Mikkipedia is an exploration in all things health, well being, fitness, food and nutrition. I sit down with scientists, doctors, professors, practitioners and people who have a wealth of experience and have a conversation that takes a deep dive into their area of expertise. I love translating science into a language that people understand, so while some of the conversations will be pretty in-depth, you will come away with some practical tips that can be instigated into your everyday life. I hope you enjoy the show!
Transcript generated using AI transcription, errors may occur. contact Mikki for clarification
Hey everyone, it's Mikki here. You're listening to another Mini Mikkipedia micopedia on a Monday and today I want to talk through some of the surprising reasons you're gaining weight that has nothing to do with your hormones. Now, when I say nothing to do with your hormones, what I actually mean is that indirectly these, some of these of course can affect your hormones, but so often we
use hormones as the explanation for why for no reason at all we're suddenly gaining weight. We're actually, and when we do that, it almost takes it outside of our control. Like there is not a lot we can do about it. So it's not like we decide, oh, screw it. We can't do anything. So I'm not going to do anything at all. But when you take away that element of control, you can feel a little helpless and a little bit overwhelmed with what might.
need to happen in order to progress weight loss or you make an appointment with your doctor to ensure that they can for them to tell you that it's your hormones you know so I think if we consider things outside of just hormones and metabolism in terms of the reasons for weight gain it then brings it back into our control and then we can do something about it and so often these are small behavior changes rather than
huge overhauls in the diet, which of course it can be. You know, you can do big overhauls in your diet and I think that some people really benefit from that, but sometimes it's we just keep doing the same old thing and for whatever reason we're beginning to gain weight. So what are some of the surprising reasons for this? First, let's address blood biomarkers and specifically vitamin D. Now, right now in New Zealand, we will be coming up on our lowest
because of the time of the year. So New Zealand sits in a position around the sun, which means it doesn't get those same UVB rays that we would otherwise get in summer. And we require those UVB rays to enable us to synthesize vitamin D from our liver. And whilst we have these in abundance across the summer months, in winter we have to be outside for about 90 minutes far north.
be able to get the same vitamin D to enable us to make enough to support the role that vitamin D has in the body, which is way more than just bones. So you can pretty much guarantee that if you're not on a vitamin D supplement right now, most people, I would say 95% of the people will probably have insufficient vitamin D. Now vitamin D plays a role in weight gain.
It's not just about bone health and immune health and brain health, which of course is all of those things, but vitamin D can affect appetite. There's evidence that suggests vitamin D could influence the production of leptin. And leptin is a hormone that is signaled from the brain when we are full. So when vitamin D levels are low, this might affect leptin production, and it could lead to less satiety around the food that we eat and increased overeating.
And it is interesting, right, that during winter, people tend to report having bigger appetites than they might do in summer. And of course, it's hotter in summer, we tend to be outside more, we sort of feel like less food as well. Yet part of the reason could be these low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also impacts on fat cell differentiation. So there is preliminary or preclinical research that suggests that vitamin D could influence the differentiation of fat cells.
which means that fat cells divide and then we've got more fat cells to fill. And some studies have also shown vitamin D might reduce the formation of new fat cells and trigger the death of some cells as well. There's some evidence to suggest that a lack of vitamin D could tip the scale in favor of storing fat rather than burning it. And this does involve insulin and other hormones and metabolic factors. But essentially when the body cells are less sensitive to insulin,
as in the case with insulin resistance, they're more likely to convert calories into stored fat, or we more readily store calories rather than burn calories. Vitamin D is involved in reducing inflammation and chronic inflammation might be exacerbated by vitamin D deficiency. And that inflammation can also interfere with the proper functioning of the leptin hormone I was mentioning earlier. When we have low vitamin D,
We often also feel fatigued and we're unable to exert as much effort in the gym or just in everyday life. And this can reduce our physical activity levels in general. So low vitamin D can affect our behavior. And of course, less physical activity means fewer calories burned, which obviously will impede weight loss because essentially we need to create that deficit between calories eaten and calories expended. And then also from a mood perspective, low vitamin D.
is linked with mood disorders such as depression and that can lead to behaviourally overeating, a lack of motivation to exercise, contributing to weight gain or challenges in weight loss. And it's really interesting right because in New Zealand often if you go to the doctor's office and you ask them to get tested for vitamin D, well one you'll need to pay for it for the most part unless you have an underlying autoimmune condition and therefore there is justification for this under the public health system.
