Conditions such as menopause, poor liver function, increased appetite, hormonal imbalances such as PMT, fluid retention, liver complaints, emotional problems, poor choice of foods, thyroid conditions, inactivity, sugar imbalances or diabetes can all play a part.
However that said a healthy active lifestyle will go a long way to improving many of these conditions and one simple rule to remember is – energy expenditure (exercise) must exceed energy intake (food). When we do not burn off excessive fuel it is stored as fat for the body to use for energy later on, this is why it is imperative to eat right, not over eat and exercise.
People often worry about their diets without increasing exercise when trying to lose weight. They focus on low fat and low carbohydrate foods and forget about the importance of exercise and protein for muscle growth, liver function and sugar balancing. For some people it seems no matter how hard they try they still cant shed those extra pounds. Here are guidelines that will help you get to the bottom of the reasons for being over weight.
Take a liver function test to investigate how well your liver is performing. A sluggish liver may mean that the body’s digestion is slowed and the storage of fats and carbohydrates in the tissues increases unnecessarily.
If you wish to try a supplement many brands make supportive nutrient and herb based formulas to encourage weight loss by using thermogenic herbs and nutrients help maintain blood sugar levels. Some herbs which are recommended are Boldo, Berberis, Fucus, Gymnema, Taraxacum, Chelidonium, Coleus.
Consider a chromium supplement as this mineral is necessary for the pancreas to use glucose effectively thereby reducing tiredness and helping to reduce sugar cravings. A diet high in sugar requires more chromium to balance the sugar levels in the cells. A vicious cycle begins when we over-consume sugary and refined foods. The more we crave these foods the less chromium stores we have, the less chromium the more we crave bad foods.
Always eat a good breakfast, this doesn’t mean an apple and a piece of toast. It is important to start the day well, it sets the precedent for the rest of the day. For example if you start the day with a croissant and a cup of coffee, your blood sugar levels will sky rocket and then drop around the time for morning tea and as a result you will be craving a quick pick me up to lift your mood and energy levels again.
Eating 4-5 small meals per day instead of 3 larger meals means that your metabolism gets a boost as the grazing effect ensures that your metabolism is switched on all day.
When eating sweet foods such as muesli, smoothies or fruit salad always add a source of protein such as nuts, seeds, protein powder, yoghurt to it to help stabilise the natural sugars from these foods.
Intermittent fasting is a sure way to stimulate metabolism and burn weight. By reducing your eating time during the day, the body will have an opportunity to work towards cleansing excess wastes, hormones and inflammation from the body. Reducing the amount of time spent on digestion means that the metabolism (thyroid health) can kick start and reducing the amount of calories you consume benefits weight loss also.
Don’t exclude oils and healthy fats from your diet. There are a lot of myths surrounding fats and oils and their contribution to weight gain. Foods which contain essential fatty acids such as flaxseed oil, olive oil, nut oils or avocados are needed for the body to prime the nervous system, support liver function, burn fat and nourish the cells.
It is the saturated fats and trans-fatty acids that you need to steer clear of. These are the ones that require a lot of effort on behalf of the liver to digest and this is why we feel so sleepy after eating a meal of greasy fish and chips.
Make your diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, as these foods are cleansing and supportive to liver function, especially the green vegetables. It is also important for muscle growth, blood sugar balancing and fat burning to include quality protein (nuts, seeds, fish, organic chicken).
An obvious rule is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates and sugars in the diet. This includes all of those simple sugars such as cakes, lollies, soft drinks, alcohol, biscuits and any forms of glucose. Also reduce bread consumption as the starches and simple sugars in breads contribute to sugar intake.
Introduce vegetable juices and warm lemon juice into your diet to help support digestion and liver and kidney function. Also try herbal teas such as Peppermint, Dandelion or Ginger instead of tea and coffee.
Don’t eat late at night. Eating before bedtime means that any glucose is stored in the body as fat.
Be careful with many of the fad diet advice such as the calorie-controlled diets. These diets are a sure way of pushing the body into a starvation response where the body holds on to fat stores as a caution just in case you starve the body.
Calories are needed by the brain to function properly and avoiding calorie foods for too long will set up a rebound effect where when you start to eat them again the body holds on to them in a rebound effect. It is healthier to concentrate on low GI foods and high protein.
Low GI foods are foods with a glycemic index of below 50. If you wish to have a list of foods and their GI value, go to the following website: www.lowglycemicdiet.com/gifoodlist.html
Saturated fats from animal sources such as red meats, fried foods, fatty foods and anything containing a lot of margarine or butter (like bakery food) are a sure way for your hips to expand.
I bet you didn’t know that there is a specific class of vegetables that contain very unique phytonutrients that actually help to fight against stubborn belly fat.
Something you may have never heard about is that certain chemicals in our food supply and our environment, such as pesticides, herbicides, and certain petrochemicals from air and water pollution, household cleaners, plastics, cosmetics, etc can react with your hormones and make your body store excess abdominal fat.
These harmful chemicals are known as xenoestrogens .
Xenoestrogens are chemicals that you are exposed to (and are hard to avoid in the modern world) that have an estrogenic effect in your body. Excess exposure to these can cause hormone balance disruptions for both men and women. So if you thought this article was just for the guys, these chemicals can wreak havoc in the body for both guys and gals.
These estrogenic chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis can stimulate your body to store belly fat, along with many other problems (including cancer risks in the long term).
The golden rule for losing weight is exercise. Begin a weekly regime, which includes cardiac exercise to help burn excess fat and calories.
Weight loss requires effort, however the healthiest way to lose weight is to be healthier and each individual will respond differently to these changes. A weight loss of up to one kilo per week is a safe and effective goal.
It is not recommended to prolong a weight loss diet of over three months in duration, especially if you are making dietary restrictions as this can easily set up nutritional deficiencies and thyroid imbalances. A healthy diet and exercise regime is beneficial to continue after three months.
Be gentle with yourself in the beginning and make positive changes without being over ambitious. Be determined in your motivation and remember that it may take a little while before you feel and look lighter but the best way is to think long term rather than a quick loss which probable will not last.
An unexplained change in weight is one of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism and vice versa.
THERE ARE MANY REASONS FOR BEING OVER WEIGHT. THESE GUIDELINES ARE GENERAL ADVICE AND NOT MEANT TO REPLACE A PROPER DIAGNOSIS FROM A HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL.
For a tailor made regime it may be appropriate to consult with a health care professional and a personal trainer who can assist your with diet and lifestyle and help to monitor your weight loss, set goals and monitor your thyroid.