Sixty-nine percent of Americans are either overweight or obese. Of these statistics, 42% of Americans are obese. One in ten Americans has type 2 diabetes. Ninety percent of individuals with type 2 diabetes are obese. Obesity fuels chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and so on! Some authorities describe obesity as “a chronic relapsing condition.” The good news is that there are proven strategies to help achieve weight loss and keep it off! Many obese individuals may achieve considerable health benefits with just 5% to 7% weight loss.
Use My Plate
Take a standard plate. Fill up one half of the plate with low calorie non-starchy fresh or frozen vegetables or fruits. Use one-fourth of the plate with whole grains or a starchy vegetable and the remaining one fourth with protein. The portion size for both starches (or one slice of bread) and protein is one half cup. Avoid processed foods with creams and extra salt. Consumption of ultra-processed foods increases the risk for obesity so you want to eliminate or severely limit their consumption. Legumes are superior to any meat analogues because of their soluble fiber and phytonutrients.
A whole food, fiber-rich, plant-based diet achieves greater weight loss compared with other dietary interventions that do not restrict calories or mandate exercise.
When it goes to fat loss, a calorie does not always equal a calorie. Consider this exciting study. Dieters who adopted a low-calorie vegetarian diet lost weight more efficiently than those on a conventional low-calorie diet. Additionally, the vegetarian participants also improved their metabolism by reducing muscle fat. Both groups in this study had reduced fat under the skin. However, compared to a standard low-calorie diet, the vegetarian participants experienced more reduction in the fat that lines the muscles and a considerable reduction of stored fat inside the muscles. Losing muscle fat improves both glucose and lipid metabolism. This finding is particularly significant for people who have pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
In a study from New Zealand, researchers found randomized overweight participants to receive either standard medical care or semiweekly classes offering advice and encouragement to eat a low-fat diet centered around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Participants did not have meals provided. There was no significant change in body weight in the control group. Still, the plant-based group lost an average of 19 pounds by the end of the 3-month study despite freely eating all the healthy foods they wanted without restrictions on portion sizes.
Although the study concluded at the end of three months, the researchers decided to check on their progress later. Get this! The plant-based group had left the 3-month study 19 pounds lighter but at six months were down about 27 lbs. Plus, many of them were able to discontinue their medicine.
Tank Up with Water-Rich Low Calorie Fruits and Vegetables
According to actual measurements, eating water-rich, low-calorie fruits and vegetables at the beginning of a meal can effectively cut 100 calories from the meal than if eaten later during the meal. As far as weight loss is concerned, a significant value of eating a salad or an apple comes from when it is consumed the beginning of a meal.
Eat Whole Foods, Eliminate Refined Foods
If you want to eat less and feel full, skip refined and highly processed foods! Why? The more food is processed, the higher the glycemic (blood glucose) response and the lower its satiety potential.
In one study, researchers found that adults (middle-aged or older) who ate at least three servings of whole grains daily experienced health benefits compared to those who ate less than one-half servings of whole grains daily. They had smaller increases in waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels over time compared to those who ate less than one-half serving per day.
Eat Slowly and Chew Well!
Grazing Is For Cows!
Grazing is eating more than three meals throughout the day. Often it is six small meals or additional snacking in addition to three regular meals or just nibbling at food through the day. Sometimes there is a component of compulsory eating that sabotages appetite control. Gazing on snack food increases overall caloric intake, whereas grazing on healthy foods may not. One interesting study showed that eating two large meals per day improves insulin sensitivity and promotes weight loss better in patients with type 2 diabetes than grazing, even when the total number of daily calories is the same. A randomized, crossover study included 54 adults with type 2 diabetes (average age, 59). Patients were assigned eating plans designed to cut their intake by 500 calories per day for 24 weeks. Participants had well-controlled diabetes with an average A1c of 7.2%, but were overweight. All participants had nutritional counseling and cut their calorie intake by 500 kcalories.
For 12 weeks, the participants ate six meals daily—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks. For the other 12 weeks, they ate only a large breakfast between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m. and a large lunch between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. Macronutrient ratios were the same for both plans, at 50-55% carbohydrate, 20-25% protein, and 24-30% fat. What were the results?
Insulin secretion increased comparably in both regimens. Insulin sensitivity improved and the amount of fat in the participants’ livers decreased in both groups but more so when the participants ate only two meals per day. Participants also lost more pounds when eating just two meals per day, an average of 8.2 pounds, compared to just over 5 pounds with six meals per day. There was also an average decrease of 1.23 points in BMI (body mass index) compared to .82 points when eating six meals per day.
