Everyday Health, Weight Management

Top weight loss secrets or just good principles?

Weigth Loss Secret or Just Good PrinciplesSo many of us seem to be in real trouble when it comes to keeping a healthy weight and the global weight loss industry was worth $US7.9 billion in 2009 and is forecast to grow to a value of $US10.5 by 20141. What on earth is going on? We have reviewed the many pieces of advice regarding our weight, what we have uncovered are some great principles of healthy weight management. This is not meant to be an article advocating a programme of eating and supplements for guaranteed weight loss. What we do aim to do is: explain what a healthy weight is; offer a brief overview of what factors can be contributing to gaining weight and suggest some healthy eating principles along the way that can apply to everyone. Our aim is to encourage eating for maximum enjoyment, nourishment and health.

So how is a healthy weight measured?

The idea of a healthy weight is a bit misleading; how much you weigh is not all that matters. The NHS uses BMI (Body Mass Index) as a guide for how you are faring on weight, it is a useful part of the picture. BMI indicates if you are at a healthy level using your weight and height measurements. Here is a link for you to calculate you BMI: http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx. Another factor to consider is how you shape up in terms of your hip to waist ratio. http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/tools/hip_to_waist/hip_to_waist.shtml. You should aim for a ratio of 0.75. These two measurements, when combined will give you a pretty good picture of how you fare.

What could be putting your weight management out of balance?

Maintaining a steady weight, at its most basic level involves an equal balance of the following:
How much energy (in food and drinks) goes in X how effectively we burn it up v.s. how much energy we use. Theoretically if this is in balance – all will be well.
Unfortunately it is in fact a bit more complicated – so let’s take it one step at a time

What goes in?

What is in your food and drinks-the hidden truths.
When we fill up our trolley with foods that have been cooked or prepared by someone else we lose control of what is in it. That is unless we have a good look at the detail. The government has introduced a great new traffic light scheme that helps us to choose healthier options if we are shopping in this way. If you are aiming to lose weight but feel that cooking from scratch – known  as scratch cooking – is just not going to happen-use the guideline -  if the calories, fat or sugar content are not green, generally be careful on the quantities you are buying! It’s quite simple.
You should aspire to buy less of the packaged stuff and more of the ‘wholefoods’. The idea being to buy food that is as close to its natural form as possible so that you are not eating flavour enhanced, sugar and fat-loaded options. The most important areas to be aware of are: breads, cakes, biscuits, margarines, cereals, non-organic meats and pre-prepared meals.

Although in all of these areas there are exceptions. The other thing to check out are the number of preservatives, colourings and other chemicals in processed foods, if our body is struggling to deal with these toxins, it will store them in fatty tissue to lock it away from damaging our body. Logically, if the body feels like it is constantly struggling to process endless alien chemicals – it is not as likely to be releasing them into our system – and therefore is likely to hold on to the fat stores, adding to our weight problem. All in all, messed-about-with-food – messes about with our weight management. So what are the our weight loss secrets?

Appetite control

We are all generally well rehearsed on the basics of healthy eating, when we are eating a biscuit at 11am – most of us are very clear that it will not be doing much for our waistline. The limiting factor is that we may not be able to help ourselves – and often there is a logical physiological reason for this – it is a sugar craving and makes appetite control and therefore managing your weight very very difficult. It goes like this:

  • When we eat a food that quickly releases sugar into the blood stream we effectively get a ‘sugar hit’. Short term it feels like a burst of energy or a relief.
  • The body then tries to regulate this hit and removes the sugar from the blood using insulin, the excess energy is then stored as fat.
  • But the insulin can over compensate for repeatedly high sugar levels, resulting in a crash in sugar – setting off your ‘need to eat’ alarm bells and making you crave food again. And so an eating roller coaster begins.

