Metabolic Inflexibility and Weight Loss: Risks of New Drugs vs. Holistic Solutions with Märcelle Pick (Episode 206)

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Metabolic Inflexibility and Weight Loss: Risks of New Drugs vs. Holistic Solutions with Märcelle Pick (Episode 206)

For safe and healthy weight loss, are GLP-1 medications like Ozempic or Wegovy really the answer? Dr. Doni Wilson and Märcelle Pick talk about natural alternatives to GLP-1 medications.
GLP-1 medications are trending now for quick weight loss, but they are new and not well understood. Expert Märcelle Pick joins Dr. Doni to discuss the risks and how holistic approaches are better at addressing the root cause of weight gain.

In today’s episode, we talk about the risks of using Ozempic or Wegovy (GLP-1 agonist medications) for weight loss.

My guest is Märcelle Pick, a functional medicine practitioner and nurse practitioner who has specialized in women’s health since 1983. She’s written books related to women’s health, adrenal health, as well as weight and nutrition.

Märcelle has a lot of concerns about these medications because they are so new and not well understood, and they’re not addressing the underlying cause of weight gain, which is metabolic inflexibility. 

I feel this is SUCH an important topic to cover, especially at this moment in time when so many of you are hearing about and thinking about taking these medications. That’s exactly why I’m excited to share this conversation with an expert to help you in your decision making. 

Märcelle’s Journey and Passion

Märcelle tried all the programs out there, following them to a tee, and was not able to lose weight when she wanted to. She thought, there’s a bigger problem here. Some of it has to do with food sensitivities; some of it has to do with ghrelin and leptin. If you have leptin resistance, you never know when you’re full. 

She also realized that the long-term statistics for most weight loss programs are terrible. In fact, most weight loss programs and drugs have a 95% failure rate. If we’re lucky, we can say maybe 90%. So that means 10% of people that go on any weight loss program end up gaining the weight back. 

Her question was always, what are we missing? Why are we not putting these pieces together and what do we need to do? 

The Food Industry’s Role

The other part to all of this is the food industry is not our friend. We know billions of dollars are spent on processed foods. Now, what are the processed food companies trying to do? To sell more of their product.

If you have a potato chip, I bet you can’t eat just one. You might eat the whole bag. That’s on purpose. I bet you don’t just have one Oreo, you might have 5 or 6. So, it’s not your fault. It’s the marketing and sales of processed foods. 

This is very important response that happens when we eat a food. 40 milliseconds later a message is sent to the brain related to what we eat. So we have neurotransmitters that are turned on or off depending on what we eat. When we’re eating a lot of processed foods (meaning foods of different shapes, like cereals, or food that survives on the counter), it causes neurotransmitter responses that cause us to crave them more and more.

As the movie Super Size Me showed, you can go from skinny to putting on 20 or 30 pounds in six weeks and crave the foods because you’re addicted to processed foods.

It is clear, based on the recent trend of taking GLP-1 agonists to lose weight that we’ve got a society with issues around food. People want to lose the weight, but they don’t know how. 

With the medications, people are experiencing freedom from fear of food and eating, and they are saying things like – “Oh thank God, I’m not thinking about food all the time.” The problem is, they’re eating the same processed foods, so when they stop the medications, the weight comes back.

The Prevalence of Metabolic Inflexibility

Let’s get into even more detail with this. So many people are struggling with wanting to lose weight, maybe for health reasons or other reasons as well. What we’re seeing now is all kinds of advertisements for new medications like Ozempic, for example. What’s happening with these medications? How are they working and why are people turning to them as a solution?

The reality is that we have a big problem. We have a problem in our population where 93% of the entire population of the United States is what we call metabolically inflexible, meaning they might have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high insulin levels or insulin resistance. They don’t have that ability to stop eating processed foods. They might have leptin resistance, they may have a high ghrelin hunger hormone. All of these contribute to our health long-term. 

