Weight Loss – myths and misconceptions answered

1) What are three tips we can follow to lose weight?

Reduce the glycemic load of foods on the body so that you balance your blood sugar.  Eating low glycemic foods means cutting out sweet foods.  Balancing your blood sugar is of upmost importance, you stop feeling hungry all the time, stop craving for sugary foods and stimulants (coke/diet coke/caffeine) and you stop telling the body to store excess sugar as FAT.

Stop eating processed refined artificial Carbohydrates sugars and grains, these raise blood sugar so the body stores excess sugar as fat, also when the body is fuelled by fructose not good fats we feel hungry all the time therefore we eat more and never feel satisfied which ends up in a vicious cycle of fat storing not fat burning.

Start exercising, the body is born to run, we are all too sedentary and blame the fact we are too busy to exercise.  Take the stairs not the lift, block out time in your busy schedule, book a trainer or join classes so that exercise becomes a part of your life and a positive part which is not only social but releases the feel good endorphins so a boost to your mood as well.

2)   What is the best way to lose weight without being unhealthy?

Best way to lose weight:

Never skip meals

Those with the emptiest of food diaries are the ones who find that their weight is ballooning.  Why?  The thyroid, which is responsible for your metabolic rate needs to be kick started in the morning.

Skipping meals especially breakfast sends the wrong message to the body.  A message that you are in a desert, without food, yet the reality is you skipped a meal or went straight for a stimulant (such as coffee, sodas, diet sodas) this sends the blood sugar sky rocketing and then results in it crashing down.

It becomes a “cry wolf” situation, a dance of the hormones, the adrenal glands are falsely activated due to absence of food or a sudden rise and immediate fall of blood sugar due to the stimulant, resulting in a false “flight or flight mode“.  Adrenals under fight or flight mode release the hormone cortisol and it is the continual release of cortisol that false stimulation of adrenals, that tells the body to store FAT AROUND THE MIDDLE.  This is exhausting for the body and not only affects your energy but your mood too.  The net result is you make poorer food choices due to sugar craving and to raise your unbalanced blood sugar.

Eat every 3-4 hours to maintain blood sugar, ensure your snack (if you need one) includes protein i.e handful of raw nuts with an apple balances blood sugar where as fruit on its own creates a surge of fructose and results in excess sugar.  SO consider the 2 hand rule one hand is protein (the raw nuts) the other carbohydrate (the fruit).  But with regards to fruit one portion a day is sufficient and stick to the low glycemic fruits, berries, cherries, apple and pear.

Balance blood sugar

Always eat protein with each meal this balances the blood sugar so prevents the roller – coaster ride and excess sugar being stored as fat.  Consider eggs, raw nuts and seeds as good proteins for breakfast, adding clean protein powders (no added sugars preservatives/additives) to smoothies or eat a traditional Asian breakfast when grilled fish was consumed or lean meat in soups.

Reduce your GRAIN load

Reduce your GRAIN load on the body say no to WHITE carbohydrates, reduce WHEAT and increase WATER the W rule.  Grains aren’t the same as they used to be, genetically modified, they are higher in gluten and more difficult to digest.  Traditionally to make grains digestible they would go through many processes such as soaking, fermenting, drying, grinding and more soaking.  A simple loaf of bread could take 3 weeks to prepare.  So not only were grains not consumed in the amounts they are today but they were much more digestible.  Wheat, whether refined or whole grain causes the blood sugar to rise due to the high starch content called amylopectin.  This sudden rise in blood sugar when what is consumed drives fat to be stored.  Unfortunately today, due to time constraints, wide availability and ease wheat is over consumed in the form of pastries, pastas, breads and noodles.

3)   Can I run everyday to lose weight quick, or is it bad for my body?

You may run every day as long as you are nourishing your body, not putting undue stress on your body through skipping meals.

We need to dispel, myths that eating less, exercising more makes you lose weight.  The equation of less in more out does not add up when it comes to dieting.  The research shows it is not about the calorific value of the foods you eat, but the effect it has on your blood sugar.  So running on empty every day without proper nutrition may indeed result in some weight loss initially but the weight will bounce back or worse be stored in the wrong place – ie around the middle if you initiate a stress response.  Exercise is vital but needs to be part of a good nutritional programme, not creating a burn out in the body.

4)   There are plenty of diets we can find on the net and in magazines, including the Paleo diet, GM diet, etc.  What, in your opinion, are some of the best diets out there that we can and should follow?

We are bombarded by diets and promises of rapid weight loss through detox and meal replacement programmes, but which one really works long term?

If you were to follow a “diet” per se, a word I’m not keen on as dieting I feel conjures up all sorts of negative connotations, feeling miserable, hungry, despondent and even a sense of a failure before you’ve even begun!  Eating should be a great positive in our lives, enjoying three meals a day, often a social affair not something that is held with dread or debate in ones mind.

Weight loss happens when people switch from a carbohydrate rich diet to a diet rich in protein and good fats.  For this PALEO works well as we were not designed to eat the high amount of processed grains we eat now.  Also once the body switches to using fuel from healthy fats not sugars we burn fat and stop storing.  We increase metabolism, weight loss becomes easier and we feel full for longer and therefore it follows that we eat less.  Looking at low glycemic diets also make sense as this works at ensuring stable blood sugar, balancing the blood sugar is the key to not only weight loss but long-term maintenance of good weight.  The body finds equilibrium and stops yo-yo ing in weight.  The trouble is once fat cells are made it becomes easier for the body to store fat again, hence why crash diets are so bad for us.

Another good diet is Eating to be Alkaline.  In other words increasing the amount of green vegetables we eat, whether raw in salads, steamed or stir-fries in heat stable oils.  At least half your plate should be full of colour and greens.

