especially if you're regularly exercising. These tools estimate your optimal daily calorie intake based on your height, weight, gender, and activity level.
Incorporate Complex Carbohydrates: If Candida or SIBO is not an issue, include more complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes or squashes in your diet. These carbohydrates provide sustained energy without causing sharp spikes in blood sugar levels.
Increase Healthy Fat Consumption: Consuming healthy fats is beneficial for overall health and can contribute to weight gain. Incorporate sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil into your diet. These healthy fats provide a dense source of calories and essential nutrients.
Utilize Protein Shakes: Consider incorporating high-quality, paleo-friendly protein shakes into your routine to boost overall calorie intake. Protein shakes can be a convenient way to increase your protein and calorie consumption. Ensure the protein shake aligns with your dietary preferences and offers adequate nutritional value.
Maintaining weight or gaining weight while following a healthy lifestyle requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes gut health, addresses underlying causes, and fine-tunes your diet. By focusing on healing the gut, identifying and addressing potential health issues, and making appropriate dietary adjustments, you can achieve your weight goals without compromising your overall well-being.
Remember that everyone's journey is unique, and it may require some experimentation to discover what works best for your body. By incorporating these strategies and tips, you can confidently navigate the path to maintaining a healthy weight and promoting lifelong health.
Dr. Grace - Founder of The Gut Institute