Have you found yourself eating well and exercising consistently but genuinely struggling to reach the fat loss results you wanted?
As we age and our metabolism decreases, losing weight becomes a challenging ordeal—mainly because we tend to not identify the obstacles creating that weight loss resistance.
Successful—and most importantly, sustainable—weight loss occurs when we address the real issues causing the body to store excess fat. Resolving underlying causes of blood sugar and hormone imbalance, inflammation, gut health, liver function, and micronutrient deficiencies is essential to helping the body release extra weight and keep it off.
Steps to Address Weight Loss
Many of us have been taught wrongly that the secret to weight loss is to eat less and exercise more as if our bodies are a calories-in-calories-out math equation. However, human biology and metabolism are far more complex than that! When you restrict calories and overdo exercise, your body perceives your weight loss program as a stressful, starvation, fat-storing emergency. As a way of protecting you, it suppresses your metabolism (so you burn fewer calories), produces more hunger-inducing hormones, and hangs on to its fat resources for dear life.
Here are some essential steps based on nutritionist Stephanie Rome's experience for a smart and sustainable weight loss that have worked in her practice time and time again for her clients.
Just Eat Real Food
Most people are overfed and undernourished, meaning they eat a lot but not foods that provide them with the nutrition needed by their cells to function optimally. Just eat real non-processed wholesome food and keep it simple. Stick to the basics of a healthy meal: an appropriate amount of protein, plenty of whole-food carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit, and some healthy fat. Remove inflammatory foods as much as possible: sugar, gluten, dairy and other animal products, soy, hydrogenated fats, artificial sweeteners, and ultra-processed foods of any kind.
Stay Hydrated & Detox
Water is the elixir of life and drinking enough of it (around 2 L/day) helps with every aspect of your health, including weight loss. People often mistake dehydration for hunger, so you feel like you want a snack when really you just need a big glass of H20! Most importantly, staying hydrated flushes toxins out, prevents constipation, reduces appetite, and can even break down fats and increase metabolic rate.
Practicing a detox plan at least twice every year (Spring and Autumn) can assist your body by providing it with the nutrients it needs for optimal function and reducing your liver’s toxic exposures. It also contributes in a gentle way to balancing your hormones and metabolic processes and promotes the breakdown of excess fat and weight loss. Detox by swapping out your personal care and home cleaning products for toxin-free alternatives. Drink plenty of filtered water, keep alcohol to a minimum, eat a high-fibre, whole food diet, eat organic produce when you can (or at least the Dirty Dozen), and organic, grass-fed, pastured meat and eggs and wild-caught fish. Try one meal a day or one day a week without eating animal products. Use this no-fuss one-day cleanse to kick-start a gentle detox.
Mindful Eating Are The Keywords
Eating mindfully changes the behaviours related to eating that contribute to satiety, such as paying attention to internal instead of external cues for hunger. How to do it? Put away your phone, close your computer or turn off the TV, and sit at a table, distraction-free. With your food in front of you, take three deep breaths in and out through your nose. This will turn on your parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system, which is crucial for the proper functioning of your gut hormones to regulate digestion. Eat slowly, focus on each bite chewing at least 30 times, and experience the flavour, textures, and aromas of your meal. Your brain takes approx 20 minutes to register that your stomach is full. This is why slowing down and practicing mindful eating often results in eating less food because you’re not wolfing down your plate and running back for seconds or thirds. This has also been shown in studies to reduce your snack intake later.
Eat Three Meals A Day—No Snacks
I know there’s a lot of discussion around this one, some scientists think that eating many times a day small portions is better than the three-square meals a day approach. But this last one trains our bodies to burn fat effectively. Not snacking between meals will provide a natural fast that encourages fat metabolism. Why would your body tap into its fat stores for energy if you’re providing it with a hit of glucose every hour or two? It won’t. You can start with four meals a day and work down to three.
Be also mindful of your body’s natural rhythms as they are crucial for weight loss. Your digestive fire is at its peak between 10 am and 2 pm, so eating a big, healthy lunch during that time is most efficient for digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. Our bodies love routine, so aim to eat at roughly the same times every day. Studies have that fasting for at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast helps burn fat. Fasting promotes the secretion of human growth hormone, optimizes muscle building, and normalizes insulin sensitivity.
Bonus: gentle activity after a meal will mobilize the glucose you just ate to be burned as fuel instead of stored. Walk around the block, climb some stairs in your building, or anything else that’s low impact.
Eat Prebiotic-Rich Foods
Prebiotic foods enhance short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production in the gut. SCFAs increase gut motility, which reduces the calories your body extracts from food. One study found that prebiotics selectively changed the gut microbiota composition in obese women, leading to changes in metabolism and a slight fat loss.
Oats, apples, beans and lentils, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, chia and flax seeds are foods rich in prebiotic fibre. Besides being low in calories themselves, these delicious foods convince your body that it is not in starvation mode and doesn’t have to scavenge as many calories from your meals. These foods also help to improve your gut microbiota to keep your digestion healthy and prevent disease. An overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria in your gut can cause you to gain weight and have trouble losing it. Hence, it’s essential to nourish the good bacteria in your gut by eating tons of fresh, organic veggies and adding 1–2 tablespoons of fermented vegetables to your meals (like sauerkraut or kimchi) or any other cultured veggie from the refrigerated section and make sure the package states it has live cultures.
The Trick: Limit Fructose
When you think of sugar, you likely think of the granular white stuff, aka table sugar. This is called sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose. Unlike glucose, which is readily absorbed into the bloodstream for energy, fructose is primarily metabolized by (and therefore overloading) the liver—consequently generating fat especially that non-desired belly fat as well as insulin resistance.
On the other hand, fructose can also make you eat more because it doesn’t trigger insulin secretion and leptin production like glucose does. Without the signal from leptin the “stop eating now” hormone you could polish off a bag of dried mangoes too easily. To limit fructose consumption, avoid added sugars—even the “healthy” ones like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and Medjool dates, which are all high in fructose. Instead, use stevia and/or rice malt syrup, which is a fructose-free blend of carbs, glucose, and maltose. Don’t over-indulge in dried fruits and fruit juice, but feel free to have 1–2 pieces of whole fresh fruit a day. Low-fructose fruits include kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, grapefruit, lemon, lime, pears, and coconut.
The Right Body Management
Do 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or burst training. These workouts are designed to help you burn fat long after you’re finished exercising because they speed up your metabolism for up to 24 hours post-workout.
Get quality sleep to avoid damages to your metabolism and high cortisol levels, which fuel appetite and increase cravings, particularly for sugar and carbs. Getting enough uninterrupted, good-quality sleep is essential for blood sugar balance and weight loss.
Similarly, good stress management needs to be incorporated to keep cortisol levels at bay as they are linked with inflammation, belly fat, and weight gain. You are more likely to store fat and gain weight if your life is under constant stress. Using aromatherapy, practicing yoga and meditation can help significantly.
Real weight loss comes when you’re not at war with your body—no more restriction and deprivation. Instead, you will be lovingly convincing your body the war is over and gently encouraging it to burn fat naturally and effortlessly.
Love your body naturally,