Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes chronic pain throughout the body. Patients with this condition often gain weight for a few reasons. Hormonal imbalances create an environment in the body that slows metabolism and leads to increased weight. Fatigue and the inability to exercise strenuously make it difficult for patients to lose weight with traditional approaches. A special diet designed specifically for fibromyalgia patients can help them lose the excess weight.
The hormones affected by fibromyalgia are serotonin, thyroid, insulin and cortisol. These hormones become imbalanced with fibromyalgia and can lead to a slowing of metabolism. The weight that is gained is often the result of a slowed metabolism, according to FibromyalgiaSymptoms.org. The metabolic changes in the body result in an average weight gain of 32 pounds. These imbalances and metabolic changes make it very difficult for a patient with fibromyalgia to lose weight.
Fibromyalgia also causes sleep disturbances that affect the patient’s ability to achieve quality sleep. Restless legs and sleep apnea are common in these patients, which further affects the quality of sleep gained each night. Lack of quality sleep affects the appetite and plays a role in the weight gain fibromyalgia patients experience. Hypocretin production increases when there is a lack of quality sleep, which leads to increased appetite and fatigue.
Diet for Weight Loss
Fibromyalgia patients can lose weight if they stick to a well-balanced diet and pay attention to the sugars and fats they consume. Lean sources of proteins include chicken, fish and turkey and are preferred for a low-fat diet. Keep higher-fat red meats to a minimum on a weight loss diet. Carbohydrates should come from vegetables, fruits and foods high in fiber. Avoid processed flours and foods that contain sugar in high amounts.
Exercising with Fibromyalgia
Walking is a gentle exercise that can help patients lose weight. The goal of a weight-loss exercise program is 30 to 60 minutes a day three to five days a week. Start slowly with 5 or 10-minute walks if you are not able to walk for 30 minutes consecutively. Add a few minutes to your exercise routine every day and build up to the 30-minute goal. Swimming is another exercise that is easy on the joints and provides a good cardiovascular workout. Don’t overdo it in the beginning and risk injury or excessive fatigue.
Plan to get eight to nine hours of sleep each night. Treatments for restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea can aid in getting quality sleep. A good night’s sleep will help with appetite control and fatigue during the day, which can result in weight gain.