Ok, so we all want to achieve our weight loss goals – and we want it yesterday. I completely understand. But as a health professional I have also seen too many patients come to me after jumping on a low calorie bandwagon only to have their hormones emulate a rollercoaster ride shortly thereafter. And even worse, most of the weight returns. If you want to keep those pounds off after summertime, however, there are a few tricks of the trade …
Steer clear of starvation. Your diet should never involve extreme caloric restriction, no matter what the latest headlines say. It’s often not your fat that starves, but your muscle. When faced with an illness, surgery or other stressful event, our body will naturally tap into muscle tissue for energy to support us during the experience. So always do your best to make sure your reserves are full. Safe fat loss means losing only fat while preserving muscle. A healthy, long-term solution avoids severe caloric restrictions or fad diet approaches that are unsustainable and always result in hormonally driven rebound weight gain. Remember, your body and your hormones are programmed to work against you by increasing your appetite and slowing your metabolic rate when you reduce your caloric intake. So the key is to use the correct weight-loss techniques, keep in a strength and cardio training regimen to look and feel your best for the long haul. Also keep this in mind, when we excessively restrict calories, our active thyroid hormone T3 drops, and our metabolism and mood right along with it.
Avoid quick fixes. Staring at a scale when you have a large amount of weight to lose is akin to looking at a steep mountain knowing that you have to make your way down it (think of your first day on the ski hill). A band-aid solution such as liposuction, however, is not the answer either. Dr. Samuel Klein, professor of medicine and nutritional science led a 2004 study that showed patients could lose 30 pounds or more of subcutaneous fat (the fat that is under the skin, versus around your organs) through liposuctionwithout seeing any of the health benefits normally associated with weight loss, such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and greater sensitivity to insulin. Even more so, researchers found that a compensation pattern exists and patients had an increase in abdominal (visceral) fat one year after liposuction – regardless of whether or not abdominal fat was removed during the procedure. So when it comes to fat loss, slow and steady wins the race.
Detoxify your fat cells. We store the majority of the toxins in our body within our fat cells – picture hundreds of little ‘hoarders’ in your body impeding fat loss, causing inflammation, affecting your mood and throwing your hormones into a spin cycle. In my opinion, safe fat loss means completing a detox at the beginning of your weight-loss journey and again after the first few months. While detox takes time and commitment, reducing the negative impact of toxins released during fat loss is critical to your health and your long-term weight-loss success. That means a spring cleaning of your home, I like to call this home detox, your organs andyour diet. Read more on detoxing here.
Don’t underestimate calories. While you don’t have to become a calorie mathematician, I do advise all my patients to write down everything they eat in a daily journal. You may be surprised that you have underestimated how much you are consuming, or that your ideal diet isn’t executed so well during the day. Often they skimp out of protein, forget to add healthy fats, and in turn overdo it on convenience foods, carbs and sugar. According to a study published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsa few key habits were evident among successful dieters:
– Women who consistently filled out the food journals lost about 6 pounds more than those who didn’t.
– Those who skipped meals lost an average of 8 fewer pounds than those who didn’t.
– Women who ate in restaurants at lunch at least once a week lost an average of 5 pounds less than those who ate out less.
I would like to add a fourth one to this category: weigh yourself weekly. This enables you to get back on track when you have fallen off the healthy lifestyle bandwagon and reign in any unhealthy habits.
Put all the cards in your favour from the get-go. While this is going to sound like a contradiction, an initial large weight loss has been shown to improve fat loss overall. Let’s face it, when you are starting new program you want to see results so that you are motivated to continue (another great reason why jumpstarting your dietary changes with a detox is a great idea). Scientists at the University of Florida found that women who lost 1.5 pounds a week or more maintained a greater loss in the long run than women who lost only half a pound a week or less. Keep in mind you need to account for how much weight you need to lose in total – the higher the amount, the more likely you will have a significant weekly drop in the scale. And lastly remember you want to be losing only fat, not water or muscle. When this is the case with patients in my clear medicine weight loss program, I let them know that every pound lost represents a loss the size of one block of butter in fat off your body!