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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

Yo-yo Dieting and Weight Control

Contributing Author: Hansen, Richard D.M.D.

Richard HansenDr. Hansen received his BS in biological sciences from USC in 1972 and his degree in dentistry from Washington University in 1976. He is the member of over 16 professional societies, and is on the faculty at UCLA. Dr. Hansen's practice in Fullerton was the actual FDA clearance site for laser treatment. He is extensively published in magazines, journals, and popular press and has appeared on several television programs including Good Morning America, The Discovery Channel, ABC-CBS- and NBC News. 

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I have a teen client who can't eat more than 1,100 calories a day without gaining three to four pounds in a day. She does an hour of cardio and strength training every day. She is 5'6" and weighs 132. Her ideal weight is 125. Her diet is healthy. I assumed it was her thyroid; but after having it checked, her TSH is below 2.5. Any suggestions?


This is a common theme with most Americans these days. We either see most people eating lots of C.R.A.P. (Caffeine, Refined/Processed foods, Alcohol or Aspartame, and Pasteurized Milk) within some fad diet program, or cutting calories to lose weight. I can tell you from my clinical experiences that neither one works. Remember, it takes life to give life!

The body actually needs about 1,500 calories a day just to survive. The body is a fine-tuned piece of machinery that needs the right amount of energy for things to happen, be produced, eliminated, and so forth. We actually need more than 1,500 calories when we are active, are in school and thinking a lot, have kids, are pregnant, and so forth, to keep up with the energy demands of our activities. The Chinese believe that the more we think, the more we use our spleens (which makes Qi and blood), and the more Qi- and blood-deficient we become. This deficiency can lead to a lot of issues, with internal stagnation being one of them. In TCM, excess weight is typically a result of Qi or blood stagnation.

The thing I see most frequently is that a lot of people yo-yo diet. There are many downfalls to doing this, including:

  1. You don’t learn anything from dieting. All you learn is how to imprison yourself for three to six months. Nutrition is a lifestyle that needs to be taught in a way that can be applied and followed for a lifetime!
  2. You create more lipogenic enzymes (fat storing enzymes) each time you diet.
  3. You decrease the amount of lipolytic enzymes (fat burning enzymes) each time you diet.
  4. You increase the size of your fat cells each time you diet.
  5. You decrease your lean body mass and basal metabolic rate.
  6. Each effort at dieting makes it harder to restore your normal basal metabolic rate.
  7. You create insulin and problems related to managing your blood sugar, which most of the time create fat storage and hypoglycemic symptoms, or cravings!
  8. When your insulin level rises, your estrogen level rises, which creates estrogen dominance (not enough progesterone to oppose estrogen). You can read up on this in work done by Ray Peate (
  9. When dieting, which is a stress, the body converts more hormonal precursors (cholesterol and pregnenolone) to cortisol than to progesterone. This leads to estrogen dominance, which leads to excess weight around the midsection and gluteal cleft area (according to Charles Poliquin, this is area holds a lot of estrogen receptors). Estrogen is stored and produced in fat cells. The more fat cells you have or the more estrogen dominant you are, the harder it is to lose fat.
  10. With dieting, which is a stress, your body releases more cortisol. When your cortisol level increases, your insulin level increases to protect the body. Both of these convert glucose into fat and fat-storing hormones.
  11. People dieting often decrease their protein intake. The liver needs protein to detoxify estrogen. Estrogen inhibits T4 to T3 conversion, which slows down the thyroid and your metabolism.
  12. Most people decrease the amount of good fat they consume when dieting. You can’t get fat from eating fat. Fat requires bile to be broken down, not insulin (which is a fat-storing hormone). Losing fat actually requires fat!

Eating, life, and nutrition are supposed to be fun. Personally, I feel that most Americans have turned eating into their own prison. You can’t eat this; you must do that; shame for eating this; shame for doing that. How fun does that sound? The goal here is to have fun; that is what life is all about. Life should be celebrated and not just lived!

Losing weight and keeping it off while cutting calories is impossible. The less you eat, the more stressful dieting becomes, the more you body eats itself, the more your hormones are out of flux, the more fat-storing hormones are released to maintain fuel (fat) for the body, and the more your body tells your thyroid to slow down as a protective mechanism, for the body to keep what little fuel it has to live on.

The beginning will be tough for the teen client, as she may gain weight. In the end, however, she will lose a lot of weight and keep it off. You need to educate her on how to eat and how to live, not how to cut calories. Losing weight is all about the physiology in your body and getting healthy within. Doing that will create the body she wants.

As for the lab test, if a full thyroid test to measure everything was not conducted, then the test was a waste of time. Just testing for TSH, which is released by the pituitary as a signal for the thyroid to turn on, is not valid. Here is why:

  1. Most blood tests are done to be cost effective. Most of the functions of the thyroid cells happen inside the mitochondria and out of reach of standard tests.
  2. The thyroid might be inhibited by adrenal stress or if one is estrogen dominant. In these cases, the thyroid typically ignores the signal from the pituitary. One’s tests may reveal high levels of TSH because the pituitary continues to release TSH to force the thyroid to respond, or vice versa.
  3. The thyroid does much more than just release TSH, according to Rothfeld in Thyroid Balance. Total T4, FT4, total T3, FT3, rT3, TBG, RAUI, antithyroid microsomal antibodies, and anti-TPO antibodies need to be tested as well, to determine a true picture of what the thyroid is doing.
  4. Some will disagree, but based on my experience, I find that most clients have thyroid issues as byproducts of an adrenal gland issue or as a result of estrogen dominance. This can result from many causes, such as poor nutrition, stress, the birth control pill, and so forth.

Here is what I would do to get your client on track:

  1. Find someone who can run some labs on her. She needs an adrenal test and a full female hormone profile. You can try COREONE Diagnostics (
  2. Begin educating your client on the concept of getting healthy to lose weight, and not that she needs to lose weight to get health. You can access the following resources: local holistic health practitioners, CHEK nutrition and lifestyle coaches,, finding a Metabolic Typing Advisor (, or finding a skilled nutritionist schooled in the holistic aspects of healing. There is more to health and losing weight than just nutrition.

With Qi,
Joshua Rubin