or the doctor will just prescribe you a vitamin D booster because they're well aware of low vitamin D levels across New Zealand and essentially most people are low in vitamin D is what you hear. Interesting though I did have a client last week who paid for her own vitamin D level. Her vitamin D was 55 nanomoles per litre which is on the cusp of being low so what is termed optimal
in on from lab tests is between 50 and 150. Actually vitamin D experts would suggest that optimal is 100 to 120 so you know it's quite a big difference. Her vitamin D lever was 55, her doctor did not think it was worth prescribing a boost of vitamin D, therefore she wasn't able to get that script written for her which was so disappointing and I don't do not understand what the doctors
motivations or reasons for that were because there was good reason to support that she needs a vitamin D supplement. So if you have a vitamin D level that sort of hovers around that you certainly should, in my recommendation, get the booster that the doctor is able to prescribe you. Outside of that vitamin D supplements in New Zealand are only sold in levels of up to 1000 international units which will increase your vitamin D level.
by five units. So for example, for this client, for her to take 1000 international units, her vitamin D level will increase from 55 to 60. And it's not a linear increase. It sort of boosts up initially and then it does scale off. But you can see that she certainly needs some help and what is available in New Zealand is not going to cut it. So I recommend that someone purchase something from iHerb, which is 5000 international units.
which is five times the amount that we can purchase here in New Zealand, yet is gonna be far more effective. And I don't understand the archaic nature of the vitamin D supplements here in New Zealand, but that's the scope of it anyway. And you do want your vitamin D with vitamin K2 and potentially magnesium as well, but that's a little bit of a tangent from today's topic. However, if you have low vitamin D, this could be a reason for you gaining weight without changing other things.
get that checked. Another biomarker which is implicated in unexplained weight gain is of course low iron. In New Zealand we have one quarter of adults have iron levels which could be classified as inadequate. And fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of iron deficiency. Well before you are anemic, individuals with low iron just might feel super tired.
And this of course is going to impact on their ability to engage in regular physical activities or exercises which will of course lead to decreased caloric expenditure. And not just structured activity as well but just in everyday life this could definitely impact on the amount of non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT that someone engages in. And NEAT exercise is one of the biggest sort of calorie burners that we have really.
A low iron can also impact on decreased thyroid function. Iron is crucial for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland which regulates metabolism and an underactive thyroid can result in reduced metabolic rate, leading to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Decreased oxygen delivery because iron is a critical component of hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood. Therefore, reduced oxygen delivery to muscles
can lead to decreased exercise capacity and performance and increased fatigue. There are anecdotal reports that low iron increases appetite or cravings, especially for non-nutritive substances like ice, which is interesting, and clay in fact. This is a condition known as pica, but really even at the less extreme version, just having an increased appetite because of low iron is something that is reported. And of course, consuming more calories without burning them off will result in weight gain.
And finally, low iron is definitely related to mood changes. Like if you're irritable, if you have low mood, you're grumpy, or you have depressive episodes, this can absolutely be tied to your iron intake and iron status. So absolutely, if you experience any of these things, get your iron checked. And this is one that I wouldn't recommend just supplementing, not like vitamin D. For the most part, most people are fine having a vitamin D supplement.
without actually getting it measured. There are always exceptions, so let's just add that in there. However, with iron, excess iron is also a potential problem. So we just wanna make sure you get the balance right. But do check your iron, check your ferritin, make sure it's above 50. Okay, so with those two biomarkers that sort of are beyond just your straight hormones or your thyroid directly, what else can impact on you gaining weight without really changing anything?
Firstly actually, not changing your exercise patterns can result in weight gain over time. And the reason for this is that your body becomes efficient. It's a super smart complex machine and if you continue to have the same pattern of exercise day in day out, week in week out, year in year out, then it adjusts to that level of
without burning those calories that it once did. Inefficiency in exercise is actually one of the best things for weight loss because if you're not very good at doing something, your body is burning more calories trying to do it. Now, of course, I'm not talking about sports performance here and you becoming an excellent runner requires you to be efficient and to gain efficiency in that space, for example. But if we are just talking about fat loss, the more inefficient you are,
the better it's going to be. So have a think about your exercise patterns. Is there something that you can change out? Can you extend the length of a run that you're doing? Can you swim intervals in the pool rather than just doing your straight kilometer at the same speed? Can you mix up your training in the gym so you are doing a different style of upper body, lower body, total body workout? Do you need to add in some HIIT exercise?
Do you need to just include a 20 minute walk? Do you just need to do something that decreases your efficiency and increases the caloric burn? So do have a think about it. And of course, your body will always adjust as it does. So you can't continually add exercise in the hope of staving off weight gain because ultimately your diet makes the biggest difference. However, doing things which require more load
and more stimulus is going to help over time, you maintain a weight that you're happy with or even lose weight. Following someone else's diet rules is another one I want to mention because so often we have our best mate or our husband or wife or partner or colleagues at work, they jump on something and they see success. And then we can just blindly follow some of the food rules that they've come up with that have worked for them.
