Weight Loss Diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
This is quite a long article, but it needs to be considering the subject of weight loss is so vast. Yet even though I have only touched on the subject, I feel there may be aspects I’ve included that you may not have considered.
When considering a weight loss diet, it is important to first visit a health practitioner or doctor to rule out or support any health conditions that may contribute to weight gain. These may include the following conditions:
- Thyroid conditions (hypothyroidism)
- Elevated cortisol levels
- Leptin resistance
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated histamine
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Intestinal bacteria imbalances
Eating the wrong types of foods for your body type and metabolic rate, or overeating, or craving foods due to nutritional imbalances or biochemical and neurotransmitter imbalances, or just plain emotional eating, can all lead to weight gain.
Sometimes it’s the little things that creep up on us like a biscuit or two at morning tea, a beer after work, a glass of wine with dinner, a chocolate at afternoon tea, ice-cream on the weekends, and gradually the extra calories add up and hey presto…more fat on the body.
The other main contributor to weight gain can be aging. As we get older our muscle mass naturally decreases, our youthful hormones decline, and we tend to do less exercise. This can be addressed by increasing activity along with some weight-lifting movements…gently of course.
I don’t know how exact the numbers are, but I heard that when we are at rest, for every pound (½ kilo) of fat in our body that we carry, we burn 2 calories per hour, but every pound of muscle burns 50 calories per hour.
If our overall body fat gets too high, then it’s much more difficult to burn off those calories. That’s why it makes sense to build more muscle mass.
My personal trainer at the gym says effective weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise and she emphasises cardio especially the short high impact type (high intensity interval training or HIIT) as well as weight training.
She says diet alone can make you lose weight but without the exercise you won’t be fit and toned and may even lose muscle mass…and that’s not good for our metabolism.
Exercise stimulates my appetite, which is a normal healthy response, but it can also add more calories. But it’s easy to satisfy the extra appetite with low calorie healthy foods…provided you make that choice.
You won’t see anything in this article endorsing stimulants and metabolism boosters as these can drain your adrenal glands and increase cortisol which puts further stress on your body and create adverse effects on your health and vitality.
Now let’s look at those health problems listed above – after all there are other reasons that can contribute to weight gain issues.
Thyroid conditions (Hypothyroidism or Hashimotos disease)
Anyone with an underactive thyroid knows how hard it can be to keep their weight down. The thyroid controls our metabolism and when it is under-active then our metabolism doesn’t burn our fuel/food efficiently. If you suspect an underactive thyroid then please seek medical and natural health practitioner advice. See my article about the Hypothyroid Diet which you may wish to consider if thyroid is affecting your weight.
Elevated Cortisol levels and weight
Any stress, even day to day stress, causes our cortisol (an adrenal hormone) level to rise. Long-term stress keeps our cortisol level elevated for prolonged periods causing a myriad of health imbalances.
What does cortisol have to do with weight gain? Cortisol causes food cravings, and for women those cravings tend to mainly be for carbohydrates, especially sweet foods and chocolate. But the more carbs we eat, the more our moods get worse, and then we crave more sweets, which creates more stress for our body. What a cycle!
But it gets worse. Cortisol triggers an enzyme in our fat cells to store more fat, and we have more of these enzymes in our abdomen, packing fat around our vital organs. That’s why women often have more belly fat, which then increases our risk of heart disease and diabetes.
So if your extra weight is hanging around your middle, then think of cortisol and stress as a potential contributor – unless you have a ‘beer belly’ which is more about bloating from the yeast, hops, gluten and all those extra sugar calories, not to mention liver damage.
Weight distributed around the butt and hips area is often linked to female hormonal imbalances – even in guys, although they will often get bigger breasts instead (gynecomastia). Weight around the thighs and arms can be linked to lymphatic system congestion. If you are unsure about any of these please speak with your health practitioner.
Leptin resistance and weight
The leptin hormone plays a huge role in the body and is one of the most important hormones to determine your health and wellbeing. Modern science has recently discovered some breakthrough information about the leptin hormone and how it could be one of the main reasons why you struggle with weight issues.
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a master hormone in the body that controls hunger and satiety (the feeling of being satisfied). Leptin is secreted by fat cells so the more overweight a person is the higher their leptin levels should be, which is supposed to switch off hunger feelings when you have eaten enough (if working properly). But the problem lies with what is called leptin resistance.
What causes Leptin resistance?