Why?  Being alkaline makes it easier for the body to lose weight and also encourages you to eat predominantly vegetables with protein.  This is important too as the more toxic we are the more the body has to sequester away toxins and that place is in FAT cells.  Being alkaline also encourages us to remove acidic foods and the most acidic forming foods are refined grains, dairy, sugar, processed meats and trans fats. Indeed all the foods that lead to weight gain.

5)  I need to lose weight in 10 days. Is there a healthy way to go about doing it?

JJ Virgin looks at losing 7 lbs, in 7 days, removing 7 foods.  An aspect of weight gain and difficulty shifting weight no matter what you do comes back to food intolerance/leaky gut.  Food intolerance is a series of physiological responses that your body has to certain foods – like gas and bloating, joint pain, headaches, brain fog, fatigue and unexplained weight gain.

The 7 foods to remove from your diet are :

Gluten, Dairy, Soya, Eggs, Corn, Sugar (especially artificial sweeteners) and Peanuts

Taking these foods out of the system stops triggering immune and inflammatory responses which lead to weight gain/holding.  So if you wish to reduce weight in 10 days remove all the above culprits, reduce fructose too, only one portion of berries a day.  But this I feel is also a great start to removing the main toxic foods and to begin supporting your digestion, the foundation of your health.

It means you need to eat really clean and you may need assistance in following such a diet but if underlying food intolerances are an issue and poor gut health/flora (good bacteria) weight loss is difficult to achieve.

6) Which foods are best for losing weight?

Ensure you’re hydrated, aim for 2 litres a day and 3-4 if exercising.  A good post exercise drink is a pinch of good salt into your litre water bottle with a squeeze of lemon juice.  Or fresh coconut water as it is the closest electrolyte balance to the body’s plasma.

Increase your essential oils!

Omega oils (essential fatty acids) boost your metabolism.

Eat oily fish x 3 a week, (salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout) snack on raw nuts and seeds and use their oils in salads.  CLA in grass fed meat is also documented to boost metabolism, increase weight loss.

Eat little and often, this places less of a burden on your digestive system and keeps metabolism optimal.  Ensure you eat slowly, conscious eating, not in front of your computer, this means taking time out, really chewing your food.  This positively impacts digestion and metabolism.

Spice up your life!

Adding spices to your foods, soups and salad dressings is a great way to boost metabolism.  Include Jalapeno peppers, cayenne pepper, garlic, black pepper, mustard seeds.  Think of how you may sweat when eating spicy food, like exercise, this is boosting metabolism, studies show up to 25%!

Lean clean protein!

Protein is key to balancing blood sugar to avoid insulin spikes which encourages the body to store sugar as fat.  Avoiding processed meats, which tend to be packed with sugars and additives.

Green Tea boosts metabolism, say no to the grandes/lattes and cappuccinos which create a rush of sugar to the system and increase fat storing.

7) What kind of exercise is best for dropping the pounds – fast?

Interval training creates fat burning increasing your muscle mass increases metabolism too.  Interval training is based on the 20 second on 20 second off rule.  What that means is you want to push yourself as much as you can for 20 seconds if working on a running machine put your speed up as high as you can then pull back after 20 seconds to get recovery for 20 then push again, it can become a game of numbers with you and the machine so you keep pushing yourself past your comfort zone and create new goals, better speeds each session.

30-45 mins 4-5 times a week is optimal.

8) What’s one food everybody should avoid?

Trans fats they are toxic to the body found in highly processed foods, fried foods, such as donuts and French fries.  They trick the body by getting into the cell then wreak havoc as the cell then cannot function properly causing increased risk of cardio vascular disease and cancers.  Take the bad fats out and put the good fats in!

9) How can rapid weight loss affect one’s body?

Affects mood, concentration, risk of rebound weight gain, risk of osteoporosis, trick the body thinking its being starved and weight will go back around hip and waist line.  Places undue stress on the body and may lead to unexplained fatigue and apathy due to poor nutritional status.

10) Can cutting back on your diet alone help you lose weight?

It certainly is the beginning but more muscle mass better metabolism so greater weight loss, plus as you lose weight muscle toning becomes more important exercise needs to be a part of our daily routine.  Stop thinking calories as, for example, a trans fat rich muffin may only have 150 calories but think of the impact it has on the body, the wrong fats leading to inflammation and the refined sugar and flours leading to rapid blood sugar rise leading to FAT storing ie it is the impact the food has on our body not calories counted.  You could be be well within calorific intake yet poorly nourished and over weight.

11) Is it true that you should stop eating after 3pm (or a certain time) everyday to avoid gaining a tummy?

Not eating later than 7pm is a great benefit to the body as it can be said that whatever you eat after 8pm – 9pm you will not burn off, especially if it is a CHO rich meal.  It is best in weight loss to avoid eating slow releasing CHO at night so have oats/rye/quinoa/brown rice/buckwheat/millet based foods earlier in the day at breakfast and at lunch.  At night focus on half of your plate being rich in colour and dark green leafy vegetables and this will provide you with enough CHO.  No need to eat an abundance of fruit at night as this leads to a sudden fructose surge, which the body treats as sugar and unless you’re off to run a mile you will store the excess sugar as FAT.

So avoiding CHO at night in grain form, fruit form reduces the risk of putting weight around the middle.  Remember alcohol too is a form of sugar so if you’re drinking wine/beer regularly or spirits with mixers other than pure soda water you are also adding in extra sugar.  Sugar and toxicity in excess leads to fat storing.

Research shows us a good night sleep also leads to a flatter tummy!  The adrenals need rest they are challenged daily and if they do not get time to switch off the CORTISOL hormone will keep telling the body to store weight around the middle.  So its not just about the foods you eat but a holistic approach to better sleep patterns and learning to switch off from life stresses that leads to a slimmer you.