If you’re caring for an elderly parent or relative and juggling a million different demands, weight loss might be at the bottom of your priority list. However, we know that the negative feelings that arise from being over weight can be overwhelming – just another thing you struggle to fit in!
Although weight loss is a complicated physiological process, some companies and celebrity endorsements will have you believe that losing weight is simply calories in versus calories out.
However, losing weight can become increasingly more difficult as we get older due to reduced metabolism, hormones and lifestyle factors.
Registered Nutritionist Daisy Ilchovska of Optimal Health Nutrition discusses the key things you need to consider when aiming to lose weight healthily.
Balanced Meals Vs Calories In
Are you focusing too much on calories? The truth is that not all calories are equal – for example different foods are metabolised in different ways. So, for example, if you just focus on calories you are unlikely to achieve long-term sustainable weight loss as your body needs good quality macro (protein, fat and carbs) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients.
So, if a handful of gummy bears and a handful of almonds have roughly the same calories your body will metabolise and use better the protein and healthy fat from almonds and is likely to simply store the gummy bears as fat, to use as energy at a later stage.
Instead of counting calories, focusing on having a balanced plate at every main meal is a much more sustainable and healthy strategy. Make every main meal a balanced meal by including a good source of protein (fish, chicken, chickpeas), good fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil) and carbohydrates (quinoa, sweet potatoes, roasted veg).
Fibre intake (from vegetables, legumes, nuts etc.) keeps you fuller for longer and lowers your blood sugar levels – sometimes responsible for cravings!
Ensure that over half of your plate is filled with fibre rich non starchy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce for every main meal.
Good fats such as Omega 3’s from nuts, seeds and oily fish do not make you fat. They will keep you fuller for longer and may even help with weight loss.
Keeping your blood sugar stable will help with weight loss and keep cravings at bay. Strategies include balanced main meals (see above), avoidance of constant snacking, consuming all carbs (including fruit) with some fat, avoiding all fizzy/sugary drinks and potentially supplementation with Chromium, Omega 3 and Berberine.
Most people have higher carb tolerance in the morning.
It might be best to consume your biggest meal which contains complex carbohydrates (such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, oats) in the morning but still aim to make it balanced by adding protein and healthy fats.
Any form of chronic stress such as psychological, physical or toxic/environmental may affect weight due to Cortisol (stress hormone) release.
Cortisol will ‘pump’ glucose (sugar) in your blood stream as your body thinks you need it to manage the stressful situation – think running away from a tiger!
Finding ways of managing stress such as counselling, meditation, tai chi, yoga etc. may have an effect on weight management.
Under-exercising or over-exercising may have an effect on weight.
You need an adequate physical activity every day. Exercise helps build muscle, improves detoxification pathways and is an important adjunct element in weight loss strategies. Depending on overall lifestyle aim to exercise at least 3 times a week in addition to other physical activities such as walking.
Too much exercise without adequate recovery time (very individualised) may drive Cortisol (stress hormone) to increase chronically. High Cortisol is linked to blood sugar dis-regulation, which impairs weight loss.
Sleep helps regulate your metabolism, hormones linked to hunger/satiety and Cortisol levels. Ensure you are sleeping 7/8 hours per night, ideally between 10:00 pm – 7:00 am.
Adequate water intake is essential in weight loss strategies because it can be a natural appetite suppressant, it helps you detoxify, increases calorie burning and helps to metabolise carbs and fat.
Aim for at least 2 litres of filtered water per day.
If you are doing everything right, but you are still not losing weight, the reason might be that you have an underactive thyroid or imbalanced hormones – such as Cortisol, Insulin, Leptin and Ghrelin. For more information on the role of hormones in weight loss look on the Optimal Nutrition website.
To find out more about how to optimise your health or for more information regarding Nutritional Therapy and health you can visit Daisy Ilchovska’s website: Optimal Health Nutrition.