We are all aware that a balanced diet and daily exercise are key components to maintaining a healthy weight and feeling our best. However, for some people no matter how well they eat or how much they exercise, the weight stays the same or continues to climb. Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t just about looking good or fitting into those skinny jeans, it can actually increase your longevity. Extra weight around your abdomen specifically can be harmful to your overall health; it is worse than carrying it on your hips or thighs.
If weight loss is part of your goals this year, consider the following strategies to maintaining or obtaining your ideal weight.
1. Consume a high protein breakfast
- Eating breakfast will kick start your metabolism in the morning, enabling you to burn more calories throughout the day and maintain your energy levels.
- Breakfast should contain 25-30 grams of protein as protein stabilizes blood sugar, reduces hunger and keeps you fuller longer. Cold pressed juices and green smoothies are a great way to get a serving of protein and vegetables. This winter green smoothie recipe is a great way to start the day.
- Examples of protein sources include: eggs (1 = ~6 grams), hemp-hearts (3 tbsp = ~11g), plain Greek yogurt (1/4c = 14g), quinoa (1/2c = 11g), and vegan protein powders (12-25g per serving).
2. Intermittent Fasting (IF)
- Our bodies spend most of the day digesting the food we eat. The idea behind intermittent fasting is to give our bodies a break from the digestive process to concentrate on healing. It can also help you lose weight and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. There are many different ways to incorporate IF into your daily regime. For some it may be a daily plan where you only consume food for 8-12 hours while others may find more benefit with 1-3 times per week consuming food for 6-8 hours.
- Individuals who are hypoglycemic, diabetic or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.
3. The real importance of exercise
- Exercise is very important for so many aspects of our lives. There are numerous studies on how it helps to improve mood, sleep quality and burn calories. Frequent dieting without exercise will cause the “set point” phenomenon where after a few days of restricted caloric intake, the body adjusts by lowering the base metabolic rate, thus permitting a more efficient use of calories. This biological defense mechanism makes losing weight while dieting progressively more difficult.
- Read this post to find out how much exercise you should get as an adult. This post discusses the amount of exercise children should have each day.
4. Reducing Stress Levels
- How one person perceives a stressor will be different than how the next person experiences the same stressor. However, the actual physiological effect that stress plays on our bodies is exactly the same. The physiological stress response is similar between running away from a bear and rushing to pick up the kids from all of their events at opposite sides of the city! Chronically high stress levels expose our body to our stress hormone cortisol. One of the negative results of increased levels of cortisol includes increased appetites and cravings for quick energy foods high in carbohydrates and sugar which are the exact foods to avoid and limit when weight loss is a goal.
- Ways of reducing stress are highly individual but may include: exercise, meditation, breath work, yoga and creating healthy boundaries in your life.
5. Hormone Balance
- Do you struggle to lose weight and keep it off? This common phenomenon is often due to a hormonal imbalance in the body. Our hormones direct our body’s responses and metabolism; they are our chemical messengers that manage everything from mood, metabolism, appetite, cravings, and even where you store your fat. Some of the areas we look at include: sex hormones, thyroid, adrenal function, cortisol levels and blood sugar control. Any form of hormonal imbalance will sabotage your efforts to lose weight no matter how much you exercise or restrict calories and junk foods.
- Identifying your specific hormone imbalance could be the key to understanding why it seems impossible to lose those last few pounds. Consult your naturopathic physician to find out if a hormonal imbalance is the underlying cause of your weight gain.
Consult with a qualified healthcare provider to help determine which weight loss strategies are best for you, especially of you have any health concerns.
For tips to improve overall health and wellbeing, nutrition, recipes and meal plans, visit Integrative Health.