So if we say that 93% of the population is unhealthy metabolically, we’re going to probably die younger than our parents did. That’s not a good thing because this contributes to other health issues. It’s contributing to heart disease, dementia, etc.

We also have people with high blood sugars, but we also know years before, their insulin levels were elevated and nobody was looking at that. And then all of a sudden, their blood sugar is up. By then, we have some more physiological changes that have happened in the body.

Obesity and Inflammation

We know that the percentage of obese people is about 40%, and maybe even higher now in many of the states. Now that’s interesting because when you are obese, we know that the fat cells increase inflammation. 

Fat cells also act like an endocrine organ, so they also contribute to being more hungry. And they contribute to you being more what we call leptin resistant, that you don’t have a stop signal in your head saying “I’m full, I don’t want to have any more food.” 

If that’s the situation in your case, the solution is to eat more vegetables, to eat a little bit slower, to breathe in between eating, and to become aware of a “stop, I’m full” kind of mechanism in their body. 

Concerns About Weight Loss Drugs: GLP-1 Medications

The problem now with the weight loss drugs is it’s very seductive. People think “Oh my God, I can finally have something that helps me with my cravings and to lose weight quickly.” 

But actually, that may not help. GLP-1 meds don’t help with cravings. They help you feel full and they do that by decreasing stomach emptying. 

Now, if we think about the long-term effect of the use of these medications, we don’t have any information because they are brand new. We don’t have any long-term studies related to people taking the weight loss medications for long periods of time. 

So let’s talk about Semaglutides. Ozempic has been used for diabetics. It was renamed Wegovy, and is the same medication but used for weight loss. The difference is it’s a higher dosage. Now we’ve got another new medication that came out the day we recorded this interview. It’s oral (a pill) whereas the others are by injection. The new medication resulted in double the weight loss that Wegovy achieved in the 12 weeks. 

What we do know is that in five weeks after stopping the medication, the appetite comes back. Within a year, two-thirds had gained that weight back. So what it looks like from the studies is if you are going to be on the medication, lose the weight, you’re going to have to stay on it long-term in order to maintain the weight loss. 

Side Effects and Risks of GLP-1 Agonists

We know that there’s some basic side effects. 50% of people experience nausea and vomiting, especially with increased doses. Some people are so motivated, they just want to get the weight off and they’ll do whatever they need to do.

We also know that many people are still staying with the same diet that they had before. They’re not necessarily increasing their fruits and vegetables. They’re not necessarily eating less french fries, less fried food, less of that dessert. In functional medicine we talk about the microbiome and how important it is to really maintain that healthy microbiome, and this cannot be achieved without a healthy diet. 

We know that there are 55 lawsuits right now for increased suicidal ideation with semaglutides. So people who have a mental health concern around depression have to really be carefully screened. We also know that gastroparesis, another significant problem, has also happened, and that’s what the first lawsuit was about. For some, they’ve had paralytic ileus, which is paralysis obviously of the intestine, which has significant effects.

Now we are seeing many people very happy, they’re losing all kinds of weight. But when we get to the problem of if they stop the medication and they haven’t made very significant lifestyle changes, they’re going to gain the weight back. And you’re right back where you started from before the medication.

And 50% lose muscle mass. That’s very hard to come back unless you have significant amounts of protein, 100 to 150 grams depending upon your weight. We need to make sure that you’re getting a significant amount of protein every day, especially when you’re exercising and doing weight training exercise. 

Alternative Approaches

In certain circumstances, medication may be needed. If someone is 150 pounds overweight, we want to help them to lose weight fast. But somebody has to be coaching them and working with them and give them an alternative so they don’t have to stay on that medication for the rest of their lives. 

We have to find other solutions. There are other ways we can stimulate GLP, which is a hormone that inhibits food intake, gastric emptying, and glucagon secretion and stimulates insulin secretion, and to slow stomach emptying without relying on a medication with side effects and temporary benefits.

