20 Drug-free Strategies for Safe and Effective Weight Loss

Natural weight loss involves increasing physical activity to boost metabolism. Zoltan Rona, MD, MSc

The rising popularity of weight-loss drugs worldwide is causing increasing concern amongst researchers and health practitioners who worry about the side effects. Desperate patients are turning to these medications after unsuccessful attempts to lose weight the old-fashioned way.

The newest class of weight loss drugs – semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy, Rybelsus) – is all the rage these days. With media ads promoting it almost 24 hours a day, Ozempic is gaining a reputation as the drug of choice to treat obesity even in non-diabetics. Typically injected once weekly in gradually increasing doses, the side effects are claimed to be mild with symptoms such as decreased appetite and gastrointestinal distress.

The use of semaglutide in ever increasing numbers has led to a worldwide shortage of this class of drug. While largely effective in either injected or oral forms for obesity, it unfortunately can come with dangerous life-threatening side effects as described in several recent medical journal reports.

The Journal of the American Medical Association links semaglutide to gastroparesis, a chronic debilitating condition that severely weakens the muscles in the stomach walls making it harder to push food over to the small intestine. It is thought by most doctors to be rare but, with the ever-increasing use of this drug, we may be seeing more cases of gastroparesis in the near future. This can delay the digestive process and cause severe pain, nausea and diarrhea.

While certain drugs and surgery can control the symptoms of gastroparesis, there’s currently no cure. Aside from stomach paralysis, other severe side effects of the drug include suicidal ideation, self-harming thoughts, pancreatitis, kidney damage, and gallbladder disease.

Semaglutide does not cure either Type 2 diabetes or obesity. As soon as the drug is discontinued the blood sugar control and weight return to pre-drug levels.

Safer Natural Alternatives

“If you just cut the crap out of your diet, and if you spend an hour a day doing something physical that will make you sweat, six months will pass by, you will feel better mentally, physically, spiritual- ly. It all is tied together.” – Chris Pratt

Most nutrition experts will tell you that diets don’t work. Nearly 100% of people who follow dietary extremes gain back the weight they lost within a year. What does usually work well for stable weight loss in those attempting to lose weight is changing one’s lifestyle and dietary habits. Here are some approaches that could be adopted for safe and effective weight control:

1) AVOID PROCESSED FOODS and replace them with more unadulterated foods. Examples of processed foods include meats like bacon, salami, ham, other cold cuts, instant noodles, sugar-sweetened beverages including soft drinks, juice and sports drinks, chips, microwaved popcorn, margarine, flavoured yogurt, cookies, cakes, pastries, fried foods like French fries, granola bars, candy bars, pizza, refined grains and white bread. Most fast foods are also heavily processed.

Instead, eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds like flaxseed and chia, nuts, clean meats (unprocessed) and fish. Increase soluble fiber intake like that found in oats, barley, peas, carrots, beans, apples, citrus fruits and psyllium. Make water your only drink as a habit and avoid any kind of alcohol. Eating more high protein foods like grass-fed beef, organic chicken breast, wild caught cod and salmon, as well as natural protein powders all can help maintain normal blood sugar levels and lose excess weight. The amount of protein needed by most obese individuals is 0.7 to 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That’s about 25 to 30 grams of protein daily. To have a better idea of what to eat to replace processed foods consult a holistic nutritionist.

2) REDUCE STRESS because it elevates cortisol levels that can raise blood sugar, increase weight gain, and interfere with restorative sleep. Stress causes blood sugar levels to rise, increases appetite, interferes with digestion and can affect the endocrine glands and hormone levels. Sleeping well can help prevent excess weight gain, especially in the abdominal or waist area. Stress often prevents proper sleep. Natural stress relievers like regular exercise, meditation, and natural remedies like rhodiola, ashwagandha, magne- sium-L-threonate, 5-HTP, L-theanine and GABA can all be helpful for reducing cortisol and combatting stress.

3) INCREASE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY because a sedentary lifestyle can slow metabolism and prevent weight loss. For those who rarely if ever go to the gym or have any regimented exercise, just start by going for short walks and increasing the time walked gradually every day.

Daily activity can boost metabolism and aid weight loss, according to Zoltan Rona

4) CONSIDER INTERMITTENT FASTING. This is not a diet and not suitable for everyone but this shift in lifestyle and eating patterns can be quite effective for a majority of people. One example is to fast for 16 hours and limit eating for 8 hours. For example, it can mean not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast the next morning.

5) AVOID DIETARY EXTREMES like the no-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets. These types of diet are used therapeutically for various medical conditions like Type 2 diabetes (e.g. the Atkins Diet) and seizure disorders but are difficult to follow for most relatively healthy people wanting to shed excess weight. They are not for the majority. But these extreme diets have some positive aspects too. There is value to high protein intakes provided kidney function is normal, but ketogenic diets have many negatives especially including the difficulty of following it for long periods of time. We avoid them because they can cause hyperacidity (ketoacidosis) in the body as well as kidney stress. On a positive note – by eating more high protein foods like eggs – instead of a high carbohydrate intake – your appetite could be reduced, and you are more likely to lose unwanted weight.

6) USE METABOLISM BOOSTERS like spicy foods if you can tolerate them because these can increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and boost your metabolic rate. One example of a good spice is cayenne pepper which contains capsaicin that can help burn off more calories. Capsaicin enhances the breakdown of fat. Other natural foods that improve fat breakdown include matcha green tea and wakame – a type of seaweed.

