HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT SUCCESSFULLY AND PERMANENTLY
If you have woken up one morning recently and realised you are in danger of losing sight of your toes, then I shall give the basics of the most successful way of losing weight and keeping it off. Before I go into detail, here are three basic principles which will get anyone less chunky without suffering or misery:
First, understand what you are eating – the difference between carbohydrates, fat and protein. Second, learn how to avoid cravings. Third, if you find a diet that works for you, stick to it as best you can. All weight loss diets work provided you stick to them, but the following are easier to stick to than others.
Carbohydrates, blood sugar and cravings.
What is a carbohydrate?
Carbohydrates are split into three groups: sugars, starches and fibre. Sugars are either natural such as honey or processed such as white or Demerara sugar. Starches are the grains such as wheat or rice and the starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Fibres are the non-starchy vegetables and fruits. There are some mixed carbs such as pulses or soya which contain some protein.
What are they used for?
Carbohydrates are used by the body for energy. They are easily converted into glucose by the body and circulate in the blood stream giving a ready energy supply.
Lovely, lovely cake!
The carbohydrates that cause uncontrollable eating are those that convert easily into blood sugar. These are sweetened drinks and sugary or starchy foods such as biscuits, crisps, breads, cake or sweets. It is important to know that high levels of blood sugar are injurious to the brain. The brain and body know this, so upon a rise in blood sugar being sensed, the pancreas busily produces insulin to lower the sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels are also bad for the brain, so it sends urgent signals to feed on sugar quickly to raise the sugar levels again. The signals of this are feelings of faintness, great hunger, grumpiness or a lack of concentration. Performance and mood are badly affected until the problem is addressed. The quickest way of getting the blood sugar back up is with a sugary drink, like fizzy pop, cider or fruit juice. Other things craved will be biscuits, crisps, fruit, sweets, chocolate bars etc. Of course giving in and gorging on these can lead to feelings of guilt or failure. When struggling with low blood sugar, it is very difficult to make good food choices. The brain has to survive.
So a high carb diet leads to cravings. There is another point to bear in mind about the effects of insulin on the body: insulin is the fat storage hormone, which cues the body to turn the sugar from the meal not immediately used for energy into body fat.
So, not only does eating the above carbohydrates cause cravings and energy peaks and troughs throughout the day, it also triggers the fat storage hormone. This type of diet will rob anyone of energy levels and cause them to put on weight without realising why.
The fibrous carbs – the vegetables such as cabbage, celery or peppers do not convert to blood glucose so quickly and the breakdown of the fibres has a very beneficial effect on the bowel, further slowing blood sugar rise.
The most successful way of losing weight can be paraphrased as more steak, less cake. In other words, more protein, less carbohydrates. The reason high protein, low carb diets work is they give stable blood sugar and a feeling of satiety: when this combination is eaten, it is satisfying for quite some time afterwards. You will not feel hungry. For many, provided they eat little and often, they remain in the driving seat of food choices and the desperate need for a quick biscuity pick me up is a thing of the past.
Eat protein for fat burning and crave busting.
We all need to eat plenty of protein. Instead of viewing all food as fattening, it helps to view protein as slimming. There are several reasons, the primary one is that it is thermogenic. In other words it is hard work for the body to break down, and this requires calories to do. It has twice the thermic effect of either carbohydrate or fat. Protein helps build muscle, and a stronger body burns more calories every day to maintain its strength. Protein is used by the body in liver detoxification and as a building block for various important hormones, some of which help weight loss and some prevent cravings.
Unfortunately for vegetarians, some of the protein in our diet has to be of animal or fish origin. Meat is the best source of the Carnitines which are fat burning enzymes. Animal proteins are the only source of fully bio-available vitamin B12, essential for long term nerve health and prevention of pernicious anaemia. And they are the best source of vitamin B6, critical in actually metabolising proteins. It really is quite hard to overdose on protein unless it is wrapped up in starch and fat, as battered fish or chicken Kievs. However good levels of stomach acid are necessary to break down proteins properly.
The basis of healthy high protein, low carb diets is eating plenty of meat and fish, loads of over ground vegetables and a healthy dose of good fat1. The excellent book ‘Living the low Carb Life’ by Jonny Bowden covers all the main low carb diets with the various pros and cons of each. They do vary as to what vegetables and fats are allowed and how much fat is allowed. My experience says that simple is best, and as far as vegetables are concerned, eat as much as you can provided that these vegetables grow over ground and are edible raw (aubergines being an exception to the rule).
For antioxidant and fibre reasons, you need to eat as many different colours of vegetables as you can everyday.
Getting hungry is a sure fire way to over-eating when the next feeding opportunity comes by. Also, if you are very hungry when you eat, insulin, the fat storage hormone, goes up even more than normal.
