This January Many people are thinking about weight loss you are not alone. Its when many try to shed a few pounds with the aim to have health and happiness. For some, this is a regular New Year event, the main reason being making a positive change in their life or a variety of reasons. Maintaining cosmetic appearances should not be the main reason to pay attention to your weight. Sometimes a diagnosis of obesity, heart condition, diabetes or arthritis may be the impetus for change.
In the UK 77% of men and 63% of women are either overweight or obese. In the last 20 years obesity has risen by 16%. Being overweight dramatically increases the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (particularly osteoarthritis), cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. There is much evidence to support a strong link that carrying excessive fat around the waistline triggers long-term inflammatory processes throughout the body. It also increases insulin resistance, abnormalities in blood fats and build-up of fat in the liver.
Being overweight isn’t caused by single type of food or a lack of willpower. Healthy choices are not always easy to make. Eating out, ready meals and larger portion sizes also make it more difficult. Our lifestyle has become more sedentary, we are less likely to walk, run or cycle.
Which type of diet is best ?
New diets are constantly being lunch throughout the year. Each diet is promoted to be the diet to end all diets. Unfortunately, most of these are short term solutions, can be very restrictive and not designed to achieve long-term success. Most diets either restrict calories or minimise carbohydrate (including sugars) and fat intake.
- Calorie restriction can be highly effective and can improve metabolic imbalances caused by obesity e.g. inflammation, insulin resistance, raised blood fats and high blood pressure. Most research studies use around 20%-30% reduction in calorie intake from the baseline. However, in long-term weight loss there appears to be no difference between diets low in fat compared to diets low in carbohydrates (and sugars).
- Fasting can make calorie restriction easier for some people. There are many versions of a fasting diet. They include;
- Periodic fasting : limiting a diet to 500-750 calories a day for 2 to 5 days every month, or every couple of months.
- Intermittent fasting: commonly known as the “5: 2 diet” recommends 500- 750 calories a day for 2 days every week. OR “the 16:8” fasting overnight (13-16 hours) every 24 hours. the latter does not involve restricting calories but simply narrows the window in which calories are consumed.
We can’t all just get Thin ! There are many functional imbalances that prevent the best attempts at weight loss. These include:
- Imbalances in the gut absorption and digestion
- Problems with blood sugar control
- Thyroid gland problems e.g. hypothyroidism
- Disruption in adrenal function, causing imbalances in various hormones
- Imbalances in sex hormones
- Imbalance in the brain chemistry
- Problems with appetite controlling chemicals
- High toxic load
Ultimately, the most effective diet is one that the individual find easiest to stick with in the long term. Usually, this will be a low glycaemic load (low-GL) diet. Carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and therefore there is a slower rise in blood sugar and insulin resulting in lower and consistent sugar levels.
On their own dietary measures are rarely sufficient to manage weight loss. Diet with exercise is far more effective both for short and long-term weight management. Evidence suggests that regular aerobic type exercise or resistance training plus walking approximately 10,000 steps a day. Exercise not only burns calories, but also releases endorphins which improves food cravings and insulin sensitivity. Adequate hydration is also crucial to achieving a healthy weight. Lack of sleep leads to ghrelin hormone production stimulating hunger and suppresses leptin hormone which controls appetite. In one study women who slept less than 7 hours and night had a 30% higher likelihood to add 33 lbs over a 16 year period.
Without doubt supplements are essential for healthy weight loss. These include; multi-vitamins, B-vitamins, minerals, fish oil, green tea, probiotics, L-Theanine and others.