High Octane Nutrition: The Secret Weight-Loss ToolMichael Downey July 1, 2011
You can drop pounds without counting calories by treating the modern-day causes of obesity with these secret weight-slashing foods and supplements…
Conventional weight loss wisdom makes trimming the pounds sound so easy – just burn more energy than you take in and you’ll lose weight. This is true, but for most people, it’s an oversimplification. Diet and exercise are not the only factors that play a role in your weight.
Check the photos of people from just 50 or 60 years ago. Notice how ordinary people were uniformly of proper weight? They didn’t go to the gym. They didn’t count calories. They never went on diets. Why was a proper weight so natural for them? The answer could be that our ancestors weren’t flat-out hungry all the time, but we are. And that may be due to a web of health complications in our daily lives. But for those who know the tricks, specific foods and supplements can prevent incessant hunger and excess pounds.
Take emotional eating for instance.
Your appetite may be driven by powerful mood swings caused by inherited deficiencies in the neurotransmitters that shape your moods. Stress can power hunger as well. If this sounds like you, get some lean protein with every meal and try supplementing with the amino acid L-glutamine. This can help to restore your neurochemical balance and eliminate one trigger behind excess hunger. Take 500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) three times a day.
FIGHT FAT CRAVINGS
Do you positively crave the fattiest foods you can find? If so, this may be your body’s way of telling you that you need more essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your diet. This is a form of fat that your body simply cannot make, which is why it is called “essential.” EFAs are abundant in cold-water fish such as krill, anchovies, mackerel, and salmon, and in plant foods such as flax seed. Or you can take 1,000 mg of fish oil or flaxseed oil daily, as part of your new nutrient-based weight loss strategy.
Spikes in your blood sugar levels caused by eating simple, refined carbohydrates – as opposed to complex, whole-grain carbohydrates – can get you into an up-and-down cycle of cravings and bingeing in a futile attempt to maintain blood sugar balance. The dietary part of the solution is simple: avoid all white versions of bread, rice, and pasta. Evidence suggests that cinnamon also helps regulate blood glucose levels. As well, researchers have found that a weight-loss diet which includes a modest reduction in carbohydrates and a slight increase in healthy fats results in a greater loss of deep belly fat, and a 4% greater loss of weight; less deep belly fat means a lower risk of diabetes, stroke, and artery disease.
But to fully employ supplements to promote weight loss, also take 300 mg of chromium and 1,000 mcg of biotin daily to level your blood sugar. That three-times-a-day dose of 500 to 1,000 mg of L-glutamine that we suggested for neurochemical balance will also help maintain your body’s blood sugar levels, balancing your diet.
OPTIMIZE YOUR THYROID FUNCTION
If your thyroid is not functioning properly, your body will not be able to utilize energy from food as efficiently as it should. The excess energy that isn’t burned doesn’t simply disappear. Your body recognizes that, although it can’t make use of this energy right now, it might need it eventually – so it stores it as fat for future use. To find out how well your thyroid is working, take your body temperature orally for three days in a row, first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed. Shake the thermometer down before you go to sleep, not when you wake, because any activity at all after you wake can raise your body temperature slightly. If, for three mornings in a row, your temperature is below 36°C (96.8°F), see a health care professional who can assess whether you have a thyroid problem, and if so, its severity. You may need bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
If you think you have only a mildly sluggish thyroid, you can energize it. L-tyrosine is the amino acid that the thyroid uses to make its hormones. Take one to four 500 mg capsules before breakfast and again at mid-morning. You can also take 50 to 100 mg of thyroid glandular – a supplement made from animal thyroids that can be found at most natural food stores – before breakfast and again in mid-afternoon.
The B vitamins, plus vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals zinc, copper, selenium, and iron, are also important for proper thyroid function. The best way to get these thyroid-energizing nutrients is to eat at least four cups of different-coloured vegetables every day. Or try this fresh vegetable juice cocktail, which provides high doses of all the main thyroid-energizing nutrients: put a collard leaf, a handful of parsley, one celery stalk, a carrot, half a red pepper, and one tomato into a juicer. Better still, use a blender so you don’t waste all that good fibre. Drink one cocktail every day.
THE ROLE OF FOOD ALLERGIES IN WEIGHT GAIN
Food sensitivities can cause food cravings and, therefore, weight gain. And bloating can make you appear and feel fat even without significant weight gain. These sensitivities can produce an inflammatory response in the body, which slows metabolism and causes fluid retention. If you suspect allergies, certain common food allergens should be avoided. Wheat, corn, yeast, soy, egg, and peanut products can trigger sensitivity-related bingeing and bloating in some people. You may also want to eliminate cow’s milk and wheat for three weeks to see if these foods are the problem. (Spelt, the ancestor of wheat, is a good substitute, and you can find spelt breads and pasta in most health food stores.)