But do think twice before snacking on coffee and a couple of biscuits since this is the most fattening combination of foods. When you combine fat and sugar without any protein, the sugar raises insulin, the fat storing hormone, and this pushes the fat in the biscuit into your fat cells. Since caffeine has a short term insulingenic effect, biscuits and coffee becomes the most fattening combo.
A better thing to snack on is either protein and carbohydrate – so a carrot and a slice of cold meat, for example – or protein and fat – nuts fit the bill here. Neither of these combos significantly raise blood sugar, so it is fine to eat them with caffeine.
Any diet that restricts calorie intake is perceived by the body as food scarcity. Muscles take a lot of calories to maintain and are the first things to go in times of hardship. When the weight is lost, the diet over, and pre-diet eating resumed, the smaller muscles now need less calories to keep going. So what made you fat before makes you fat again – only more quickly and generally with interest.
So to lose weight is more a matter of what foods you eat rather than the calorific content of the food. However some foods are very calorific, such as nuts and cheese and these do need to be eaten in moderation in order to lose weight successfully.
Good news. Booze.
It is the anti-oxidant qualities that make it so good. Go to the following link for a huge list of positive studies on alcohol http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholAndHealth.html
Other forms of alcohol are not so good. Lager has about 200 Kcals in a pint, wine about half of that. Spirits are more prone to over consumption and mixers in spirits most definitely cause blood sugar surges – even if they are ‘non-fat’.
An article in the Daily Telegraph published 20-8-11 about a Spanish meta-analysis of 31 studies on alcohol and obesity, the studies published between 1984 and 2010. For our purposes here, the most important paragraph is probably this: “They cite studies that show heavy drinking is linked to weight gain, but regular drinking is not…. “These results suggest that the frequent consumption of small amounts of alcohol is the optimal drinking pattern associated with a lower rate of obesity.”"
One of the key points about alcohol is that it is digested in the stomach and passes straight to the liver for detoxification rather than raising blood sugar. To expedite this, it is a good idea to consume alcohol with something fatty, rather than on an empty stomach so the food and alcohol are held in the stomach for longer, enabling the liver more time to get on with de-toxifying.
Of course, over consumption of alcohol is very damaging to the liver. The curve of health of drinkers and non-drinkers is J shaped, with Teetotallers on the small upward kick, the healthiest people being the moderate drinkers at the bottom of the J, and then there are increasing health issues zooming up the long leg of the J associated with increasingly heavy drinking.
Hopefully this has been quite clear so far. We will now have to take a tour of fats, as there is a lot of misunderstanding here which can trap people in their diets. Fats don’t always make people fat. Some fats will cause other health problems, but some are very good for you. This is both because of the specific properties of each fat, and because certain fats tend to be used with certain types of food. An understanding of this area will help lose weight without undue suffering.
The fats that make you thin.
If you don’t know this already, ‘fat’ and ‘oil’ are the same thing. One group of good fats are the Omega 3s best found in oily fish. These oils turn off the fat storage gene and turn back on the fat burning gene and, by various mechanisms, increase serotonin in the brain, making us happier and less prone to binge eating because of stress or depression.
Secondly, butter also helps weight loss by helping the gut to heal and feeding the good bacteria in the gut. If our guts are unhealthy, then we cannot digest the slimming parts of food properly, we only digest the fattening sugars. Butter is also a good source of bio-available Vitamin A. This is an important catalyst or activator to “utilize the minerals we ingest, no matter how abundant they may be in our diets”2. In other words, you could be eating a lot of vegetables, but without a good source of Vitamin A, the nutrients will be passing straight into the urine. When you are healthier you will have more energy and be a more efficient fat burning machine.
The third slimming oil is that of the coconut. When the body digests coconut oil, it does not need the usual bile acids to break it down – so is an excellent fat if the gall bladder is an issue – but goes straight to the liver where it used for energy as sugar is, but without raising the fat storage hormone, insulin. It too helps the guts since it is a good source of lauric and caprylic acid. Between them, these are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-parasitic.
For variety, the other oils that are good for you are olive oil, avocado oil and macadamia nut oil. Apart from being satisfying, oils help the uptake of nutrients from the food.
The fats that make you fat.
As people know, eating the wrong sort of fat makes our toes disappear. The following are the transfats and rancid fats. These are fats that have come into contact with high heat, often repeatedly. For example on chips, or in commercially produced bakery products. Why avoid these? Well, they harden the outer walls of the cell membranes making it harder and harder for nutrients to get into the cells and waste products to get out of the cells. This means you become starved of nutrients and this has a disastrous effect on energy levels. Low energy levels lead to cravings, which lead to a strong desire for sugars. Ultimately these fats lead to disease. As someone who regularly takes body fat readings using fat callipers, it also leads to ‘hard fat’ – fat that is stiff and unbendable and has a grainy quality to it. Not a nice feel.
