Ideal Body Weight: Part Two
Maintaining an Ideal Body Weight: Part 2Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Why Exercise Doesn’t Work for Everyone
A successful approach to weight loss must include exercise (even if it is only an hour of brisk walking daily), along with proper diet and nutrition, and a positive mental attitude. The basic equation for losing body fat can be summed up as: energy expended must be greater than energy intake. In practical terms, this means reducing calorie intake and/or increasing energy output (the rate at which calories are burned) through physical activity.
Now, this theory only applies to relatively healthy people. This is why many people cannot lose weight even if they reduce calorie intake and increase energy output. These difficult cases can be tricky to figure out, and usually one should enlist the help of an (alternative) health practitioner. One needs to have their hormones tested (conventional medical tests for thyroid are almost useless in this case), to find if there is a hormonal imbalance at the root of the problem. Other issues too complex to discuss here can also be discovered with a full panel of tests, including organ malfunctions, nutritional deficiencies, excess heavy metal or chemical toxins in the body, or methylation malfunctions (genetic).
But, for those in good health, for whom diet and exercise have an obvious effect, here is the basic math: To lose one pound per week, one needs to attain a negative calorie balance of 500 calories per day. It is difficult to reduce one’s food intake by 500 calories, and burning off 500 calories can be hard for someone out of shape (example: running for 45 minutes, tennis for an hour, a brisk walk for an hour and 15 minutes). The easiest approach is to do a bit of both: decrease calorie intake and increase energy output.
If exercise is daunting, or if getting out of the house for walks is difficult for whatever reason, one of the best exercise options is the indoor trampoline, or “rebounder”. (Not only a great exercise device but also the best form of exercise for cleaning out the lymph system, which means it helps with detoxification.)
Weight Loss Tips
- Avoid large meals at dinnertime. Since we don’t usually do much exercise or hard work after dinner, and the metabolism slows down when sleeping, that heavy meal may be stored as fat.
- Avoid simple (refined) carbohydrates for at least 2 hours before bed. Refined carbs include sugar, fruit juice, cereals, pastries, bread, pasta, white potatoes, and white rice. The insulin spike caused by these foods will lower the body’s production of growth hormone, which is crucial to burning fat and building muscle while we sleep. One good idea is to take a berberine capsule before bed, which will work to keep your insulin stable through the night.
- Get plenty of sunshine. Sunshine stimulates hormonal balance, which encourages weight loss. It raises melatonin levels (sleep cycle), which in turn raises seratonin levels (curbs carbohydrate cravings), and normalizes sex hormones which also aid in balancing out body weight.
- Eat more frequently. Spread your daily calories over 4 to 6 small meals. Infrequent eating causes the body to assume there is little food available in the environment, and it goes into starvation mode, hoarding fat and slowing the metabolism. Frequent eating (of the correct foods) will speed the metabolism up as the body becomes comfortable that there is plenty of food available.
- Add a short burst of speed to your walking pace until you move at a consistently brisk pace. Brisk walking burns a lot of calories, while slow walking does little. A Chinese saying advises, “If you can sit, stand. If you can stand, walk. If you can walk, run”.
- Join a weight-loss group. People in group-weight-loss programs lose more weight on average than those who go it alone. Find a support group, or create one. The more often a support group is attended, the more weight will be lost.
- Get enough sleep. Two studies (in “Diabetes Journal” & “The Lancet“) show that not getting enough sleep causes your body to stop responding to insulin, which puts us at risk for obesity, diabetes and hypertension. We need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain healthy insulin levels.
Mechanisms Of Weight Loss
Acid vs Alkaline Blood: If a person is too acidic, they tend to hold on to water because the body is trying to dilute metabolic waste products and toxins. Minerals and chlorophyll rich foods (including “green” drinks) help promote alkalinity in the body. Acidifiers in the diet include processed foods, refined sugars and carbs, “bad” fats including polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and excess animal protein.
Vitamin & Mineral Supplementation: As discussed in Part One, some nutrients are involved in the conversion of food to energy, others help defend cells against toxins. Both functions are essential to maintaining a healthy body weight, but, as well, extra nutrients allow the body to feel satisfied from less food.
Leveling out Blood Sugar: When insulin spikes, carbohydrates are stored as fat. Refined carbohydrates and sugars are the worst for causing this spike. Therefore, carbs are more fattening than eating fat itself. In fact, adding fat to simple carbohydrates (such as adding butter to a baked potato) slows the insulin release, which means the carbohydrate is less likely to be stored as fat.
Chew Your Food: Research has shown that obese people spend less time consuming their meals, and chew their food fewer times than people who are not overweight. Chewing stimulates the satiety center of the brain, which makes us feel full and satisfied. Chewing also triggers the digestive system to begin releasing enzymes and digestive juices. Chew at least 20 times per mouthful. (For more on the subject of chewing see this series of newsletters.)
Enzymes: Many overweight people suffer from poor digestion and enzyme deficiency. When digestion is impaired, you still feel hungry even though you may be eating plenty of food. Consider supplementing your meals with a capsule of full-spectrum digestive enzymes. Also, raw seeds and nuts contain enzyme inhibitors, and should be soaked or roasted to neutralize these inhibitors. Sprouted and fermented foods provide enzymes to our diet.