7) TRY A FAR INFRARED SAUNA because this can boost metabolism and burn up to 600 calories per hour. Besides helping with weight loss, this type of sauna has many other health benefits, such as ridding the body of toxic heavy metals through the skin as well as other toxins and drug residues. One of my patients lost well over 50 pounds during a period of 3 months by using this type of sauna for half an hour on a daily basis. If you use the sauna this often then be sure to take at least a multi-mineral supplement and omega-3 oil to replace nutrients lost in heavy sweating.

8) GET ENOUGH SLEEP because sleep is one of the modulators of hormone functions and glucose metabo- lism. Weight gain and obesity have been linked with sleep deprivation and insomnia. See my article on how to improve sleep naturally: https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/help-for-insomnia/

9) DRINK MORE WATER – at least 8 ounces of water any time you get hungry – because that can keep you feeling full and prevent you from consuming excess calories. Drink water from a glass or stainless-steel container between meals. Avoid water from plastic containers. Aim for drinking at least 2 litres of water daily, sipped throughout the day.

10) ENJOY HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS like cinnamon which can help control appetite and glucose levels. As well, holy basil, rhodiola, and ashwagandha are adaptogenic herbs that help balance cortisol levels and reduce stress.

11) USE COCONUT OIL because it contains medium- chain fatty acids which can stimulate fat loss. Use 2 to 4 tablespoons daily added to foods or a smoothie.

12) CONSUME COLLAGEN as a supplement because it not only helps with weight loss, it also supports skin and joint health. Bone broth is a good source of collagen and is highly nutritious.

13) TAKE A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT because studies show that it can support nutrient absorption, bowel function, improved bowel flora, and healthy weight loss.

14) EAT MORE FERMENTED FOODS like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, pickled vegetables and kefir because these are great sources of probiotics that support weight loss.

15) EAT MORE HIGH FIBRE FOODS because fibre expands in your gut helping you feel full for a longer time. It also improves elimination. Sources include whole grains (avoid those containing gluten), whole fruits (but not fruit juice due to the concentrated high sugar), vegetables, avocado, seeds, nuts, psyllium seed, flaxseed and chia seeds. Fibre feeds the gut bacteria and that helps weight loss.

16) EAT MORE GOOD FATS that are found in foods like avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, cashews, chia seeds and ground flax seeds because they are slow to digest and help curb appetite.

17) AVOID ADDING SUGAR TO COFFEE OR TEA. Use xylitol or stevia as sweeteners if you have a sweet tooth. Other sweeteners can either be high in calories or outright toxic like aspartame. Coffee and tea contain antioxidants and can stimulate metabolism when used in moderation (1-2 cups daily).

18) AVOID SOFT DRINKS – substitute with sugar-free soda water instead. It can still give you the satisfying bubbles without added sugar and other weight-stimulating chemicals. Avoid all ‘diet’ sodas since some studies show that they are associated with sugar cravings and weight gain.

19) EAT MORE SLOWLY because fast eaters are more likely to become obese compared to slower eaters. Your digestion works more efficiently if you take more time chewing your food.

20) SUPPLEMENT CURCUMIN. Curcumin is an extract of the common spice turmeric. Obesity is driven by the inflammatory process and curcumin is strongly anti- inflammatory. Most obese individuals can supplement about 1,000 mg daily. Other natural anti-inflammatory supplements that can also be effective include vitamin D and K2, serrapeptase, pancreatic enzymes, omega-3, vitamin C and bioflavonoids like quercetin.

Do as many of these natural strategies as possible to help you lose excessive weight and maintain a stable weight. Work with a natural health care practitioner for a personalized plan of action.

REFERENCES

Absolute Disaster: https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/calley-means-ozempic-tucker-carlson/?utm_source=luminate&utm_medi- um=email&utm_campaign=defender&utm_id=20240207

Ozempic (Semaglutide) side effects: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/ozempic-side-effects.html

Risk of Adverse Gastrointestinal Side Effects of Semaglutide: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2810542

The Unintended Side Effects of Popular Weight Loss Drugs: https://www.popsci.com/health/semaglutide-side-effects/

Dr. Axe Shares 7 Secrets: https://www.dietofcommonsense.com/dr-axe-7secrets-weight-loss/

15 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting: https://www.eatthis.com/lose-weight-without-dieting/

Supplements for Weight Loss: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins- and-supplements/herbal-remedies

Top Weight Loss Supplements in 2024: https://www.forbes.com/health/weight-loss/top-weight-loss-supplements/

29 Ways to Lose Weight Naturally: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/30-ways-to-lose-weight-naturally

Processed and Ultra Processed Foods: https://draxe.com/nutrition/processed-foods/

Far Infrared Sauna Calories Burned: https://mysaunaworld.com/blogs/my-sauna-world-blog/calories-burn-using-infrared-heat-sauna

Help for Insomnia: https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/help-for-insomnia/

Curcumin for weight loss: https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/turmeric-curcumin-weight-loss

Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc, offers consultations on nutrition and natural remedies in Thornhill. He has recently retired from medical practice as a Complementary and Alternative medical practitioner and now strictly offers nutritional consultations. He is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and has also published several Canadian bestselling books, including Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin. To see more of Dr. Rona’s articles, visit: www.highlevelwellness.ca and for appointments, please call (905) 764-8700; office located at: 390 Steeles Ave. W., Unit 19, Thornhill, Ontario

View Comments

  • Thank you for putting all those tips together. Most people don't realize that you need a global approach that involves exercise, a better diet and less processed foods. It's gotten harder and harder lately because of the price of "quality" food. Unfortunately, for those who can't afford it, many of the foods in this list may remain out of reach.

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