There is plenty of information out there for effective weight loss. However, to be effective, it must be sustainable. These are my 5 tips for sustainable weight loss.
3 years ago, I wrote a blog on intermittent fasting and the health benefits associated with fasting.
By daily fasting, not only do you reduce the number of calories consumed but you also help boost your metabolism.
When we eat, food is broken down by enzymes in the body. The food ends up as molecules in the bloodstream.
The pancreas senses very high blood sugar levels and secretes insulin. The blood sugar is called glucose. Insulin will transport the glucose into certain cells in the body, namely liver cells and muscle cells so that it can be used as energy. This stored energy in muscles is called glycogen. Any excess energy, if not used, has to be stored somehow.
So the excess glucose is basically stored in the fat cells or adipocytes. Continued large amounts of sugar can eventually cause fatty liver disease where excess fat accumulates in liver cells and can also cause metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes where the body becomes insulin resistant.
Intermittent fasting for 14-16 hours per day can have a significant impact on lowering sugar levels and therefore reduce the stores of fat in the cells of the body.
Skip that breakfast and give your liver, pancreas and digestive system a rest and allow your body to use up its fat stores!
NB: It is recommend to avoid any type of fasting if you suffer from a chronic disease, even for a short period of time. Examples of chronic diseases are Gout and Diabetes.
You’ve got to do it. Every day! Yes, every day.
That doesn’t mean you have to sign up to a HIIT class every morning. Physical activity can be a brisk walk, house cleaning or washing the car. You can tidy the garden or play with the kids in the park (double bonus as you get them off screen time). There are countless ways to be active, burn energy and keep trim.
But you will need 2-3 structured exercise days per week. Cycling, running, rowing, a fitness class or dancing. Whatever makes you happy.
And you need to lift weights weekly. Recent research indicates that lifting weights keeps your muscles metabolically active for up to 24 hours after training. Plus there is the added bonus of increased muscle, tendon and ligament strength, greater mobility and reduced risk of injuries. Oh and you’ll look good.
Worried about using weights. Employ a Personal Trainer!
AVOID REFINED SUGARS AND GRAINS
Refined sugars and carbohydrates are forms of sugars and starches that do not naturally exist without human intervention. These foods have been processed (altered).
The processing extracts all the goodness from the food which means the body digests these foods too quickly. This causes high levels of sugar in the blood resulting in a spike in insulin levels. Continued daily spikes in insulin contributes to metabolic issues associated with chronic diseases.
And because refined sugar and grains are digested quickly, you still feel hungry after eating, no matter how many calories you consumed.
Unrefined sugar in foods such as fruit contains mainly vitamins, nutrients and fibre which slows down the digestion. Due to the slow digestion process, the fruit in the stomach expands to help the feeling of fullness.
However, once the sugar passes through the stomach and reaches the small intestine, it doesn’t matter if it came from an apple or a soft drink. If you already have a lot of sugar in your system, the excess sugar will be stored in the fat cells of the body.
So don’t eat all the fruit in the fruit bowl at once!
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that only 6-10% of our daily calories should come from sugar.
So, next time you’re out food shopping, avoid foods containing more than 10g of sugars per 100g (read those labels).
Sleep is probably something you wouldn’t associate with the 5 tips for sustainable weight loss. However, the blog I wrote on the 10 physiological changes during sleep explains why sleep is important for health and weight management.
The neurotransmitters ghrelin and leptin are central to appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger and leptin contributes to feeling full. The body naturally increases and decreases the levels of ghrelin and leptin throughout the day, signalling the need to eat.
A lack of sleep can alter the regulation of these neurotransmitters increase ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and decrease leptin (the satiety hormone) resulting in increased calories.
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together” ~ Thomas Dekker
All you need is sleep.
INCREASE LOW ENERGY DENSITY FOODS
Energy density is the number of calories in a specific amount of food. High energy density means there are a lot of calories in a little food. Low energy density means there are few calories in a lot of food.
Foods that are low energy density are green and colourful vegetables and fruit. Although they are low energy density, they are nutrient dense giving the feeling of fullness after eating.
Foods such as sweets, chocolates, fried food, refined sugars, refined grains and dairy are all high density foods. By filling up with low energy density foods, you are reducing the amount of calories consumed which is ideal for weight loss.
But not all high energy density foods are bad for your waistline. Some foods such as avocado, seeds and nuts are also nutrient dense and should form part of your healthy eating plan and will contribute to overall good health.
By mainly eating low energy density foods, you will having the feeling of being satiated and sustaining a heathy weight.
A FEW ADDITIONS
There are a few additions to my 5 tips for sustainable weight loss.
- eat slowly
- drink water
- weigh yourself first thing in the morning
- avoid supplements and shakes (short term gain only)
- cut down on dairy
- veggies are king
- my plate rule
Eat for the body you want. Not for the body you have.