As with all hormone issues, leptin resistance is a complex issue with no singular cause, but there are many factors that can negatively impact leptin levels including:
- Fructose consumption, especially high fructose corn syrup. High fructose products may even be sneakily labelled with ‘no added sugar’ if the product contains fruit and fruit sugars (fructose), which are not good for you – think innocent looking canned or bottled fruit. Honey is high in fructose as are many fruits, which are not recommended if you want to lose weight. Look at the carb/sugar level on the packet.
- Consumption of a lot of simple carbs/carbohydrates, even non-fructose forms like glucose, hidden or otherwise, can cause leptin resistance.
- Grain and lectin consumption (not leptin but ‘lectin’, another culprit) see the Low Lectins Diet for more information.
- Poor sleep increases cortisol which is a stress hormone that makes us store more fat. This also increases leptin resistance.
- Excessive exercise will increase cortisol because your body thinks you are running from danger (cortisol is a fight and flight hormone) which can increase leptin resistance
- High insulin levels. High sugar causes both insulin and leptin resistance
- By ignoring the bodies signs that you have eaten enough, the leptin hormone thinks it is not needed so it switches off
How to deal with Leptin resistance
- Eat little to none of the simple starches, refined foods, sugars and fructose. While this is initially very hard for someone with leptin resistance, the cravings will go away, sometimes within a few days, particularly when balanced with high levels of good quality healthy nutritious foods.
- Consume a good level of protein and healthy fats first thing in the morning to help promote satiety and give the body the building blocks to make hormones.
- Eat more Omega-3s foods such as fish, grass fed meats and chia seeds. Also minimize Omega-6 consumption such as vegetable oils, conventional raised meats, grains, etc to lower inflammation and help support healthy leptin levels.
- Try not to snack. When you constantly eat (even small amounts) throughout the day your liver must keep working which doesn’t give your hormones a break. Try to space meals at least four hours apart and preferably don’t eat for at least three hours before bed. Sumo wrestlers put on weight by eating then going to sleep immediately. If the body doesn’t need the fuel to be active, then it is more likely to store it as fat.
- The old-fashioned theory of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen (assuming she eats less than her husband 🙂) and dinner like a pauper (poor person) has some merits but is often not practical in our busy lives. But if you can adopt this timetable, it might be worth a try. Biggest meal at breaky, modest meal in the middle of the day and a snack or light meal at dinnertime.
Some find they can’t eat anything, let alone a big meal, first thing in the morning before they head off for the day. Instead, they could eat a large lunch and a moderate size early dinner to allow time for the food to digest before bedtime. To make this practical, you could prepare dinner at night and at the same time, prepare lunch for the next day with leftovers, or a soup, or a small amount of protein with steamed veggies or a simple salad.
Insulin resistance and weight
This is a ‘biggy’ for weight issues. Insulin resistance is like leptin resistance in that insulin and leptin are both hormones that can affect weight gain. Insulin resistance is more relative to, and can be a pre-disposing factor, that leads to Type 2 diabetes. See more in my Diabetes Diet article.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to digest carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in foods like bread, rice, breakfast cereal, pasta, fruits and sugars. When we consume carbohydrate rich foods, insulin is then secreted by the pancreas to take glucose from the food to the muscles for energy.
But when we keep eating more carbs than the body needs, insulin production is not as effective, which leads to insulin resistance and potentially diabetes.
Insulin is also a fat-storing hormone so the more insulin that circulates in the body, the harder it is to burn body fat. High levels of insulin can make you feel tired, bloated, and crave sugar (now that’s a vicious circle). People with insulin resistance tend to carry much of their weight around their belly, so it can be harder to distinguish from a cortisol belly, but if stress isn’t a big issue for you then think insulin resistance. Check with your doctor or health practitioner to determine what is more likely for you.
In most cases insulin resistance doesn’t need medication. A suitable diet (low carb, quality protein and modest good fats) will certainly help, such as the Diabetes Diet or the Weight Loss Diet.
Elevated histamine and weight
It’s unusual to associate elevated histamine with weight problems, but high histamine increases the appetite, so if you are ‘crazy hungry’ it might be worth getting your histamine levels tested. There is a condition called histamine intolerance and you don’t have to get hay-fever or allergy symptoms to have this condition as it can be related to so many other symptoms. For more information check my article about the Low Histamine Diet. Talk to your doctor or health practitioner to see if this diet is more suitable for you.
Food intolerances/allergies and weight
Sometimes if we have a food intolerance or allergy we crave the foods we react to. Ironic, but it does happen. If this is the case for you it can contribute to weight gain because your body can’t handle these foods. For further information, see my article about the Allergies & Intolerances Diet and speak to your health care practitioner about testing if needed.
