Updated: Feb 17
If you're somebody who struggles with weight control whether it be gaining or losing weight, other important factors and underlying health issues may be the cause.
It is common for thyroid dysfunction, insulin resistance, diabetes, adrenal dysfunction, stress and other conditions to hinder the normal processes that are needed to obtain healthy fat and muscle mass.
Resorting to fad diets and quick fixes have proven unsuccessful or un-maintainable in a large portion of the population. This is due to the fact that fad diets manipulate the body into thinking it is in a state of starvation and in responses causes a restructure of metabolism.
Making healthy and achievable lifestyle changes can assist in the success of rebalancing your body composition (fat and muscle) and, most importantly, reducing the risk factors associated with a number of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, sleeping disorders and joint degeneration.
5 MUST DO’S
1. ADD FIBRE
Dietary fibre comes from the indigestible components of plant-based foods. Insoluble fibres including lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose are found in the cell walls and skins of fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibres like pectin, gum and mucilages are mostly found in the skins. Clinical studies have linked a low dietary fibre intake with increased body weight. Alternatively, studies also confirmed that those whom have implemented high fibre diets to encourage weight loss have had beneficial results.
Fibre benefits: Energy and satiety
A significant link between fibre and weight loss is due to its effect on lowering energy density per meal and increasing feelings of fullness, resulting in less food intake. High fibre foods limit energy availability and absorption whilst boosting vitamin and mineral status. By adding more fruits and vegetables, you will find yourself consuming less refined and simple carbohydrates (white processed and packaged foods), which are highly energy dense. By increasing feelings of fullness, fibre prolongs satiety and delays the need for the following meal by down regulating hunger signals. This is done through the fermentation of fibre by our naturally occurring gut bacteria.
Fibre benefits: blood glucose and insulin
The addition of fibre in meals results in a slower transport of food from the stomach into the small intestines, this slows down the absorption of energy post meal. A slower rate of energy absorption means lower blood sugar, and lower blood insulin levels as a result. If insulin levels remain high for long periods to time, insulin resistance occurs causing weight gain. In contrast, when sugar is absorbed over a longer period of time there is less occurrence of over eating or snacking on simple carbohydrates for a quick energy fix.
Fibre benefits: blood cholesterol
Soluble fibre acts on dietary cholesterol by binding to it in the gastrointestinal tract, stopping it from being absorbed. Another benefit is the increased elimination of bile acids, made from liver cholesterol. Fibre signals the liver to make more bile for the digestive tract over blood cholesterol. While travelling through the digestive system, fibre assists in the production of substances that reduce the activity of the pathway of cholesterol synthesis directly.
Glycaemic Index (GI)
The Glycemic Index (GI) of food measures the immediate blood sugar and insulin response of food after ingestion. Foods with a high GI mean they produce a rapid and short-lived blood sugar elevation that prompts an elevation of insulin. The short-lived nature of high GI foods means energy is quickly depleted resulting in the desire to consume more food soon after. Over-consumption of high GI foods can cause blood sugar levels to remain elevated which later results in poor control of glucose disposable into fat cells instead of muscle.
Low GI foods are usually more fibre-dense and, therefore, slowly release energy over longer periods to time. The sustained release reduces the desire to consume food in order to meet energy demands. It assists in sugar being used for energy or being disposed of in the liver or muscles for storage.
Other benefits of increasing fibre from fresh fruit and vegetables mean an increased intake of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. Many of the additional nutrients have been linked to reductions in insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome and many other symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.
2. MEET YOUR PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS
Protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient due the energy needed for its digestion and metabolism. This higher thermogenic effect may also contribute to prolonged feelings of fullness. High protein diets are more favourable for weight loss due to the increased energy expenditure in comparison to carbohydrate and fat . Optimal protein intake supports and maintains muscle mass. Because the majority of our energy is burned in muscle cells, the more muscle you have means the more energy you will produce.
0.6-1g/kg/day eg. A 60kg female needs 36g
3. START EXERCISING
Low levels of physical activity have a significant relationship to increased weight gain. Participating in moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity increases total energy expenditure significantly reducing the need to store excess energy as fat. It prompts the reduction of visceral fat (the yellow fat around our organs), regulates blood sugar and insulin control and is more likely to achieve overall weight loss. Resistance training is also beneficial to maintain muscle mass and bone density. The occurrence of increased muscle mass as a result of regular exercise also improves blood sugar regulation increasing storage of energy in muscle opposed to fat.
30-45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise day
8000-10,000 steps per day indicated a more active lifestyle
4. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Stress is also known to alter eating behaviours, whether it be increasing or decreasing appetite. Stress may promote irregular eating patterns resulting in preferences for high fat, or high sugar content comfort foods. These foods can provide short term relief from stress by increasing mood enhancing effects on the brain. Prolonged stress leads to wear and tear on the regulatory systems that control metabolism of energy. Dysregulation in blood sugar and insulin control occur due to high stress hormones. Other risks of stress include changes in; the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and blood flow to fuel the muscles, heart and the brain
5. DRINK WATER
Water intake can support thermogenesis and increase your metabolic rate. Being hydrated supports cells and promotes the breakdown of fat for energy. It is also beneficial for blood pressure and nervous system activity. Replacing sugary beverages with water will increase your chance of weight loss.