Many people are still stuck in the mind set that you have to eat less to lose weight. Lowering your calorie intake may help you shed those pounds in the short-term, yet they are likely to come piling back on soon after. Read on to find out how you can enjoy an abundance of delicious food, and still shed those extra inches.
Eat to lose weight
Weight loss is effectively fat loss. The body either stores fat or burns it. The biochemical switch for this is insulin. When you eat carbohydrates insulin is produced to take glucose into the cells. If you eat too much sugar or refined or starchy carbohydrates, insulin levels spike, causing the glucose to be pushed into fat storage. Blood sugar levels drop low and stress hormones are then produced in order to get you to eat again. At this stage you reach out for more sugar or quick-fix foods due to the blood sugar rollercoaster you’ve been riding. And the cycle continues…
Keeping insulin low is the key to unlocking your fat stores. Eating a healthy diet of fresh, natural foods is the way to go. Think quality protein, healthy fats and lots of vegetables. These are foods that keep your insulin levels low and unlock your body’s fat stores.
Weight loss power foods
Omega 3 rich foods, such as oily fish, avocados, raw nuts and seeds. They boost the metabolism and help the body utilise insulin for steady sugar control, as well as dampening down inflammatory responses in the body (often present when overweight) and help our cellular ability to burn fat.
Fibre-rich foods, like vegetables, legumes and oats. Fibre fills you up and keeps you satisfied for longer. These foods take a while to break down, so release their natural sugars slowly into the bloodstream. The body has to use lots of energy to break them down, unlike refined carbohydrates and sweets that cause weight-gain and blood sugar rushes.
Water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger by the body. Stay hydrated with plenty of fresh water. Hydrated cells function at their best, resulting in efficiency of all bodily functions. Drinking lots of water will also stop you reaching out for sugary, fizzy drinks. Often the body holds onto water to dilute toxins. This will result in weight carried as water-retention. This is actually a sign of dehydration and means you need to drink more water. A high carbohydrate diet results in water retention and bloating, as a result the first few days of following a low carbohydrate diet, weight loss is mainly water-loss.
Fresh fruits and vegetables. These are high in nutrients and low in calories, You can eat these to your heart’s content. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to provide your body with what it needs to stay fit and healthy. Aim to fill half of your plate with a variety of vegetables, especially the ones that grow above groud as they are less starchy. Do enjoy root veg too, but eat them in moderation.
Colourful foods. Get as many colours into your diet as possible for an antioxidant boost. Fruits and veggies give your body a spring clean aiding weight loss. Eat citrus fruits, apricots, kiwi, peaches, berries, pears, artichokes, beetroot, peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, watercress, cucumber, sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, celery, tomato, lettuce and red cabbage for their cleansing action.
Seaweed and seafood. They are rich in iodine to support healthy thyroid function, helping your body lose weight. Sea spaghetti is a great replacement for starchy regular spaghetti and packs a hefty nutrient punch.
Superfoods. These give you a power boost to satisfy your cravings and provide a super hit of nutrients. Include these in your daily diet and watch your unhealthy cravings disappear. Try spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass or barleygrass powder, bee pollen, maca or a combination in a specialist formula. Adding a green food powder to your daily smoothie is an easy way to crank up your health and curb cravings as you flood your body with bio-available nutrients.
Green smoothies & vegetable juices. They flood your body with nutrients and raw enzymes for optimum health. Get your greens in a glass. Try blending any leafy green vegetable with a little soft fruit (not too much as you’ll be back on the sugar rollercoaster). Add water to blend. Juice your green veg to get a potent vitamin & mineral shot. Try adding lemon and. ginger and fresh herbs for an extra punch. Fruit juice is not recommended as it’s pure sugar in a glass!
Quality protein. This supports your hormones involved in weight loss and keeps your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day. Eat organic chicken, wild fish, grass fed and organic meat, organic free-range eggs, walnuts, almonds, raw seeds, tofu, sprouts, beans and organic full fat dairy if tolerated. Protein keeps you satisfied for longer and you’ll eat less over the day. You’ll be less likely to reach for quick-fix foods as your blood sugar levels start to stay balanced. Eat protein with each meal and snack.
Enjoy healthy fats. When you drop all those refined and starchy carbs, there’s plenty of room to enjoy healthy fats. In fact, without healthy fats your body begins to suffer. Fat keeps you full for a long time, tastes very delicious and doesn’t raise insulin levels, therefore encourages your body to use its own fat stores, rather than keeping them locked away. Enjoy raw, cold-pressed seed oils on salads and veg (never cook with these oils), extra virgin olive oil, olives, virgin coconut oil, grass fed butter, full fat dairy (if tolerated), oily fish and avoid “low fat” products.
Healthy snack attack
When you first transition to a lower carb diet, you may find snacking stops you reaching for unhealthy choices, however once you get off the blood sugar rollercoaster, you’ll find you probably won’t need to snack anymore.
- Apple and a handful of almonds
- Celery spread with fresh nut butter
- Hummus and raw veggie sticks
- Pumpkin seed butter on rye toast
- Organic cottage cheese and a handful of cherry tomatoes
- Organic yogurt with blueberries and sunflower seeds
- A handful of walnuts and almonds with a handful of dried apricots
- Mashed avocado and raw broccoli florets
Abundance not deprivation
Losing weight and keeping it off is all about being good to yourself. Love yourself and give yourself time to adjust to a new way of eating, avoiding “diets”, yet eating healthily for life, not just for a quick weight-loss-fix. Treat your body to healthy, nourishing foods not processed, empty ones. With the increased energy and vitality these natural foods bring you, you’ll feel more inspired to stay active and motivated, and continue on a healthy eating path, as well as increase your self care practices. The better it gets, the better it gets! Your body will begin to work at its optimum and your moods will stay elevated. Take things slowly and gently and enjoy the process. Remember that every time you eat you are giving your body a message, so eat with joy and awareness and love.
Article by Jo Rowkins DipNT MBANT, nutritionist and founder of awakening health.