Weight Loss Recommendations

*Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D,

Do not worry as much about the number of calories you consume as about eating the proper foods. Rotate your foods, and be sure to eat a variety of foods. Eat meals that consist of a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and some fat. Proteins can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 30 percent and help to balance the release of insulin by prompting secretion of the pancreatic hormone glucagons. Protein-induced glucagons mobilizes fats from the tissues in which it is stored, thus aiding in weight loss. By eating balanced meals, you get more steady blood sugar levels and the ability to burn stored body fat for long-term weight loss.

Eat more complex carbohydrates that also offer protein, such as tofu, lentils, plain baked potatoes (no toppings, except for vegetables), sesame seeds, beans, brown rice, whole grains, skinless turkey or chicken breast, and white fish (no shellfish). Poultry and fish should be broiled or baked, never fried.

Eat fresh fruits and an abundance of raw vegetables. Have one meal each day that consists entirely of vegetables and fruits. Use low-calorie vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, green beans, kale, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach, and turnips. Low-calorie, low-carbohydrate fruits include apples, cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon. The following are higher in calories and should be consumed in moderation: bananas, cherries, corn, figs, grapes, green peas, hominy, pears, pineapple, sweet potatoes, white rice, and yams.

Eat foods raw, if possible. If foods are heated, they should be baked, broiled, steamed, or boiled. Never consume fried or greasy foods.

Drink six to eight glasses of liquids daily. Herbal teas and steam-distilled water with trace minerals (such as ConcenTrace from Trace Minerals Research) added are good. Taken before meals, they help to reduce your appetite. They are nonfattening fillers that also help to dilute toxins and flush them out of the body. Herbal teas mixed with unsweetened fruit juice are very satisfying low-calorie drinks and are also very filling. Use these between meals and when a desire for sweets hits you. Drink sparkling water mixed with fruit juice in place of sodas.

Pay particular attention to the fat in your diet. Some fat is necessary, but it must be the right kind. Avocados, olives, olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, and wheat and corn germ are sources of “good” fats that contain essential fatty acids. Use these foods in moderation – no more than twice a week. Eliminate saturated fats from the diet completely. Avoid animal fat, found in butter, cream, gravies, ice cream, mayonnaise, meat, rich dressings, and whole milk. Do not eat any fried foods.

Consume the following foods in moderation: apples, brown rice, buckwheat, chestnuts, corn, grapes, oatmeal, white potatoes, and yellow vegetables. These foods contain small amounts of essential fatty acids, but they should not be overused.

If you must eat snacks occasionally to ward off hunger, make sure they are healthy. Good choices include:

-celery and carrot sticks
-low-fat cottage cheese topped with fresh applesauce and walnuts
-unsweetened gelatin made with fruit juice in place of sugar and water
-natural sugar-free whole-grain muffins
-freshly made unsalted popcorn
-rice cakes topped with nut butter (but not peanut butter)
-watermelon, fresh fruit, or frozen fruit Popsicles
-unsweetened low-fat yogurt topped with granola or nuts and fresh fruit

Do not eat any white flour products, salt, white rice, or processed foods. Also, avoid fast food restaurants and all junk foods.

Do not consume sweets such as soda, pastries, pies, cakes, doughnuts, or candy. Omit all form of refined sugar (including white sugar, brown sugar, and corn sweetener) from the diet. Sugar triggers the release of insulin, which then activates enzymes that promote the passage of fat from the bloodstream into the fat cells.

Avoid eating before bedtime and during the night. Supplementation with melatonin may help with this. “Night eaters” often have low melatonin levels.

Use wheatgrass to calm the appetite. This is a very nutritious fuel from whole food that assists metabolic functions. Kelp is also beneficial.

Do not consume alcohol in any form, including beer and wine. Alcohol not only adds calories, but it inhibits the burning of fat from fat deposits. It can also interfere with your judgment, so you may find yourself eating things you ordinarily would not.

Use powdered barley malt sweetener (found in health food stores) instead of sugar. This is highly concentrated but not dangerous. It contains only 3 calories per gram (approximately 2 teaspoons). This sweetener is also beneficial for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia.

Use extra fiber daily. Guar gum and psyllium husks are good sources. Take fiber with a large glass of liquid one-half hour before meals. NOTE: Always take supplemental fiber separately from other supplements and medications.

Move your bowels daily. A clean colon is important in stabilizing your weight.

