Is Inflammation Slowing Your Weight Loss Efforts?

Christian Coulson
Updated: June 14, 2020
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Whether it is consistency, motivation, or knowledge on which foods to eat, we all struggle with weight loss in some sort of way.

However, some might be struggling with something they didn’t even think about – inflammation.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

Is Inflammation Slowing Your Weight Loss Efforts?

There are a few ways chronic inflammation affects your weight loss efforts:

1. By Making You Feel Unmotivated

Chronic inflammation caused by poor food choices, stress, and low-quality sleep can affect the release of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in motivation and reward.

Studies (1) have shown that chronic inflammation lowers dopamine levels and makes people unmotivated to do things for future rewards.

In other words, it makes it more difficult to want to exercise and make healthier food choices.

Here are a few tips to help you stay motivated to lose weight.

2. By Increasing Sugar Intake

Low dopamine levels often lead people to consume more sugary foods to get a short-term dopamine boost.

Eating these sugary foods will make your brain more dependent on them for that dopamine boost.

This is one of the reasons people find it difficult to cut sugar, they’ve become addicted and their brains make them crave those foods. (2)

Sugary foods also tend to have little to no nutrients, which makes them not filling and easier to overeat.

Over-consuming calories will then lead to weight gain.

Increased sugar intake and weight gain lead to more inflammation cycle image

Increased sugar intake and weight gain lead to more inflammation.

By eating more sugary foods to get that dopamine boost, you’re also increasing your inflammation levels. (3)

This ends up becoming a vicious cycle that makes making healthy food choices and exercising more difficult.

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Lower Inflammation Diet

When dealing with weight loss and inflammation, not only should you limit your sugar intake, but should also add foods with anti-inflammatory properties.

Limit These Foods

Here are some foods that can often lead to inflammation:

  • Processed meats. Think: sausage, canned meat, hot dogs, and such.
  • Refined carbohydrates, like pastries and white bread.
  • Fried foods

The keyword here is “limit,” don’t go to the extreme and completely eliminate them, as this can create an unhealthy relationship with food.

Eat More of These Foods

Aim to eat foods that are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, such as:

  • Green tea
  • Turmeric
  • All types of berries
  • Dark leafy greens. Think: spinach, kale, and collards.
  • Olive oil and flaxseed oil
  • Salmon and sardines
  • Nuts

This study (4) showed that people who consumed foods high in polyphenols, such as onions, turmeric, and green tea lowered their inflammation markers.

The Two Types of Inflammation

Before talking about how inflammation is slowing your weight loss efforts, you must first understand the two types of inflammation.

1. Acute Inflammation (the good one)

Acute inflammation is the one that helps your body direct immune system troops to the affected area for healing.

This is often seen as the swelling, heat, and redness around your joints when you hit your knee; or tissues when you cut your finger.

2. Chronic Inflammation (the bad one)

Chronic inflammation happens when the effects of acute inflammation stay for too long, leaving your body in a constant state of alert.

This chronic inflammation will cause the body to send more white blood cells than needed to the affected area, causing them to attack healthy tissues and organs as well.

Chronic Inflammation and Obesity

Overweight people often have high levels of visceral fat (belly fat) – the harmful type of fat surrounding vital organs like your liver, pancreas, and intestines.

Your body sees that type of fat as a threat and sends out lots of white blood cells.

Staying overweight will keep your body in a constant state of inflammation, which can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs.

These damages have been linked to the development of diseases like:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Heart Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

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