Ideal Body Weight: Part One
Maintaining an Ideal Body WeightThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
I will assume that, by now, most of my readers have a pretty good understanding of which foods are healthful and which are not. Still, many struggle with keeping their weight down, so in this series of newsletters I will look at approaches we can take to further refine our dietary and supplemental choices, in order to facilitate a healthy body weight. First, let’s have a brief look at those nutritional supplements that can help us attain that goal.
Does A Weight-loss Program Require Nutritional Supplements?
Many people think of vitamin and mineral supplements as something used only to maintain basic health and well being. But, when they find themselves taking 6 capsules of a herbal supplement to aid their weight-loss program, they may decide that they can forgo their regular vitamin regimen. Quite the contrary. Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and enzymes, all have a role to play in a balanced weight loss program.
Those supplements that help to control body weight are divided into two categories. First are the energy nutrients, including magnesium and the B-complex vitamins, which are involved in the conversion of food to energy. They activate enzymes, which control the digestion and absorption of carbs, fats, and proteins. Without the support of energy nutrients calories are not burned in the body’s cells, and instead are stored as fat.
The other category is protector nutrients, which are those that defend the cells against damaging toxins. When there are insufficient protector nutrients the cells will be damaged by free radicals and other toxins, leading to impaired metabolism and ensuing weight gain. Protector nutrients include the anti-oxidants beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and the minerals copper, manganese, selenium, and zinc. Let’s have a look at some of these, and other nutritional supplements, and see how they will help you achieve your ideal weight.
Vitamin A: Maintains the lining of the digestive tract which facilitates the absorption of nutrients. Necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, and helps the thyroid to absorb iodine which is essential for proper thyroid function. Beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, is also an anti-oxidant, but those with impaired thyroid function (one symptom being obesity) cannot effectively convert beta carotene into vitamin A.
Vitamins B-1 and B-2: Necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates. B-1 deficiency can aggravate hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Vitamin B-5: Also known as pantothenic acid, B-5 is essential for maintaining healthy adrenal glands. A deficiency is linked to depression, fatigue and insomnia. Increases the rate at which carbohydrates and fats are metabolized.
Vitamins B-3 and B-6: Needed for metabolizing carbs, fats and protein, and for creating serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. The neurotransmitter serotonin keeps us calm and helps to control the appetite, especially the cravings for carbs.
Choline and Inositol: These B vitamins are known as lipotropic agents, which help the body break down fats in the blood and liver. Improving the liver’s ability to metabolize fat is an important part of any weight loss program. Furthering the liver’s ability to metabolize fat (and protein) can be aided by using Digestive Bitters before meals (particularly if one has digestive problems). Some experts even suggest that regularly using digestive bitters can speed up a weight loss program.
Vitamin C: An anti-oxidant also needed for supporting adrenal and thyroid function. Exhausted adrenal glands lead to low hormone levels (especially DHEA), causing low energy and an imbalance of the sex hormones. High estrogen in women and low testosterone in men manifests often as undeserved weight gain.
Vitamin E: If you are overweight it is likely that you are deficient in this important anti-oxidant, due to its tendency to become trapped in fat tissue. Vitamin E deficiency will reduce iodine absorption by the thyroid gland.
Chromium: Regulates insulin production, which stabilizes blood sugar levels preventing the storage of carbohydrates as fat. A diet high in sugar and refined carbs tends to deplete the body of chromium, as it is used up in removing these sugars from the blood.
Iodine: Deficiency results in hypothyroidism, which causes fatigue and weight gain, by slowing the metabolism down. Iodine is an essential building block of thyroid hormones, along with copper, selenium, and zinc. I advocate for ingesting far more iodine than is available through regular supplements and/or diet. (In fact, I recommend levels comparable to the average intake of Japanese people. For more on the subject see this newsletter.)
Digestive Enzymes: Many overweight people suffer from poor digestion and enzyme deficiency. When food and supplements are not well digested, you can still feel hungry even though your stomach is full. This can lead to over-eating and weight gain.
Essential Fatty Acids: When we go on a low fat diet it causes the body to hoard fat, since the body believes the environment is unable to provide enough fat for our metabolic needs. Thus, when we eat good fats, the body is comfortable enough to burn stored fat as a fuel. “Bad” fats however, use up and block good fats, so this is not an excuse to eat any kind of fat. Fish oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and olive oil are some of the best fats to use. (For more on the subject of EFAs see this newsletter.)
Of course, I have only touched on some of the basic points linking nutrition to weight loss. And there are other nutrients which are also important, but where the link is more complicated (i.e. scientifically technical). Sometimes only one nutrient deficiency can cause a cascading effect on the glandular systems, leading to unnecessary weight gain.
If you find a clue in articles like these, and confirm it by finding other related symptoms in your life, then, with a little more research, you could be on your way to unraveling your particular weight gain puzzle. Because, the fact is, many people theoretically have an almost perfect diet and still cannot shed those extra pounds.