Intestinal bacteria imbalances
This is a new kid on the block involving weight issues. It seems that thin people have more of one type of gut bacteria than overweight people do. This relates to the groups of bacteria called firmicutes and bacteroides. Overweight people (and mice) studied in this research had high levels of firmicutes gut bacteria while slim people (and mice) have more of the bacteroides. You can get these levels tested by certain pathology labs. Speak to your health practitioner about one in your area.
Research in this area is in its infancy, but the main point is that a healthy gut is an important factor for successful weight loss. The good news is that re-balancing the bacteria in your gut with gut healthy foods can bring back the good bacteria. Talk to your health practitioner to see if this could be an issue and look at the foods that help support this condition in the Leaky Gut Diet.
Inflammation and weight
Inflammation increases the risk for various diseases. Some studies show that weight gain increases inflammation, and other studies say that that inflammation can increase weight (it seems to be the chicken or egg theory at play here).
But what we do know is that if you lose weight, your inflammation markers will go down. Also, decreased inflammation has been shown to make it easier to lose weight. It appears to relate to the stress-cortisol-inflammation cycle, so a diet that helps to reduce inflammation could help you to shed excess kilos. For more information go to the Inflammation Diet.
The topic of weight loss is huge. There’s a massive section of the food industry that appears to be dedicated to making us fatter. Then there’s another huge industry dedicated to weight loss.
I googled the term ‘weight loss’ and in 0.64 seconds it showed me there are 1,620,000,000 results. Now that’s a lot of reading time. And to add to the mix is the article you’re reading right now!
So apart from the health and dietary viewpoints I present, here are some other aspects about weight loss that may help you.
Let’s face it, when you’re overweight exercise is something that often only exists in the brain…in the future. Yet isn’t it amazing how that future never seems to arrive. We tell ourselves stories like: ‘I’ll start tomorrow (or next week or sometime soon)’ or one of my favourites: ‘I’ll exercise when I’ve lost some weight – I can’t go to the gym looking like this!
The word ‘exercise’ reminds me of words like ‘discipline’, ‘commitment’, ‘responsibility’ and the dreaded ‘procrastination’ – words that can send shivers up your spine.
But what if we were to look at the ‘E’ word another way.
If you don’t like ‘exercise’, then instead call it ‘movement’ and you won’t have to exercise ever again!
So why move? Well for a start, it’s much better than becoming fossilised in a chair. There’s a simple equation: if the calories (energy) that you feed into your body exceed the calories (energy) you burn, you’ll gain weight.
For example, a bricklayer needs to consume more calories than an office worker. But when an office worker consumes as many calories as a bricklayer, then doesn’t burn them off, there’s a problem.
Movement can be fun, particularly when you choose activities you enjoy.
Walking is great! One step followed by another gives you a wonderful opportunity to get out of your head and into the world to connect with nature. Walking doesn’t require much equipment or cost: supportive shoes and comfortable clothing is all you need. As you enjoy getting out and about, gradually increase the distance or pace. Did you know that walking for half an hour can increase your serotonin levels by 50%?
Swimming is enjoyable (provided you know how). And then there’s movement that can be enjoyed with a group, like table tennis, badminton, dancing, or a spin or pump class at the gym. There are plenty of choices. Aerobic activities release feel-good hormones such as serotonin and endorphins. Light weight training can build muscle, which will burn fat faster.
Yet you don’t have to train to be a top athlete to receive the benefits. It’s more about exercise aligning with what you need to support your life. Someone in front of a computer all day may need to build their core strength, a landscaper needs strong arms, legs and back muscles, a retired person may need flexibility, toning and aerobic fitness.
The key to exercise (oops, movement) is to do it regularly and at your pace – not someone else’s. And don’t get caught in a comparison trap where you feel you need to keep up with the fit ones in a spin class or to lift weights that are too heavy or stretch more than you are ready for in a yoga class. An injury can set your movement program back for some time.
Do what feels right for your body and make movement consistent and enjoyable and feel the excess weight dissolving (or turning to muscle).
Stress management is important to support any health condition. As mentioned previously, stress has a negative effect on hormones which in turn can result in excess weight
Consistent good sleep patterns are great to help reduce stress. Have you ever noticed when you overeat or eat late that your sleep is disturbed, or you feel gluggy when you wake instead of feeling fresh and revitalised? It’s important to allow plenty of time between your evening meal and bedtime and not overeat, otherwise your body will use up lots of energy to digest food, when it really needs to be regenerating while you sleep.
