The missing link in the weight loss

Obesity  is shortening  the  human life

Weight loss is the most common topic discussed on the social media. The most recent data indicates that over 60% of Australians and New Zealanders are overweight or obese.13, 14 Despite some 40% of the population ‘trying’ to lose weight,15 obesity continues to increase, and research suggests that more people are now dying from obesity-related causes than from smoking.16. 


Why weight loss is difficult for some people?

There are so many weight loss programs and only some of them may work. Why? There are many reasons. People do not stick to them and think only short term like ” fitting into that wedding dress”, but not in terms of a lifetime lifestyle. If losing weight involved only exercise and/or eating less we would not have the obesity epidemic.

Some people cannot lose weight regardless of what they eat and this is due to complex underlying chronic conditions such as fatty liver, inflammatory diseases, hormonal such as Hashimoto’s or underactive thyroids, stress, digestive disorders, toxicity or diabetes. Unless the underlying causes are addressed weight loss is not going to happen. In my Clinic, I work on that principle and regardless of what disease the patient presents with,  weight loss occurs automatically as a bonus.  This is why most weight loss programs fail as they start and the end of the process rather than from i ts beginning. How long for someone can be excited about juicing kale ( which is harmful anyway) every morning, counting calories or points. Any successful weight loss program needs to be tailored,   practical and achievable.

Set-Point Theory

A highly significant finding is that body weight is under unconscious physiological control, in much the same way as the body maintains homeostasis of blood pressure, blood glucose, temperature and pH. Mechanisms in the brain register a ‘weight’ (actually a weight range), which becomes the individual’s metabolic set-point; this is then maintained or ‘defended’ against disruptions.17 So, despite variations in food intake, activity and other factors, a person’s weight will ordinarily be maintained within this relatively narrow range.18 Though a person’s weight may rise above or drop below the set-point for various reasons, it will recalibrate to that range again remarkably rapidly.19 Clinically, this results in patients who find it difficult to put weight on – as well as those who struggle to keep lost weight off.

Food loaded with sugar works on a reward (dopaminergic) pathway this is why it is so addictive.

Determination of the bodyweight set-point is a complex process involving  many hormones such as leptin, insulin, ghrelin and other signalling factors. These combine to affect hunger and appetite (including the perception of food as reward); energy expenditure (both resting metabolism and activity); as well as fat mass and its rate of accumulation.20, 21 Adequate sleep22and exercise are also important in regulating the set-point.

Collectively these findings demonstrate that while a sustained positive energy balance (energy intake greater than energy expenditure) assuredly does contribute to obesity; there is growing evidence that an important additional factor is disordered energy homeostasis, and a set-point that is too high.23 So, how does this occur?


It’s a Matter of Survival

Primitive, evolving humans – whether paddling across the Pacific Ocean, going walkabout across Australia or surviving winter in the Rocky Mountains, had one major nutritional requirement – fat. Fat is stored energy, fat is survival. Humans are genetically programmed to conserve fat at any and every opportunity. Consuming naturally sweet foods, when they were available, was a way our primitive ancestors obtained their carbohydrate sources (fruits, roots and tubers, honey) – providing instant energy short-term, and with any excess energy stored as fat.

The ‘best’ survival food therefore provides both short- and long-acting energy: namely, carbohydrates and fat. Modern society presents an overabundance of these, often as the ‘hyperpalatable’ sweet, fatty foods so common in fast-food outlets or as packaged supermarket items. Eternally concerned with survival, the brain raises the set-point when fed these foods to maximise consumption.24 Whilst food choices made by each individual are still of significance; research shows that obese people may be more susceptible to making poor food choices due to overstimulation of the dopaminergic reward centres in the brain; leading to overconsumption of calorie dense foods.

Fortunately, reversing the process, i.e. lowering the set-point to cause the body to automatically lose weight – is possible and doesn’t only involve a restrictive diet. While that may initially support weight loss, a more holistic approach is to incorporate a naturally satiating ‘hypopalatable’ approach (which actually equates to a wholefood, nutrient-rich, low-energy-density diet), along with personalised behavioural change education and support – proven to help patients achieve their desired weight goal.