One of the first ways to aim to control your cravings and appetite – is to aim to smooth out your sugar ride and stabilise your blood sugar fluctuations. Many of the same principles of healthy eating apply here:

  • Food with a high Glycemic Index (G.I.) will be more likely to shoot your sugar levels high, these include: cakes and biscuits, confectionary, refined carbohydrates such as white bread/pasta and quick cook rice, fizzy drinks/squash/energy drinks.
  • Stimulants like tea, coffee and alcohol contain chemicals that cause a release of high levels of sugar into the blood stream leading to a boost in energy levels.

Instead try:

  • To eat little and often to avoid energy lows and highs.
  • Foods that are higher in fibre which helps to slow the release of sugar into the blood. These are usually low GI foods including: whole grains like brown rice, brown pasta, brown wholegrain bread, fruit and vegetables, oats and beans, lentils, chick peas.
  • Always eat a bit of protein with carbohydrates which also slows down the release of the sugars, this may seem a bit complicated but here are some examples of how to do it:
Protein Carbohydrate
Nuts/seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts etc) Fruit – fresh, tinned and dried
Fish and shellfish Vegetables
Soya (tofu, yoghurt, tempeh, miso)
Grains e.g. millet, wheat, barley, quinoa, rye, oats
Meat Rice, pasta, bread
Cheese yoghurt and milk
Root vegetables e.g. potato, swede, sweet potato
Pulses and beans e.g. lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans Vegetables, grains
Eggs
Vegetables, wholegrain toast

Of course appetite control, or good old fashioned willpower can also be influenced by emotional factors including the impact of stress or a tendency to comfort eat. A food diary can really help you to identify your ‘weak times’. Identify these and aim to avoid them as far as possible. You can enlist the help of friends and family to look out for you – although be careful you may get quite cross with them at times – even when you know that they are right! Another option is to visualise yourself as you would like to be, possibly write a short paragraph to yourself on how this will change the way you feel – then read it when you are feeling tempted. Possibly text it to yourself so it is there on tap!

Portion Size

An excellent exercise to do is to compare what the recommended portion size for your favourite foods is compared to what you are cooking and eating! The results can be quite an eye opener.
The best, most portable way to measure a portion size is to use your hand:
You are aiming for the following:

  • 1 serving of fruit, veggies, rice or pasta (cooked) is the same volume as your fist
  • 1 serving of meat, fish or poultry fits into the palm of your hand
  • 1 serving of sliced meat is the same size as your hand
  • 1 serving of nuts or dried fruit fits into your cupped hand
  • 1 serving of cheese, peanut butter, cream cheese etc is the same size as your thumb
  • 1 serving of butter, cooking oil, mayo is the same as the tip of your thumb (although you are aiming to avoid these foods anyway)

An excellent, more detailed look at portion sizes is available: http://www.impcna.com/intranet/Adult%20Education%20Materials/diabetes%20meal%20planning%20guide.pdf There are several other healthy eating pointers in this leaflet, not all agree with what is said here but both are broadly good guidelines for healthy eating.
Other portion size tips:

  • If the ‘handful’ tips do not work for you, invest in weighing scales and weigh out your meals until it becomes second nature to know what you are supposed to be eating.Proposed weights are also outlined in the link above.
  • Just be mindful if you are eating packaged meals or snacks in big bags. One portion is not one packet – watch out! The calories and fat guidelines are written for a specific serving size – be mindful of this and roughly work out how much of the pack you can eat. Take your serving, put it in a bowl and put the rest away.
  • Eating from a smaller plate and using a smaller glass for juice is a good way to limit your portions. A large empty plate is not going to satisfy your eyes and therefore you have less chance of satisfying your stomach! If you are comfortable doing this – eat your pasta or cereal out of a mug instead of a big bowl. It limits the amount that you take.
  • Fill your plate half full with non-starchy vegetables and then ¼ grains or carbohydrates and ¼ meat or fish or other protein by volume. This is an excellent guide to ensure that you are increasing the amount of health promoting vitamins and minerals in your food and decreasing the more energy dense options.
  • If you don’t feel full, increase the volume of non-starchy vegetables that you eat. Or start your meal with a green salad starter dressed with lemon juice, then eat your vegetables before the grains.
  • When you are eating out and feel like the portion sizes are not like they are at home, mentally decide what percentage of the meal you plan to eat. Often half is plenty.

