In a previous blog on weight loss, I covered the importance of tamping down inflammation so your body loses its resistance to getting rid of that unwanted belly fat. In this blog, I’m highlighting some evidence-based tips on what to do to help you get off the rollercoaster ride of weight loss/weight gain.
There are no shortage of fad diets and recommendations on losing weight. And all of it looks like the plan for success on ‘paper’. But as you know, different diets work for different folks so most of it is trial and error (I’m speaking from years of experience!) Regardless of which eating plan you’re on to lose weight, intermittent fasting (IF) is something one can do on ANY diet. It’s simple and saves you time and money (who doesn’t want that?) So, what is intermittent fasting (IF)? It’s where you eat your meals within a short eating window (around 8-10 hours) and fast for the rest of the day. For example, if you have breakfast at 10am and finish dinner by 7pm and repeat the same schedule the next day, you’ll have fasted for 15 hours. Why is this so great?
- When you fast, your glycogen stores and insulin levels will drop, which then forces your body to tap into the fat stores for energy.
- Reducing insulin levels will decrease your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- It eliminates the late-night snacking habit which has been associated with weight gain and metabolic dysfunction.
This systematic review of 27 IF trials showed weight loss of 1-13% of body weight without adverse events and has shown promise for the treatment of obesity.
There are some caveats to intermittent fasting – it will not be suitable for those who are pregnant, have eating disorders or athletes with frequent need for calories. So, make sure to check in with your clinician prior to starting IF. Also, it’s been shown that periodically breaking the fasting window with regular eating is a good habit if you would like to sustain this for the long term. For example, if you like to IF during the week, take a break on the weekend with a longer eating period.
Check out my earlier blog on Fasting as a Therapeutic Option for Weight Loss.
Did you know that research has shown that sleep deprivation decreases metabolic rate and raises BMI in healthy adults? And since we are a sleep-deprived society with nearly a third of US adults getting less shut-eye than recommended, it’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic in this country. According to this study, the pathways linking sleep deprivation to weight gain are: increased food intake, decreased energy expenditure, and changes in level of appetite-regulating hormones to reduce leptin (which signals satiety) and elevate ghrelin (which signals hunger).
So, if you want to boost weight loss, aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep to keep your metabolic rate functioning at its peak.
Did you know that inactive adults lose 3-8% of muscle mass every decade which results in a lower metabolic rate and higher fat storage? It’s important to keep our muscle mass as we age so that we can keep our metabolic rate up to prevent fat accumulation (in all the wrong places). Since muscle is metabolically more active than fat, having more means it burns more calories.
According to this study, 10 weeks of strength training can increase resting metabolic rate by 7% and also assist in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat, reducing HbA1c, and improving insulin sensitivity.
So, if you only have 30 minutes to workout, pick a strength training exercise that will also get your heart pumping. Here’s a 20-minute total body strength workout to try:
What to incorporate into your diet
Whether you’re doing a Mediterranean, low carb, vegan/vegetarian or Paleo diet, here are some foods you can incorporate to your eating plan to keep the metabolic rate humming.
If you are a fan of coffee, raise your mug to toast the wonders of caffeine in promoting weight loss:
- Not only does it taste good, but this systematic review of 13 randomized clinical trials showed that caffeine intake was effective in reducing weight, BMI and fat mass.
- The caffeine in coffee stimulates the nervous system to stimulate lipolysis (fat burning) and energy expenditure.
- Do you know why sports drinks are often loaded with caffeine? Because it’s been shown to reduce fatigue AND increase exercise performance by up to 12%.
Make sure you don’t imbibe too much or too close to bedtime as it may interfere with your shut-eye (thereby defeating the purpose of using caffeine as a weight-loss promoter).
Could these spicy compounds found in chili peppers be the answer to obesity? Evidence suggests that the capsaicinoids (compound in chili peppers) offset the impact of calorie restriction by increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation, while preventing the increase in hunger and decrease in satiety. These effects remove the resistance to fat loss during a weight loss program and facilitate the maintenance of the new ‘setpoint’ after weight loss has been achieved. So sprinkle that hot sauce liberally onto your foods!
Green tea contains some caffeine (not as much as coffee) but the real powerhouse in this drink are the catechin polyphenols (antioxidants) known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has been shown to boost metabolism. Indeed, research has shown that EGCG extract increases fat oxidation and 24-hour energy expenditure due to its thermogenic properties.
Here are several brands to try – look for organic if possible and check if it’s been tested for pesticides and contamination:
The satiating power of protein has been well established in numerous research studies. This study showed that an increase of 15-30% of protein with a constant carbohydrate intake produced a sustained increase in leptin sensitivity (to suppress appetite) resulting in significant weight loss. You can get protein from a variety of sources regardless of your diet. If you are vegan/vegetarian, try the following seven foods for maximum protein:
- Edamame and lentils (18 grams/cup)
- Pinto beans and chickpeas (15 grams/cup)
- Mung beans (14 grams/cup)
- Fava beans (13 grams/cup)
- Lima beans (12 grams/cup)
Did you know that drinking water can increase your metabolic rate and help you eat less?
- Studies done on both lean and overweight subjects showed that water consumption half an hour prior to mealtime reduced their calorie intake during the meal.
- In this study conducted on overweight children, drinking cold water increased resting energy expenditure by up to 25%.
So make sure you are getting plenty of CLEAN water in your diet. Even with tap water, it is ideal to filter prior to drinking. Here are some options:
- Countertop: You want the largest pitcher so you are not constantly filling it.
- Whole house: If you want clean water throughout the house, you may want to invest in a whole house filtration system. The tap water where I live is not that clean so this is what I put in which is good for 600,000 gallons and easy to maintain with simple filter changes every 3-6 months.
- If you want to remove just about everything for drinking, you can invest in a reverse-osmosis system which you can install under your kitchen sink. Here is what I have.