Keep a diet diary to help you keep track of what you eat, the caloric and fat content of what you eat, and what triggers your eating. This can help you to pinpoint and eliminate trigger factors (such as allergies or depression), as well as let you see if you are eating too much of the wrong types of foods.

Be active. Take a brisk walk every day before breakfast or dinner to burn off fat. Make a habit of using the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise increases the metabolic rate as well as burning off calories.

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Be sure to get regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, bicycling, or swimming, AND do exercises for strength and flexibility, such as yoga or stretching exercises. Exercise is better than an overly strict diet for maintaining your health and controlling your weight. It is the best way to rid the body of fat and to maintain good muscle tone. Be sure to drink water during exercise to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps. CAUTION: If you are over 35 and/or have been sedentary for some time, consult your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

If you have been sedentary for some time, try exercising in water. Water aerobics are excellent for those who are overweight or who find running or walking difficult. They are also good for arthritis sufferers. Water aerobics tone the body and strengthen the heart without straining the joints. Start by taking a class at a local fitness center or YMCA. Sedentary individuals should consult their doctor before starting an exercise program.

Change your eating habits. This is extremely important not only for losing weight, but for maintaining weight loss. Begin with the following:

  • Always eat breakfast. It jump-starts the metabolism at the beginning of the day. Eat small but nutrient-dense meals every three to four hours throughout the day to keep your metabolism stable, to maintain a full feeling, and to avoid wide swings in blood sugar. Good choices might include a 2-ounce portion of protein food (beans, an egg, poultry) with ½ cup fresh salad dressed with apple cider vinegar; or ½ cup of steamed vegetable with some type of grain (1/2 cup brown rice or a piece of whole- or multi-grain bread).

  • Don’t skip meals. This only intensifies hunger and food cravings.

  • Make your main meal lunch, not dinner. Some people have had excellent results consuming no food after 3 pm.

  • At meals, put less food on your plate. Chew slowly. Stop eating as soon as you are no longer hungry – don’t wait until you feel full.

  • Try eating a small amount (200 calories or so) of complex carbohydrate prior to having a high-protein meal. This will help supply tryptophan to the brain, which in turn helps to reduce food cravings.

If you get the urge to eat, put on a tight belt. This will make you uncomfortable and remind you that you want to lose that excel fat.

Learn to ride out your food cravings. They peak and subside like ocean waves. When you get an urge to eat, tell yourself that you can satisfy the craving if you REALLY want to. Then wait 10 minutes. This ensures that your eating is conscious, not compulsive. Keep in mind that most cravings last only a few minutes. Try doing something to distract yourself. Also remember that food addition is the same as any other addiction: That first bite only makes you want more. If you ultimately decide that you really do want that food, then decide how much is reasonable and enjoy it. REALLY enjoy it. Take one bite and savor the taste. Eat slowly.

Find out what causes your cravings. A craving for salt, chocolate, or sugar may actually be an indication of an underlying condition such as a mineral deficiency, food allergy, hypogrlycemia, or hypothyroidism. If you get a strong urge to snack while you’re watching television, try reading a book, drinking a large glass of liquid, or taking a walk instead. If your cravings are triggered by where you are, move. If you’re in the kitchen, go outside to relax, take a walk, or do yard work. If you’re in the mall, avoid the food court.

If you are always tired in midmorning or midday, are always craving carbohydrates, and are always hungry, you may be consuming too many simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include refined sugars and sweet fruits; complex carbohydrates, which include whole grains, peas, and beans, provide more long-term energy. Protein is another long-term source of energy.

Frequent bloating and water retention may be a result of excess insulin production, which makes it almost impossible to burn fat. Try lowering your carbohydrate intake and increasing your consumption of protein and fat. Excess sodium intake can also cause water retention.

Consider having yourself tested for food allergies. Many people who have eliminated allergenic foods from their diets have stabilized their weight quickly.

Do not chew gum. Chewing gum starts the digestive juices flowing and makes you fell hungry.

Do not grocery shop on an empty stomach. You will be tempted to buy forbidden foods and will often buy more food than you need or can use before it loses its freshness.

Avoid crash dieting. A very low calorie diet causes the metabolism to slow down, resulting in fewer calories being burned. Instead, increase your activity level. This will raise your metabolic rate, burn fat, and help prevent the loss of lean tissue.

To maintain weight loss, calculate how may calories you need daily by multiplying your weight by 10. Then add 30 percent (about one-third) of that amount to the result. Assuming a moderate activity level, consuming anything less than that number of calories should allow you to lose weight. This is the number of calories you can consume daily without gaining the weight back.