(How to lose weight)
Most weight loss plans focus on the concept of reducing calories consumed and exercising more. This is a good fundamental concept but often does not work as desired. The basic concept is that weight gain (or loss) is tied to the balance of burning calories vs consuming calories. This is correct. But it's tricky because reducing calorie intake triggers your body to reduce burning of calories.
I've personally gained weight while cutting back my consumption and I've lost weight while "pigging out". What was the key? In my opinion it's very important what you eat. Some foods will encourage your body to store energy as fat ("junk" food), while other foods (vegetables and fruits) can be consumed in massive quantities and still lose weight at the same time.
Here are the key elements in losing weight / maintaining a healthy weight:
Eating right is perhaps the most important aspect of maintaining a healthy weight. This means eating mostly fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water. Avoid excessive consumption of grains and grain products (like bread and pasta).
Moderate exercise is very important for good health and maintaining a healthy weight. Whatever exercise you are getting now, do just a bit more.
Resting Energy Expenditure
As we age our resting energy expenditure decreases making it more difficult to keep off extra pounds. Fucoxanthin can help increase resting energy expenditure (but it's not a "magic bullet" and isn't a weight loss plan in and of itself). (fucoxanthin comes from seaweed) A research study of 110 people showed that under controlled conditions people reducing calorie intake and on an exercise program resulted in weight loss (3 lbs in 16 weeks), in the exact same conditions (same diet, same exercise program) but also taking fucoxanthin this same program results in weight loss of 15 lbs in 16 weeks.
Imbalanced hormone levels can leave you feeling fatigued and lacking the motivation to do more. Without "energy" it's difficult to find the motivation to exercise or stick to a diet. As we age several hormone levels drop dramatically. Because hormone balance is critically important you should obtain blood or salivia testing to find out your hormone levels rather than blindly taking supplements. You do not want to raise levels of hormones too much or throw them out of balance. If you are over 40 consider supplementing DHEA and pregnenolone. Men (and women) are often low on testosterone, if you are low on testosterone there are several natural approaches that may help raise your testosterone levels, if not a doctor can prescribe supplemental testosterone. Women (and men) are often "estrogen dominant", this means too much estrogen compared to progesterone. Surprisingly this can occur even with too low of estrogen! Do testing and use a progesterone cream if you are out of balance.
Thyroid hormones are very important to maintaining body temperature and metabolism. Anyone that is hypothyroid (too low of thyroid function, usually indicated by a high TSH level) probably has a body temperature lower than normal and isn't burning as many calories as they should. Have your TSH, T3 and T4 levels tested. A cheap but effective test is to take your basal temperature upon waking for a few weeks. Don't just blindly believe your doctor if they say your TSH (and thus thyroid) is within "normal" range. Research it and learn what a healthy level is and listen to your own body.
A lifetime of bombarding your body with simple sugars can leave you "insulin resistant" (which prevents cells from utilizing glucose). Cut back on the carbohydrates and especially simple sugars if your glucose level and/or your Hemoglobin A1C levels are too high.
Consuming adequate fiber (a lot more than the typical American diet provides!) can help in several ways. Eating fiber will help fill you up without extra calories. When fiber is consumed with a meal carbohydrate absorption is slowed and spikes in blood sugar are reduced. Oats and barley are particularly good fiber sources ("beta-glucans"). Try to consume at least five grams of fiber with each meal.
The brain needs serotonin to feel satisfied. Without adequate serotonin your brain will tend to signal a desire for more food. Serotonin is primarily formed from tryptophan.
A number of supplements attempt to encourage weight loss by manipulating one factor or another of fat metabolism. These usually have limited success because they don't address all aspects of fat metabolism. An african plant, Irvingia gabonensis, has recently been studied. Irvingia functions via:
- Amylase inhibition - amylase is an enzyme that converts starch to sugar during digestion. By inhibiting this less sugar is absorbed.
- Irvingia increases adiponectin levels, thus enhancing insulin sensitivity.
- Glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase inhibition - thus decreasing the conversion of blood glucose to triglycerides (and thus reducing the creation of additional fat).
- Lower C-reactive protein levels - C-reactive protein binds to leptin preventing leptin from binding to leptin receptors. Leptin needs to bind to it's receptors so that it can signal to turn off appetite and promote breakdown of triglycerides.
An Irvingia study showed after ten weeks average fat loss of 18.4% and waist reduction of 16.2% with no modification of diet or lifestyle.
Fucoxanthin increases thermogenesis (increased metabolism burns fat).
Even these wonderful plants should be consumed with care as they can induce too large of a drop in cholesterol levels and significant reduction of blood glucose levels. These "side effects" may be very beneficial for some people, but they should be closely monitored to prevent unhealthy excessive changes.