Proud to Be a Big Loser!
by Ken Babal, C.N.
The holiday cookies, pies, candies and feasts have come and gone, but the extra body fat lingers. After the holidays, we often hear a lot of hype about how to effortlessly take off those unwanted pounds. Truth is, successful weight management takes commitment. It also helps to have an understanding of how food affects body chemistry.
Most Americans take in too many calories for the amount of energy expended. And many of the calories consumed are from foods that our bodies are not physiologically designed for. It’s like putting the wrong type of fuel in our cars.
A simple approach to weight management is to eat food just the way nature provides it. This is accomplished by visiting the produce department at your market for fresh vegetables and fruits, and the bulk section for beans and whole grains. You then add lean or vegetable protein. You’ve got to be a smart label reader for anything that comes in a box or can.
In spite of the long-standing eat less-move more prescription, obesity rates continue to climb. This has caused researchers to look at not just how many calories people eat and burn, but what kind of food the calories are coming from and how the body processes them. In addition, researchers are looking at people’s genes, the microbes in their gut, and how much sleep they get. The science is revealing many new pieces of information that may tip the scales in your favor.
Blood Sugar Roller Coaster
There is a strong consensus that limiting high-glycemic foods and controlling blood sugar are critical factors and keys to successful weight management. This is because sharp blood sugar ﬂuctuations increase the likelihood that calories will be stored as fat. Blood sugar surges prompt the pancreas to release excess amounts of insulin, a hormone that allows sugar to be burned for energy, but also to be stored as fat. Constant bombardment of cells with alternating high levels of glucose (blood sugar) and insulin eventually causes them to lose their sensitivity to insulin (called “insulin resistance”). As a result, glucose and insulin levels remain high, setting the stage for diabetes. The new word “diabesity” reﬂects the tendency for diabetes to be accompanied by obesity.
Certain foods stand out for their ability to favorably affect glucose and insulin levels, such as cinnamon, oats, bitter melon and maitake mushroom. Maitake excels in treating what I call “conditions of excess,” whether it is excess blood pressure, blood sugar, body weight, cholesterol or triglycerides. The mushroom is the source of a glycoprotein extract (SX-fraction) that has been found to enhance insulin sensitivity. In experiments at Georgetown University, the compound reduced levels of fasting glucose, blood pressure and body weight in genetically obese and diabetic rats. A clinical study found that Type 2 diabetics taking the extract were able to signiﬁcantly reduce their fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, insulin and body weight.
Although there are no magic pills, certain dietary supplements can enhance the results of a weight-loss program. The best product for you depends on your particular needs. For example, is your metabolism slow? Is your appetite excessive? Do you have food allergies? Do you have a high stress level? Do you have symptoms of insulin resistance? Each of these factors contributes to unhealthy weight gain and can be addressed with diet modiﬁcations and speciﬁc nutritional or herbal remedies. Nothing is 100 percent successful in every person. But if you are eating healthy and exercising, the right product can improve your results.
Appetite suppressants – Hoodia, Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid), Caralluma, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
Carb blockers – bean pod (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Fat blocker – chitin
Thermogenic agents (create heat, calorie-burning) – fucoxanthin, 7-keto DHEA, green tea, ginger, cayenne, coconut oil, ﬁsh oil
Glucose regulators – ﬁbers such as psyllium, glucomannan, guar and oat bran, green coffee bean extract, chromium, maitake SX-fraction
Keys to Successful Fat-Loss
- Divide daily calories into three meals plus one or two snacks per day. Keep meals within 300-500 calories; snacks 100-200 calories. Never go more than four or ﬁve hours without eating. Eat just enough to sustain you to your next meal—no more, no less.
- Have some protein at each meal. Protein selections are meat, poultry (about what can ﬁt in the palm of your hand and no higher), ﬁsh, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, soy burgers or protein shakes.
- Include some essential fats with each meal. For example, a few olives, nuts or seeds, ¼ avocado, salad dressing (1 tablespoon) or olive or ﬂaxseed oil (1 teaspoon).
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid sugars and reﬁned carbs (cookies, pies, cakes, candy, pastries, soda pop and sugary cereals). Every successful diet in history has restricted sugar. If you crave sugar, it’s usually because you’ve gone too long without eating a meal, or didn’t get the protein serving right (too little or too much).
- Don’t eat a large meal within three hours of bedtime. A small, bedtime snack is ok if hungry.
- Drink 8-12 ounces of water in the morning and between meals to ﬂush waste products from your system. Don’t use fruit juices and sodas to satisfy your thirst.
- Include fat-metabolizing foods, herbs and spices such as sea greens, green tea, fresh fruits and salads, spirulina, ginger, lemon juice and stevia.
- Take a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement and probiotic. A multi may prevent possible deﬁciencies on a reduced calorie diet; probiotic bacteria secrete short-chain fatty acids that may cause less fat to accumulate, boost calorie-burning and increase satiety.
- Become more active. Find an activity that is enjoyable to burn calories and tune up your metabolism, such as walking, running, bicycling, dancing or gym work-outs.