It’s mid-month. How are those New Year’s resolutions? As many of you work diligently to lose weight, the promise of a weight loss goal may seem to be elusive. While we all work to better ourselves, change our diets and improve our health, there are key concepts to weight loss that often get ignored.
Food Diversity — Quit eating the same foods
We all fall into a food rut. We eat the same breakfasts, lunch and dinners repeatedly. What we don’t realize is that this lack of food diversity can contribute to weight gain. Varying your foods creates a more complete nutritional profile, since each food has different nutritional strengths. Food diversity also improves your metabolic rate, since your gastrointestinal system is challenged by change and given a new set of probiotics with each new food. Probiotic diversity is becoming a hot concept in gut health and weight loss as we understand that each food item has a distinct set of probiotics that improve digestion and metabolism. (1) Eating the same foods over and over lowers your metabolic rate and prevents probiotic diversity.
Food Intolerances — Quit Eating the Wrong Foods
The concept of food allergies and food intolerances is now fairly well known, but many patients forget how powerful food intolerances can be. Eating foods that the body cannot handle slows digestion and lowers your metabolic rate. We each have a predisposition to certain food intolerances. This may be genetically rooted or the result of overindulgence in a particular food. There are so many patients that lose weight quickly when they learn about the foods they cannot digest. This does not mean everyone needs to be gluten-free or dairy-free. Instead, everyone on a weight loss mission should be clued into their own particular set of food intolerances. Elimination diets, lab tests and symptom diaries tracking changes with certain food groups are ways to help identify your food intolerances.
Boost Your Resting Metabolic Rate
In a recent news clip on New Year’s weight loss goals, I heard a trainer say the best weight loss tool is to “put the fork down.” Unfortunately, we all forget that age, sitting at a computer all day, and stress lowers your metabolic rate. Each decade, our metabolic rate drops 10-20 percent, requiring us to eat less and exercise more. (2) Boost your metabolic rate by engaging in 10 min bursts of activity throughout the day, adding resistance training to your workout and doubling your resting heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week. Don’t forget to eat less, cutting your previous portions in half and foregoing late night eating.
Your Hormones and Your Weight — Get Your Hormones Checked
So many women and men struggle with weight after 40, simply because the body shifts hormonally. I always think of 40 as a critical health age, setting the stage for a successful transition to middle age. Evaluate your hormones in your 40s at least every two years. Many of my patients find that they have sluggish thyroid glands or a build up of estrogen, preventing their weight loss goals. Some are leptin or insulin resistant, requiring specific diet and exercise regimens to help lose weight. Ask your doctor for a thorough hormone evaluation every 2-3 years. Young women would benefit from starting this process even earlier.
Sleep Your Way to Weight Loss
Altered sleep cycles sabotage weight loss. (3) We know that hormones, appetite and cravings are all dependent on a consistent and repetitive sleep cycle. Shift workers often struggle with weight loss since they have continued disruption of their circadian rhythms. My jet setting executives also struggle, since they may never be in one time zone for more than 2-3 days. Sleep regulates insulin, leptin and serotonin; all critical players in the weight debate. Create and demand a lifestyle that gives you at least 4-5 nights of a consistent sleep pattern.
Don’t give up on those New Year’s resolutions. Instead, find your blocks to weight loss and make 2014 your healthiest year ever.
Follow Tasneem Bhatia, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@drtazmd