Strategies for weight loss
There are a million ideas for diets out there, fad diets, food limiting diets, low-carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, and everything in between. Let’s get down to the basics. There are a few things that are tried and true, and they are not diets. They are a way of life. If you are going to follow a protocol for anything, make sure it is a few things, and one of them is sustainable! Why do something you can’t regularly do? Or can’t wait to cheat on? Or just fall off only to repeatedly get back on? When you make this decision to follow a lifestyle, you just took your first step.
Let’s look at the basics:
Your body does not want to hold on to extra pounds. It’s hard on every organ, joint, and muscle. So you have to give it the tools it needs to be lean, healthy, and full of energy. The most powerful hormone in the human body (man and woman) is insulin. It is the best at both anabolic (building) and catabolic (breaking down) processes. Your key to controlling it is to eat foods high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Foods that are organic, fresh, unprocessed! It’s a pretty simple formula. Physiologically, the body will not break down body fat in the presence of insulin. Period! So, what do we do? The key is a slow and sustained intake of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins though out the day. Eating for weight loss requires a little more attention to detail. Every time you ingest a carbohydrate, your body releases insulin. The more carbohydrates, the more insulin we need to produce and release. The higher the glycemic index ( a measurement of how fast insulin is released in the body) the worse this food is for your healthy insulin levels. If we combine foods, we control our glycemic index and insulin levels. For example, if I were to just eat some grapes (healthy, right?), my insulin level would spike. Grapes are very high on the glycemic index. However, if I combined it with a cup of yogurt (plain yogurt!), I reduce the glycemic index, avoid that sugar and energy rush, avoid the consequent sugar crash, and moderate my insulin levels to a normal level. Why? The plain yogurt has protein in it. Protein acts to slow down the absorption of simple sugars in the body and allows a sustained release of insulin instead of a huge spike.
Why is this important? When our insulin levels vary widely throughout the day, it sends signals to our brain. It feels like we are hungry, or sleepy, or thirsty when we are not physiologically. But psychologically, we are. This makes us want to eat more, or take a nap. We reach for more coffee, or a diet soda, anything to pick us back up, and this cycle repeats itself for the rest of the day. Break this cycle! You have to do two things very well to transform your body, you must control your insulin levels with healthy foods consistently throughout your day, and you must end your day at a net negative calorie intake. Preferably through exercise and weight training, not through starving yourself. When you cut your calories, your metabolism will eventually adjust to your new level. So, you may lose ten pounds your first two weeks and then get stuck. I see this happen every day. And then you get discouraged, binge, and gain all of your weight back plus a few pounds. It is a perpetual cycle everybody seems to get on when they are not committed to a healthy lifestyle change and just a diet regimen. Dieting cannot be about not eating. You must fuel your body with the right stuff to be successful.
Where do I go from here? Analyze your nutrition. Keep a food diary for a few days and see exactly where your calories are coming from. Consult a progressional for an honest assessment of your eating habits and pitfalls. Develop a plan that is healthy and sustainable. And start that plan immediately, embrace it, and enjoy preparing healthy foods for you and your family. Once you have your daily food log completed, we need to determine how many calories you need in a given day. Your trainer can determine this for you using body composition measurements and metabolic expenditure levels. How active are you? How much muscle do you have? This will determine how many calories you need, or don’t need. It might look something like this:
Body Comp: 29%
Activity Level: Moderate weight training and Cardio
We can determine that from this, our client needs approximately 1800 calories per day. She wants to lose 40 pounds. Her ideal weight and body composition should be 145 pounds and 18-20%. From this we can determine her current calories from her food logs, how to adjust her daily needs to eat healthy and get all of her vitamins, minerals, and calories, and put her on a sustainable path to consistently lose weight in the coming months. Her daily diet would be adjusted to eat enough calories and adjust her activity levels to lose weight through fueling her body throughout the day and keep her metabolism running strong. Here we go,
• 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg
• 1/2 cup steel cut oats
• 1 cup yogurt
• 1/2 apple
• 4 oz salmon
• 1/2 sweet potato
• Spinach salad with low-fat dressing
• 5 celery sticks
• 1 tbsp almond butter
• 4-6 oz lean protein
• Steamed veggies (as much as you want)
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help your metabolism run at full speed and aid in digestion of your food. This is just a sample for a healthy 46 year old woman who is on a plan for weight loss. This diet is not intended to cure or prevent any disease and is only a template for what a healthy, consistent nutritional outline might look like. Please consult a professional before starting any program.