Gluten is also a common food allergen, so switching to a gluten-free diet can work to remove inflammation that causes weight gain.
Add vitamin C (1,000 mg, three times a day), B6 (100 mg a day), and magnesium (500 mg a day) to help stave off food reactions. Above all, start by giving up sugar and refined (white) flour products – anything you positively crave every day – because there is a good chance that you are sensitive to those very items. Check with your health practitioner to see if you should be getting vitamin B12 shots regularly.
THE ROLE OF CANDIDA YEAST IN WEIGHT GAIN
There is another hidden problem that makes you look fat. Antibiotics, birth control pills, or too much sugar can prompt intestinal yeast to multiply, causing myriad problems from candida yeast and fungal infections to weight gain. The outcome can be the distinct feeling and appearance of being overweight. Millions of Canadians may suffer from candida yeast or related fungal overgrowth. Yeasts also cause intense cravings, particularly for the sweet and starchy foods on which they feed, causing you to overeat and gain real weight. If you suspect a yeast problem, avoid the foods that yeasts prefer: alcohol, fermented foods, refined starches, sweets, and sugar. Emphasize foods that yeasts don’t like: low-carb vegetables such as leafy greens and broccoli (as opposed to starchy vegetables), concentrated protein, and essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in nuts, seeds, avocados, goat cheese, unsweetened yogurt or kefir, and especially, fish oil.
Also, regain the correct bacterial balance within your digestive tract by reforesting it with beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacilli acidophilus and bifidus. In the morning (Ed. note: or before bed), take two capsules of these friendly bacteria on an empty stomach. Continue supplementation for three to six months. Also, take anti-fungal measures: 100 to 200 mg of grapefruit seed extract, 1,000 mcg of biotin, and 1,200 mg of garlic – about one to two cloves of raw garlic – daily.
SUGAR AND WEIGHT GAIN
For some, an intense focus on avoiding often-unhealthy high-fat foods may have prompted them to switch to fat-free, high glycemic foods, which are converted quickly to blood sugar. This rapid spike in blood sugar causes quick storage of the sugar as fat, with nothing left over for the body or brain. The result is hunger for more carbohydrates, and exhaustion. The solution? Avoid fat-free foods and include healthy fats – such as the EFAs mentioned above – in your diet. As well, get some cold pressed olive oil or other plant fat into your diet. Resolve to avoid sugar for the most part.
When you think about it, “the pill” hasn’t been with us long. Our ancestors may have had bigger families, but they didn’t have the artificial estrogens and progestins present in the birth control pill that can disrupt blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity. One of the side effects of birth control pills is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, which sparks the desire to eat sweets for energy. There are other options, but don’t go off this form of birth control unless hypoglycemia appears to be an issue for you, and even then, only after discussing the matter with your practitioner.
STRESS AND POOR SLEEP CAN MAKE YOU FAT
Modern life may have become more stressful than it was 50 years ago. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, because the body assumes that you may have to run for your life. And this, in turn, causes sugar to be sent into your bloodstream so you can run faster. But the threat isn’t physical, and that running-for-your-life never happens. When that sugar is not burned as fuel, it often lands on your midsection. Worse, this ends up in a hunger for carbohydrates. And in the presence of insulin, cortisol triggers a fat-storing enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. How do you beat this cycle? Reduce stress levels by employing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. And if need be, don’t be afraid to make changes in your life and relationships.
This may sound like bizarre weight-loss advice, but you should get more sleep. Not getting enough sleep – another modern-day habit – decreases production of a hormone called leptin, a hormone that tells your brain when you’ve taken in enough calories so the brain can turn off your hunger. Worse, obesity can produce a resistance to leptin, making you feel hungry and eat all the time, which in turn will produce more leptin and greater resistance to it. It’s a vicious circle; this is one of the main reasons that it can be so difficult to lose weight once it is established. And leptin resistance can suppress thyroid function.
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS
A 2011 study in the journal Nutrition Bulletin found that, for some unknown reason, people who are overweight tend to have less-than-optimal levels of some nutrients. It may be advisable to boost your intake of vitamin B12, carotenoids, folate, vitamin C, and iron. This won’t help with weight loss, but it might help offset some of the risks of obesity-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In one just-released study, researchers have found that melatonin helps control weight gain – even without any reduction in food intake. Some foods contain melatonin, but no foods have been shown to raise melatonin levels in humans. Although this finding needs further research, melatonin is available as a supplement.
If you cut calories, you may want to consider eating a lot more apples. One just-released study found that a compound in the skin of apples prevents muscles from atrophying when calories drop, and can help maintain muscle tissue while decreasing the storage of fat.
If we have negative influences on diet, stress, and eating patterns that our ancestors didn’t have, we also have food and supplement options they didn’t have. Resolve now to make full use of them to remove the underlying causes behind your weight woes.
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