If weight loss is your goal, here are a few do’s and don’ts:
Do eat your regular three meals per day, with no munching in between, and take time to prepare your meal. If you lose weight slowly and healthfully, you’ll lose pure fat and keep your metabolism revved up, burning off excess fat.
Don’t starve yourself to lose weight. Of course you will lose weight by starving yourself. However, the resulting weight loss is due to loss of muscle tissue, not fat! In the long run, this is a recipe for disaster.
What about fat?
Do eat certain kinds of fat to lose weight. Not all fats are created equal. Bad are the artificial trans fats that are generated while frying or in processed foods are harmful. Good are the monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Eating good fats is essential for weight loss, and for lowering triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Sources of good fat include avocados, olive oil, nuts, peanuts and flax seed oil.
Your body uses omega-3 fats to maintain the integrity and function of your body’s 75 trillion cell membranes, which in turn support healthy joints, shiny hair and strong nails, radiant skin, and the membranes of your muscles. A great source of omega-3 fats is flax seed oil. For breakfast I often grind flax seeds and mix them with my oatmeal, a quick, nutritious, and satisfying way to start the day. Fresh flaxseed oil tastes great, so don’t be afraid to sip a spoonful daily. Or, make homemade vinaigrette out of it, and drizzle liberally on your salads. Yum!
Carbs and weight management
Carbohydrates and insulin play a crucial role in energy requirements and weight management. Your body produces insulin to regulate your blood sugar (glucose) levels, allowing cells to absorb the sugar. Insulin causes weight gain when cells absorb too much glucose and the body converts this into fat.
Don’t eat simple carbs (processed food). Complex carbohydrates contain fiber, vitamins and minerals, and they take longer to digest – which means they have less of an immediate impact on blood sugar, causing it to rise more slowly. The insulin released by the body is slower as a result. A spike in insulin levels occurs when you eat simple carbs. Insulin makes you hungry, so you want to eat more food, which causes insulin levels to spike again, which causes fat growth as well as more hunger, which causes you to eat more, which in the long run can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Food as entertainment
Don’t eat if you’re not hungry. When I chose the Metabolic Balance Plan as part of my lifestyle, I was surprised by home much of my eating habits revolved around entertainment. A lot of us overeat because the food is so readily available. We snack not because we’re hungry, but because we are bored, tired, lonely or depressed. If nibbling throughout the day is one of your habits, make a conscious choice to replace snacks with water.
Water and weight loss
Do drink more water. Drinking water between meals is a natural appetite suppressant, fooling your stomach into believing it’s satisfied. Dehydration slows your metabolism. Over time, a slower metabolism makes it more difficult to lose weight. Few people drink as much water as they should. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So don’t rely on your body to tell you when to drink. Instead, drink water on a regular basis. Keep a large water bottle at your desk, and take generous guzzles frequently.
An apple a day
Although research shows that eating more apples may not actually be associated with fewer visits to the doctor, adding apples to your diet can help improve several aspects of your health. Apples are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are high in fiber and water — two qualities that make them filling. Furthermore, some natural compounds in them may promote weight loss. A study found that obese mice lost more weight and had lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol when given a supplement of ground apples than the control group.
What about dietary supplements?
As far as I’m concerned, don’t do it. For healthy weight management, better to rely on a healthy diet and an exercise program you enjoy.
Fat-trapping products generally contain chitosan. It comes from the powdered shells of shrimps, crabs, and other shellfish. Supposedly it binds to fat in the food you eat, keeping it from being digested. Chitosan is simply a source of fiber. While a high fiber diet is good for weight loss, there are lots of cheaper alternatives.
The danger of chitosan is that it may get in the way of your body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, including Vitamin A and D, and the disease-fighting phytochemicals found in many fruits and vegetables.
If you’re looking to manage your weight, there are healthy ways to do so. Do it mindfully. Focus less on the weight loss part of it, and more on choosing to feel healthy. If weight is affecting your wellbeing, focus on your relationship with food. Resolving a love-hate relationship with food leads to sustainable and life-enhancing changes that simply can’t be measured on a scale.
For more inspiration or information on my holistic health care and healthy weight loss and lifestyle services, please visit my weight loss coaching services in Ottawa.