What To Do When Some Clients Just Don’t Lose the Weight.
Are you clients stuck? Has a client ever told you that no matter what he or she does, they are just not losing weight? They are on the same dietary suggestions that your other client is on. You train them the same way, yet they just don’t seem to be shifting enough. Besides struggling with fat loss, some even lack energy and complain of not feeling up to par. You are puzzled and frustrated as a trainer, because you see how hard they work. You do feel that they are eating well and are being honest, yet you see for yourself that the weight is just not budging, nor is there any shift in body composition.
I get it because I have been there too. Before studying naturopathy, I used to shake my head in amazement, thinking for sure that my struggling clients were not being true to themselves and were just simply closet eaters. I now know better and would like to share this knowledge with you.
First a personal story. Years ago, when I was competing in natural (drug tested) body building competitions, I seemed to struggle more than a few of my colleagues with losing those last few pounds (especially around the belly). I was following the typical body building diet–high amounts of lean protein, no fruit or refined sugars, some low glycemic vegetables, some carbs and good fats. The point that I want to emphasize with this type of “diet”, is that I was eating small meals throughout the day. I must say that I looked pretty good, but I did not feel great most of the time. I was constipated for the first time in my life. This period of up and down stomach issues, combined with losing my mother quite suddenly, led me to search out a naturopath for personal growth and awareness. I was so enlightened with what I learned about our miraculous bodies, that I decided to go back to school and become a naturopathy practitioner.
Contrary to the popular belief that we are what we eat … we are NOT. We are what we DIGEST and actually, we can even take it another step and say that we are what we eat … eats.
Digestion is the process used to convert protein into amino acids, carbohydrates into glucose, and fats into fatty acids. Cells are microscopic, so they can’t absorb big structures – they can only absorb the elements found within these converted structures. It is not until protein, carbohydrates and fats are broken down that vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are released into the blood stream.
For the sake of this blog, I am going to only focus on protein digestion … why? Because everyone is overly concerned about protein and too many trainers emphasize protein with their clients when in reality, most people have a hard time digesting protein and here is why.
The breakdown of protein into amino acids takes place in the stomach. The stomach has two functions to perform once the food arrives. First, it acts like a blender. The powerful muscles of the stomach squeeze and release the food into what we call “chyme”. Think of it as an internal smoothie. This action takes place only in the stomach, so if you see undigested food in your stool, it indicates the stomach walls are weak. Although some foods, such as corn, do not break down, beware if you see broccoli, mushroom, or potato pieces in the toilet.
The second function of the stomach is to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL), peptides and intrinsic factors. For a protein to break down, the stomach cells need to produce HCL and this is where many people suffer. Many people do not produce a good quality HCL making protein digestion difficult.
When the food enters the stomach, the body has already started to produce gastrin (a hormone that stimulates production of HCL). As the gastrin begins to move into the bloodstream, it signals the release of HCL and the other gastric juices needed, to convert protein into amino acids.
The chyme then leaves the stomach and enters into the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. This is another important stage of digestion as these acids coming from the stomach need to be alkalized before further digestion can take place.
The liver, gallbladder and pancreas, all have digestive secretions needed to make the chyme alkaline. The liver makes bile (an alkaline mineral needed to alkalize the chyme) and stores it in the gallbladder. The longer the bile remains in the gallbladder, the more concentrated it becomes. Most livers never have a chance to concentrate their bile because people eat far too much acidic (cooked) food. And when we eat every three to four hours, the liver does not have time to process what it has already received. This is toxic for the liver. Added to this, I want to say that for the liver to make a “good quality bile”, it requires minerals such as sulphur, sodium and chloride, yet most diets are deficient in these minerals.
If a diet is deficient in minerals, we experience digestive problems.
Digestion should take place with ease. As a naturopath, we do not see this happening in most people today. Instead, we see gas, bloating, constipation, bowel issues, intolerances, etc. There is much more I can add to the path of digestion. It is a huge process, but for the sake of this blog, I want to focus on a few points that could be hampering your clients from progressing and seeing results in their programs.
When digestion, the first pillar of health, is weak, absorption is compromised and cells become hypo active. This means they do not have enough nutrients to do their work. If the thyroid gland doesn’t have enough nutrients, then it cannot do it’s job properly. The job of the thyroid gland is to create a hormone called thyroxin which regulates body temperature which is the rate of which the body burns calories. Some people call this metabolism and say that their slow metabolism is to blame when in reality, it’s the poor digestion and lack of nutrients. All of these compounding issues will lead to none-weight loss.
Now You Know, What Do You Do?
As a trainer, the first thing you can do if you see a client stuck in their progress is ask a few questions about how they feel after eating. They might not be thinking about it. Often, I see clients who are so used to the way they feel, they don’t realize it is not right.
Here are some sample questions you may ask:
- Do you feel like your food is just sitting in your belly?
- Do you ever feel bloated?
- Do you ever feel tired?
- Are you burping?
- How is your elimination?
- Do you see undigested food?
- Are your stools too loose, too hard?
These are all signs that digestion is weak.
Referring your clients out to a licensed naturopath can be the best way for you to get your clients out of their rut if they are stuck!
To find out more, check out France Michaelson’s soon-to-be-released book. Let’s Practice Health. Learn Why Your Gut is the CEO of Your Health.
About the Author
Based in the West Island of Montreal, Frances Michaelson, N.D. is author of several publications including her upcoming book, Let’s Practice Health: Learn Why Your Gut Is the CEO of Your Health.
With over three decades of experience and a broad knowledge base, Frances is widely recognized as a leader in the health and fitness field. She is the former owner of Muscleup Inc., an exercise product distribution company, which she founded and operated for over 20 years. Frances is a licensed naturopath in Quebec and has been a personal trainer for the past 17 years. She is also an avid health and fitness blogger and a frequent conference presenter. She can be found on her website www.livethewow.ca