What’s your metabolism blocker ?

shutterstock_559278454The first blog I wrote was about Five simple strategies to Lose Weight  was focussed on insulin resistance and how to approach weight loss for this common problem. Historically I haven’t really focussed on weight loss in clinic unless it was related to the client’s overall health. What I found was that more complex clients require more creative solutions in terms of adapting weight loss programs to suit them and their lifestyles. You need to get more specific about supporting their metabolism to really help them shed weight.

Different diets work for different people so whilst I generally recommend a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet I have had clients do well on a range of other programs. How do you know when you are on the right diet for you? Generally you find your weight stabilises. So my top tips regardless of which diet you are using are as follows;

  1. Food Intolerances – find out what foods you are reactive to and cut them out! Regardless of the diet you are following this will often result in a 2-3 kg loss and usually a smaller waist line due to the reduction in bloating. Often the side benefit is you feel better and are more energetic and better able to follow through on exercise and food preparation. Using Bio Compatability 500 Hair Test to determine what foods are compatibile with your body often speeds up this process.
  2. Hydration – Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and at least one litre for each hour of exercise. Nothing works well when you are dehydrated.
  3. Herbal Teas – Support your liver with some herbal teas which assist with metabolism. This can include green tea, dandelion and ginger. Have a cup of hot tea with a squeeze of lemon on rising it really helps your liver function.  Herbal teas also increase fluid intake and may reduce consumption of tea and coffee which often involve milk and sugar!!
  4. Fat Burning Exercise – Dietary changes will often produce slow and steady weight loss but if you really want to boot it up walking an hour a day is the key. The first 20 minutes you burn up the glycogen in your muscles and then your blood glucose but around 30-35 minutes you start burning fat. Consistently I have seen a significant improvement in results with adding regular walks to the program – in one case the client walked every morning and lost 7kg in 6 weeks.
  5. shutterstock_146334503Get enough protein  – how much is enough? To maintain your weight you need about 0.8g per kilo daily. BUT for weight loss you need to increase it to 1.2g per day. The protein is based on the desired weight so if you want to get to 60kg you need to eat 72g of protein a day. That is the equivilant of 2 eggs, a small can of tuna and a small chicken breast. Generally animal products are about 20-25% protein whereas plant based sources are around 10% so effectively you need to double up.
  6. Main meal at lunch  eating your big meal in the middle of the day gives you a chance to really fuel yourself well for an afternoon of work but also plenty of time to really digest the meal.
  7. Fasting  – this can be a good way to give your program a  boost. Usually I would recommend starting with a 12 hour fast between dinner and breakfast. For details on who would do well with longer periods of fasting have a look at my recent blog Is Fasting For Me .

I have had a few other tips from friends and colleagues – one of my favourites was to diet when your partner was away and empty the fridge so you can’t snack on unhealthy options. Do you have any tips on weight loss? Please share in the comments section below.

Christine Pope is an experienced Naturopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives. You can make appointments on 02 8084 0081 or through the website at www,elementalhealth.net.au .

Stuff the diet!

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Christmas celebrations can be challenging when you are trying to lose weight. It’s easy to forget how much you have eaten when you drink too much. So how do you get through the silly season without gaining another 2 kilos?

The challenges at this time of year are often considerable, partly due to the type of events and partly due to the change in routine.

Planning is key to surviving the festivities with your waist line intact. Figure out what sort of food or drink is on offer and plan accordingly. In fact if you are going to cocktail parties try and avoid arriving really hungry. It just makes the deep fried spring rolls and appetisers look more tempting. Plan a snack with some protein a couple of hours before the function. It could be a small tub of yoghurt, humuus with some rice crackers or veggie sticks or a large handful of nuts. This means you can wait until they bring out snacks which are a little less calorie laden and you won’t eat as many of them.

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Giving up drinking during the holidays can be tough, so try alternating a large sparkling water with your glass of bubbles or red wine instead. A couple of glasses of wine is probably not going to blow the calorie count in a week unless you are having two glasses a night! That works out at 2 bottles of wine which probably isn’t going to add a nice number to your scales. However for the week where you seem to have every night out try balancing it in the morning with a protein shake with some berries. Having a lower calorie but satisfying breakfast will help even out your consumption. Good options for protein shakes include Iso Why or Metagenics French Vanilla Shake as well as Vital Greens Protein for those who can’t tolerate dairy!

