Getting rid of the holiday bulge
It’s no coincidence that at the start of the year many realise they need to lose weight. Gym memberships soar and people head to the latest weight loss diet or supplements. This edition looks at my Weight Management tips.
To help with losing weight I suggest you adopt a diet based around vegetables, protein, good fats especially Omega 3 and monounsaturated fats. This will help with your weight and of course is very heart friendly and is anti-inflammatory.
Excess blood glucose
Excess carbohydrates result in your body often having to deal with excess glucose. If this cannot be used for energy it is stored as triglycerides in our adipose (fat) cells. Additionally, some people seem to lose the ability to convert dietary fats and stored fats to burn in energy metabolism.
Essentially this programme is a higher, regular protein, lower carbohydrate and low sugar way of eating but at the same time retaining muscle mass and general health while your body uses stored fat and reduces the amount of energy needed to be stored as fat. When you eat a lot of carbohydrate foods, especially sugars and refined carbs this encourages fat storage and weight gain.
You should avoid sugars, refined carbohydrates and have a generally lower bread and carbohydrate diet. Avoid all artificially sweetened drinks (yes even the “Zero” stuff!) and foods including chewing gums. Just avoid sweetened drinks!
Note: Artificially sweetened soft drinks. Research suggests that these are possibly worse than those with sugar. When the drink is in your mouth your body senses it is about to have lot of sugar even though the drink is sugar-free. It may be sugar free but is very sweet.
This triggers your pancreas to rapidly pump insulin into your blood stream as it anticipates the high sugar drink based on the mouth sweetness. Now you blood is full of insulin but no sugar.
This can greatly increase your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If I had it my way I would ban artificial sweeteners! I would much rather put sugar in my body- at least it has a mechanism to deal with this.
This research paper looks at sucralose (artificial sweetener) but I am sure this applies to others even natural ones like stevia. It seems that eating/drinking anything that is artificially sweetened will have this effect. I used to support stevia as it is natural but I think we should learn to do without these no-calorie sweeteners.
Drinks: Start each day with up to 500mls of filtered water before anything else. You should try to get close to 2 litres of water daily. Also add 2-3 cups of freshly brewed Green Tea (I like Dilmah whole leaf) and make sure it brews for 4-5 minutes. Great antioxidants and GT is very thermogenic (helps to burn stored fats.)
Alcohol: A major weight management problem.
The body has a specific pathway to metabolise alcohol. This is called the alcohol dehydrogenase pathway and is a series of enzyme steps where B vitamins and other nutrients break the alcohol down to a molecule that can be used for energy. The problem is that while it is doing this it essentially blocks/interferes with normal energy metabolism from food. The more alcohol you drink, and very importantly the frequency of use will tend to promote weight gain by storing the energy that cannot be converted as body fat.
I recommend 1-2 standard drinks (max) 3-4 times per week. It is really important to have alcohol free days to allow for a return to normal energy metabolism.
Do not be afraid of high quality nutritious fats such as in fish, avocado, olive (whole and oil) almonds, linseed and walnuts. These contain anti-inflammatory monounsaturated and Omega 3 fats. There is evidence that higher intake of these good fats actually helps your body to burn fats for energy.
Your diet should include monounsaturated fats such as avocados, olive oils and nuts especially thoroughly chewed raw almonds. You should have a modest saturated fat intake and a low intake of polyunsaturated fats as found in margarine, mayonnaise, sauces, many baked and fried foods.
High protein foods including legumes such as beans, chick peas, lentils also low fat meats, chicken and fish are excellent. They are filling, provide the protein your body needs and prevent spiking of blood sugar. You should have a small amount at each meal.
Breakfast could be wholegrain porridge with ground linseed added. Wholegrain oats should be soaked overnight. You could use quinoa if you prefer. For a fast on-the-run breakfast but mix a heaped tablespoon of ground flax seeds into yoghurt with berries. A poached egg is another great breakfast option. Remember it is processed carbohydrates that are the problem. Moderate amounts of quality complex carbs are fine.
Morning tea: Have a small handful of raw almonds and or walnuts- thoroughly chew. Maybe add a piece of fruit.
Lunch: Then have a filling high protein lunch. A great lunch could be a red salmon salad and avocado with homemade olive oil and dressing. Mixing olive oil with lemon juice, mustard and salt/pepper or balsamic vinegar is nice. You could use cold left over chicken.
You could also add as much homemade vegetable soup as you want. Soup helps you to stay full for longer. Don’t add flours/thickeners/noodles/rice etc. to soups. Adding lentils (red/brown) is great as these add protein and some body.
Try this: Cut up half a pumpkin finely and add any other vegetable, onions etc. Add lentils and Chinese 5 spice or All- Spice salt/pepper to taste. Cook for 1 hour then blend with stick blender. Make enough for a week! Have 2 cups for lunch and another after work before dinner.
Afternoon tea: Cut yourself some carrot/celery sticks with hummus. Jamie Oliver’s homemade hummus recipe is great!
Your evening meal could start with homemade vegetable soup (especially in winter) then a main of grilled chicken/fish/lean beef with a large salad and low starch vegetables. Use Pumpkin/buttercup rather than potatoes/kumara. You could add cooked quinoa or buckwheat for a more filling salad.
Step by step:
What I suggest is that you look at modifying 1 meal at a time- either breakfast or lunch to the above pattern and make this then a habit. We change 1 thing at a time with the emphasis on healthy eating rather than just weight loss. If we move to healthy eating the weight should take care of itself and in the meantime we are improving your overall health. We are looking for small, steady weight loss not some “crash and burn” system.
Portion sizes: This may seem the most obvious way to reduce weight but it is often overlooked. Dinner plates are much bigger than they were a generation ago and we tend to just fill them up. Using smaller plates can really help. A good way to start is to have a little less of the carbohydrates on your plate but overall just have less on your plate. Salads/vegetables are of course just fine to eat as you like especially if there are no dressings which can be calorie heavy.
Regular exercise is a very important part of reducing weight. It helps burn calories, improves cardiovascular and respiratory health, it helps your immune system and releases feel good hormones. We were designed to be active.
In terms of weight loss, brisk walking for 30-60 minutes 5 times a week is one of the best ways to trigger your body into burning stored fats. Also build in incidental exercise such as household chores by working at a faster rate.
Long term gain:
Imagine if you lost just 100g a week. This is so ridiculously easy. Just slightly smaller portion sizes will do this or a little more exercise. 100g a week is 400g a month. This is almost 5kg a year. Of course people with serious weight issues need to aim higher. Whatever your goal this type of healthy eating will help you lose weight and become healthier.
Feel free to contact me for personalised advice.
John Arts (B.Soc.Sci,Dip Tch, Adv.Dip.Nut.Med)
Abundant Health Ltd
John Arts (B.Soc.Sci, Dip Tch, Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.) is a nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. If you have questions or need help you can contact John 0800 423559. You can email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that the health advice given through this column is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problem. © John Arts 2019