There is no shortage of diet books from A to Z: Atkins to Zone and everything in between, yet there is still an obesity epidemic! You can lose weight on any diet but you have to ask the questions: Will it leave you metabolically better or worse? How likely is it you will gain the weight back? Can you stick to it? I urge anyone trying to lose weight to take a practical approach and gain an understanding of their own unique metabolism, preferences, habits, triggers, genetics and lifestyle. To be slim and healthy requires a lifestyle and a mindset change. To achieve anything you must first conceive it and believe it to achieve it. There are no quick fixes to maintain health and weight.
I hate the passing fads. What has stood the test of time is backed by science and can be reproduced. However our environment, lifestyle and food supply has become so complex, we need a better understanding of what works for us as individuals now. It’s never one thing. Maintaining a healthy weight is a matter of a healthy lifestyle. It’s a combination of things that help you lose and maintain weight loss.
Here are some tried and true, super slimdown strategies that have stood the test of time and are grounded in science.
- Practical Portions – Bigger is not better unless you are eating fresh, non starchy vegetables. Most Americans eat too much. Protein portions should be the size of your palm, dense vegetables a fistful and leafy vegetables 2 handfuls, fat or oil a thumb size or six dice. Sugar should be used sparingly and fake foods with labels you can’t read are not very nourishing regardless of the portion size. They should be avoided. Fruit is fine as long as you limit it to 2 servings and low glycemic if you have blood sugar issues.
- Quality Counts: Science has shown that it’s not just calories in and calories out. Saturated fats found in meat and dairy, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils can cause inflammation, which packs on the pounds. High glycemic foods and processed foods can raise blood sugar and insulin, which signals your body to store fat and send out inflammatory molecules causing weight gain and diabetes. Avoid processed foods, white flour, rice and sugar. Get familiar with the glycemic index that measures how fast your blood sugar rises. Limit fruits and vegetables that have a high glycemic index especially if your blood sugar is above 85 or if you have fasting insulin levels over 7 or a Hemoglobin A1C level over 5.6.
- Muscle Up: Muscle burns calories and the more you have, the more you burn. Add weight lifting to your exercise routine. Start slowly and work up gradually. Work a muscle with the heaviest weight until you fatigue your muscle with 6-10 repetitions. Women won’t bulk up like a man. Building muscle will assure you will burn calories even when you sleep
- Sleep Soundly: Studies show that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep and more than 8 hours have higher weight and gain more. A good night’s sleep is essential to make growth hormone which preserves lean body mass and burns fat as well as heals and repairs tissue. Lack of sleep is a physiologic stress that can cause overeating and raise cortisol.
- Stress Less: Stress raises cortisol a hormone that breaks down muscle and stores fat. Finding time to relax, breath, meditate, pray or get involved in a hobby that relaxes you is essential to balance hormones and lose and maintain weight loss.
- Detox: Many herbicides, pesticides, additives and preservatives are hormone disruptors. Much of our meat, poultry and dairy from them are contaminated with the hormones that they have been fed. Event the packages they are stored in such as plastics and cans contain hormone disruptors. Eat organic as much as possible, or at least choose hormone free and antibiotic free meat, poultry and dairy and eat the “dirty dozen” organic: apples, bell peppers, blueberries (domestic) celery, grapes (imported) lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, and strawberries. The list changes so check with The Environmental Working Group that measures herbicide and pesticide levels in produce.
- Supplement with Savvy: Adequate levels of Vitamin D and probiotics have a lot of health benefits and are associated with improving weight loss. L carnitine helps burn fat around the waist, hips and thighs, lowers triglycerides among other things. Be sure to check with a knowledgeable functional or integrative medicine doctor to help you choose quality supplements tailored to your unique metabolism.
- Desensitize: Weight loss can be enhanced if you can detect underlying food sensitivities. Eliminate the troublesome ten for 2 weeks. They are foods that are most likely to cause inflammation: alcohol, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, corn, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, sugar and wheat including all products with gluten. Removing these from your diet and reintroducing them systematically can detect underlying food sensitivities that make you gain weight and cause a lot of inflammatory illnesses.
Implementing these strategies and incorporating them into your lifestyle will not only help you lose weight, they will improve your overall health and wellbeing.