Also allow some wind down time away from computers, mobile phones and racy or violent television shows. I know from experience that these affect the quality of my sleep. It’s as if I’m carrying that energy to bed, instead of the calmness needed for a good night’s sleep.
For more information, see my article about the Insomnia Diet.
Ever noticed how an initial ‘naughty’ choice of food can trigger a run of bad choices?
For example, a cup of coffee might tempt us to add a slice of cake or a biscuit, which later might lead to an ice cream. And how we drop our guard when on holidays or at a party. And how the cravings get worse as we get out of control. Sugar is so damned addictive!
If you want to lose weight, why not anticipate what brings you unstuck and then consider your choices well in advance? For example, before you go to the café, pub, party or holiday, make a firm choice about what you will and won’t consume, otherwise it can be difficult to make those choices once you are let loose amongst all the temptations.
And then there are our well-meaning friends or relatives who try to tempt us away from wellness: ‘Oh, go on, just one slice won’t hurt’ or ‘a glass or two of red wine is good for you’. Why do people throw obstacles in our path when we are trying to get healthier? Could it be because they feel uncomfortable because they are being exposed if you make the transition to vitality?
I suggest discussing with those around you that you are serious about your health and ask them for their support (not the opposite).
My husband Rod and I attempted all sorts of things when we were trying to lose weight. In fact, it was very trying. We were already alcohol, caffeine, gluten and dairy free (which had been a gradual progression over three years) so overall you could say we were going ok and were both quite healthy. But sugar was the final frontier.
There was the ‘one day a week’ (or should I say ‘weak’) approach where we were ‘good’ for six days of the week, then cut ourselves some slack on the seventh day. All that did was to stimulate our sugar addiction which kept putting us off track.
There was our avoidance diet – the one where you avoid going to the places that can tempt you. After a while we realised that we needed to either buy a helicopter so we could fly over the cafes, supermarkets, chocolate and cake shops, or live in another location such as a remote mountain with no transport.
Both were not very practical, so we dropped that short-lived idea. But now, when we shop at the supermarket, we simply avoid many of the aisles (you know the ones).
There was the disciplined approach which lasted three days on average. In fact, we had many discussions at various cafés about the best way to drop our sugar addiction. It’s amazing how rational you can be about healthy eating while enjoying a cup of decaf accompanied by dairy free chocolate or a gluten free cake!
Notice I said ‘enjoying’ in the previous sentence. We did enjoy it, but we also knew the effect that sugar had on our bodies – the slight energy boost followed by tiredness and lethargy which really affected our productivity. We liked the taste, but when we really felt into it we realised that after a couple of mouthfuls, it was no big deal. And sugar made us fatter.
We ‘committed’ to breaking the sugar cycle many times. At least we were consistent! The problem was that when we ‘failed’ we often felt guilty which led us back to the habit we were trying to break. Guilt (or mentally bashing yourself with an emotion if you slip up) is really damaging to your body and mental well-being as it creates tension and adds more stress to the body.
If you slip up, you slip up. That’s how it is. Some people may try to give up smoking 40 or 50 times, but at least they are heading in the right direction. The same happens for some who want to lose weight.
Weight loss can be tough and as you start, how often do you see something that wants to pull you off track – a colleague’s birthday party at the office and the secretary delights in presenting the most calorie dense foods available to mankind. Or just when you give up ice cream, they bring out the most amazing one ever invented. We know. They even brought out a gluten and dairy free chocolate coated coconut ice-cream for us to try. There’s always something to tempt us.
Ultimately, we needed to consider a different approach.
We could see this was a bad habit we had got into. We’re not ‘bad’ people (in fact, quite the opposite) and people who are heavier are certainly not ‘bad’ or stupid. It’s about making better choices.
First, we looked at the pros and cons of our sugar addiction and what was behind it. We found that when we were mildly stressed (say something like a family issue) or working on something that needed a lot of mental effort, then chocolate or cake gave us a temporary relief to our reactions. Yet it was short lived, cost money and was no good for us.
Reactions are expressed emotions. There have been volumes of material published about the relationship between emotions and eating (the cause and effect principle). I won’t elaborate on this vast subject, suffice to say that for many, getting to the bottom of and understanding the hurts that cause emotions, is necessary to clear that ill-energy from the body.
There are various methods to help with this process, such as truthful introspection, or with the help of an experienced counsellor to recognise the underlying issues. It’s important because emotions are the source of many illnesses and diseases.
Rod and I learned how to not react to the day-to-day stresses of life by seeing them for what they really were. We recognised that the issue was really about our reactions, and not the circumstance itself, and how we had used our minds to make too big a deal out of situations.
