We live in a complex world these days and with all the concerns about food quality, environmental toxins, and sedentary lifestyles, it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight, and it is more important than ever to make smart choices.
We need a new strategy for trimming our weight down and maintaining ideal body shape, one that copes with the varied challenges of modern life. Our goal should be to develop a straightforward, top-to-bottom plan to get us going in the right general direction. Reducing the complexity ensures we are at very least on the proper path to health and longevity. You can fine tune it and personalize it along the way.
NOTE: Make sure you check with your doctor before making any significant lifestyle changes.
Let’s start by breaking the strategy into 2 areas: Food Choices and Lifestyle Choices.
Dr Weston A. Price, a leading health researcher studying world societies and their nature-based versus modern diets, concluded unequivocally that human degenerative diseases were fundamentally a nutritional problem (Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.)
Let’s set some basic rules to get us on track, some dietary & nutritional guidelines for maintaining good health and body weight.
We need to make a simplified plan for what we can and cannot include in our diet. Being educated and prepared ahead of time so you make good choices for food is central to both body weight management and health in general.
This is meant as a broad plan for success, and not meant to be all encompassing, but it gives you a good start to living right for the 21st century.
Food that is bad for weight control –
This is pretty obvious even if challenging. The foods which should be drastically curtailed or altogether avoided are:
Ø High-fat foods such as butter, cheese, chocolates, cream, ice-cream, fat meats, fried foods, many sauces and gravies. Almond milk is a great replacement for dairy milk. (Low-fat, high-protein foods, and low-carb foods are the best choice.)
Ø High carbohydrate & sugar-based foods like bread, candy and refined sugar, cake, cookies, sugared cereal products, potatoes, honey, syrups, soda, alcoholic drinks, and the like. Especially limit all foods and beverages that are high in sugars and all high-fructose syrups. Also watch to avoid sugar alcohols in diet foods which cause bloating.
Ø Processed, preservative, and refined foods. (Eat as much raw food as you can. See Below.)
Ø Sodium. Many processed foods are high in sodium and low in fiber, both of which can contribute to bloating. Look on the labels to check that any meal has less than 500 mg of sodium per serving (2300mg per day.)
Ø Genetically modified organisms. (GMO’s) The same corporations that said DDT and Agent Orange were safe have now put millions of dollars into the campaign against our right to know what’s in our food. Look for and stay clear of these foods.
Food that is good for weight control –
Follow these suggestions and you will find health, weight control and weight loss to be a much simpler endeavor. The key is to really pay attention to these when you are buying food so you can make better choices when you are hungry.
We recommend when you visit the supermarket, make a conscious decision to stay only in the outer aisles where the fresh foods, produce and meats are kept (the unhealthy stuff is always in the more central aisles.)
+ Buy organic foods where possible. Give the “macrobiotic diet” a try.
+ Consume at least half your calories from raw foods. The more raw foods you digest, the better, but at least aim for 50%. Your body has to do more work to digest these foods, and of course they contain more nutrients.
+ Select a mix of colorful vegetables each day. Vegetables of different colors provide different key nutrients especially good for weight control. Choose dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards, and mustard greens, and reds and oranges such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and tomatoes. The cruciferous family of vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, are all smart choices for controlling weight. Fiber is critical to digestion, health and good diet. (And variety is the spice of life.)
For example, cabbage is a smart food choice. Research has discovered that cabbage is high in tartroric acid which inhibits the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat, excellent for weight reduction and maintenance. Try varieties of cabbage recipes to help to stay slim. A hundred grams of cabbage yields only 27 kilo-calories of energy while the same quantity of bread will yield about 240 calories. Cabbage possesses maximum biological value with minimum caloric cost. Moreover, it gives a lasting feeling of fullness in the stomach and is great for your digestive tract.
+ Choose the right fresh fruit. Fruit juice has little or no fiber and added sugar, so grab a piece of fruit rather than the juice. Apples, for instance, are full of pectin, a good fiber which slows down the process of digestion and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Blueberries (and other berries) are an excellent choice.
A University of Michigan (Cardiovascular Center) study discovered that when rats consumed just 2% of their calories from blueberries over a 90-day period, they significantly reduced their percentage of belly fat! Berries have also been shown to reduce food cravings, not the least of their many benefits, so we say a big yes to the berry.
Berries and citrus fruits contain minimal carbohydrates by weight. Keep a stock of peaches, nectarines, cantaloupe, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries. These fruits promote healthy bowel movement and thereby, detoxification. They are rich in antioxidants, help cleanse the blood, and reinforce the cardiovascular system. They improve digestion and appetite, thereby leading to healthy weight loss.
