Achieving Weight Loss Resolutions
Answer: This is the time of year when many of my patients want to address this issue. Most of us could stand to lose a few pounds and in addition to the obvious ascetics involved, there are numerous health advantages to losing weight. Virtually all of the significant health problems we face in this country are related to what we eat and how much we eat. We are genetically programmed to survive a famine but most of us don’t have to do that anymore.
Today most American foods are enhanced at the factory with all kinds of things that make it more flavorful but also more likely to cause problems. Weight gain is a major problem in part because of the way our foods are made. It certainly shouldn’t be news to anyone that we are facing an obesity epidemic in this country.
To date I have found no magic bullet for weight loss. There are numerous fad diets out there, but while some help you lose weight, almost everybody regains the weight when they stop the diet. So the key is to permanently change the way you eat. I’ve outlined some ideas below that should be helpful.
Weight lose basics: Nothing new here … eat less and exercise more. It’s pretty fundamental, calories in versus calories out.
Exercise 30 minutes a day. It is hard to lose weight by exercise alone because most of us don’t have time for that much exercise. But you can enhance a weight loss process by exercising, particularly if you do it at the right times. Do moderate exercise (be able to speak in complete sentences while exercising or you are pushing it too hard). You can break that up into 2- to 15-minute blocks. It’s best if done 30 minutes after a meal. This will help divert the blood sugar to the muscles instead of the fat tissues.
Eat biggest early in the day. Eat a bigger lunch and a small dinner. Nothing after 8 p.m.
Eat foods that are in the “original container,” in other words, foods usually found around the outside wall of the store–stay out of the middle aisles! Eat nothing from a can or a box. Eat nothing that has been prepared by a factory (e.g. lunch meats, crackers, frozen, prepared foods, etc.). Frozen veggies are OK, but fresh is better. Eat mostly vegetables that are grown above ground (below ground equals too much starch). Eat a small piece of fish or fowl one time a day. Think of red meat as a condiment or a side dish, to be eaten occasionally. Avoid salt. A couple of handfuls (pieces) of fruit a day is plenty, more is too much sugar. A couple of handfuls of nuts a day are a good idea, any more equals too many calories.
Avoid Alcohol! Booze is nothing but empty calories that will promote hunger and lower your inhibitions against eating too much. The one exception here is one 4 oz. glass of red wine after a meal actually will aid in digestion.
Don’t let yourself get too hungry. It leads to binge eating. Five to six small meals a day are better than two big ones. Try drinking a glass of water with some fiber (such as Metamucil) 15 minutes before a meal. Not only will it help your elimination functions, but it will also act as an appetite suppressant. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This will help make you feel full before you eat too much.
There are weight loss pharmaceuticals available that are basically amphetamines (speed) that some doctors will prescribe. I don’t because I think they are too dangerous. I do use natural products in my practice that can help increase metabolism and thereby improve weight loss.
If you do all the things listed above and still can’t lose weight, you probably should be evaluated by a physician. Sometimes there are underlying problems that must be corrected and these usually require a doctor’s help.
By Craig Runbeck, Naturopathic Physician