Instead, all we had to do was to pause, settle and relax into our bodies and the solution or best approach would present itself.
Notice the word ‘pause’. Perhaps ‘the pause’ is one of the biggest aids for weight loss. The pause to feel what would be best for your body before going into a café, supermarket or a cake shop. A pause before going back for seconds or having dessert. A pause before doing those things that we later say to ourselves, “What was I thinking?”
We discussed what the benefits would be for us to have lighter and more toned bodies – such as more energy, looking and feeling great, consistent good moods, and no glugginess, lethargy or guilt. This meant we would be more productive and feel better about ourselves and others. Then we asked:
Is more vitality and joy worth trading for chocolate or a slice of cake?
The answer was obvious…a no brainer. We could see there was so much to gain (and that wasn’t weight) rather than bemoaning what we would be ‘giving up’.
We also recognised that instead of sugar, we could get the same ‘high’ from walking in nature, or a short meditation, and being present. There was a joy in these activities as they revitalised us, without the side effects.
Now we eat for vitality and tune in to our ‘glug radar’ to recognise and avoid foods that convert into lethargy. Hey, it doesn’t work all the time (it’s a work in progress) but isn’t that what vitality’s all about?
What greater gift could we give ourselves than the gift of vitality?
Self-image, or the way we see ourselves, has a strong correlation to our level of care. A low self-image or feeling of worth often reflects the quality of care and respect we have for our body, which in turn influences our food choices
Then by choosing to consume food and drink that is not harmonious for our body, we suffer. We set up a self-destructive cycle where we feel bad about ourselves, make poor choices, feel worse and continue to disrespect our body.
This is a cycle we must break!
A poor self-image is often created by comparing ourselves to others, or by reacting to the way that others may have treated us. Notice I used the word ‘created’. We create our own image – thus self-image is a product of our imagination. So if we have created a picture that we don’t like, what’s stopping us from creating another, more pleasing image?
Consider this: your weight or your size or what someone has said about you is not who you are. The truth of who you really are lies within your joyful, loving essence. Sometimes it hides, but it never leaves you.
I found that when I made positive steps for my health, I created a momentum. For example, I started at the gym to do two weight sessions a week. It was a bit of an effort, but after three weeks, I added another day to include a circuit, then I started rotating different sessions each weekday.
Now I’m either there early, or instead I walk in nature depending on the weather. I love the variety and choose what feels right for me on the day. It’s fun and I feel great about myself.
Let’s say you choose to go for a walk every second day. You enjoy it and gradually increase the distance. As you progress you feel upbeat, walk every day, and feel great.
The same goes for food choices. Initially you might take baby steps to improve your diet. As you progress you are motivated by your success, feel better, and extend your healthy diet. In other words, you build momentum. And if you fall off the wagon, that’s ok, just hop back on and continue along your merry way.
By connecting to your body, making self-loving choices and being consistent, you can change old habits and patterns. In turn, your feelings of self-worth and how you see yourself will help you to recognise the lovely essence of who you really are.
The game that’s being played
Many executives, marketers, scientists, and board members associated with packaged food companies are playing with us. There’s a big game going on to keep us addicted to sugar or salt or fat by tweaking flavours and additives and packaging products to entice us to buy. This is all about maximising profits – at our expense
Walk down the supermarket aisles and you see it in action where talented graphic artists have done an amazing job on the packaging of all sorts of rubbish foods, making you drool so much that you may need to change clothes. Then there’s advertising, with images and sounds scientifically formulated and tested to maximise responses. In other words, to hook or suck us in.
How dare they! But when we understand the game they are playing to manipulate us to buy products that they know are harmful to us and our children, then we can beat them at their game. How? With money. The money that we refuse to spend with those companies any more.
The best way is to avoid those tempting middle aisles of the supermarket.
Manufacturing executives who make manipulative decisions, knowing the harmful effects of the rubbish they feed us, may face serious judgement or consequences one day.
The Moderation Game
Another game that plays out frequently is the ‘Moderation Game’. This is when we’re told that moderation is ok (or some might call it a ‘balanced’ life). But what is moderation? For someone who drinks a six pack of beer each night, moderation might be to cut back to three a night – which is better. Whereas for another, moderation might be two light beers a week.
Moderation is in the eyes of the beholder. For example, a doctor may tell us that one or two glasses of wine doesn’t hurt. But does that doctor drink, and if so, is he merely supporting his choices?
