Losing weight is simple… Just not easy! Here are a few basic tips that I have gathered through my Journey of losing 60lbs and keeping it off for several years. This is not a diet, but changes to be implemented in your everyday life.
Avoid ALL high glycemic indexed foods (foods that are sweet and sugary)
- This not only means candy and white sugar, but refined grains such as bagels, and white bread (switch to whole wheat)
- Reduce white sugar intake to one teaspoon a day or less
- Avoid all liquids that are not water, (pop, juice etc. These are very high glycemic indexed)
- If you do want some juice once in a while, make sure you dilute it with at least 1/3 to 1/2 water
High glycemic indexed foods make your body secrete more insulin and when in excess will store more of what you eat as fat. Keeping your insulin levels down means less of what you eat will be converted into fat. By having sugar in your system, your body will use that as energy and not dip into your fat stores and therefore you will not be able to burn fat as easily.
Cut down on carbohydrates (carbs) all together. Carbs are typically your sides during meals.. i.e. potatoes, noodles, breads, rice etc. If you want 2 burgers, it’s better to have one double burger than eat both buns. Eat only one carb serving per meal. (Pasta and bread would be two)
Avoid high fat foods (especially foods that are high in trans and saturated fats)
- read labels and choose foods that are lower in saturated fats
- some foods are high in fat (i.e. almonds) but are low in saturated fats, these are good to eat
- Chocolate and fried foods are high in saturated fats, avoid these
- Personally, I went from drinking 2% milk, to 1% and eventually switched to skim milk. Most recent research suggests diluting 2% milk with water instead of drinking skim milk to conserve the nutrients in 2% milk over skim.
Drink a full glass of water every morning after waking up.
Eat a sufficient breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up which starts your body’s engine (metabolism) earlier. Studies show that those who have a larger breakfast are actually smaller in size than those who avoid eating or have a smaller breakfast, even though they are consuming more. Consume meals in the morning that consist of high fiber and low sugar. Try to aim for cereals that contain 8-12g of fiber per cup.
Space out large meals by at least 3-4 hours. Snack on fruits, vegetables, nuts etc. in between meals.
DO NOT OVEREAT! Eat until you are content and stop. If you are stuffed after a meal, that means fat is being stored in area’s you probably do not want it to be stored.
You should eat SLOWLY! As you eat, the hormone leptin is being secreted which lets you know you are full. This hormone is released slowly as you eat. By eating quickly, you can consume more food without knowing you are full, which will lead to you feeling bloated afterwards. If you eat slowly, you will know you are full and won’t have the desire to over indulge.
Do not eat within 2-3 hours of going to bed.
You can have two treats a day. They are not to be eaten at any time though. You need to have a schedule to train your body. It also gives you something to look forward to. A good time for them would be after lunch and after dinner. You should never snack on “junk food” at any other point in the day. Now to define a snack; your first snack should have no more than 4 grams of fat in it, preferably 2g. (i.e. rocky road granola bar) and your second snack should have no more than 6-8 grams of fat (i.e. chocolate dip granola bar). If a cookie has 3-4 grams of fat you can have 2 and no more per snack. A lot of chocolate bars will have up to 16 grams of fat, therefore none of these should be consumed. If you are tempted with a real dessert one day, you can have it, but no more for the month.
Exercise is a key component of losing weight and maintaining it. Even though cardio (walking, running, biking, etc) has a lot of excellent health benefits, I would not recommend doing ONLY cardio for weight loss. Yes, you definitely will lose weight by doing cardio, but you will also lose muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism (the more energy you can burn at rest). This means that someone with more muscle will burn more calories than someone with less muscle even while doing nothing (sitting on the couch). When you do cardio, your type II muscle fibers shrink, therefore this lowers the amount of calories your body can burn. In other words, you would have to eat less amounts of food to avoid gaining weight the more your muscles shrink. You can lose weight very quickly by doing cardio only for two reasons; you lose muscle and water weight. People who only do cardio can lose weight quickly for a specific occasion (ie. Fitting into a wedding dress or going on vacation). Once the event is over, they usually bounce back to their normal weight very fast. This is because their resting metabolism was so low after doing so much cardio that when they went back to eating a normal amount of food, their body is not used to processing all of it and turns it into fat. Also, when they stop doing cardio for a week or two, they will bounce back extremely fast because their bodies MUST consume lower amounts of food and have to be continuously doing cardio to maintain their weight.
So, it is best to incorporate resistance training (lifting weights) into your exercise routine. Lifting weights to maintain your muscle is essential so that your metabolism will not decrease and you do not have to go on a “diet”. People may say “ I don’t want to be a body builder, I just want to lose weight”. Keeping the tone in your muscle has nothing to do with looking like a body builder. There are different ways you can lift weights for different reasons and to achieve different body compositions. The type of weight lifting for weight loss is not as vigorous and strenuous as that of a body builder. The right combination of cardio and weight lifting is essential for long term weight loss, even though it is a slower process.
By Dr. Chris Gordon-Tennant BMSc. (hons), CSCS, ART®, DC
Certified strength and conditioning specialist
Certified Active Release Technique® provider
Contemporary medical acupuncture provider