Emotional Responses to Weight Loss

We also need to consider the emotions behind all this. If we look at the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study By Dr. Vincent J. Felitti that was done in 1998, we see it was started by looking at women who were overweight. 

What happened is, during the study, many of the women dropped out even though they were losing weight. And Dr. Felitti asked, “How old were you?” And what he wanted to say is, “How old were you and what did you weigh when you were first sexually active?” The answer was 40 pounds. This caused him to wonder, were these women sexually abused? And the answer was yes, about 80% of them had been. 

The ACE study was done with 16,000 men and women to look to see if we had adverse events as children, and did it impact their health long-term? The answer was the higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of obesity, heart disease, early death, metastatic cancers, and so on. 

So we know there’s a direct relationship between trauma and health issues and no one is talking about this connection. And if we don’t get to that, we’re never going to be able to have people be whole and healthy and understand that there is a connection. 

Is it all in your head? No, because these are unconscious thoughts. But helping people see all these connections, and also, we know the neurotransmitters are intimately connected here. Serotonin is produced in the gut. We’re seeing that GLP-1 medications, because they also affect the brain, are helping with depression in some cases. 

But are the medications like Ozempic or Wegovy really the answer? Well, we don’t know what else is at play here. If someone decides to take the medication and they say, “I really just want to take it for 12 weeks, and at the same time I’m going to change everything in my life, I promise,” then absolutely. When you implement changes in your diet and lifestyle, and address stress from your past, you are more likely to be able to maintain the weight loss.


So, the message is, before you decide to put anything into your body, understand the risks and how it works. And if you’re going to take it, know how to get the most benefit out of it and not become reliant on it. 

We also need to debunk the myths that weight gain is our fault, and there’s nothing we can do, or that it’s all about just starving ourselves or exercising more. 

We need to stop and look more closely and understand that stress or trauma from childhood is playing a role in what you’re experiencing with your weight today. And there are things we can do about that. Even though the stress happened in your childhood. It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. There’s so much we can do to address stress and trauma.

There is so much we can do to help your hormones, your neurotransmitters, and your subconscious to heal, so that we’re actually getting to the bottom of why the weight gain patterns were there instead of just relying on a medication for a quick fix. 

If you would like to learn more about Märcelle and how she can help you, check out her website here. You can also find her on Instagram @marcellepicknp or Facebook @Marcelle Pick. You can tune in to her podcast “women to women” here. Thank you Marcelle for joining me today! 

To learn more about my approach using my Stress and Trauma Recovery Protocol® which involves optimizing cortisol and adrenaline levels to heal the adrenals, as well as neurotransmitters, using nutrients, herbs and C.A.R.E.™, my proprietary program to support clean eating, adequate sleep, stress recovery and exercise. It is possible to eliminate the effects of stress and trauma by resetting our hormones and helping our body and mind to recover.

I encourage you to read all about it in my latest book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health.

For those of you who are interested in getting my help to reset your blood sugar, leptin, and ghrelin, while eliminating inflammatory foods and supporting detoxification, I definitely encourage you to check out my New 14-Day Detox Program. Participants consistently report weight loss they are able to maintain because I also teach you how to reset your metabolism.

This program includes two protein shakes per day with 18 grams of protein, and two meals per day with a meal plan that I created based on making sure you get at least 20 grams of protein in each meal. I also teach you how to eat mindfully and how to detox gently but effectively without feeling worse. This can all be done without pushing yourself too hard and stressing you out, and while carrying on with your daily activities and routine. 

For the most comprehensive support, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), and for access to the tests I mentioned in this episode, it is best to meet with me one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment here.

And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Surround yourself with a team of practitioners and support people who believe in you and your ability to heal. Whether that’s a naturopathic doctor like myself or a functional medicine practitioner like Märcelle, a therapist, a health coach, a loved one – find your tribe and lean on them.

This is your journey and your story. Trust the wisdom of your body and never stop fighting for the vibrant health and energy you deserve. It’s there waiting for you.

We’re here to help you!

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