Reduce Carbohydrates or Fat, Maintain Protein

Recent research has shown that diets  controlling for either fat or carbohydrates can result in equivalent weight losses.27 It has been found that reducing either carbohydrates or fat will down-regulate the set-point to enable weight loss; as will maintaining a sufficient protein intake (approximately 30% of the diet). Adequate protein is important during weight loss as it produces greater satiety,28 increases thermogenesis, and helps maintain muscle mass. Useful sources of supplementary protein include whey, soy (or a combination of the two), pea, and collagen.

Shaking up the Shake-It Program

The Shake It Practitioner Weight Management Program available at Our Clinic it now incorporates three phases :

  1. Intense: The initial six weeks of the program help patients implement their new eating plan and establish new behaviours, supported by more intensive behavioural change education provided by our  Practitioner. For improved compliance, a choice of two eating plans is now available on the program, with the choice made primarily upon patient preference. Both plans incorporate adequate protein with either low-fat or low-carbohydrate, low-to-moderate palatability wholefoods. Strict adherence to the selected dietary plan during the intense phase helps maximise weight loss when patient motivation is typically at its highest.
  2. Pulse: Research shows that people lose more weight and body fat with intermittent rather than continuous dieting.29 Two week diet breaks, cycled with two weeks back on the prescribed eating plan, prevent metabolic adaptation – the slowing of metabolism to compensate for reduced energy availability.30 Diet breaks contribute to a lowering of the set-point, as well as providing a psychological rest from strict adherence to the dietary aspect of the program. This pulse phase continues until the patient’s ideal or target weight is achieved.
  3. Maintain: This final phase of the program is a transition to the Wellness Program for Weight Management, based upon a protein-rich, Mediterranean-style diet along with specific exercise guidelines. This will help maintain the patients lowered set-point and weight, as well as help with appetite control and cravings.

Danuta Hulajko, Naturopath in a consultation with a patient

Regular Practitioner contact is a key feature throughout the program to monitor, support and motivate patients as well as facilitate behavioural change using evidence-based behavioural change techniques. Invaluable resources include the comprehensive Patients Guide, which incorporates step by step instructions on all aspects of the program including details of the behavioural change techniques relevant to weight loss  aS hake It Patient Booklet including a six week health journal, and the Your Shake It Journey option  that support key learnings regarding the behavioural, nutritional and exercise habits that all contribute to lasting weight loss.

Once patients target weight is achieved, our Practitioner support at routine intervals helps you continue to monitor your patients – helping prevent any return of unhelpful behaviours or some additional contributing factor (such as inflammation, stress, or toxicity) that could create an elevation of the bodyweight set-point once more.

Through the implementation of the Shake It Program, only natural healthcare Practitioners are in a unique position to assist patients to reduce their caloric intake without feeling hungry, allowing them to lose weight while simultaneously resetting their metabolic set-point. Importantly, this program provides a holistic approach by also addressing the role of the gut microbiome and digestive health on successful weight management; the role of stress and sleep; and the abovementioned behavioural change strategies needed to educate patients on how to make lifelong changes, promote healthy behaviours and enable them to maintain their weight loss into the future.

For more information on Weight Loss or the Shake It Program contact Danuta Hulajko on 02 9541 2428.

If you would like to know more about how the DH-Natural Medicine Clinic can help you,  please call us now on (02) 4854 0205 

Danuta Hulajko is a holistic practitioner, international speaker and the founder & practitioner at the DH Natural Medicine Clinic and in the Southern Highlands, NSW.

Danuta specialises in Allergies, Anti-Aging, Auto-Immune Conditions, Cardiovascular Conditions, Female Reproductive, Menopause, Mould Toxicity, Skin Conditions, Stress and Insomnia and Thyroid Dysfunction.

For more information please go to our website. You can also follow Danuta Hulajko’s work, events, seminars, expos, latest health research, her health tips and advice on FacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.


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