The real nutrient content of foods now vs then

Our body is constantly in search of the nutrients that it needs to make it function at its best. If you fill it full of calories without nutritional value, the chances are that it will search for more food especially if it is lacking in vital nutrients. Excess calories that are not needed are stored as fat on the body. Assuming that we are all eating an optimal diet full of fruit and vegetables, we can still be in trouble.

The mineral content of fruit and vegetables has significantly reduced over the last 50 years with changes in agriculture – although methods of measuring could be a factor2. In addition to this, vitamin and mineral content of foods can be easily lost through processing, cooking and over time in transport chains and sitting on supermarket shelves. It is for this reason that we recommend that you aim to buy as many healthy foods as possible that are in their natural state, are locally produced and seasonal. Aim to eat at least 30% of your food raw too – it is healthy, delicious, filling and full to the brim of nutrients!

Food Intolerances

If you suspect that some foods don’t agree with you, the chances are you are probably right. Food intolerances can slow down weight loss and should be tackled as part of your weight management
Put on the brakes

Fast decisions and gobbling don’t help with weight management- here’s how:

  • Before you eat, check you are really hungry. Just asking yourself this question and LISTENING to the answer can save you calories! Check it is not a drink of water that you really need. Check if you are eating out of habit or mindlessly, for comfort or out of boredom.
  • Deciding what to eat needs some planning. Shopping when you are starving and in a rush is not the way to make healthy food choices. Go to the supermarket with a list of healthy snacks, meal ideas and alternatives to your normal biscuit or white pasta and processed sauce!
  • It may seem a bit harsh but if your cupboards are filled with the food bought by the ‘old you’. Clear them of ALL OF IT before you start.
  • Always carry healthy food, make sure that your handbag or briefcase contains healthy, protein based snacks that are within easy reach. Bringing your own salad or left over stirfry to work is a great option!
  • Your body may take a bit of time to recognise that it has had enough to eat. Eating quickly can result in eating too much – and is terrible for your digestion Check out our article on the right foods to eat

How quickly we burn up energy – metabolic rates

Do you know someone who just seems to ‘burn off’ all of the calories and stay slim despite the fact that they eat so much more than you? It is not an illusion, they probably do just that – they have a higher rate of burning up calories otherwise known as ‘metabolic rate’.

A healthy thyroid
It is the responsibility of the thyroid to control your metabolic rate and of other hormones including insulin to make sure that the body is using up energy supplies efficiently and fuelling our cells.

If you feel that you find it harder to control your weight than you used to, feel depressed, your hair is dry, brittle or falling out, you are suffering from unexplained constipation, menstrual problems and a lack of energy – get your thyroid checked out3. To do this, see your GP or a private Health Professional who can offer a more comprehensive test.

Good fats
Make sure that you are using up energy productively and that the hormones responsible for this are working to maximum effect. To do this, ensure that you have a good supply of health promoting fats. The best way is to make sure that you eat 2-3 portions of fish a week, including at least one oily fish and snack on nuts or seeds with fruit. You can also consider an Omega 3 and 6 supplement to make sure that you have enough of these vital nutrients. On no account should you consider a ‘no fat diet’ – fats are vital to our overall health and help us to burn calories provided that we eat the right ones!

Muscle mass
It is also a well known fact that your muscles use up more energy than fat tissue. Exercising to reduce the amount of fat on your body and convert it to muscle has an additional benefit- it helps you to burn off even more weight. Brilliant! A good way to do this is to add a little resistance training into your programme or invest in some small free weights and walk with them on your ankles or carrying them. Speak to your trainer at your local gym or to the GP about referral. Alternatively investigate body pump classes in your area.

Dieting and ‘Starving’

Do not be tempted to go on a crash diet or skip meals, your body will rightly believe that it is starving and slow down the rate that it uses up calories to conserve them – not what you want! Follow the principles of maintaining steady blood sugar levels above, make sure you eat little and often.

