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tofudebeest2We all want to be slim and look attractive. Weight loss is a powerful motivation for making dietary and life-style changes. However focussing on weight-loss and calories can have disastrous consequences and frequently leads to yoyo-dieting and ultimately weight gain. It can be achieved at the detriment of muscle mass, hormonal balance and immune integrity making it a potentially obsessional and non-supportive aim. Fluctuating water retention levels linked to sleep, stress, hormones and hydration can make weight watching positively demoralising.

 

   

Limiting weight loss to the desirable side effect of healthier habits and focussing on how we feel will ensure instead that we avoid the common traps laid by the unhealthy pursuit of weight loss. The motivation to carry on rather than counting the days to that celebratory binge is in itself a side effect of health, making it less about will power and more about mind set and choices.

A key element here is metabolism. By metabolism I don’t mean the rate but the way in which each cell is able to power up. The greater its efficiency, the healthier and clearer minded we feel. Additionally our immune system is alert without being hyper, ageing is slowed down and cancer is much less likely to take a hold.

An efficient cellular metabolism is one that can easily burn fat. The trouble is that this natural ability is easily inhibited by the consumption of excess sugar and by anything else that damages mitochondria (the units in the cells where energy is created and thought to have evolved from bacteria).  

The following will support mitochondria and a healthier metabolism:

  • A cleaner less toxic environment
  • Organic food
  • Food timing and circadian rhythm
  • Quality sleep: a minimum of 7 hours per night preferably in total darkness
  • Exercise: best to combine formal exercise with increased movement by walking more, getting up regularly from your chair and taking the stairs whenever possible
  • Overall sugar and carbohydrate reduction: the aim is to limit grains and potatoes and avoid sugar altogether
  • Limiting protein consumption to a specific amount per body weight (on average1.5g/pound but this depends on activity levels, age, sex and overall health): protein can have similar detrimental effects to sugar and the reason why very low carb/high protein diets are not particularly healthy even if they achieve fast weight loss.
  • Increasing healthy fat consumption: avocadoes, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, olive oil, flax, chia, eggs (yolk), oily fish

However to really push your body into fat burning I recommend intermittent "fasting"

What makes fasting so powerful yet easier than you expect?

Historically, fasting was regarded as dangerous and considered evidence of an eating disorder. Yet recent science has demonstrated its poweful effect on our overall health. Of course this must be qualified and it is important to understand how to eat and when to fast for maximum benefits and comfort. Nonetheless, it is a proven method to slow ageing, reduce risks of cancer and limit the ravages caused by chronic inflammation (such as auto-immune diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer's, etc.).

Most people are afraid of being hungry and think that fasting is difficult. What is difficult is to improve metabolism when it has already been disrupted by years of eating too frequently and too much sugar and/or processed foods. The transitory period is what makes most people feel overwhelmed. For this reason, I recommend a very gentle and gradual approach with short periods of fasting (12 to 16 hours to start with) and a diet that already encourages fat burning. This may yield small weight loss to start with. However it will pave the way for improved metabolism and the mind-set that comes from breaking our dependence on sugar/carbohydrates and constant eating.

Fasting is unique in the way that it trains the mitochondria to modify their energy sourcing. We have sugar reserves available in the cells and the liver that have to be used up first. This takes 9 to 12 hours on average. When those run-out the mitochondria have no other choice but to look for alternatives. They will provide protein needs by using close-by old or aberrant cells and source energy from fat reserves. It is thought that an average (not over- weight) person has 40 days’ worth of fat reserves. This is a lot of energy yet fatigue and lack of energy is one of the most common complain I receive from my clients. Think of a large tank-truck carrying petrol yet running out of fuel on the motorway…

If done regularly, periods of 16 to 24 hours of “fasting” can positively but gently improve metabolism and lose fat without damaging lean tissues. The overall energy consumption can be the same as long as longer periods without food are built into your weekly routine. This can easily be achieved by regularly skipping breakfast and delaying lunch. We are physiologically programmed for night time feeding, making the benefits of fasting greater during the day. It is also easier to delay eating during the day and in this way you can be asleep for the first half of your fast. 

Most foods negate the effects of fasting, but there are fast assimilating nutrient-dense exceptions.These are:

  • Whey protein
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, rocket, watercress, etc.)
  • Chlorella and spirulina
  • Green juices made from celery cucumber, spinach etc.
  • Blueberrie

These foods will nourish your body without taxing your digestion and enhance the anti-inflammatory and metabolic modulating effects of fasting. They also increase antioxidant defences against reactive oxygen species (ROS) which tend to accumulate during fasting and exercise and are by-products of fat breakdown and detox. Those are responsible for the undesirable side-effects of fasting such as irritability, headaches and loss of motivation. The more they can be neutralised the better we feel while fasting. 

What makes these foods complimentary to fasting are the following properties:

  • They are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients
  • They target the same genes as fasting (SIRT 1 and 2)
  • They induce similar effects to those you get from fasting

Having small servings once or twice in a period of 16 to 24 hours of whey protein, green vegetables (or green juices) and (blue)berries will increase the weight loss benefits from your fast,  prevent feeling hungry and teach your body to burn fat. Providing you eat for a healthy metabolism the rest of the time, as little as a 16 hours fast twice a week will make in road into your waist line. 

Weight loss is really that easy!

 

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