A healthy and sustainable approach to weight loss
Have you tried lots of different diets and find that you always put the weight back on?
Traditional calorie controlled diets may be effective in the short term, but are often not sustainable as they can cause hunger due to lack of food. The body’s metabolism is lowered to cope with reduced calorie intake, therefore as soon as a lapse in the diet occurs, the weight usually returns with a vengeance. This strategy also does nothing to combat biochemical imbalances which may be causing the weight gain in the first place. One common imbalance contributing to weight gain is a blood sugar imbalance.
Blood sugar imbalances are the result of a rapid rise in blood sugar levels caused by eating too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, cakes and sugary foods. Concentrated forms of sugar such as white sugar, brown sugar, malt, glucose, honey and syrup cause a very rapid increase in blood sugar levels and because the body cannot use this sugar for energy, it is laid down as fat. These forms of sugar are often deficient in the nutrients required for metabolism, resulting in poor energy levels and weight gain. Refined forms of carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice have a similar effect to sugary foods, causing a sharp rise in blood sugar.
Rapid rises in blood sugar levels may also correspond with a temporary surge in energy levels. However, as the body scrambles to lower the blood sugar levels it tends to overcompensate, causing a sharp drop in blood sugar and a correspondingly low energy level. At this point, the body may also crave more fast releasing sugars or stimulants such as tea and coffee which also cause the release of sugar. So, the cycle of high and low blood sugar continues, with the associated energy fluctuations, food cravings and weight gain.
When you eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, beans or lentils, or simpler carbohydrates such as fruit, the body digests these nutrients gradually, providing a slow release of fuel for energy production. In addition these wholefoods contain the array of nutrients required for the digestion and metabolism of the food.
What is the Glycemic Load?
Glycemic Load (GL) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate food is transformed into sugar in the blood. A low value relates to minimal impact, whereas a high level, (above 10 - see table below), means that the food will cause a surge in blood sugar and therefore weight gain.
For optimum weight loss you will need to restrict total GLs to a maximum of 40 per day.
What you can do to balance blood sugar levels for weight loss
- Opt for whole foods with a low GL– wholegrains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. Avoid refined foods such as white bread and sugary foods or foods with concentrated sweetness. Limit GLs to 40 per day.
- Eat protein with carbohydrates as it slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
- Always eat breakfast.
- Cut out stimulants such as tea, coffee, cola and tobacco and replace with herbal teas and diluted fruit juices (half water, half juice)
- Eat small, regular meals. Include healthy snacks between meals such as nuts, seeds, fruits, oatcakes and carrot sticks with humous.
- Include more omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in your diet. (oily fish and seeds/nuts)
- Increase consumption of vegetables to six or seven portions a day. Avoid potatoes as these have a high Glycemic Load.
- Consuming oats is beneficial because they reduce the absorption of sugar from the gut and, as a result, lower levels of blood sugar.
A high fruit and vegetable diet helps weight loss – vegetables and fruits are very rich in vitamins and minerals required for good healthy metabolism and therefore weight loss. They are also high in fibre, thereby adding bulk to food and filling you up as well as slowing down the release of sugar in the blood stream. Ensure that you eat six or seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day. For meals half your plate should consist of vegetables, except potatoes.
Good fats burn fat - Reduce intake of saturated fats found in meat, dairy products and eggs whilst increasing essential fats found in fish (especially oily fish, such as wild salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring) and seeds. Saturated fat should be reduced as it can only be burned for energy or stored as fat. Whereas essential fats are used in the brain and nerves, and can boost immunity, balance hormones and promote healthy skin.
Essential fats also help to stimulate metabolism and therefore burn fat. It is also known that the body has a feedback mechanism for fats and that fat sensors respond strongly to essential fats and weakly to saturated fats. If you eat the wrong kind of fat your body isn’t satisfied so you eat more. Eating the good fats helps diminish the craving for fatty foods. Frying should be avoided as it makes fats toxic - steaming, boiling, poaching, steam frying and baking are better.
Exercising in a cold climate burns more calories
Exercise for at least one hour every other day. This can help to burn fat and increase metabolism, as well as improve blood sugar control. If you exercise in the cold, such as jogging in limited clothing during the winter months, you may increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories. Exercising in the cold causes the body to create more “brown fat” which consumes more energy aiding weight loss.
Other factors relating to weight gain
Other factors, such as thyroid insufficiency, digestive problems, allergies, food intolerances, adrenal stress, nutrient deficiencies and toxicity can also contribute to weight gain. These factors can be tested as part of a full nutritional assessment. For more information and details of a full nutritional assessment see www.catherinebroome.com.
Breakfast – porridge with berries and apples
Snack – two oatcakes with humous
Lunch – lentil and vegetable soup with small piece of rye bread
Snack – 1 pear with a handful of nuts
Dinner – Stir fry vegetables (half plate) with fish and tablespoon of brown basmati rice
Drinks – herbal teas, diluted fruit juices, dandelion coffee.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Check with your doctor before changing your diet and undergoing an exercise regime.
Catherine Broome, Dip ION, Nutritional Therapist