Changes to your routine, which often mean you work all day and then have functions in the evening, play havoc with your exercise routine. The worst thing is you really miss out on the regular endorphin boost of exercise as well as the fat burning. If you can’t get to the gym at least think about fitting a half hour walk into your day. I really enjoy coming back from a function and taking the dog up to the oval for a few laps in the coolest part of the day. Well mostly I enjoy it, last week I got attacked by Christmas beetles and got a bit freaked out!!

If all else fails consider a lovely detox and weight loss plan in January 2015!

Is stress making you fat?

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Many of us gain weight when we are stressed simply because we grab a quick fix of carbs to keep us going. Over the course of days and weeks this often adds up quickly to quite a few kilos. We know what we should be eating, but often we are just too tired or too busy to prepare healthy meals and snacks.

But for some people stress adds another nasty surprise with elevated cortisol resulting in weight gain around the stomach. If you usually put it on around the hips something else may be contributing.

Cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and fall during the day, being lowest at midnight. Typically if your cortisol is high you may also have problems sleeping as well. Cortisol has a wide range of functions but for weight gain it stimulates the release of glucose to maintain blood sugar levels. So elevated cortisol through the day can result in increased appetite – stress is making you hungrier (and fatter).

Getting control of your cortisol levels isn’t as simple as just balancing blood sugar. You need to deal with triggers which are creating the stress for you. Sometimes it isn’t the situation itself but how you respond to it that makes you stressed. Often what is stressful for one person is not a problem for someone else.

So once you identify the trigger try and think about some other ways to handle the situation. Take five deep breaths before you even think about reacting. If you still aren’t feeling calmer then a thirty minute walk (before you scream at your boss) which will reduce your cortisol levels and help you stay calmer. A regular meditative practice, such as yoga or indeed meditation can also be a good way to get your cortisol levels under control.

Christine runs regular Stress Managment Workshop with Cheryl Alderman at Be Ultimate . Alternatively make an appointment with Christine on 8084 0081 , her practice is at Elemental Health at St Ives, Sydney

5 simple strategies for losing weight

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What is stopping you losing weight?

This month I am looking at the major “obstacles” as I believe until you deal with these issues it is really hard to successfully lose weight and keep it off.

Insulin Resistance is one of the most common problems blocking weight loss and unfortunately yo yo dieting usually makes it worse. So how do you deal with insulin resistance?

First up be clear this is the problem – usually insulin resistance presents with a craving for sweet and fatty foods as well as dips in energy if you haven’t eaten for a few hours. This then makes you crave sweet food to boost your blood glucose perpetuating a nasty cycle. Your body then releases insulin to store the elevated glucose (often as fat) and this frequent activation can cause the pancreas, which produces insulin, to become less effective.

Strategies for improving your insulin resistance;

1. A low carbohydrate diet with modest amounts of protein at every meal. Low carbs doesn’t mean no carbs it just means that you need to reduce carbohydrates (such as bread and pasta) to 2-3 serves a day and increase the nutrient density of your meals with 6 serves of vegetables a day.  In addition try and eat some protein containing food every 4 hours to avoid dips in blood glucose – a handful of nuts or half a tub of yoghurt could be some easy options.

2. Regular exercise has consistently been shown to improve insulin sensitivity – 30 minutes of walking five times a week is enough to produce consistent benefit. Ideally you could add some resistance exercise to build muscle however just the walking will produce significant benefits and you don’t need special gear!

3. Supplements – this area is a little tricky as it can depend on your specific symptoms. A good base is a multi vitamin and good quality fish oil (1000mg).  If sweet cravings are an issue then chromium is often indicated. Australian soils are old and depleted so it is hard to get it from your diet. The other key nutrient is magnesium and if you also get cramps or muscle aches and pains or sleep badly this is a good signal that you may require it – generally at least 400mg a day is a good level.

4. Stress less – find a way to start managing the stress in your life as this is a major trigger. It can lead to abdominal obesity and inflammation thereby aggravating your symptoms. Ideal ways to manage stress could include a regular yoga class, meditation tapes, journalling, walking on the beach or simply meeting with a friend.

5. Avoid CRAP foods – Carbonated , Refined, Additive laden and Processed foods. If you look on the back of the packet and you don’t know what things are, then basically its not food.  Trans fats in particular are very damaging to your arteries and these substances are often used to preserve foods so best to avoid them!

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental health at St Ives. If you need help with managing your weight you can make an appointment on 8084 0081.