Liver Health: When the liver becomes overloaded with toxins, it causes imbalances that lead to weight gain, blood sugar imbalance, essential fatty acid deficiency and slowed metabolism. Consider using liver-supportive herbs (such as Milk Thistle), or doing a liver cleansing program. Liver supportive herbs, when taken as tinctures help improve digestion, since they are also bitters.
Obesity is a disease associated with a low fiber diet, and even if we are only looking to shed a few unwanted pounds, it serves us well to understand the relationship between fiber and fat.
Fiber, especially soluble fiber, which is less irritating to the bowel than insoluble fiber, stimulates regular bowel movements and curbs appetite, both of which contribute to healthy weight loss. Fiber also flushes wastes and toxins from the body, lowers cholesterol levels and assists in controlling blood sugar levels. JAMA noted that in young adults, the more fiber in their diet, the less likely they were to gain weight.
Dietary fiber aids in preventing obesity through a number of different mechanisms. It slows the eating process by increasing the amount of chewing necessary. It improves digestive secretions, allowing one to obtain more nutrients from less food. It induces a state of satiety (a feeling that one has eaten enough to be satisfied.) This effect can also be obtained with supplemental fiber, taken with water before meals. This forms a gelatinous mass in the stomach making the individual feel full, and thus less likely to overeat. (Many soluble fibers can also be mixed into food as they are tasteless powders that dissolve easily.)
An added benefit of fiber in weight loss programs is its ability to help control blood sugar levels. Soluble fibers delay gastric emptying, which slows the absorption of glucose. And, as mentioned before, stable blood sugar prevents the tendency of refined carbohydrates in the diet to be stored as fat in the body.
Fiber is classified as either soluble (i.e. water-soluble) or insoluble. Insoluble fibers (e.g. wheat bran) mostly enhance stool bulk, weight and transit time. In other words, help to keep us “regular.” Soluble fiber (e.g. inulin, guar gum, psyllium, oat bran) is the kind that aids in lowering cholesterol levels. The following studies are based on using soluble fiber, but since obesity is usually accompanied by congestion of the bowel, insoluble fiber is also important to ingest.
In a study done with a soluble fiber, women were given 10 grams of guar gum just before lunch and dinner. Participants did not alter their normal eating habits. The women averaged a pound per week in weight loss after 2 months on the program. (As well, their cholesterol and triglyceride levels also decreased.)
In another study involving 14 subjects over 4 weeks, citrus pectin (a soluble fiber) was administered at 5.5 grams per day, along with calorie restrictions. The average weight lost was 12 pounds. (Insoluble fibers show much the same effect, but seem to require more time to achieve the same results.) This study showed the best results out of a series of studies. (Our Provide Smoothie Mix provides 3.5 gr of soluble fiber per serving, along with support for the microbiome and the gut/brain axis.)
A review of related studies done at Tuffs University in Boston, suggested more realistic results. Anyone should be able to lose at least 4 lbs over 4 months by simply adding an additional 14 grams of fiber per day to their diet (either from food or supplementation.) While this might not seem very impressive, remember that the total fat loss will compound over a year to a reasonable level that has been attained safely and painlessly. And if one maintains this dietary change (i.e. increased fiber levels) it is unlikely there will be any rebound effect. Basically, a diet supplemented with fiber can increase weight loss by 50 to 100% over just simple calorie restriction.
The American National Cancer Institute recommends 20 to 30 grams of total fiber per day, ideally a mix of soluble and insoluble, for general health and well-being. However, North Americans on average consume only about 15 grams of fiber per day, whereas in some countries (e.g. Greece) people eat about 50 grams per day.
The best forms of supplemental fibers for long-term regular usage include flax meal (fresh ground or defatted), hydrolyzed guar gum, inulin, oat fiber, psyllium (must be organic), and pectin.
Always remember to take in adequate amounts of water when using any fiber supplement, especially in pill form. Because fibers are fermented in the intestines (which serves to produce other beneficial effects such as increasing friendly bacteria), one should start out with a small dose and gradually increase it. Otherwise, one might experience flatulence and abdominal discomfort.
Begin with about 2 grams, 2 or 3 times per day, gradually working up to 5 grams per serving. The fiber can be taken in liquid between meals or mixed into food if taken at meals (since liquids taken with food dilutes stomach acid and impairs digestion).
Acquiring a book that lists the fiber content of foods would be helpful. Some examples:
1 med. Apple 3.5 g
1 med. Banana 2.4 g
1 med. Orange 2.6 g
1 cup Green Beans 3.2 g
1 cup Broccoli 4.4 g
1 cup Carrots 4.6 g
1/2 cup Baked Beans 8.8 g
1/2 cup Lentils 3.7 g
10 Almonds 1.1 g
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Spaghetti 3.9 g
1/3 cup All Bran Cereal 8.5 g
In Part 3 of this series, I will examine carbohydrates a little more, then offer a list of all the foods with a track record for aiding us in maintaining an ideal body weight.