Diana is a personal assistant at a local law firm. Her job consists of making sure that the partner’s administrative needs are taken care of. This job can be quite demanding and requires her to be at her desk most of the day. By the time she finishes work, she’s too tired to cook and usually ends up grabbing food from a local fast food restaurant. As a result of her eating and working habits, Diana has gained excess weight and has been feeling more stressed than ever.
Diana knows she needs to make a change but she doesn’t know how to go about it. In this article, I’ll go through some of the techniques that I’ve used to lose excess fat and lean out my body. I’m not a nutritionist, nor am I a doctor. These recommendations are from personal experience and research. Before starting any diet and/or exercise routine, please consult with a medical professional.
Avoid white grains and dairy
Although this may be disheartening to some of you, heavily refined grains such as white bread, pasta, white rice and dairy products such as whole milk, cheese and sugary yogurts can cause weight gain. Refined grains are composed of simple carbohydrates that are digested quickly by the body. This causes spikes in blood sugar and insulin which makes you hungry and more likely to over eat.
Studies have shown that individuals who incorporate many simple carbohydrate options into their diet are at higher risk for weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.Instead of reaching for a piece of white toast or a bowl of white rice consider substituting it for a whole grain or non-grain alternative. These options include brown rice, red rice, quinoa and/or cauliflower rice as well as whole oats, Ezekiel bread and/or whole wheat bread. Each option is packed with nutrients and is an excellent source of fiber.
Dairy products have their dark side as well. Over 60% of the human population doesn’t have the capacity to digest lactase properly. This is especially prevalent in regions of the world where milk was not a staple food. The ethics behind how dairy is made and its chemical properties are also a concern. Most milk cows are impregnated for 300 days out of the year in order to produce milk. This un-natural state of impregnation is often very uncomfortable for these animals. Not only that, but during their pregnancy hormones such as estrogen are produced and transferred to the milk. According to studies conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health, an increased level of estrogen in mammals was linked to increased risk of various cancers. Instead of drinking that glass of whole milk, try substituting it with a healthier option such as a glass of almond milk.
Incorporate fermented foods
Did you know that your gut plays a big role in weight loss? Your gut is made up of over 100 trillion bacteria that help digest foods, process foods, regulate bowel movements and extract vitamins and minerals your body needs. Many fermented foods are rich in healthy bacteria such as lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is a type of healthy bacteria found in your intestines. This bacterium supports your body’s natural bowel functions as well processes sugars into lactic acid. The introduction of these healthy bacteria also reduces the presence of harmful bacteria such as Enterobacteriaceae. This bacterium has been linked to inflammation and various other chronic diseases. Fermented foods such as unsweetened Greek yogurt, saurkraut, kimchi, kimboucha etc. help facilitate a healthy gut biome. Try one of these options out and over time you’ll see some positive results.
Get more protein and fiber
Don’t worry you can utilize the information in this section even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Protein is a major building block of your muscles and also has other unique benefits for weight loss. Numerous scientific studies back the position that eating more protein and fiber is positively correlated with weight loss. These results are especially true for individuals incorporating protein and fiber into their breakfast. According to a 4 week 3500 person study that looked at topics covered in Tim Ferris’s book “The 4 Hour Body”, 84% of participants who ate a high protein high fiber breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up reported losing weight! Even though you may not be hungry in the mornings, I issue you a challenge of eating 2 -4 eggs in the morning for a month and see what a difference it makes.
Fiber along with protein is digested slowly by the body and as a result keeps you feeling fuller longer. These nutrients take more energy for your body to metabolize than other macronutrients. Unlike white grains that are made up of simple carbohydrates, proteins and fiber are made up of complex molecules which require your body to expend much more energy to digest them. This means that your body naturally burns more calories when you eat protein and/or fiber! Excellent sources of protein include organic chicken breast, salmon, beef and eggs. Vegetarian options include nuts, seeds, yogurt, quinoa and beans. If incorporated into your diet, these foods can have a substantial positive effect on your weight loss efforts.
Reduce intake of artificial sweenters and sugars
Eating excess sugars and artificial sweetners is the single most detrimental action committed by individuals who are trying to lose weight. Not only does consuming these sugars and artificial sweetners not help you lose weight, they’ve been shown to be the main culprit behind today’s obesity problem. A recent meta-analysis focused on children and adolescents suggests that for every additional 12-ounce serving of sugary beverage participants consumed each day, their body mass index increased by 0.08 units! The difference between a person who is overweight and obese on the BMI index is 5 units (25 to 30). This means that drinking an extra 62.5 sodas could have you moving up the wrong end of the scale.
Sugar and sweetners are processed very quickly by your body and cause blood sugar spikes which can lead to cravings and overeating. These weight-gain culprits are present in many of today’s foods so it can be hard to distinguish which foods are best to eat. It’s important to read labels carefully and try to limit sugar consumption throughout the day. Now I’m not saying you can’t ever enjoy a brownie or a piece of apple pie but you should try to limit your intake of these foods if you’re trying to lose weight.
Get more greens
Remember when your mom used to tell you to eat your greens? She may have been on to something. Vegetables are rich in essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to operate at peak performance. They’re also an excellent source of fiber which helps curb your appetite. Along with these benefits vegetables tend to have low caloric density and therefore you can eat more vegetables without feeling guilty. For example one cup of broccoli is equivalent to 31 calories of energy while 1 cup of pasta equates to 220 calories of energy. You would need to eat almost 8 cups of broccoli to reach that calorie count! A good rule of thumb when adopting this healthy habit is to ensure at least half your plate at each meal is vegetables. Leafy greens are especially nutritious and have some of the lowest caloric density of all vegetables.
Bringing it all together
One day after feeling winded after climbing a flight of stairs, Diana knew she had to make a change. She decided to change her eating habits so she could shed some of the excess weight. She started by eating a bowl of two hard boiled eggs in the morning within 30 minutes of waking up. This ensured that she felt full throughout the morning and would be less prone to snacking. She stopped using milk and reduced the amount of sugar she used in her morning coffee. For snacks she would eat baby carrots with hummus, unsweetened Greek yogurt or some nuts/seeds. She changed her meal composition and made sure she incorporated more vegetables into each meal.
After 4 weeks of these changes, she had lost a total of 6 pounds! Diana is excited about her results and looks forward to what the future holds. These results are not uncommon for people who make these positive changes in their life. I lost almost 10 pounds of excess weight while gaining muscle mass by following these guidelines. It may be difficult at first but I promise you the results are worth the effort.
P.S. My book recommendation for this article is the “4 hour body” by Tim Ferriss. This book is filled great insights on how to craft the body you want and deserve. I’ve provided the link to the book below.