Weight loss, or weight management, is such a complex, multifaceted topic. Her are the top 5 pointers that have helped the most clients, and most importantly, what is sustainable.
by Courtney Grey, BHSc @courtneygreynutritionist
Nutritionist, Clinical and Wellness Therapist, Body Catalyst Hawthorn
Nutrition can be tricky. It is individualised and includes a number of factors that can contribute to weight loss, weight gain or weight management. As we have evolved in the nutrition industry, we’ve realised that it is not as simple as monitoring calories in, and calories out. A significant calorie deficit can often even cause an individual to gain weight once they resume a normal diet, or even as they are attempting to starve themselves!
The human body is smart, and we have to work with it, and not against it. We have to take into account any underlying health issues; and consider the role of hormones, stress, mental health and emotions, liver function, thyroid health, gut microbiome, genetic predisposition, and metabolism.
This is why it is important to see a professional, so that they can be the detective in helping you find out the underlying cause of your weight gain.
In the meantime, here are my top 5 simple and achievable tips that will work for everybody, at a slow and sustainable pace:
Eat more vegetables
Boring, hey! On average, we are not eating enough vegetables. Vegetables are full of fibre that keeps us full, slows the digestion of our food, improves our bowel movements and elimination processes, and helps keep your microbiome happy (good gut bacteria). Focusing on what we can add into our diet, rather than take out, is also important. By increasing the amount of veg you consume, you automatically reduce your intake of discretionary foods (poorer quality food choices). You’ll also feel better eating more plant foods, which will impact all other areas of your health and vitality. After all, we were designed to eat these the most.
Don’t have caffeine on an empty stomach in the morning
A very common scenario in my clients (it’s so common I end up discussing it in almost every initial consult!) is that they have a whack of caffeine in the morning, and then they end up eating all the foods later in the day. There’s a reason for this. Caffeine is a stimulant of the nervous and endocrine systems, where it releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, as well as insulin, and pushes our body into a bit of a stressed state. This is why we feel so lovely and alert and prepared to get stuff done! What caffeine is telling the body, however, is that it is stressed and needs to prepare for a fight or flight response (because that’s what these hormones do). This was handy when we were our ancestors, and had to hunt and fend off predators – but not so handy in modern times. The carbohydrate cravings you experience later in the day is your body trying to replenish its glycogen stores, to create adipose tissue (fat) to handle more stressors, so you can do it all again the next time you are ‘stressed’.
For this reason, I recommend moving your coffee to the first meal of the day, or after, to slow the release of the caffeine, to make sure you’re not just running off adrenaline, and to keep those blood glucose levels stable with the insulin release.
Drink more water
This is an easy one! We can often mistake dehydration for hunger; and water helps our elimination processes. All of our organs (especially the liver and our digestive system) work better with enough water. The system slows down otherwise. We want you working like a well-oiled machine, and water is that oil.
Don’t buy discretionary foods and bring them in to the house (or car, or office…)
If you don’t buy it, and don’t bring it home, you are less likely to consume it! We all do this. We buy ourselves treats for ‘later’, but that later ends up being much sooner than anticipated, and then we buy more treats. Try your best not to buy snacks such as chocolate, lollies, chips, or ice cream (or whatever your weakness is) to have at home for when the cravings hit. I want you to treat yourself occasionally, and enjoy foods, so if you want it enough – go out and buy it. You should allow yourself enjoyment and I want you to thoroughly enjoy it without the guilt. But by putting an extra step in between wanting and having, you make it easier for yourself to moderate your consumption, you don’t beat yourself up as much, and you know that when you have them, you really wanted it and weren’t just tempted because it was there.
Limit your alcohol consumption
Alcohol is fun, but it is one of the largest sources of empty kilojoules (low in nutrition but high energy) that we consume. It also places an increased load on our liver, which has a large role to play in processing excess fat out of the body. If we drink alcohol with food, the body also prioritises it’s metabolism, and we end up storing more of what we eat as adipose tissue. Whether you are starting to cut down or want to minimise the impact, alternating one alcoholic drink with one glass of water is a good place to start. If you really want to kick-start your weight loss, I’d advise to steer clear of alcohol all together for a while.
None of this is likely to be new information.
But sometimes it is the basics that we forget, and it is important to remember that there is no quick fix or amazing pill for weight management.
I want you to keep it really simple, achievable, and to see results without a huge amount of hard work and stress. I also want you to go easy on yourself, and to remember that making changes is about the long game, and healthy weight maintenance is the goal.
Have any questions regarding nutrition? Book in for a Nutrition Consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists to discuss an individualised program tailored to your goals and requirements.