BEST WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT NATURALLY AND PERMANENTLY
One of the prevailing myths still quoted like a mantra by so-called health experts is that weight gain is just to do with calories in from food and calories out through exercise and that a calorie is a calorie, regardless of the food it comes from. Although calories intake and exercise are important, complex metabolic processes are happening continually in your body, and they treat fat and sugar differently from protein. Of these food types, sugar is the most easily converted into fat, followed by alcohol.
Also, many psychological issues lead to emotional eating, and factors such as stress promote the use of sugar and caffeine for energy lifts. Also, if you are depressed, you are more likely to crave sweet foods.
Some people are more genetically prone to gaining weight and, to some extent, your total amount of fat cells determines how much you can store, so childhood obesity will set a pattern for life, although it is possible to lose weight nevertheless. So here are our top tips to follow to lose weight naturally and permanently.
4 Tips to Follow to Lose Weight Naturally
1. Eat less and exercise more
At a basic level the more calories you eat and the less you exercise, the more weight you are going to gain. Exercise, particularly resistance exercise (using weights, for example) also builds muscle and muscle burns fat; therefore, the more lean muscle you have, the more you are able to burn fat.
It is especially important to do exercise that builds abdominal (core) and upper-body strength because this will help to build muscle on the top of your body, giving a toned appearance. Aerobic or endurance exercise that gets you huffing and puffing is also essential because both kinds of exercise (resistance and aerobic) speed up the body’s metabolism for several hours, which helps to burn fat.
It’s easy to take in, too many calories from sweetened drinks and larger portion sizes. Many people also make the mistake of choosing low-fat’ foods, not realising that they are full of sugars, which really pile on the pounds because of the way your body has to process sugar in the blood, as explained below.
2. Follow a low-GL diet
Your appetite and weight are largely controlled by how your body deals with blood sugar balance. If your blood sugar level goes too high, which is the direct consequence of eating or drinking too much fast-releasing carbohydrate (such as sugar or foods made with white flour) in a meal or snack, the excess is converted into fat. Your blood sugar level then dips, which triggers hunger.
Before long, you are gaining weight but also feeling hungry a lot of the time. You then become less sensitive to the effect of insulin, the key hormone that controls blood sugar, a condition that is called `insulin resistance. This eventually leads to diabetes.
The solution is to eat a low-GL diet. GL means glycemic load, and it is a unit of measurement, rather like grams, litres, centimetres and calories, except that it is used to measure the amount of sugar and starch in food and their impact on the body. Foods with a low GL have little effect on blood sugar, while foods with a high GL raise blood sugar. There is a wealth of evidence to support the positive benefits of a low-GL diet is a superior way to lose weight than a conventional low-fat, low-calorie diet.
There are two ways of eating low GL. It involves eating very little carbs, with much more protein and fat. This does result in weight loss, but it is not healthy in the long term, so we would only recommend it for the short term.
The other involves eating fewer carbohydrates, and only slow-releasing carbohydrates, which have less of an effect on blood sugar, in combination with protein, which slows down the release of sugars from the carbs and eating little and often.
The beauty of eating a low-GL diet is that people say they just don’t feel hungry. This is because you eat regularly and can have decent-sized portions. A low-GL diet is also easy to follow. You just need to follow three golden rules:
- Eat no more than 4oGLs a day (different foods have different GL scores).
- Eat protein with carbohydrate.
- Graze don’t gorge.
Your daily GL intake breaks down as 1oGLs each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus 5GLs each for a mid-morning and a mid¬afternoon snack – so you eat (or graze) regularly instead of gorging at one or two big meals.
The easiest and most visual way to make protein-carb combining a part of your daily life is to keep your food in the following proportions:
- A quarter of each main meal should be protein.
- A quarter of each meal should be carbohydrate: starchy vegetables or other starchy foods.
- Half of each meal should be non-starchy vegetables.
One particularly effective way to lose weight and cut calories is to eat an ‘alternate day’ diet, with much lower calories two or three days a week. This is very effective if combined with a low-GL diet.
3. Eat sufficient fibre
Soluble fibre, which absorbs more water, helps you to lose weight, because you feel fuller and crave less food, plus it slows down the release of sugars in food. This healthy fibre will be present in the foods recommended in the low-GL diet, but you can also benefit from supplementing other particular forms of fibre. Glucomannan, a fibre found in a tuber vegetable called konjac, is many times more effective than the fibre in whole grains.
It absorbs a large amount of water and makes you feel full, also lowering the GL of any meal. Taking 3g of glucomannan, roughly 1 teaspoonful, has been shown to reduce appetite in several studies. Glucomannan absorbs several times its own weight in water, so it is essential to take it with a glass of water a few minutes before a meal. It comes in capsules or powder, which can be stirred into the water. Drink it quickly before it turns into a porridge-like gel.
4. Try weight-losing supplements
Slimming pills rarely work, and those that do often act as stimulants, speeding up your metabolism. This may give you short-term weight loss but also long-term problems. But there are three nutritional supplements that are extremely effective and are therefore recommended to support weight loss. They are hydroxycitric acid (HCA), 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and the mineral chromium. You can also try a turmeric supplement. It works as a supportive supplement for improving the body’s health, so it can work to lose weight on its own as well.
HCA is extracted from the dried rind of the tamarind fruit (Garcinia cambogia), which you may know from Asian cuisine. HCA is not a vitamin, but it will help you to lose weight. It works by inhibiting the enzyme – ATP-citrate lyase – that converts sugar (or glucose) into fat, thereby slowing down the production of fat and reducing appetite. It has been extensively tested and found to have no toxicity or safety concerns.
We recommend taking HCA, especially during the first three months of any weight-loss diet. You need 75omg a day. Most sup¬plements provide 25omg per capsule, so take one capsule three times a day, ideally between 3o minutes and just before eating the main meal. It is widely available as a supplement.
The two most powerful controllers of your appetite are your blood sugar level and your brain’s level of serotonin, the `feel-good’ neurotransmitter. Serotonin is often deficient, especially in those on weight-loss diets. A low level can lead to depression and an increased appetite (which is why many depressed people overeat).
If your body is low in serotonin, one of the quickest ways to restore normal levels, and normal mood and appetite, is to sup¬plement your diet with 5-HTP. It is proven to be effective for both weight loss and sugar cravings.
It is a mineral that is essential for insulin to work properly. Many people struggling with weight are insulin resistant, which makes you more prone to storing sugar as fat. The average daily intake of chromium is below 5omcg, although an optimal intake – certainly for those with weight and blood sugar problems – is around 2oomcg or more.
Chromium is found in whole foods and is, therefore, higher in wholemeal flour, bread or pasta than refined products. (Refined carbs can have up to 98 % of the chromium removed in the refining process – another reason to stay away from over-processed products.) Beans (pulses), nuts and seeds are other good sources, and asparagus and mushrooms are especially rich in chromium.
Most good multivitamins will contain 3omcg of chromium, but you can help maintain blood sugar control, and hence reduce sugar cravings, more quickly by taking 2oomcg twice a day for the first three months of a weight-loss regime (ideally with your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks).
If you are on SSRI antidepressants and you also take large amounts of 5-HTP, this could theoretically make too much serotonin. We, therefore, don’t recommend combining the two. Some people get mild nausea when starting 5-HTP. If so, lower the dose. 5-HTP doesn’t suit everybody.
Always take glucomannan with a large glass of water.