Growing up, I saw weight loss as a gruelling process. Not for me personally, but those around me. Counting calories, eating flavourless food, feeling hungry and missing out was my perception of weight loss. As a Nutritionist, I now see it in a completely different light. Losing body fat requires health.
This means the process of losing body fat can (and should be) be a really positive, life changing and health promoting experience.
Here I share my top tips on where you focus needs to lie.
1. Do not cut the fat from your diet.
Reducing quality, omega-3 fats does nothing to balance hormones, improve appetite control or encourage whole food eating. It tends to create a negative association with food, encourage the consumption of processed, low fat “foods” and shift the focus to calories rather than nutrients. In my opinion, none of this leads to long term psychological health and/or sustained fat loss.
Evidence pretty clearly indicates that over a two year period, following a high fibre, higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet will have a positive influence on long term fat loss outcomes. It also positively influences blood sugar control and lipid profile, unlike a low fat diet.
See these Buckwheat Pancakes with Avocado Smash for an example of how to healthily include fats.
2. Optimise nutrient status.
I was recently asked what happens to fat when we lose it. The answer: we burn it. It's used for energy. In order to help fat be used for energy there are key nutrients required and if inadequacy is present, fat burning will be very challenging.
Ensure adequate intake of nutrients that influence hormone balance, oxygen carrying capacity and thyroid function. Specifically, monitor for adequate levels of iron, vitamin D, B12, iodine, selenium and zinc. Please work with myself or your healthcare professional to monitor your levels of these.
3. Optimise 'gut health'.
The trillions of microbes living in the gut microbiome are responsible for many things, including producing elements of the immune system and certain hormones, moderating inflammation and helping to eliminate waste. These microbes also influence fat storage, hunger and digestion.
Some studies are directly linking certain gut bacteria to their influence on the glycemic response to food and even our susceptibility to carrying extra weight.
My opinion on the research is that there is no one strain of probiotic bacteria to supplement with for fat loss. Instead, your diet and lifestyle has to support the best kind of microbiome (a diverse one) and in turn allow it to support you on your fat loss journey. You might like to learn more about digestive health and if you want to take a tailored approach, please let me know.
4. Moderate stress.
From an evolutionary perspective, the hormonal response to stress was very beneficial. In this day and age, chronic low grade stress (from self inflicted pressure, external pressure, lack of sleep and/or toxin exposure) is almost unavoidable and it’s not so protective.
Stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) influence blood sugar control and in turn, negatively impact your fat burning capacity.
5. Lift weights.
The evidence is pretty clear - in both men and women, the combination of weight training and a low-carbohydrate diet appears to be the most beneficial for weight loss. It maximises fat loss while preserving (even increasing) lean body mass.
I completed a double major at University which means I have a background in exercise physiology and I like to include some principles of training in my practice. In saying this, for anything beyond the basics I recommend speaking with the specialists and I can certainly recommend experts relative to your goals and physical location!
The take home message for you: include healthy fats in your diet, moderate carbohydrates and include resistance training in your protocol. The evidence suggests this produces the greatest reductions in percent body fat.
Of course, nutrition is relative and your body is different to the next. So, if you'd like to meet me and understand what it means to take a tailored approach to your nutrition please book your 15 Minute Complimentary Consultation.
Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. NewEngland Journal of Medicine.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18635428/
Gut microbiome diversity and high-fibre intake are related to lower long-term weight gain. International Journal of Obesity. https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo201766#ref31
Low-Carbohydrate Diets Promote a More Favourable Body Composition Than Low-Fat Diets. Strength and Conditioning Journal. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2010/02000/Low_Carbohydrate_Diets_Promote_a_More_Favorable.6.aspx