Could it be that ‘moderation’ is a term commonly used as an excuse to indulge now and then? Is moderation really saying, ‘Look I really don’t want to stop doing, eating, drinking, or smoking this or that because I can’t live without it, so moderation is a good way to get around this dilemma.’
Some clients told me that they didn’t want to stop eating certain foods because ‘it’s the only thing that brings me happiness, so is it ok to have it in moderation?’ Another told me that drinking in moderation was ok, and then proceeded to tell me how badly it affected his health.
Could this be part of the game that we play with ourselves? We frequently hear or say that we’ll ‘miss out’ if we ‘give up’ certain foods or beverages. But if you continue to play the game of making poor eating or drinking choices, you will miss out. And what you will miss out on is something that is far more important – the opportunity to have good health and vitality.
So rather than deflect or blame others, doesn’t it make sense to be honest about the choices we make? When we feed ourselves rubbish our body becomes a toxic dumping ground. Alternatively, put in nutritious food and our body thanks us and responds with vitality. It’s all about cause and effect.
Imagine what your life would be like if you had more vitality. Worth focusing on?
There has been recent research about various types of ‘intermittent fasting’. It’s not about ‘starving for long periods of time’, but about elongated gaps between meals.
The spacing of meals gives time for the body to do repair jobs, process the food eaten previously, clean the system, discard waste, and more importantly, use fat stores for energy rather than depositing it where it is unwanted, such as your arteries or waistline.
Apparently the body does not start to burn fat until 12hrs has passed, so this means that our normal overnight fast isn’t long enough to get the metabolism rolling. But if you have a 16hr gap, then your body will burn fat for those extra 4hrs.
There are various versions of intermittent fasting discussed in health circles – these are the two main ones.
The first is the 5:2 diet where you eat normal healthy meals five days a week, then for two days a week you only eat one meal each day of around 500 calories (2092 KJ) for women, and 600 calories (2500 KJ) for men, at any time of the day that suits you. The two ‘fasting’ days do not have to be consecutive and could, for example, be a Sunday and Wednesday.
One of my clients loved to have a complete fasting day each Sunday, only drinking water and herbal tea. He had dinner on Saturday night, then did not eat solid food till breakfast on Monday, totalling 36hrs of fasting. He reported feeling very energised and ready for the working week by doing this. He didn’t sleep or lie around on Sundays, but instead did lots of fun activities like bush walks, swimming, kayaking, surfing and playing with his grandchildren.
The second style of intermittent fasting is based on the principle of eating only two meals a day with one 8hr gap and another 16hr gap. For example, you may have brunch at 11am and dinner at 7pm, or breakfast at 7am and lunch at 3pm. Irrespective of the times you select, the two meals are a regular daily event.
According to research, the number of calories in this second style of eating doesn’t seem to matter. Instead of calorie counting, eat to what feels comfortable for your body and workload. However, don’t make the mistake of over eating to compensate for that ‘lost’ meal.
Don’t be concerned, because after a week you should find that you have adapted quite easily to this style of eating. Also drink plenty of water or herbal teas to keep your fluids up and help your liver and kidneys flush out toxins.
The hours mentioned above can be altered to suit your work and lifestyle habits but the concept is still the same. Ensure you consult with your health practitioner to see if this will be suitable for your health. With the all clear, I suggest trying both types of intermittent fasting to see what works best for you.
While more studies need to be done on humans, research on mice indicates that intermittent fasting reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, cancer risk, the risk of heart disease and fat mass. It also increased lean muscle mass, energy levels and longevity (the mice studied were reported to live the equivalent of an extra 20-30 human years).
Human studies showed good results regarding health factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, lean muscle, fat mass, energy levels and obesity, but it is too early to see if it has helped with conditions such as cancer and human longevity.
In my opinion, intermittent fasting is the most successful and easy to manage way to lose weight, and to continue to do so for better health, more energy and vitality.
It seems harder to get your head around the concept, than to just do it. I initially thought that I would feel too hungry or weak and I had various false belief systems running through my head before giving it a go.
But I was surprised, as it’s not hard to manage at all. The good thing is that it is sustainable, wherever you are.
Some combine the intermittent fasting regime with a Ketogenic Diet. However, please speak to your practitioner as a Keto diet doesn’t suit everyone. But for many it is a beneficial way to lose weight without feeling hungry, due to the amount of fat consumed. Fat is a great appetite suppressant, making you feel satisfied longer. Click for more about the Ketogenic Diet.
There is no weight loss diet that suits everyone. Your practitioner can help you decide which diet best suits your body and health.
