How to Reset Your Body to Lose Excess Weight
The start of a new year is a great time to reassess your health goals. Weight loss is always at the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately obesity and excess weight are occurring in epidemic proportions in western societies like Australia. Nearly two-thirds of Australian adults and over a quarter of children and adolescents were classified as overweight or obese in 2015.
Carrying excess weight not only increases the risk of a range of chronic health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancers, but often comes with self-esteem issues and may lead to depression, anxiety and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia which affect quality of life. Despite all this doom and gloom, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Body Weight Set-Point – Time for a Re-Set!
Did you know, all individuals have a unique metabolic ‘set-point’, a weight range that your body fights to maintain. To stay in its ‘happy place’, your body will resist weight loss attempts and cause you to regain weight after successful weight loss.
The set-point is raised by a number of factors - sedentary lifestyle; lack of exercise; frequent consumption of sugar combined with saturated fats; inadequate protein; poor sleep; stress or anxiety; poor gut health; and high toxin exposure. Lowering your set-point is key to losing weight and keeping it off. This can be achieved by following a diet and weight loss that prevents the rebound weight gain that often occurs with diets that aren’t designed for safe and sustainable weight loss.
Today’s Food Sets You Up to Fail
Unfortunately our modern Australian supermarkets are overflowing with highly processed foods full of high glycemic index carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, hamburgers, chips and sugary drinks. These calorie laden foods can be a roadblock on your weight loss journey as they are cleverly designed with ingredients such as fat and sugar to hijack your brain, making it harder to stop eating them. Described by obesity researchers as ‘hyperpalatable’, these highly processed foods confuse your brain’s fullness threshold so you continually want more. In contrast, wholefoods have minimal fat and sugar, and contain fibre which naturally allows your appetite to normalise. Wholefoods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, chicken, fish and eggs are a cornerstone of any successful weight loss program, making it easier for you to eat fewer calories yet feel more satisfied. A review conducted on over 400 scientific papers on excess weight and obesity uncovered three profound new findings:
Low carbohydrate diets are no more effective at reducing weight than low fat diets in overweight individuals. This means as both give positive outcomes, you can follow the diet that best suits your individual needs.
Controlled diet breaks prevent your body from adapting to your new diet and slowing your metabolism; also providing a mental break. With the clarity of hindsight, diet breaks also allow you to see how far you’ve come from your previous eating habits.
Sufficient protein from foods like chicken, meat, fish, eggs and protein supplements decreases hunger.
Where To Start?
Your weight loss program should begin with the “Intense Phase”; six weeks of calorie reduction on your choice of eating plan based on whole real foods and good quality meal replacements like Whey, hemp or rice protein. This phase helps you establish new eating and lifestyle habits, and maximises initial weight loss. Before you commence on your program it is important to also address what I call the hidden factors to your weight loss. These include high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, blood sugar and insulin imbalances, food sensitivities particularly to wheat and grains, digestive and liver imbalances especially constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, underlying autoimmune or thyroid or hormonal imbalances, and certain medications. It is for this reason that it is best to work with a qualified naturopathic practitioner who can assess your individual weight loss blocks and design a diet, lifestyle and supplement plan to address your unique health circumstances.
After the first initial 6 week phase you begin your first diet break in what is called a “Pulse Phase”, cycling between two weeks on and two weeks off your diet until your goal weight is achieved. The final step is the Maintenance Phase where you adopt Mediterranean-style eating recommendations, take specific supplements and a targeted exercise regime for sustained health and weight maintenance. It is important to understand that the Pulse phase should include real whole foods like meat, chicken, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables and good fats with minimal amount of sugars, simple carbohydrates like pasta, biscuits, cakes, breads, soft drinks and processed foods.