7 Tips for Weight Loss
BySarah Axtell, ND •January 5, 2023
1. Stick to whole foods with minimal ingredient lists.
If you are buying food out of a package, immediately turn it around and read the ingredients. A food may only be 100 calories but it may contain a whole host of inflammatory ingredients, such as preservatives, artificial sweeteners, thickeners, stabilizers, and emulsifiers. Your body metabolizes 100 calories from nuts much differently than 100 calories from those highly processed sour-cream and onion 100-calorie pack of pop-chips. After a highly-processed meal or snack (despite being only “100 calories,” “sugar-free” or “light”), you are left feeling unsatisfied, wanting more. Nourish yourself with nutritious, real, whole food (vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, eggs, fish), and you will feel full and satisfied.
2. Listen to your hunger and fullness cues: eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
3. Be a “food snob”: only eat foods you like. Before a party or going out, mindfully decide what foods in which you want to indulge. But be picky with your choices- if you don’t love it, don’t eat it. If you do love it, savor it. Prioritize and incorporate enjoyment foods that you absolutely love. Prioritize and incorporate nourishing foods that make you feel good. This is balanced eating.
4. Nutrition label reading tip: Be conscious of carbohydrates and fiber.
Start to count your NET CARBS as a priority rather than hyper-focusing on calories.
HOW TO COUNT NET CARBOHYDRATES:
You figure out how many carbs are in a serving of crackers by taking TOTAL CARB GRAMS and SUBTRACTING FIBER GRAMS (we do not absorb fiber)—the end result is the grams you must count for your meal.
For weight loss, I typically recommend a goal of 50 grams net carbs per day.
Here is an example of counting carbohydrates in crackers:
Flackers contains 1 gram of net carb per serving (7 grams total carbohydrate minus 6 grams fiber). This is a good way to get your crunch when trying to lose weight!
As a comparison, Nut Thins (a gluten-free cracker that is seemingly “healthy”), contain 22 grams of net carbs per serving (23 grams total carbohydrate minus 1 gram fiber). Not so great for weight loss!
5. Cook at home.
When you cook at home, you are in complete control of the ingredients and know exactly what you are putting in your body. Cooking real food at home is one of the best things you can do for the health of you and your family. I know you are busy, but it’s no excuse. Planning is key!
Some tips for meal planning:
- A routine and consistency are the keys. Have a similar meal schedule each week. For example, Mondays we always have salmon; Tuesdays are “Taco Tuesdays;” and Wednesdays we have soup or chicken with pre-roasted vegetables.
- Choose a few days per week to do the majority of your cooking and meal prep – make an extra dinner to freeze, chop veggies, make protein muffins or a breakfast casserole for the week. I do most of my cooking on Sunday.
- To save time, buy pre-cut or prepared veggies.
- Double or triple recipes and freeze to use in following weeks.
Stick to eating out at restaurants once weekly. When eating out, be an advocate for yourself and manipulate the menu. Don’t be afraid to order the burger without the bun or “tacos” without the tortillas- ask the waiter to put all the fixings in the taco on a bed of greens (skip the corn and flour!). Feel empowered! You want to feel good the following day and don’t want to sabotage your efforts.
6. MOVE Post-Meals.
I know the temptation after a big meal (and a long day!) is to sit and watch tv. That is the worst thing you could do for weight loss. MOVE after meals to encourage the sugar from the food you just consumed to get into your cells instead of lingering in your blood-stream leading to fat storage. Aim for at least 10 minutes of movement after each meal. This could mean yoga and stretching after breakfast, jumping jacks and lunges in your office after lunch, and a vigorous walk after dinner.
7. Intermittent Fasting: Eat an early dinner and avoid food after dinner.
When you eat a meal you are in a fed state, or absorptive state, for 3-5 hours in which your body is working hard to digest and absorb food. During this fed state (high insulin state), it is difficult for your body to burn fat because insulin is ever-so-present. Insulin is the hormonal signal to the body to make and store fat.
But after the 3-5 hours in the fed state, your body enters the post-absorptive state, or fasting state (low insulin state). This state lasts 8-12 hours after a meal, and it is much easier for your body to burn fat because blood sugar and thus insulin has decreased. So if you are grazing and eating every 2 hours, you are constantly in a fed state and can never metabolically shift into the fat-burning state. But intermittent fasting is an approach that can promote this metabolic shift.
How to Effectively Intermittent Fast
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating in which individuals go an extended period of time (approximately 16 hours) without food.
Research shows that the timing of when we fast is actually more important than the total amount of time we fast. This is called “early time restricted feeding.” So, for example, having an earlier dinner at 5 pm, fasting overnight, and breaking that fast with breakfast at 9 am or 10 am is more metabolically beneficial than eating dinner at 8 pm and fasting until noon the next day. If you are going to skip a meal, skip dinner- not breakfast.
It’s not just what you eat but also when you eat. The time of day you distribute your energy in relation to bed is important.
Take home- Strive to eat an earlier dinner when possible. If your schedule does not allow for this every night, you can mitigate the deleterious effects of a later dinner with a vigorous after-dinner walk. Even if it is 15 minutes, it is better than nothing! Movement post meals is key for regulating blood sugar and keeping insulin down.
How to break your fast in the morning- With FAT, FIBER, and PROTEIN. Think eggs and veggies or green smoothie with plant-based protein powder and flax. Not muffins or bagels!
Please note- If you have a history of disordered eating or eating disorder, intermittent fasting (or skipping a meal) is likely not indicated for you. Talk with your naturopathic doctor about the best diet and meal timing schedule for YOU. There is not a single approach that works for everyone. It must be individualized!
Bottom line for weight loss:
Eat REAL food, COOK at home, MOVE more, and AVOID EATING AFTER DINNER.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.