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Functional Medicine Approach to Obesity and Weight Loss

Holistic Health

When it comes to weight loss, we are always tempted by the quick fix or trying the new “best diet for weight loss”. In reality weight loss, and maintaining that weight loss, takes time, consistency with new lifestyle habits and addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances. 

“Weight loss, and maintaining that weight loss, takes time, consistency with new lifestyle habits and addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances.”

In Part 1 of this article series, I discussed the current obesity epidemic, contributing lifestyle factors and key hormones to pay attention to. Today, I’m going to discuss solutions and how to use functional medicine for weight loss. 

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Let’s get started!

Functional Medicine Approach To Weight Loss

If you go to the doctor in a conventional setting for diabetes, autoimmune disease, thyroid issues or other complaints, you might be told to lose weight with little guidance about how to do so. Or, if you are given guidance, you might be referred to various weight loss programs or given a handout on a low-calorie or low-carb or fasting diet. 

This scenario is disheartening for many reasons, not least of which is how it makes you feel about yourself. Following a restrictive plan may produce some short-term weight loss but is likely not sustainable for the long-term and regain of the weight is almost inevitable. Additionally, most of what’s shown to help with weight loss in the research is research conducted on men or rats – not large cohorts of women from a diversity of ethnic and demographic backgrounds. And as much as we would wish, manipulating calories doesn’t address the root causes of weight gain or stubborn weight loss, nor does it teach you how to build new habits or look at what your hormones are doing. What it does do is perpetuate fat shaming and the guilt that women carry for carrying extra weight.

“Weight loss is the side effect to the functional medicine approach to health.”

In functional medicine, we always look at the whole person and seek to understand the why behind the excess weight or any other symptom you experience. By addressing the root of the issues and working on holistic strategies to bring metabolic hormones back into balance, weight loss often occurs without having to force it with extreme or dangerous measures. Weight loss is the side effect to the functional medicine approach to health. This is a really important message that we need to hear again and again!

Hormone Balancing Diet 

From a functional perspective, your weight loss diet needs to be personalized and address your unique underlying factors. Contrary to popular belief, there is no one diet that will provide the best foods for weight loss for everyone. Additionally, my goal with patients goes beyond simply weight as we want to create sustainable lifestyle change, prevent disease and promote optimal health. While our current culture values thinness, health happens at all different sizes and we deserve to feel beautiful because we are healthy.  And let’s be clear – you can be thin but very unhealthy, undernourished and miserable.

When it comes to your hormone balancing diet for weight loss, we can use diet to influence underlying hormonal patterns. Here are some options to consider:

Interestingly, an insulin resistance diet is also a leptin resistance diet. Intermittent fasting for weight loss is another dietary approach with support improving insulin and leptin balance and decreasing inflammation associated with obesity.  Fasting is not appropriate for everyone so it’s important you work with a qualified practitioner who understands who fasting is for, for how long and for what window of time.  For example, some people may just need a simple 12-hour fast while others may benefit from a 16-hour fast.  It depends on what season of life you are in and your genetics too.

Healthy Lifestyle Support For Hormone Balance And Weight Loss

In addition to dialing in the diet, lifestyle change and building new habits is profoundly supportive of the hormone balance required to maintain a healthy weight. A lot of these recommendations may seem simple. However, going back to the basics is often challenging in the context of a modern lifestyle, but an incredibly important focus. 

Here are some tips to consider: 

Understanding your hormones is key for developing a personalized plan for healthy living that promotes your optimal weight and body composition. Need more information? I can help. Contact The Fork Functional Medicine to learn more.


  1. Ludwig, D. S., & Ebbeling, C. B. (2018). The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity: Beyond "Calories In, Calories Out". JAMA internal medicine, 178(8), 1098–1103. Full text: 
  2. Dwaib, H. S., AlZaim, I., Eid, A. H., Obeid, O., & El-Yazbi, A. F. (2021). Modulatory Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Adipose Tissue Inflammation: Amelioration of Cardiovascular Dysfunction in Early Metabolic Impairment. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 626313. 
  3. Greger M. (2020). A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Is Effective for Weight Loss: The Evidence. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 14(5), 500–510. Full text: 
  4. Vojdani, A., Afar, D., & Vojdani, E. (2020). Reaction of Lectin-Specific Antibody with Human Tissue: Possible Contributions to Autoimmunity. Journal of immunology research, 2020, 1438957. Full text: 
  5. Xu, Z., You, W., Liu, J., Wang, Y., & Shan, T. (2020). Elucidating the Regulatory Role of Melatonin in Brown, White, and Beige Adipocytes. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 11(2), 447–460. Full text:


The Fork Functional Medicine
110 3rd Ave N.
Franklin, TN 37069

Phone: (615) 721-8008
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