Lastly, avocados have about 20 grams of healthy fats per fruit, which not only increase metabolism but also increase testosterone levels, one of the main hormones responsible for fat loss for both men and women. Keep these around.
+ Beans and nuts are important. These 2 groups of foods have the highest levels of resistance-starch (a fiber that resists digestion). Your body has to work harder, burning more calories, to digest them, helping promote natural weight loss.
Nuts, especially walnuts, help regulate stress hormones such as cortisol (which causes your body to store more fat.) Nuts with their high level of omega-3 fatty acids help prevent stress hormones from peaking, reducing levels of these hormones circulating in the body, and thereby helping you store less belly fat. Try working beans into your diet slowly to avoid gas.
+ Choose live or at least whole grains. Try live grain (or at very least whole-grain) breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, or bulgur. These are high in resistance-starches. Add two tablespoons of flax seed to a meal to slow digestion and make you feel fuller. This is a good habit to get into for long term weight control
+ Spice up with peppers. Peppers are rich in capsaicin, which has a thermogenic effect on the body, boosting metabolism and the rate of calorie burn, which will help to you lose fat and trim down.
+ Use the right fats and oils (sparingly.) Choose your fats carefully. Use olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or walnut oil, and some nut butters (peanut is not a nut, it is a legume.) Eat fatty fish to provide heart-healthy fats as well as key vitamins and minerals.
+ Eat more small meals every day rather than skipping meals or eating fewer larger meals. The NIH suggests eating 5-6 smaller calorie meals through the day.
+ Supplement with Vitamin D. Research suggests that vitamin D appears to boost the effectiveness of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that you’re full, and has shown clear efficacy in weight loss studies. Recommended daily dose is 1000mg, too much to get from diet alone.
+ Supplement with a good thermogenic formula. Be careful to choose the right natural supplement to help raise your energy, reduce your appetite, and maximize your fat-burning rate. You don’t want anything extreme, just a gentle, healthy boost.
Here are some lifestyle guidelines for maintaining good health and body weight. They may not all be easy but they do work, so look into making each one part of your own daily life and you will quickly have weight loss and weight maintenance under control.
#1 – Change your mind, change your life –
The first thing to do is to change your mental images and your relationship with your body in your mind.
It is a fact that thoughts and emotions affect the body for better or worse. Negative thinking, stress, fear, anxiety, worry and anger all harm the body and create toxin releases.
Positive thinking, happiness, love, and confidence all energize, heal, and strengthen the body. Use creative visualization to command your subconscious mind to shape your body to your mental image. It is powerful and effective.
A word about mental discipline – if you’re tempted to have a muffin with your coffee, instead of thinking how delicious it will taste, remind yourself mentally that you will get more important benefits such as a smaller waist or a healthier heart from not having it. Neuro-plasticity to the rescue! Doing this actually changes your brain by essentially strengthening the area that helps you resist something and weakening the region that tells you think of treats as a reward.
Mind over Matter is not a cliché!
When you go without eating for a day, the body enters into ketosis, where it runs out of carbohydrates to burn for energy, so it burns fat. Studies on animals ranging from earthworms to monkeys have shown that alternating cycles of fasting and calorie-restricted diets is a reliable way to extend the lifespan.
No matter how drastic this may seem to you now, trust in the truth that this will change your life for the better. Discuss it with your own doctor to see if it can fit into your regimen.
Combine good food choices as we discussed with both a daily 20-minute, high-intensity workout that you find fun (running, skipping, sports, it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy doing it and it’s not a chore) and with one day of fasting after every four days.
Studies are increasingly clear that fasting promotes detoxification, optimal body function, and maximizes health (see caloric restriction below.) Make sure you check with your doctor before starting any fasting regimen, but as long as it is part of a healthy diet, it can really make a difference to your health and proper body weight.
Which leads nicely into…
Caloric restriction –
The majority of people eat too much for their overly-sedentary lives, which in turn results in insufficient and improper utilization of this larger quantity of food. This surplus overburdens the digestive and assimilative organs and clogs up the system with impurities or poisons. Digestion and elimination become slow and the functional activity of the whole system is imbalanced. The news today has become clear – eat less, live longer.
Caloric restriction is the simple answer to health and longevity. First your body becomes more efficient — it knows it doesn’t have resources to waste. Then it also gets better at eliminating toxins. This does not mean starving yourself but rather controlling precisely the amount of caloric intake and getting the most bang for your caloric buck.
