Our Educational Content is Not Meant or Intended for Medical Advice or Treatment
Here, we’re going to answer a question from a client who asked, “Dr. Berg, I’m trying all these diets to lose weight, I’m eating healthy, I’m exercising - and nothing is working. What do I do? Help.”
The short version: you have to focus on reducing cortisol and insulin - the two major fat-making hormones in your body - if you want to lose that stubborn weight for good. That’s it.
Let’s explain this tip from the beginning.
In this article: -
- You have to Focus on the Don’ts
- Two Main Culprits – Insulin & Cortisol
- Why Are Insulin and Cortisone So Bad?
- How Do You Get Rid of Cortisol and Insulin?
- Mindsets That Don’t Work
You Have to Focus on the “Don’ts”
I’m going to use my book here, The 7 Principles of Fat Burning. We’re going to turn to chapter 9, which has to do with the 10 fat-burning triggers and blockers.
This is probably the most important thing that I can tell you about losing weight and no one does this. In fact, you’re not going to find this on the Internet at all. You can do a Google search weight loss tips and you’re not going to find it - there’s just way too much information about weight loss and it’s too buried in all the info that’s out there.
Now, I want you to ingrain this in your brain and write it down because this is the most important tip that you can follow to lose pounds.
Overall, there are two mindsets that people can have.
First, they can focus on doing certain things. Second, they can prioritize not doing certain things.
Sounds simple enough, but the important point here is that these two actions are not equal. Not doing certain things is at least 80% more important than doing certain things when it comes to losing weight.
The single most important action you can take it to put your time, effort, and energy into avoiding certain things that sabotage your weight loss progress.
Let me give you an illustration here. I did a seminar at Curves once, and I’ll never forget it. It was a great seminar and it was packed with people who were absolutely loving it. They were having sudden realizations, they were clapping, applauding, and giving a lot of great information.
About halfway through the seminar, this lady raised her hand. She said, “Dr. Berg, this is very interesting but how do we know that you’re not a quack?” All my attention went onto that lady for the rest of the seminar. I completely lost focus on any positives because that one little negative thing destroyed all the great things that I was getting from that seminar.
The point is that it’s the little things that can really destroy a lot of good when it comes to weight loss. And you have to cut out those little things to get significant weight loss results. Even if 100 other positive things had happened during that seminar, it wouldn’t have undone what she said. To fix that experience, the most effective thing would have been if she hadn’t said it at all.
The Two Main Culprits: Insulin and Cortisol
In the body, there are six fat-burning hormones. There are also three fat-making hormones, but we’re just going to talk about two of them right now. One is called cortisol, and the other one is called insulin. Insulin is triggered by sugar, and cortisol is triggered by stress.
If and cortisol are present in any amount in your body, they will dominate, crush, and destroy all the good weight loss stuff that you’re doing.
These are the weight loss sabotagers that you have to avoid, and the six fat-burning hormones are the helpers that you have to trigger to start burning calories and fat.
So, if you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping, then you’re 99% there and you're probably going to start losing weight. That said, if you also have too much of either of these fat-creating hormones, you’re not going to see weight loss results as fast, especially if you’re in your 50s or beyond.
Now, maybe it would work if you’re 18 because your other hormones are really working and your metabolism is super fast (so you burn calories no matter what). But it won't work as you get a little bit older and your metabolism slows.
Why Are Insulin and Cortisone So Bad?
Let’s look first at insulin. Insulin appears in the body to help lower your blood sugar. If you eat sugar, insulin is released to keep it from getting out of control. The problem, though, is that people today eat too much sugar. Their bodies are constantly overloaded with it - which means that they’re also overloaded with insulin.
In response, the cells start blocking insulin. They become insulin resistant. When this happens, your body can no longer do a number of things. First, it can’t effectively lower your blood sugar. If you still eat a lot of sugar, it just sits in the cells and the insulin can’t get to it. This can contribute to diabetes, weight gain, extra fat, and a bunch of other long-term health issues.
Second - insulin helps carry important minerals in and out of the cell, including potassium. With insulin resistance, that can no longer happen. You’re more likely to develop potassium deficiency, which can cause a whole range of health concerns of its own.
In short, then, insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight and harder to stay healthy. Not great overall.
And what about cortisone?
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that actually works to get rid of inflammation in the body. And it actually has a really important function in response to stress. Today, though, there are a lot of people that have issues with their cortisol levels: they either have low cortisol due to adrenal fatigue or cortisol resistance where it’s low in certain parts of their body and high in others.