Do Not Needlessly Turn Night into Day
Extended exposure to artificial light and shift work are the primary causes of the circadian disruption. Disturbed circadian rhythms dysregulate “appetite control” and the hormones and promote insulin resistance. Moreover, they contribute to dyslipidemia (elevated cholesterol and triglycerides) and fat accumulation. Social jet lag also predisposes excess body weight, fat mass accumulation, inflammation, and glucose dysregulation. Avoid night shift work if you can but if you can’t there are strategies to help your body to adjust. Be sure to get at least seven hours of good quality sleep.
The Best Beverage
Drinking 500ml of water (two cups) half an hour before eating the main meal may help obese adults to lose weight. In one study, nutritionists provided weight loss tips to obese participants. Forty-one participants drank water before meals, and forty-three just imagined that they had a full stomach before eating. Those in the group that drank water 30 minutes before all three meals lost on average, 1.3kg (2.87 lbs) more than those in the control group. At the end of 12 weeks, those individuals who reported preloading water before all three main meals in the day had a loss of 4.3kg (9.48 lbs). Those who only preloaded water before one meal, or not at all, only lost an average of 0.8kg (1.76 lbs).
Enjoy Your Meals at Regular Times
Irregular timing of food intake has emerged as a new potential risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome. Having set times to eat meals not distracted by work or entertainment squelches that voracious habit of “grabbing all you can get” without restraint. Two randomized, controlled intervention studies compared consuming meals regularly for two weeks versus an irregular meal pattern. Those who ate their meals on schedule experienced health benefits: lower peak insulin and lower fasting total and LDL cholesterol, both in lean and obese women.
When You Eat May Be As Important As What You Eat
Our metabolism naturally slows down at night. Did you know that eating a meal late at night leads the body to produce more glucose than eating the same exact meal in the morning? A study compared individuals who ate their lunch before 3 pm with those who ate lunch after 3 pm. Those who ate late lunches lost less weight, and lost it more slowly than those who ate all their food before 3 pm, even though their caloric intake and physical activities were similar. Eating late at night decreases your ability to burn fat in contrast to eating a good breakfast.
Take Care of Your Gut Health
Some individuals gain more weight than others do even when they do not consume more food or eat differently from others. Why? The composition of your gut microflora. Some types of gut bacteria harvest energy more effectively than others.
Danish researchers studied the composition of gut microbes of 85 participants to see if there were specific gut microbes associated with obesity. Approximately forty participants comprised a group that, on average, extracts more energy from food than the other sixty percent. The researchers also observed that the participants who pulled the most energy from food also weighed 10 percent more on average, amounting to an extra nine kilograms.
Consuming both raw and cooked whole plant foods, limiting your salt intake, avoiding or seriously limiting processed foods, regular exercise, sufficient sleep are proven ways to improve your gut microflora.
Focus on Living a Healthful Lifestyle, Not Just Weight Loss
One habit changed for the rest of your life is more powerful than dozens of short-term changes that you do not intend to adhere to. Put your energies into developing the most healthful lifestyle possible. Such a program will typically offer gradual, lasting weight reduction. Perhaps you do not feel you can adopt all of our recommendations. Then choose three to focus on for two months. Add a few more science-backed natural remedies to your program every few months so that you have included all of them within a year.
Occasionally as you lose weight, your weight loss will temporarily hit a plateau. Maintaining a checklist and recording what you did to help yourself will keep you motivated. Even if you hit a plateau for a couple of weeks, doing these strategies will improve your cardiovascular health and cognitive performance! Using a tape measure with a scale provides you with more accuracy than if you use just a scale. Sometimes you can lose fat without necessarily losing weight.
Get Several Measurements
Weighing is certainly necessary, but sometimes you hit a plateau. If you stick with your recommended diet, exercise, and other suggestions you read here, you will have success. Take your waist and hip measurement weekly. Sometimes you will lose body fat before it shows up on the scales.
The Welcoming Invitation
The words of Christ found in Matthew 11:29 are especially for you! “Come unto Me, all ye who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Working from the vantage ground of His love and acceptance, we find the courage to confront and turn our pain into a gain for ourselves and the benefit of others. Not sure of this suggestion? Consider trying it! We often must recognize the unresolved issues that fuel our unhealthful lifestyle before we can win the Battle of Bulge permanently.