For the ultimate full spectrum vitamin, mineral, and herbal combination which can cover all the nutrients mentioned above, I can comfortably recommend our NutriPods. However, in the case of weight control, I would advise that one use our gender-specific formulas. This is because NutriPods for Women also contain herbal substances that regulate estrogen levels, and high estrogen is associated with undue weight gain in women. Similarly, NutriPods for Men contain herbs that regulate testosterone levels, and excess belly fat is linked to low testosterone in men.
Weight Loss and Diet
When someone asks for advice on weight loss I will usually remind them that the only “diet” that works in the long run is a change of diet. I will not often suggest they use any type of thermogenic (“fat burning”) product, as these tend to be mostly stimulants. And, while stimulants will work in the short run, ultimately they have a rebound effect by overworking the adrenal glands.
Since the adrenal glands keep our hormones balanced and our cortisol levels down, when they are not keeping up with our day-to-day life, we can end up with higher cortisol as a result of using stimulants. This, in turn, leads to the storage of belly fat (as does allowing our sex hormones to get out of balance).
While discussing diet, I will ensure the client understands the importance of adequate protein, to preserve and enhance muscle, which in turn will aid in burning fat. And the importance of restricting refined carbohydrates (all flour products, pastas, breads, white rice, white potatoes, fruit juices, sugars, etc), which function like sugars in the body, spiking insulin levels and ultimately being stored as body fat. (See previous newsletter series, This is a Protein: This is a Carb, for more info on this subject.)
Blood Type Diet
Finally, during a weight loss consultation, I ask if they know their blood type. Dr. Peter D’Adamo in his book “Eat Right For Your Type”, offers a list of foods for each of the blood types (O, A, B, or AB), which either encourage weight gain or weight loss. Many experts dispute the Blood-Type diet concept, yet in years of feedback we’ve found enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that it offers a good guideline for dietary decisions and that it is effective for most people. Many people have also indicated that a long-term commitment to these basic dietary precepts has distinctly aided them in regulating their weight effectively.
Based on these principles, one can determine which type of diet will work best for helping to attain a healthy weight. Thus, a paleo or keto diet tends to serve blood types B and O, whereas a more vegetarian style diet usually works better for those with type A or AB blood. This is not a hard and fast rule, but generally holds true. Also anyone may benefit from a keto diet in the short run, and it may even reset one’s metabolism, but most natural health practitioners do not suggest it is safe as a long term strategy.
Let’s now look at a brief summary of the dietary advice for each blood type, and how it relates to reaching and maintaining our ideal weight.
Type “O” Blood: Comes from hunter-gatherer stock and requires a high protein intake. This blood type makes a poor vegetarian, being prone to health problems if they do not ensure they consume adequate protein. Meats, seafood and a variety of vegetables aid in their weight loss while wheat products especially slow down their metabolic rate. Type O’s should try to avoid cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and mustard greens, which inhibits thyroid hormone, again slowing down the metabolic rate.
Type “A” Blood: In contrast, the Type A will often get fat from a meat-based diet and are genetically suited to a modified vegetarian diet, coming from agrarian stock historically. While animal proteins speed up Type O’s metabolic rate it slows down that of the Type A blood. This difference is based on the stomach-acid levels of each type. Type O has high stomach acid, which allows for easy meat digestion and Type A generally has comparatively low stomach acid. Type A’s will get away with more carbs in the diet than Type O’s, before they are fattening, but still need to stick to complex carbs for optimal health. (Whole grains, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, yams, etc.) Dairy food also contributes to weight gain in Type A’s. Weight loss in Type A’s is aided by consuming good quality oils (olive and flax), vegetables, and soy foods.
Type “B” Blood: Originally of nomad stock, Type B’s need to avoid wheat, corn, lentils and peanuts which all impede metabolic efficiency and cause hypoglycemia. Foods that encourage weight loss in Type B’s include meat, eggs, and dairy products as well as green vegetables. Unlike O’s and A’s, Type B’s possess the genetics to properly digest dairy products, though they must be consumed moderately to achieve a metabolic balance. It should be mentioned that chicken is highly detrimental to the overall health of Type B’s.
Type “AB” Blood: Blood Type AB is a rare and recent blood type, a merging of both A and B blood types. While they have Type B’s adaptation to meat consumption, they also have Type A’s low stomach acid, which makes it difficult to metabolize meat efficiently, thus leading to the meat being stored as fat. As well as meats being fattening for type AB’s they also share the same insulin reaction as B’s do towards corn and wheat, but the A blood allows them to easily digest peanuts and lentils. Foods that encourage weight loss for AB’s include seafood, soy products, dairy, and green vegetables.
(In Part Two of this series, I will offer a variety of easy to follow tips that can help support a weight loss venture.)