The other fats that don’t help are the polyunsaturated fats like sunflower oil (the hyperlinked blog goes into some detail about why). Briefly, they cause inflammation and, apart from anything else, developing diabetes is strongly linked to inflammation.
For more information on this diet, you will have to contact me. It is a very human diet – you really can have your (gluten-free) cake and eat it. Just not everyday.
How exercise can help.
To lose weight, it is very important to remain in the driving seat of food choices. Depression can easily lead to comfort eating. 15 minutes puffing is enough to improve mood. You just need to get out of breath a bit. Shoes on, go puff your way up the closest hill. Guarantee you’ll feel much much better afterwards. Again, the most important part of losing weight is what you eat. Exercise helps and if you do it, getting slimmer will be a better experience and may happen more quickly. See the footnote3. How you exercise is critical. Exercise that builds muscle mass is supreme when it comes to weight loss. Exercise that raises heart rate helps – but the principal reason why is less to do with calories burned and more to do with the effect exercise has on mood.
Getting stronger helps.
A better muscle mass quite simply needs more calories to sustain. 30 minutes twice a week shoving things about in the gym will be plenty. To look like Arnold Schwarzenegger takes an awful lot of work! For most of us, we simply don’t have the time or motivation to spend the hours in the gym necessary to become a hulking monster (or the desire to pump down the steroids).
Why a liquid diet cannot work.
It plays into people’s fear of food. When weight loss is desired but it is all proving rather more difficult than expected; the goal to be slim and beautiful again seems further and further away, people get desperate and try to avoid eating at all. All food is seen as fattening. So if food is replaced by liquid meals or little bars the problem of learning how to eat well is side-stepped. Yes, weight is lost, but no one can survive on this diet forever and eventually proper food has to be eaten again. The companies promoting these diets try to educate as to how to introduce food and how to eat properly, but this rarely seems to work. The weight has been lost by avoiding food. The lesson of how to lose weight successfully by good food choices has not been learnt. People go back to how they ate before the liquid diet and the weight just piles back on again, usually with interest.
Although the liquid meal companies claim the replacement meals contain all the nutrients needed by the body, the nutrients in the sachets are of the lowest quality. For instance, the magnesium is magnesium oxide which is good for armpits, but not for ingestion. The protein used is often dried milk and this is very hard to digest, requiring a first class digestive system to deal with it. Bluntly, we do not get fat if we make good food choices and poor foods play havoc with the digestive system. After having been on such a diet, it is not uncommon suffer such horrid symptoms of malnutrition such as hair loss.
Weird diets can’t either.
We’ve all heard of them – the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Baby Food Diet, the Lemonade Diet are prime examples. If weight is to be lost permanently, there is no way round it. The eating habits that caused the weight gain in the first place have to be completely replaced a finding a way of eating that is properly nourishing to the body and mind. Food is wonderful, much cheaper fresh than processed, to be enjoyed and not feared. Bad eating habits must be broken and not side-stepped. The link between dreadful eating and feeling dreadful has to be forged.
Why rapid weight loss is not a good idea.
If you stick to silly diets, the weight can indeed come off very rapidly. But unless extreme care has been taken to supplement heavily with the best quality supplements available and the liver has been properly detoxified, then as the fat levels drop, the toxicity in the body fat gets concentrated and we get seriously ill.
Fat soluble toxins4 not excreted by the liver get stored in the body fat for dealing with in the future. In our toxic world, that future will never come and overall levels of toxicity slowly build. Apart from anything else, this directly leads to extreme difficulty losing weight.
How to lose weight more quickly or more precisely.
This is where The Biosignature comes into its own. Contact me for more details.
Putting it together
To lose weight permanently involves steadily changing the way of eating that made you fat. This doesn’t mean punishing yourself or being boring. It is a revolutionary process as your palate changes from the highly processed foods we have all become accustomed to to a growing love of real food with a low sugar impact on the body. At first it is a shock and it is not at all uncommon to feel quite rough for a couple of days. Then energy returns, the weight starts to come off and life begins again. Meat seems nicer and nicer and chips more and more stodgy and sleepy making. You may start to get cross that restaurants provide so few vegetables, but you’ll still be able to eat a lot, drink wine, and have a coffee afterwards. Just leave the cake alone!
- For health reasons I do not condone diets that cut out or restrict low carb vegetables, referred to as over ground vegetables. We need these foods for their antioxidant qualities and the fibre. You will never get fat by over eating cabbage! Potatoes are quite another matter [↩]
- Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon. This part of the book is based on the work of Weston A Price [↩]
- http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/111756.php this is a study that found that exercise had more effect on the leptin of thin women than it did on the fat women [↩]
- these include all petro-chemicals and derivatives: plastics, parabens in skin creams or makeup [↩]