Energy out

We know we need to exercise, it is just how to fit it in to our busy lives. Here are some suggestions:
Walk around at lunchtime, or around the local park. Get off the bus a stop early. Take the stairs rather than the lift. Walk the dog when you get home from work. Deliver the village weekly newsletter, take up with a walking group (http://www.ramblers.org.uk/areas_groups). You could go one step further and join a local gym or aerobics / dance class. If you are overweight, some local NHS Trusts are funding gym memberships to promote improvements in health – ask you GP if you are eligible for a GP Referral. You are aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes a day where you manage to increase your heart rate or feel a bit ‘puffed’.

Nutritional Support

If your weight is out of balance it is possible that your body is also lacking vital nutrients to help get you back on track. You need to make sure that you have an excellent supply of the nutrients that help the body to control blood sugar, energy production, detoxification mechanisms and the rate at which you burn calories. Therefore it is a good idea to invest in a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement containing B complex, Vitamins C and E, Chromium, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium and CoQ103.

So in summary here are some top tips for weight management:

  • Follow the principles of healthy eating
  • Prioritise your food and what you are eating – we believe that it is the route to good health
  • Make yourself accountable for what goes in your mouth –food diary and cupboard clear.
  • Help yourself to control your appetite – keep steady blood sugar balance
  • Drink at least 1 ½ litres of water a day
  • Watch your portion sizes closelyMake sure your body can burn off your calories to maximum effect
  • Incorporate exercise for at least half an hour in to your everyday.

And finally…..if you have a bad day, start again immediately. All is not lost! Reflect on why, learn from it and carry on.

The advice in this article is only applicable for those who are healthy. If you are on any form of medication, have a previously diagnosed condition, are not feeling well or just feel off, make sure that you consult your doctor immediately and insist on a full testing programme. Talk to them about the changes that you plan to make and ensure that any supplements that you are considering are fully discussed.

References
1.    The Future of the Weight Management Market, October 2010, Leatherhead Market Research, http://www.leatherheadfood.com/the-future-of-the-weight-management-market-new-market-report-from-leatherhead
2.    Mayer AM, 1997, Historical changes in the mineral content of fruit and vegetables, British Food Journal, 99:207-211
3.    Glenville M, 2001, The Nutritional Handbook for Women, Piatkus, London

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Disclaimer: Seven Seas Life is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The articles are based on peer reviewed research, and discoveries/products mentioned in the articles may not be approved by our regulatory bodies, you will find no mention of Seven Seas products within the pages of the Seven Seas Life Section..Read more

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Comments

  1. laveena says:

    my son age is 5 years. which age can start the seven seas table his weight is 31 kg height is 123cm

  2. SevenSeasLife says:

    Laveena

    Thank you for your question over the age from which your son can take vitamin supplements.

    There are a wide range of supplements available for children as young as one month old and a member of our Nutritional Advise Team will be contacting you, via email, directly to respond to your personal query.

    Seven Seas Life Team

  3. kaushal says:

    at what time seven seas should be taken

  4. SevenSeasLife says:

    Thanks for the question regarding the best time to take a health supplement. We would also suggest that any vitamin, mineral or health supplement be taken with a cool drink, prior to a meal either breakfast, lunch or evening meal. Generally consumption before food helps aid digestion of the supplement and if you take a supplement at the the same meal time each day this helps us to remember to take them. Howevever there is no science to suggest that taking a supplement at a specific time provides more benefit.
    Seven Seas Life Team

  5. shweta says:

    Please suggest a weight loss plan for thyroid patient.

  6. SevenSeasLife says:

    Thank you for the question. From the information you have provided we are assuming, but are not certain, that you have been diagnosed with an under active thyroid condition. Conditions such as this need to be diagnosed by your doctor, or health professional and are often treated with medication. Due to the medical nature of these conditions we are unable to advise you on an individual weight loss plan and would suggest that you contact your doctor to discuss your personal circumstances. Your doctor will be fully aware of all your health and medical needs and in this instance is best placed to advise you.

    Kind Regards,
    Seven Seas Life Team

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