And I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but if your loved one, if the person that's cooking you dinner, if they've jumped on the low carb bandwagon and they're suddenly serving up higher fat, lower carb meals that's helping with their weight loss, but you're only eating dinner and you've kept your carbs in at breakfast and lunch, then you're probably just adding calories in that you don't otherwise need. Or if you're only really following...
their diet plan sort of 50% of the time, then you're throwing your own sort of rules in there as well, then you're not really following any sort of plan and this isn't necessarily going to result in a calorie deficit. Oftentimes if people have adopted a program like one that I might write, or Mondays Matter, or they have seen a nutritionist or dietitian and have got individualized advice, that is individual to them and isn't necessarily going to
suit you. So just be mindful of that and try not to pick and choose between the best bits of all the things that you think you want and like in order to stave off weight gain and instead probably good to sort of invest time and resources into figuring out what's going to work for you personally because it doesn't always sort of work. Someone else prepping your meals this can also impact on unexpected weight gain so you're not even really cognizant of
sort of what's going in. And this might be that you're eating out a bit more often, even if you're eating out in a way that should help with sort of maintaining weight, so you're making good decisions, there's always extra oil or extra sugar used in restaurant meals to make them taste really good or takeout meals to make them taste really good. They might always put a dressing on your salad that you're not even aware of, contributing several hundred additional calories that you weren't anticipating.
or other sauces like hummus or sweet chili, mayonnaise, these contribute significant calories. So bear that in mind. In addition, if your partner is now, or wife or hubby or whatever, if they're now sort of preparing lunch meals for you and they just, you know, they're cooking the meat and adding in a truckload of extra oil or always putting mayonnaise or cheese in there that you wouldn't otherwise have, do think of that as well.
So have a think if there's any changes made in that arena, which you need to sort of step back and have a look at the bigger picture. Something else which can come up is that, is mindset. And this is the idea that you're getting away with something. You know, like you might see other people are engaging in fat loss behaviors, following certain food plans and they're losing weight. And they often profess that, oh, they couldn't possibly get away with XYZ.
yet you seem to be able to. And this might be true, but it isn't true forever. And have a think about any behaviors that might not necessarily serve you that you could just stop doing that might be or might impact on your ability to lose weight or just maintain your healthy weight. For example, are you always getting an extra large latte rather than a small one? Or is this something you've just adopted? Are you
snacking on chocolate mid-afternoon and you always got away with it and now you can't. Are you enjoying like a cheese ball before dinner a couple of nights a week and then suddenly now actually you're overeating? So is there anything that is going on in your usual diet that you might not be able to get away with now that you used to be able to? Have a think about that and of course I said surprising things outside of hormones and this isn't necessarily hormones but it could well be to do with
aging and your ability to burn the additional calories. Lack of variety is another one that I see in a number of people. When you eat the same foods repeatedly, this can lead to over consumption because you just get bored. It's interesting right, because some people are totally fine on the same meal, day in day out, and they know this of themselves. But some people are just too lazy or they don't have the time to think about other things to eat.
what it is that they've got for lunch. But they're, you know, that's all they can be bothered thinking about or they have this space or heat bandwidth to think about. And so this is what they're eating. Your taste buds know that too. And over time, what can happen is that you might eat lunch and have enough food, but your taste buds are craving that variety and craving something different. And that's the thing that drives you to the vending machine. So have a think about whether you need to change up your lunch meals or your breakfast meals.
So you're not feeling like you need a morning tea muffin or the sort of chocolate mid-afternoon, that kind of thing. And it might be as simple as changing a spice on the chicken that you're eating or adding most vegetables to your salad or changing out your chicken for ham. You know, it could be that simple and you could just find a couple of other meals in your repertoire to throw in there every now and again, that just spices that up.
So these are just some of the reasons that I see for when I'm talking to people for weight gain that's unexpected and obviously unwanted and therefore hopefully gives you just a few things to think about in your own case if you also struggle with this. And not all of it is going to be relevant and some of it does require a bit of a deeper dive but it is sort of worth it.
held quite a stable weight over your adulthood. And now you're just finding that this is no longer the case. I think that's important. And also for people potentially who might no longer be as active as they once were. I mean, things like that could literally just be you're eating more calories than what you need and that's what you need to work on. But sometimes it's just looking a little bit sort of further under the hood if you like. So yeah. Anyway, team.
That's Mini Mikkipedia on a Monday for you. You can find me over on Facebook @MikkiWillidenNutrition, over on Instagram, Twitter and threads. Occasionally, to be honest, I've forgotten about threads. I forget about threads until people post a threads on their Instagram. And then I'm like, oh, the next big thing. I should be on there doing my thing. I'll get back to that, though. That's @mikkiwilliden. And then head to my website, mikkiwilliden.com. Book a one on one consult. Sign up for a plan.
I do have that lead magnet. It is a 100 tips for body fat loss. Super simple. We've talked about them here on Mini-Mikkipedia before. I've also included a little workbook for you to sort of focus on small changes and some nice recipes from my recipe portal that helps you with that protein centric model that you know I live by. And that's what I want for you peeps. Anyway, you guys have a fabulous week and I will talk to you soon. See you later.