By: Dr. Natasha Turner ND
According to the latest research, about 96 percent of people tend to gain weight back—plus more— with the typical approach of cutting calories/exercising more. Clearly, this does not work and only leads to future weight gain, to say nothing of metabolic damage as thyroid hormones drop and precious metabolically active muscle is lost.
At 46, I have learned that the same weight loss tricks that worked at 30 years old, don’t offer the same results now. So, just recently, I made it my mission to find a solution. My new approach with my clients is based on a philosophy that is simple: when you exercise less, I want to help you to eat less; and when you exercise more, I will guide you on the best food options—as you should eat more. Your dietary habits, how much you move, and how much you exercise are inseparable. I want you to start living each day by asking yourself this question: How much am I going to move today?
Your answer to this question will determine your diet habits for the day – including what you eat when you eat it and how much. You should let go of the mentality of adopting an “eat less, move more” approach as it sets us up for failure. The answer is simple – yet so commonly overlooked – when you move more, you should eat more. When you move less – you should eat less. The days you are sitting at your desk or not exercising, are the days we need to take in less so that our body uses the reserves stored in our body as fuel instead.
How can we eat less?
- Most common – skip the sugar and all starchy carbs like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes.
- Eat one less meal on the days you do not strength train, so three meals instead of four.
- Stop eating by 6 – 7 PM at the latest!
- Drop the most calorie dense food from at least one or two meals – and that is fats! So, when you are moving less, skip the egg yolks, cheese, nuts, avocado – as your body doesn’t need added energy. You will, however, still consume your required protein and two cups of vegetables at each meal. Remember – it is all about getting your body to a ketogenic state – i.e. Fat burning state and we can do this by moving more, eating fewer carbs and sugar, and eating fewer calories overall – but it should never be done by failing to eat the minimum protein we all need to maintain muscle mass (formula is based on your body weight and activity level).
- Add a day or two per week of intermittent fasting (only if you have mastered your protein intake on the other days of the week).
In addition, the key to sticking with this new lifestyle is monitoring your energy, hunger, and cravings so we can adapt your plan to suit your results and how you feel. For instance, if you have increased hunger or cravings, or decreased energy, here are some simple solutions:
- Increase protein, especially at breakfast (30 grams is essential) and I recommend getting a scale to ensure you hit the protein intake target at three meals per day—normally 3.5 to five ounces for women depending on your weight. Check out this recent article in the Globe and Mail precisely on weighing your food and how it can make a difference in your health. I also want to point out this research study on the importance of adequate protein – you wouldn’t believe how many people I see on a weekly basis that are NOT getting enough protein daily.
- Add fibre or water-based foods. The perfect afternoon snack is watermelon or berries with soluble fibre supplement, as the fibre makes you full and aids inflammation in the gut. Read more here.
**Cool fact for those that are on a weight loss program is that fibre and proteins both have beneficial effects for weight loss. They both BOOST the hormones that burn fat and also BOOST the hormones that control our appetite. We suggest having 3 high protein meals a day when trying to lose weight and the 4th can be fibre rich bowl of berries and watermelon with a glass of water with fibre in it – I love Regular Girl**
Fibre offers wonderful benefits for your hormonal balance. Keeping your bowels moving regularly is critical at all times, but especially during your detox to avoid accumulation and re-absorption of toxins. Aside from improving digestion and reducing tummy bloat, fibre binds to excess toxic estrogen in the digestive tract and helps excrete it from the body. It beneficially affects the composition of intestinal bacteria and reduces the buildup of free floating estrogen. It is definitely your fat loss and hormonal health friend! Try adding two to three tablespoons of ground chia or flaxseed daily to your smoothies, meals or even your water.
- After increasing fiber, protein or veggies at your meals, if you are still hungry, add a healthy fat at one meal to help you feel full and satisfied.
We will most likely do these things in this order, but overall, I work with my patients as metabolic detectives together. In addition, we strictly monitor fat-burning metabolism to ensure a week-to-week progression in the right direction. This is the new focus of my latest program, the Clear Medicine Weight Loss Program. It works amazingly when you learn the tricks. For instance, a 56 year old woman I just saw yesterday lost 10 pounds of fat, gained 3 pounds of muscle and lost 2 inches off her waist in 5 weeks – without feeling hungry!
My crucial focus during this weight loss approach, in addition to my standard of restoring hormone balance, is also on optimizing metabolism and hormonal balance by supporting:
- The liver (our primary metabolic organ)
- The thyroid (our major metabolic gland that produces thyroid hormones which regulate metabolism)
- The muscles (our major metabolic tissue)
We gauge fat-burning by measuring urinary ketones as well as by tracking weight and waist measurements.
How Exercise Fits Into The Program:
Exercise for focused specifically on fat loss, versus muscle and fat loss, requires a change in approach as well. There are two types of workouts we need to focus on. Long, low and slow – such as walking, yoga or tai chi and hot, fast, sweating and breathless – which includes high-intensity circuit training, interval workouts or sprinting. So, during this process, I ditched my Fitbit! I did this after researching into the benefits of walking and realized I have been quitting my walks right at the moment when my body would have switched to burning fat stored on my body as fuel, rather than the energy provided from the sugar in my bloodstream. You must deplete the blood sugars with steady activity before you can hit this metabolic sweet point. For most people, the time this happens is after at least 60 to 75 minutes of walking, briskly, and without dilly-dallying on your phone! So – use the Fitbit to track what you do – but do it right for the optimal metabolic, fat burning, stress reducing and mood enhancing benefits. Stop thinking 10k steps – start thinking 60 -75 mins continuous walking 5 to 6 days a week.
After you have mastered this habit – the next metabolic must is 30 minutes of high-intensity strength training, two to three days a week. Check the workout from The Hormone Boost, but make sure you hire a good trainer to learn how to do things right and to remain injury free.
All these dietary methods, workouts, and a few key supplements preserve metabolically active muscle, optimize hydration and cause the loss of stored body fat only. This means as you lose weight, your energy and metabolic rate is preserved right along with your muscle mass—and the dreaded “skinny fat” is avoided! Ultimately, you’ll master making the best choices for your metabolism, and the result is a truly safe fat loss.