Being overweight is a contributing cause to many preventable illnesses. There are literally hundreds of diet programs that claim to be the answer to the Western world’s weight problems and we’re constantly bombarded with new reports of a ‘wonder’ diet ‘worthy’ of trying to help us lose excess weight. However, a successful weight loss program must be consistent with all four cornerstones of good health: a nutritious diet, adequate exercise, a positive mental attitude and the right support for the body through natural supplementation measures. All of these components are interrelated, and no single component is more important than the other.
The basic equation for losing weight never changes. In order for an individual to lose weight, energy intake must be less than energy expenditure. This can be achieved by decreasing caloric intake (dieting) and/or by increasing the rate at which calories are burned (exercising). Most people will begin to lose weight if they reduce their calorie intake to 1500 calories per day and do aerobic exercises for 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. For effective long-term weight loss, some of the key areas to focus on are
Thermogenesis:Thermogenesis is a term used to describe the body’s natural process (heat generation) for burning calories. There’s evidence that the levels of thermogenesis occurring in the body is what determines whether an individual is likely to be overweight. In lean individuals, a meal may stimulate up to a 40% increase in heat production. However, in contrast, overweight individuals often display only 10% or less increase in heat production. This results in the energy from food being stored as fat instead of being converted to heat. Green Coffee Bean Extract is a popular supplement to encourage thermogenesis and a healthy metabolism.
Insulin Sensitivity: A major factor contributing to decreased thermogenesis in overweight people is insulin sensitivity. Insulin plays a key role in maintaining proper blood sugar levels and stimulating thermogenesis. Enhancing insulin sensitivity can therefore go a long way towards re-establishing effective thermogenesis and consequent weight management. Chromium plays a key role in increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin and supplementation has been demonstrated to lower body weight while increasing lean body mass due to increased insulin sensitivity. Without chromium in the body, insulin’s actions are blocked, blood sugar levels are elevated, and thermogenesis is inhibited. Chromium levels can be depleted by consumption of refined sugars, white flour products and by a lack of exercise.
Dietary Fibre: Increasing the amount of dietary fibre we eat helps promote weight loss. In addition to consuming a high-fibre diet, supplementation with additional fibre also aids in weight-loss. One of the best supplemental fibre sources for weight loss is psyllium husks because they’re rich in water-soluble fibres. When taken with water before meals, psyllium husks bind to the water in the stomach to form a gelatinous mass that helps to make you feel full. This in turn means you’re less likely to overeat. However, the benefits of fibre go well beyond this effect, as fibre supplements have been shown to enhance blood sugar control and insulin effects and to actually reduce the number of calories absorbed by the body.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids: Medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are special types of saturated fats found in coconut oil. MCFAs are used by the body differently than long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), the most abundant type found in nature and our diets. Unlike regular fats, MCFAs don’t contribute to weight gain. In fact, they actually promote weight loss through enhanced thermogenesis. LCFAs are difficult for the body to metabolise, so the body tends to store these as fats. In contrast, MCFAs are rapidly burned as energy and actually promote the burning of LCFAs. In order to gain the benefit from MCFAs, our diet must remain low in LCFAs.
A Healthy Diet: Eating meals that consist of a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and some fats is essential to a successful and healthy weight loss regime. Proteins can increase our metabolic rate by as much as 30% and help to regulate the release of insulin. Avoid consuming white flour products, white rice and processed foods as these foods trigger the release of insulin, which then activates enzymes that promote the passage of fat from the bloodstream into the fat cells. A lot of dieters fall into the trap of skipping meals. While all meals are important, always eat breakfast as it kick-starts your metabolism for the day. Skipping meals only intensifies hunger and food cravings! Finding out what causes your food cravings is really important as a craving may actually be an indication of an underlying condition such as a mineral deficiency, food allergy, hypoglycaemia or hypothyroidism. Although many use it as a distraction technique, avoid chewing gum as it starts the digestive juices flowing and sends confusing messages to your brain that you are hungry, meaning you’re actually more likely to give in to that craving.
Regular Exercise: A necessary component of weight loss programs, due to the following factors:
- When exercise is increased, there’s an improvement in body composition due to an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat. Muscle tissue is the primary user of fat calories in the body so the greater your muscle mass, the greater your fat-burning capacity.
- Moderate to intense exercise may have a suppressing effect on the appetite.
- People who exercise during and after weight reduction are better able to maintain their weight loss than those who don’t exercise.
- Exercise promotes the development of an efficient method to utilize insulin and burn fat.
Adopting some of those so-called ‘wonder’ diets often results in rapid weight loss (largely water and muscle) but often causes rebound weight gain and detrimental side effects, so they aren’t generally the answer for achieving and maintaining long-term goals. Sticking to the fundamentals of safe and effective weight loss detailed above is going to see you leaner and healthier in the many years to come!
Other sites of interest:
Australian Government Health, Weight and Ageing – http://www.health.gov.au
Eat for Keeps – http://www.eatforkeeps.com
Jason Shon Bennett – http://www.jasonshonbennett.com
NZ Nutrition Foundation – http://www.nutritionfoundation.org.nz
Renee Naturally, Naturopath and Nutritionist – http://www.reneenaturally.com
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