You’ve been diligent and focused at working hard to achieve that New Year’s resolution to lose weight. You’ve eaten well, exercised regularly, and you’ve even lost a few pounds and toned a bit in the process. But, suddenly, despite continued determination, you’ve hit a weight loss block, and the scale’s been stuck for a couple of weeks. While we’ve known this happens, until now, it hasn’t been clear why it happens. A new study points the finger at a calorie-conserving enzyme.
A Weight Loss Block May Be Due to the Activation of the TBK1 Enzyme
The new study provided conclusions not only to why dieting tends to lead to plateaus in weight loss but why obese people burn fewer calories. In both cases the finger points not at some external factor but internally at the body’s natural ability to self-regulate its available stored calories for energy. And the specific mechanism that activates this process is an enzyme called TBK1 (TANK-binding kinase 1).
When calorie intake decreases during dieting, this can put the body in a fasting state, triggering an enzyme called AMPK. AMPK tells the body to start burning fat for energy; hence, the initial burst of weight loss. Interestingly, however, this then triggers TBK1, which says, Not so fast; we need to conserve some of this energy for later and inhibits the fat-burning process. It’s the body’s way of protecting itself from starvation by conserving energy reserves when it detects it is in a state of fasting.
With obesity, TBK1 is ultimately triggered by inflammation due to chronic stress in the body, inhibiting the ability to burn calories, eventually resulting in, again, conservation of those energy reserves. Researchers explained that this is why those who are more obese tend to burn fewer calories than their leaner counterparts.
When the TBK1 enzyme was removed (from the fat cells of mice in this case), calorie burning kicked in again. This might seem like a promising finding that could lead to a TBK1-inhibiting solution for those with obesity or weight loss plateaus; however, unfortunately, when TBK1 was removed from the obese mice, inflammation also increased (as TBK1 is known to restrain inflammation). So solving one problem may be creating another. It’ll be interesting to see where this study leads.
A Weight Loss Block Is an Obstacle You Can Push Past
The key, since you’ve worked so hard on your weight loss goals to this point, is to push past that weight loss block and just keep going. Even if you’ve fallen into a rut, it’s not too late to dig out of it and press on. Let’s review some of the reasons you need to push past that block and some ways you can keep focusing on your weight loss goals:
- Being physically active won’t just help you lose weight, it may also add more years to your life.
- Staying physically active, as little as a couple of times a week, may also reduce your risk of any disease and death from disease.
- Exercise has been shown to be more effective for arthritis pain relief than NSAIDs.
- Physical activity may lessen the effects of aging by protecting our genetic information.
- Losing weight and getting healthy isn’t temporary; it’s a way of life. When the weight comes off, you have to keep pushing yourself to maintain your weight loss and health.
- Add a healthy dose of cinnamon to your daily diet.
- We can’t emphasize this one enough: if the gut’s not happy, the body’s not happy! Make sure you are following a gut-healthy diet, or all that exercise isn’t going to do you much good. More on obesity, genetics, and healthy diets defined at this link.
The upshot? Your body is designed to be able to withstand famine and has developed ways to hold onto fat at all costs. Having said that, there are ways to push past that weight loss block. Ultimately, it’s all about eating the correct diet, getting exercise, and if you’re older, controlling the hormonal signals that can add pounds!