Are You Overweight? Or Mostly Just Inflamed?

By far one of the most common questions that I get is if I can help with weight loss.  It seems to be something that most people want to do at some point in their lives, but also something that people want to see happen quickly and without a great deal of effort.  Perhaps that is just human nature.  But what I see going on out there is that people will tend to start down some particular path, usually involving a gym membership or a fancy piece of equipment, only to lose faith in their program after a month or so with very little to show for it in the end!  It can be very frustrating and bad for moral in general to fail time after time with something so important as one’s health and/or positive self image. So what gives?  Why is it so tough sometimes to lose the weight and keep it off?  Well besides the fact that being an American already predisposes us to be overweight, I want to point out one potentially significant obstacle here that many of you have probably never heard of before.

When considering weight loss there are many opinions floating around out there.  And not just opinions, but well known medical concepts.  First, you have your calorie counters. They have been around a long time and take themselves very seriously.  They know the calorie counts for every food imaginable and even have iPhone apps to help them along the way.  I don’t tend like this mindset because there is just too much going on besides calorie in calorie out to warrant such strict counting.  And I am sad to say that eating just one cookie which contains a few hundred calories would require quite a lengthy jog to burn off.  And that was just one cookie!  It just does not seem like a realistic model to me.  But you also have the low fat people, and the exercise people, and the oatmeal and grapefruit people, and the pre-made meals in boxes people, and the who knows what else people.  And then on the medical side you could be doing everything right, but have a low thyroid condition or an undiagnosed blood sugar condition.  All of these things can be something to consider as individual factors in weight loss although in my opinion there are usually many of these spinning at the same time.  Focusing on one and losing sight of the complicated web of disharmony associated with weight problems will lead to failure every time.  Just increasing your physical activity and eating well may not work in some people who have some of these underlying mechanisms that need fixing first. 

But aside from all of those factors, there is one concept that trumps all of them. This one thing will always precede these factors and will in time lead to weight gain and many other serious health concerns.  Simply put I am talking about inflammation.  And by inflammation I am not talking about a sore ankle.  Yes, that is inflammation too, but systemic inflammation is a different beast entirely. Basically what we are talking about here are little chemicals that the immune system creates that are released into the blood and float around the body wreaking havoc!  There are many different types of these little inflammatory chemicals (called cytokines) but there are two that I want to detail for you here which have a role in weight gain but also work to promote many terrible diseases. 

There are two inflammatory cytokines called Interlukin 1 (IL-1) and Necrosis Factor Kappa Beta (NF-kB) which will actually promote the production of each other.  So once they are activated they then feed forward and activate the other and so on and so forth creating a viscous cycle that is very difficult to turn off.  These cycles are started very often through inflamed and irritated intestines found as a result of the very same foods that get us fat in the first place!  The Standard American Diet (SAD) is extremely inflammatory to the stomach and intestines and has the potential to lead to full blown systemic inflammation. This is one reason we Americans suffer many of the highest rates of deadly diseases on the planet, yet spend much more on healthcare than any other country.  It’s the food people!  And yet people are yelling in the streets about losing the precious Twinkie! 

So what do IL-1 and NF-kB have to do with weight gain?   I find this part to be quite interesting…  Both of these cytokines have the ability to weaken the body’s Insulin Receptors (eventually leading to Insulin Resistance and/or Type II Diabetes).  This in turn will make the body product more Triglycerides which is the stored form of fat found in the fat cells.  When the body can’t use the sugars it has eaten either by this Insulin Resistance concept, or simply by eating too much junk, it stores it as fat in the form of Triglycerides.  (These can cheaply and easily be screened for on a basic blood test. They should be below 100 on a fasting blood test.)  So here you have an inflammatory influence telling the body to store fat which is totally aside from diet and lifestyle!  But that is just the beginning.  Here comes the insult.  These very same cytokines also turn down the activity of an enzyme called Hormone Sensitive Lipase whose job it is to break down stored Triglycerides from within the fat cells into usable energy.  So we have a scenario where we are telling our bodies to store fat at the very same time as we are stopping ourselves from burning it!  You can see the problem.  And to make matters worse…   The more fat the more inflammation!

So now you have an inflamed person (the average American by the way) who has these viscous cycles going on and decides to exercise every day to lose weight.  In fact they plan to run a 10K.  They are 30 pounds overweight and the running hurts to say the least!  This can lead to physical stress to the body causing more inflammation and not only a continuation of the problem but oftentimes a stop to the activity as well.  Add to this the possibility that they may have gluten or dairy sensitivities which are also independently able to stimulate IL-1/NF-kB activity and are directly associated with weight gain in many people.  How much weight can this person realistically lose under these circumstances?  I don’t care what Jenny Craig puts in a pre-packaged, frozen, calorie precise meal.  They are doing nothing to fix the underlying inflammation problem! Am I saying to forget healthy diet and exercise?  Absolutely not.  But I am saying that without considering a few things first you may be doing it in the wrong order and walking (or jogging) yourself into another failed attempt at weight loss.  That I am stating absolutely.

So there is no quick fix.  Weight loss isn’t easy.  And it should take a long time to accomplish!  Any program or miracle pill that produces quick results I am personally afraid of.  In fact losing weight too quickly creates harmful, toxic and inflammatory consequences.  So be careful!  The first step in ANY weight loss program should be finding and fixing the inflammatory roadblocks.  Doing this will not only allow these physiological mechanisms to correct themselves, but will give you more energy, clarity of mind and efficiency in the long run to carry out your particular program.  Not to mention fat will be lost more quickly and with less effort.  How is it done?  Well there are only two compounds currently known that have the ability to effectively shut down the IL-1/NF-kB loop. These compounds are Curcumin, found in the spice Turmeric, and Resveratrol commonly know as the beneficial compound in red wine. When used together there is a powerful synergistic effect.  But these must be taken in high dose.  And at the same time other inflammatory considerations must also be moderated such as a potential gluten sensitivity or a blood sugar condition for example.  So that is where a good blood chemistry analysis can do wonders.  And I would love to start helping find some of these things for you.  Just pick up the phone and call and we can get started!  I have the products you should consider and the knowledge to work up a blood chemistry report for you in wellness based terms.  I will help you not only lose weight, but begin a lifestyle of health and wellness which is the real answer to these concerns.  If we focus on the underlying health the weight should naturally fall away.  But if we focus squarely on the symptom of weight gain and try to act on it directly, failure is unfortunately often the result.  Think holistically, wellness based, slow but steady, and positive minded and allow me to be your guide. 

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation (you can be anywhere in the country), please email me, Jim Chialtas, at  Thank you!