And so the cycle continues. Fad diet after fad diet, with short lived success and feelings of deprivation and restriction.
If I told you that you do not need to starve yourself to lose weight or go on a restrictive, boring and miserable diet would you believe me? I have this conversation with so many people, mainly women, who just don’t see how this can be true. They walk away forgetting what I’ve said within about 30 seconds, so sure that calorie restriction and excessive cardio at the gym is the only way to shed the weight they are so very fed up with.
I also find that when it comes to weight loss, so many people don’t regard the nutrition factor with any importance, and that they are only really concerned with losing as much weight as they can, as quickly as they can. Yo-yo dieting can have a detrimental effect on our health, not to mention the stretch marks! Aside from the health effects of restrictive and yo-yo dieting so many people are missing out on the true enjoyment of food. Good, tasty and wholesome foods that make us feel satiated and energetic are being overlooked in this bid to lose weight at whatever cost.
I am going to explain the key to successful and sustainable weight loss in the hope that many of my readers will accept it, try it for themselves and have faith that it will work for you!
1) Eat breakfast within an hour of waking
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day when it comes to fat loss. Leaving large gaps between meals causes our blood sugar to drop too low and so the next meal we eat can cause a sharp rise in our blood glucose (sugar) level. Insulin is responsible for moving excess glucose into fat cells for storage and is released in response to food consumption. The more glucose in the blood at any one the more fat is stored. In the morning our blood sugar level is at its lowest so what you eat for breakfast is all important. Having a sugary low protein breakfast can causes a high spike in blood sugar and thus a larger amount of fat is stored by insulin. Ensure your breakfast always contains good amounts of protein, a complex carbohydrate and some healthy fats. Protein slows down the release of sugar into the blood (so reduced fat storage) and has a satiating effect, keeping us fuller for longer.
2) Then eat every 3-4 hours following breakfast
This will prevent your blood sugar level dropping low and keep it stable throughout the day. Keeping the blood sugar level stable will minimize fat storage. All meals and snacks should contain a protein, a complex carbohydrate and some healthy fat. This will also keep energy levels stable too!
3) Stick to complex carbohydrate and low GI fruits
Go easy on fruit; although it contains fibre and vitamins its still sugar at the end of the day, and your body doesn’t differentiate between the sugar from a load of fruit and the sugar from a bar of chocolate. Include low sugar fruits such as apples, pears and darkly coloured berries like blueberries, or blackberries and use no more than a handful per day.
Switch white/refined carbs for complex carbs, see the list below!
4) Include plenty of fibre from vegetables especially leafy greens
Fibre is important not only for our digestive health but also for weight loss. Fibre stretches the stomach and so we feel fuller faster, and also for longer. Fibre takes longer to chew and digest and therefore slows down eating so we signal to our brain that we are full BEFORE we have eaten everything in sight and then realised we were probably already too full! Fibre also holds onto sugar, slowing its release into the bloodstream and so preventing the high blood sugar spikes that lead to fat storage.
5) Include healthy fats
The fats we must avoid are trans fats and hydrogenated fats; these are found in most processed foods, including biscuits, cookies, margarine, fried and battered foods, and pie crusts. It’s important however to include healthy fats daily. You have probably heard a lot about coconut oil and how healthy it is, that’s because it really is, and it can help with weight loss too. Although coconut oil is composed of saturated fatty acids they are the beneficial kind, known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are burnt for energy rather than stored and they help to speed our metabolism to burn fat faster. MCTs also have a satiating effect helping us feel fuller quicker and for longer. There are so many benefits of coconut oil I will have to save that for another article! But for now please just know that coconut oil is a healthy and beneficial item to add into your daily diet, for general health reasons as well as weight loss.
It’ also important to include essential fats everyday such as avocado, omega-3 rich fish like wild salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines, nuts and seeds, olive oil, hemp oil, hemp seeds, flax oil, flaxseed, chia seeds, nut butters. These can help to burn fat and improve the body’s response to insulin (minimizing fat storage). Aim to include oily fish 3-4 times per week and minimize red meat (organic and grass fed) to 1-2 portions per week.
6) Reduce or eliminate stimulants
Stimulants such as caffeine, energy drinks, nicotine and alcohol raise our blood sugar level and so increase the production of insulin, which, as we know, leads to fat storage the more it is produced.
7) Get the right amount of sleep!!
Lack of sleep and broken sleep can have detrimental effects on our weight loss efforts and fat storage! We can go to the gym everyday and eat well but if we are not sleeping well and for long enough each night those our efforts are in vain. A lack of sleep can decrease levels of an important hormone (leptin) that tells our brain we are full and or not hungry. This is not to say that we shouldn’t eat, or we should feel full even when we haven’t eaten properly, it’s just that if levels of leptin are low then we are more likely to overeat and crave sugar. Furthermore lack of sleep increases a hormone (ghrelin) that makes us hungrier and again, crave carbs and sugar.
8) Reduce stress!
This is soooo important. Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. Cortisol increases our blood sugar level in a bid to provide the brain with the fuel it needs to handle stressful situation, the problem is we just don’t need that amount of sugar for a stressful situation that isn’t physical (e.g. running from a tiger) but psychological, such as running late for work or being stuck in traffic. The excess sugar is then stored as fat. The more these events occur the more fat is stored. So it’s vital to get your stress levels under control using techniques such as meditation, simple meditation breathing and mindfulness, again there is so much to say about this and I will write on it separately.
Here’s an idea for an ideal day:
Breakfast (within an hour of waking)
2 eggs scrambled with 50g of smoked salmon, spinach and baby tomatoes on 1 slice of rye toast. Or, for busy people on the move a protein breakfast smoothie.
Snack (if not eating lunch within 3 hours of finishing breakfast)
1 apples and about 12 almonds/walnuts/brazil nuts
1 wild salmon steak, 50g of brown rice, spinach, watercress, rocket, red onion and baby tomatoes (grated carrot and beetroot, and fennel if you’re happy to add even more veg!)
150g of natural Greek yoghurt e.g. Yeo Valley with handful of blueberries and sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1 chicken breast with a small baked sweet potato, spinach and broccoli
There are so many options and ideas for a day of nutritious, satiating and tasty easting. We do not need to nor should we starve and restrict ourselves or follow fad diets. Love food, love eating it, just choose it wisely, plan ahead and be organised.
Swap the refined carbs for the complex carbs:
Refined carbohydrate foods:
Potatoes (except sweet potatoes)
Cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, croissants, doughnuts etc etc
Quiche and any pastry pies
Cereals e.g. Coco Pops, Cheerios, Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes etc.
Fizzy drinks, concentrated juice drinks, sports drinks, other sugary drinks
Pre-packaged and processed foods
Foods that release glucose into the blood stream in lower amounts and more slowly are known as ‘complex’ carbohydrates foods:
Brown or wholemeal pasta
Brown basmati rice
All vegetables apart from potatoes and parsnips
Low sugar fruits such as berries, apples and pears
Whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, oats and rye
Beans, pulses and lentils
We need to eat and not diet, simply eat well all year round, for good, and you will never need to deprive yourself again AND you will enjoy a weight you’re happy with and one you can sustain for life.
For a consultation with me for a more detailed and personalised weight loss plan call now on 07860 573 901