North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

How to cut the cord of yo-yo dieting


August 2, 2017 | View PDF

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Cutting the amount of sugar we consume will help us stop the yo-yo dieting.

Have you ever felt like you gain five pounds if you so much as look at a cookie? You aren't alone. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are overweight, and it's not for lack of trying to diet and exercise. The problem is that simple diet changes and exercise alone just don't do the trick. Our bodies have been trying to adapt to our eating habits over the last 50+ years and unfortunately our bodies can't keep up. The issue is more complex and has to do with our insulin and insulin resistant cells.

The amount of sugar the average American eats is nearly 40 times higher than it was 100 years ago, 40 times. We now eat close to 200 pounds of sugar per person, per year. That sugar is wreaking havoc on our bodies and our metabolism. When we consume foods high in sugar it causes the blood sugar to rise. Foods that are high in sugar are not just candy and cookies, this also includes starchy vegetables like potatoes, breads, crackers and some dairy items which are high in carbohydrates, these carbs turn to sugar in the body. When our blood sugar is high the body wants to defend itself, and get the sugar out of the blood.

To move the sugar out of the blood and into the cell, where we use the sugar for energy, the body needs the hormone insulin. The pancreas secrets the insulin. One hundred years ago, when we had little sugar in our diet this was a simple and standard process for the body to handle. Now that we have multiplied that amount to nearly 40 times the amount of insulin we secret is astronomical. For many of us, our cells have become insulin resistant, because we have over produced the insulin.

Once we have overwhelmed our cells and caused them to be insulin resistant they are now less able to burn fuel than before. Once we are insulin resistant we can no longer properly use the glucose from our food. Our blood sugars stay elevated and the pancreas is forced to produce even more insulin, the trouble is now that the body will then store that excess glucose in the fat cell. This is why we then store everything as fat and when we eat a cookie we retain it all as fat, rather than using it for fuel and going on about our day.

Once we have gained some weight by being insulin resistant and decided to make a change it is very difficult to so by simple calorie reduction and exercise. If we eat the same type of foods only less of them, which is a hypocaloric (low calorie) diet, we stay insulin resistant and put our bodies into starvation mode. We may lose a little weight but we are also reducing our BMR. Our BMR is Basal Metabolic Rate, or the number of calories we would burn in a day with no activity. Each time we do a fad diet or calorie restrictive program we are usually lowering our BMR, thus making it harder to maintain the new weight and causes the yo-yo effect and slows our metabolism. A slowing metabolism means we must eat less to maintain that new weight.

There are many ways to lose weight but it is important to go about it by looking at the science of the body and not simply cutting calories. The good news is that it can be done and you can improve your BMR and metabolism and improve your inulin sensitivity.

The best way to begin is to reduce our sugar consumption. Monitor your intake for a day to see where you are starting, don't forget to count the juices, coffees and energy drinks, they are full of sugar. Once you have a starting point commit to cutting it down each day. This will help lower the amount of insulin the body needs to lower the blood sugar each day and begin to improve the insulin sensitivity.

Small changes will add up, keep making smart changes every day.

Emily Countryman is a board certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness located at 2639 172nd St. NE Suite 104 in Smokey Point/Marysville She can be reached online at


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