If you find you are still having trouble losing weight, it would be worthwhile to return to your doctor or health practitioner to consider other health conditions that might be affecting you such as: elevated histamine levels, food intolerances or allergies, gut health imbalances, inflammation, thyroid or adrenal hormone balance, leptin resistance, elevated cortisol or insulin resistance.
Before you commence your diet, see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance about what foods and supplements are best for your body. While on the diet do not stop any medications or supplements previously prescribed unless advised otherwise by your medical or health care professional.
During the early stages of a new diet, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or body aches, which may occur because your body is detoxifying. However, if you are unsure about a symptom at any time, check immediately with your medical or health care professional.
Client name and identifying information changed
Rowena who was 65yrs old, came to me at 110kg (242lbs) which was 30kgs (66lbs) over her preferred weight and she was looked quite unhealthy. For her height, I felt Rowena’s ideal weight should be around 60kgs (132lbs), but she would have been happy to be around 80kgs (176lbs).
When some people lose so much weight that they look different, they don’t always cope well emotionally with that. It’s also ironic when people lose weight and are healthier that well-meaning friends question if they have a health condition and perhaps they need to ‘fatten up’.
Rowena’s blood tests showed quite a bit of inflammation, insulin resistance and elevated cholesterol. She was low on a few nutrients including vitamin B12, vitamin D and zinc. These three nutrients are needed for good thyroid function (our metabolism regulator) and for healthy hormones in general, which include insulin.
Rowena’s diet was a mixture of healthy and unhealthy. The healthy part was lunch on most days at her local salad bar for a nice big healthy salad with some protein like chicken. I had been there myself, so I knew it was good quality, unlike some places that have salads that are not fresh and doused with loads of fattening dressings.
Rowena’s breakfasts were usually cereal which she thought was good because it was low calorie. But it didn’t satisfy her, so she would then snack on nuts and fruit till lunchtime. Dinner varied – sometimes pasta or rice with vegies, or maybe meat with salad or vegies.
Rowena had been overweight most of her life since puberty and had tried many diets along the way, but they were mostly the low-calorie style of eating.
Calorie counting diets do work for many people, but they are difficult to sustain and run the risk of increased insulin resistance because many of the foods can still be sugar and starch filled carbs.
Now, not all carbs are bad. The carbs that come from cereals, grains, pastas, breads, cakes etc are a nightmare for anyone trying to lose weight. Then there are the good carbs in fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables, as some fruits are high in sugar.
Sugar is a big problem. Fat is not the enemy and neither is protein, but sugar causes insulin to spike, and as insulin is the fat storing hormone, too much causes insulin resistance.
I educated Rowena about the importance of watching the amount of sugar in her meals. Most people think of sugar as just straight white sugar and if they don’t add sugar into tea or coffee or recipes, then they think they are sugar free. Unfortunately, there’s sugar added to all sorts of products, which could be under the guise of high fructose corn or fruit sugars. And then there is a heap of sugar in some foods naturally, like the starchy carbs mentioned above in breads etc.
Keeping sugar low is the key ingredient (or should I say, non-ingredient) for successful weight loss.
There are of course other factors such as lack of movement, good gut bacteria and eating too much of any food which overloads the digestive system.
Rowena thought she wasn’t eating any sugar, but when we reviewed her diet she was amazed with how much she was really consuming, but also very pleased to know how to tackle the situation. We talked about some different options to make her breakfasts more sustainable to cut back the snacks.
These included eating more protein such as eggs with salad or steamed greens, or some leftover meat, fish or chicken in a veggie soup. I also recommended salad or vegies with protein for lunch and dinner.
I shared that while it’s easy to eat the same thing each day, it was better for her to mix and vary her meals so she had a good balance of nutrients and didn’t get bored with her meals.
I suggested snack ideas such as small amounts of nuts, or carrot and cucumber rounds with hummus, liver pate or avocado dip. Also, to only eat one piece of fruit or a handful of berries if she needed something sweet. There were a few other treat ideas I shared for weight loss that have no sugar and still taste sweet (such as coconut berry jellies, or cacao vanilla squares etc) so she didn’t feel deprived.
I told Rowena to initially just do the diet without adding any extra exercise (she walked most evenings) until we could get her inflammation levels down, otherwise she might injure her body and then would not be able to exercise. After about six weeks on the diet, Rowena lost 6kgs and her inflammation markers had dropped back to the ‘normal range’ which was great progress.
