Join Betsy’s this summer on a weight loss journey with our six-part series, The Best Summer Weight Loss Guide. In Part Two, we look at some of the nutritional steps you can take to help make your weight loss plan a success.
Choose smart Carbs (in moderation)
When it comes to fat storage, insulin is the mother of all hormones. And since carbohydrates cause an overproduction of insulin in two-thirds of Americans, cutting carbs becomes essential to losing weight. Start with a two-week period of sharp carb-cutting— aim for just 20 net grams per day, recommends Westman (net carbs = total carbs – fiber grams). Then, slowly ramp up to a maintenance level of 50 to 100 net grams (the younger and more active the person, the higher the amount). Load up on leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables, and steer clear of high-starch veggies like potatoes, corn, and beans. Keep your fruit intake to two servings a day, emphasizing high-fiber, lower-sugar options (berries, grapefruit, or apples).
Relax About Fats
Contrary to popular belief, recent studies have shown fat consumption does not significantly impact weight and, in some cases, hastens weight loss. For instance, in Hu’s study, full-fat dairy products had no effect on weight, and nuts (high in monounsaturated fat) contributed to weight loss. When you’re building a hormone-balancing diet, Hu recommends fats from polyunsaturated sources (like fish) and monounsaturated sources (such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds).
In any diet, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats are a no-no. Don’t rely just on the nutrition facts label because foods can have a certain amount of these fats and still say 0 on the nutrition facts label. Scan the ingredients of the foods you eat to make sure they do not contain any partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats.
Emphasize Lean Protein
If insulin is the mother of fat storage, glucagon is the father of fat burning. One way to increase this hormone – and lose weight – is to eat more protein, says Teta. But not all protein is created equal. In Hu’s 2011 study, eating red meat was strongly associated with weight gain over four-year periods. And another study linked animal protein with increased mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease, when compared with plant-based options. Teta recommends going easy on beans and opting instead for lean poultry, fish, eggs and game meat. Vegans should consider adding rice, hemp or nut protein powder supplements to their diets.
Time Your Intake
Teta recommends eating within one hour of waking to avoid the stress-hormone surge that comes with low blood sugar. Always eat protein with breakfast to steady your insulin levels throughout the day. Eat every three hours to avoid low blood sugar, hunger and cravings. Try not to pair fats and starches in the same meal (skip the potatoes with your salmon and have broccoli instead). And save the bulk of your carbohydrate intake for later in the day. One recent study found that subjects who ate the bulk of their carbohydrates at dinner experienced fewer cravings throughout the day, had better blood sugar balance, and lost more weight.
If you are exercising, even walking, you should have a serving of a good, quality plant protein or whey protein isolate within an hour of finishing exercise in order to provide much-needed nutrients to your muscles for recovery.
The Organic Link
Are you the type who always reaches a plateau where your weight won’t budge anymore? Toxins could be to blame. Analysis published in Obesity Reviews found that pesticides (such as organochlorines used on grains, onions, and other crops, or that persist in the water or soil from banned pesticides like DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls from industrial pollution—both of which the body usually stores in fat tissue—get released during weight loss and then poison metabolism.
How? These toxins may reduce thyroid-hormone levels and interfere with the hormone’s ability to rev up metabolism. They also inhibit fat burning and appetite control. To counter this effect, choose organic foods.
The right food choices can make a big difference in your ability to achieve your weight loss goals. Use these tips to help make you a healthy food champion.
Coming up: Learn tips for managing blood sugar to improve your weight loss success
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider about any health concerns and before beginning a diet or exercise plan, especially if you take medications or have a known medical condition.
Article copyright 2017 by Delicious Living and Sabinsa. All rights reserved. Used with permission.