This can lead to tons of inflammatory conditions ranging from autoimmune conditions to skin problems to poison ivy - even arthritis. It can also lead to a condition called Addison’s, which is essentially an adrenal burnout that causes people to have inflammation everywhere in their bodies. John F Kennedy had it, and it generally requires that you take a steroid like prednisone to treat it.
All of this can ultimately cause - you guessed it - weight gain. And, again, this can be really hard to remedy once you're dealing with these larger cortisol-related health concerns.
How Do You Get Rid of Cortisol and Insulin?
First: Avoid Stress
So, the most important thing to do is to spend more time reducing your body’s stress.
That can mean obvious choices like:
- Sleeping more
- Avoid stressful situations and people
It can also require less obvious stress-relief remedies related to inflammation and hidden stress inside the body.
First, you can address old injuries.
This is an important one to talk about because most people don’t think about past injuries when they’re facing their present inflammation, stress, or weight loss concerns. They think “It was a long time ago, it’s fine,” but the reality is that there’s a huge connection.
The inflammation will stay there, and it will manifest itself as a low-grade stiffness in the joint and stress on the body that simply comes about because it’s been damaged and there’s not a lot of circulation anymore.
Similarly, you can make sure that you’re free of infection. Inflammation and infection is, at its core, a big part of the immune system. It comes about because the body is starting to attack certain pathogens or threats.
The problem is that a lot of people have either big infections or consistent, low-grade infections that evoke this immune response.
For example, a lot of people have ongoing infections that they don't know anything about, including:
- Yeast or candida
- Viruses in certain parts of their body
- Bacterial infections or an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria
- Diseases like Lyme
Even a tooth that’s damaged can leak bacteria back into the system or into the heart and it can settle in there. Really commonly, people have small microbes called nanobacteria in the body that are really hard to get rid of. These bacteria develop a calcium shell to protect themselves, so they can be tricky to identify or kill.
These microbes create inflammation and create problems in your kidney, inflammation in your heart, and tartar in the teeth. The biggest thing you’ll notice with this kind of infection is fatigue.
Once again, though, it’s all stress on the body that could be going unchecked.
Second: Avoid Sugar
And also doing things to avoid sugar. That could be spending more time preparing your meals for the week so you don’t end up on Wednesday with no food and have to eat some sugar.
It could be avoiding certain parties and things if you know there’s going to be sugar or even eating before you go.
It’s much more important to eliminate cravings and to prepare for the day so you don’t end up craving things that will make you gain weight than it is to eat healthily.
Mindsets That Don’t Work
Now, many people tell me, “Dr. Berg, I want to eat what I want, but I’ll just exercise harder to burn off more calories and start losing weight.”
That won’t work. Physical activity can help you lose belly fat and body weight, but only to a certain extent. And again, if you're dealing with insulin resistance or cortisone resistance, your body will hold onto those extra pounds and that extra body fat.
That's why focusing on exercise alone is not an effective weight to lose weight.
Everything in Moderation
Or, “Everything in moderation. If I do it a little bit, it’ll be fine.” But see, they don’t know the importance of the don’t’s over the do’s. They’re putting way more attention on the do’s - and on the fat-burning hormones - than on the fat-creating hormones.
The reality is, though, that you can maintain the problems of insulin resistance or cortisone resistance with just a little bit of sugar or a little bit of stress. If you already have these issues, any of these things at all will prolonge the problems - and you won’t see any significant weight loss results.
Low Fat and Low Calorie
Another mindset that doesn't work? The low-fat or calorie-restrictive mindset. People load up on protein and "healthy carbs" while trying to pick low-fat, sugar-free foods. This will never work for people that have insulin resistance.
Fat is the only food that actually doesn't trigger insulin in the body. Both protein and carbs do. So a low-fat diet will never allow you to address the problem. Plus, if you deprive yourself of calories, you will likely ultimately end up overeating and your body will hold on to whatever fat you do consume.
Listen; there are lots of science-backed, great diets out there that do have health benefits. And people try a lot of different things, including low-carb diets, plant-based diets, high-protein diet, keto, paleo ... the list goes on. There are weight loss tips that are good ideas here, like:
- Consuming healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and coconut oil
- Eating and drinking antioxidant-rich foods like berries or green tea
- Avoiding high-calorie, bad-for-you foods
- Incorporating a lot of healthy, nutrient-rich vegetables
- Eating complex carbohydrates like whole grains
But, again, this won't address the problem and help you lose pounds if you're dealing with out-of-control fat-creating hormones. You have to address these at the source for any diet to work.
So that is the secret of how to hit your weight loss goals when nothing works. Shift your attention to focusing on insulin and cortisol and I promise that you’ll be way more successful.
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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.