Rowena was then called into work for extra night shifts and ate canteen food for three weeks. There was no further weight loss and she felt horrible, sick, and tired. Knowing how badly this affected her body, she elected to drop the night shifts and go back to her base level of four days a week during normal business hours. The extra pay was not worth what it did to her body.
With this self-loving act, Rowena got back on track. She continued to lose more weight over the next three months and when we checked her blood again, all looked very normal including her cholesterol level, which her doctor was very pleased about as he was considering medicating her. He told her to keep doing what she was doing as it was undoubtedly helping her body in many more ways than just looking better.
After a few months, Rowena started an exercise program with a local trainer who organised a nice gentle program for her, rather than a boot camp style which would not have suited her. Consequently, she started to feel fitter and more energetic and the training helped her to develop more muscle mass, which expedited further drops in her fat mass. By increasing muscle, Rowena’s metabolism increased which helped her to burn calories faster. Rowena measured her results so she could verify the changes in her body.
Over six months she lost 15kg (33lbs) which was quite significant. While she wanted to lose more weight, she had made great progress and because of the change in her ratio of muscle to fat, she looked much better.
Two years later I saw Rowena in the local shops, and hardly recognised her as her weight was down to 75kgs and she looked fantastic. This was a reduction of 35kg (77lbs) from her initial weight when she first visited me.
She was very proud of her achievement and I’m sure her body loved it. She thanked me for putting her on track with the diet that suited her best and for encouraging her to keep up with the weight training and mild cardio workouts.
Client name and identifying information changed
When Kim came to see me, her main purpose was to lose weight. She had tried all sorts of diets over the years but none shifted the stubborn weight that she had around her middle. Belly fat can be due to either cortisol levels being high from stress, or from insulin issues (too much sugar not being processed properly).
We tested her cortisol levels, thyroid, digestive system and mineral levels, and all appeared to be fine. It seemed that her main issue was insulin control.
During this discussion, Kim did admit to having a sweet tooth, but claimed to not add sugar into anything such as coffee. But she loved chocolate and sweet treats, so she was in fact consuming sugar most days. She had tried going off sugar and even fruit a couple of years previously, which stopped her weight increase, but she didn’t lose any weight, which was a bit depressing for her so she gave in to her cravings.
We discussed how magnesium deficiency was related to chocolate cravings and if she had a fungal overgrowth like candida that she would crave sweet things, but tests showed that these were fine. So, it just came down to addictions and emotionally filling an inner emptiness.
We discussed this and Kim told me how she previously had issues relating to a lack of self-worth or appreciation, and she used chocolate as an emotional crutch. She said her feelings of self-worth had changed for the better, but she didn’t kick her chocolate addiction.
We delved further into this area, and from a diet perspective we spoke about the option of trialling an Intermittent Fasting Diet to see if it could help her to lose that stubborn weight – and she also needed to stop the sugar.
An intermittent fasting program is not about cutting out calories so you can replace them with chocolate and sweets.
For Kim, the intermittent fast concept was quite easy as she was never hungry in the mornings, although she forced herself to eat breakfast because she thought it was the most important meal of the day. She would have preferred to eat around 10 or 11am with a large meal and then a lighter meal at dinner time.
I suggested trying this and to make sure that she ate a healthy, nutritious meal for brunch and dinner with no snacks of chocolate or anything else so her digestive system could have the rest it needed, and her fat stores would supply energy.
Each meal was around 500-600 calories so her daily total was around 1100-1200 calories. That way she could gradually lose weight each week.
Eating this way not only reduced her calories, but also gave her better insulin control so that her body wasn’t trying to store fat and instead, use her fat stores to run her body in the mornings.
Kim came back to see me after three weeks of intermittent fasting using the 16hr/8hr method. She had brunch at 11am and dinner at 7pm, so her body had a 16hr fast overnight and an 8hr break during the day.
This was easy for Kim and she loved not having to deal with breakfast, which was usually a busy time getting ready for work, and she said she was half asleep at that time anyway.
She ate brunch at her designated morning tea-time and skipped her lunch break which made her more productive at work. She prepared herself a nourishing meal at home for dinner, also cooking extra protein (chicken, meat, egg etc) at dinner time to go with a salad for her next day’s brunch.
Psychologically, Kim thought that the intermittent fasting would be hard, but she said it was actually very easy and made her work-day easier and more productive. More importantly she had loads more energy, better focus and lost 4kgs of weight in 3 weeks which was more than she had ever lost in any program before.
Although she wasn’t terribly overweight to start with, she had a stubborn belly that she just couldn’t shift before, but now Vanessa was well on the way to having the flat belly she had always dreamed of.