From Scientific American Magazine:
“One intervention, consumption of a low-calorie yet nutritionally balanced diet, works incredibly well in a broad range of animals, increasing longevity and prolonging good health. Those findings suggest that caloric restriction could delay aging in humans, too… for maximum benefit, people would probably have to reduce their caloric intake by roughly 30 percent, equivalent to dropping from 2,500 calories a day to 1,750.” (SA, Aug 2002)
A 20-year study conducted at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center suggests that caloric restriction of diet by 30 percent may slow aging in the studied rhesus monkey, as gauged by delays in mortality, and in the onset of age-associated diseases (particularly diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological impairment; the most prevalent age-related diseases in humans.)
The case for caloric restriction when it comes to weight loss is simple:
* The average person burns about 2000 calories just doing daily activities.
* If we stimulate metabolism to burn an extra 1000 calories per day doing these same activities, the average person would lose about two to three pounds a week.
* Then if we reduce caloric intake by 10 to 20%, this translates to weight loss of 24 to 30 pounds over just 3 months!
It may be tough in the beginning to adjust, which is why fasting can actually help the process if you start it first. A good quality appetite controlling supplement to combat hunger and prevent overeating can be helpful to get going as well.
Revoke your license to overeat…
Make sure you don’t indulge anymore. From here on out, you are doing things right.
How about this idea for an ‘oldie but a goodie’?
One sure method of effective weight control is by practicing “Fletcherism,” created in 1898 by American, Horace Fletcher. At just 40, he had become 50 pounds overweight, contracted flu every six months and constantly complained of indigestion and lethargy. After a long and in-depth study, he made some important discoveries, lost more than 60 pounds, and felt better than he had for 20 years. He then described the rules for “Fletcherism” as follows and for over a century people have wisely heeded their wisdom:
1) Never eat until hungry.
2) Chew your food to a pulp until it practically swallows itself.
3) Enjoy every bite or morsel, savoring the flavor until it is swallowed.
4) Do not eat when tired, angry, worried, and refuse to think or talk about unpleasant subjects.
Sound like something worth considering? You might be surprised at how powerful following Fletcherism can be.
In a recent study, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. When we chew longer, our bodies produce less ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and more of the peptide hormones that are believed to curb hunger. Chewing seems to stimulate the gut to make appetite-suppressing peptide hormones, plus it gives the body more time to derive nutrients and to tell the brain we are full.
As the Buddhists say — eat your drink and drink your food.
Daily Activity –
We know that anyone who increases the amount they exercise, but maintains or lowers the calorie intake, will almost certainly lose weight.
3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.5 kg) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
Get your daily exercise program started. The key in the beginning is to build up a consistency. All exercise, even light exercise, such as a short 20 minute walk, will be beneficial if done most days of the week. Don’t worry if at first you start slowly.
The surest approach once you get going is to alternate between low energy and high energy output, so jogging 200m and then sprinting 100m and continuing to alternate back and forth. You will use more calories in the shortest time and strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system.
(The same physiological fact means that alternating hot and cold periods in your shower will ramp up thermal utilization / thermogenics and help burn calories, improve circulation and flush toxins. Try a cold shower for a little longer each day.)
In a study at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, scientists discovered that working out releases a hormone called irisin, which converts white fat to brown fat (a body fat packed with mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate heat.) When activated, as little as two ounces of brown fat can use up as much as 20 percent of your body’s calories.
So find a fun way to get the right kind of exercise for you, and then include some muscle training as well. An-aerobic exercise is necessary for optimal weight loss (increases in muscle mass result in a higher calorie burn rate, which is important to weight loss maintenance.) Don’t worry about the long term at the beginning, just focus on getting your activity going consistently and then increase it a little each day until it is at cruising speed. This approach makes it easier to keep going every day.
If you need a gentle program to start, try Yoga for an effective way to control weight without high impact or energy. It uses techniques that gently strengthen key areas and improves the blood circulation which helps to burn the excess fat. Again, we want to get our bodies utilizing calories in the most efficient way possible.
Bottom line – Get moving for optimal health. Don’t sit for long. The human body was never designed for sitting. It is unnatural to our function and will cause many issues beyond unwanted weight gain. In fact, the physical act of sitting or lying down may actually speed up your body’s production of fat. When we sit, we exert forces on our cells that cause them to become stretched out and thus to generate flab, researchers say.
Make a pact to find ways to enjoy being active, no matter what they are. And stand up as often as possible.
Remember, exercise trumps genetics.
And variety is the spice of life.
So now we have a plan of attack. We are intelligently fighting against all the ravages and while we may have to iron out the details, we are well set on a path of health.
Put all of this together, the food, the lifestyle, and the exercise, and radically good things will happen. Most importantly, though, you will have weight loss and proper weight management completely under control. Now, and in the future.