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Weight Loss: 3 Simple Steps

by Leanne J. Sotir, PhD, RNCP

3 Simple Steps to Improve Your Metabolism and Lose Weight

Metabolism is important for your overall health as well as any weight loss goals you may have. People struggle with weight loss because their approach is focused on calorie restriction only. They choose foods that are lowest in calories and fat and this has a negative impact on their body’s metabolism. Foods and nutrients are required by our bodies to produce energy and for our body’s metabolism to function efficiently.  This is why we need to focus on what types of foods we eat, as well as how and when we eat them, not just what the caloric and fat content of them may be. If you want your body’s metabolism to work properly and be set up to burn fat and calories effortlessly, try these few simple steps to get you started!

#1 WHAT YOU EAT
Choose foods at every meal that help your body balance blood sugar; this is one of the most important steps you can do. You want most of the foods you consume to be whole foods. These include lean proteins from grass fed meats, wild fish, vegetables, whole fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. These types of foods provide all of the necessary nutrients that are needed for a healthy body and metabolism. Avoid refined processed foods such as white pasta, breads, crackers, and sugary snacks. Try eliminating foods from boxes, cans, and packages from your diet as much as possible. These provide empty calories, have less nutritional value, and over time can alter how your body’s metabolism works. You don’t necessarily need to avoid all carbohydrates but should choose complex carbohydrates over refined (simple) carbohydrates. An example of this would be choose whole grain rice (would take 50 minutes to cook) instead of boxed minute rice (10 minutes to cook). Don’t avoid fat unless it is bad fat. Choose healthy fats such as wild fish, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, as these will help you burn fat and keep you lean. Avoid foods made with hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils. Choose a natural alternative such as butter over margarine. When cooking use macadamia, olive, or coconut oil for sautéing instead of oils such as canola, corn, and soy.  Avoid all sodas (even diet) as these provide empty calories. Try eliminating soda for 2 weeks and see the difference!

#2 HOW YOU EAT
Eating small meals and snacks that contain a little protein throughout the day is a great way to eat, especially if you are trying to lose weight. This will shift your metabolism to a fat-burning mode. Even healthy foods can add unnecessary calories if overeaten.  A tip to combat this would be to choose smaller plates and bowls…this really works!  You then begin to focus more on smaller portions and less on calories. Studies have shown if you start to restrict too many calories, your body will begin to store everything you eat as fat because it feels like it is in starvation mode.  Although any calorie restriction diet will produce weight loss, if this is your only focus it can alter the way your metabolism works. This is why many individuals who choose to diet with caloric restriction and then try to go back to the way they generally eat, they gain all the weight back and sometimes even more. Making permanent changes to your overall eating patterns as well as to the types of foods you consume will encourage permanent weight loss, as well as an efficient working metabolism.

#3 WHEN YOU EAT
Eat breakfast; never skip it. Some people believe this is a good meal to eliminate calories. Not true!  This is the most important meal because it jump-starts your metabolism. Various studies explored different age groups and genders and found that skipping breakfast lead to weight gain in all participants. These studies also showed people who consistently ate breakfast were less likely to be overweight and were able to maintain a healthy weight because they were more likely to consume fewer calories throughout the day. When choosing breakfast foods try to avoid refined foods such as bagels, frozen waffles, toast, muffins, and boxed cereals. Instead, try oatmeal, eggs, or even something you may eat for lunch or dinner…eat real foods not man-made ones. Try to have your meals and snacks prepared ahead of time as this will allow you to eat throughout the day and prevent you from skipping meals, overeating or grabbing something unhealthy. Avoid late-night eating! This is a sure way to add on the extra pounds. If you find yourself hungry in the evening, choose a light snack no later than 7:00 pm.