Whether you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight or to shed those extra pounds and keep them off, with the overload of information and misinformation out there, it can be very difficult to know the right steps to take. The good news is that it is never too late to improve your health and wellbeing through healthy weight management.
Dr. David H. Rahm, VitaMedica’s founder and medical director, recommends the following dietary & lifestyle tips to help you slim down for good.
Tend Your Microbial Garden
Did you know that the trillions of bacteria living in the human body play a significant role in your weight? Recent studies have shown that the type and variety of bacteria in your gut, known as the human microbiome, influence not only your physique but also your food cravings and even your moods. Just like proper care of a flower garden yields a beautiful bounty, tending your microbial garden can improve your mood, immunity, digestive health and your figure.
If you’ve struggled to lose weight in the past, an imbalanced microbiome may be to blame. Poor diet, lack of exercise and use of antibiotics can all throw off the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut and stymie your efforts to lose weight.
That’s why Dr. Rahm has launched LeanBiotics®, the first ever line of nutraceuticals to address weight loss by modifying your microbiome. The LeanBiotics Healthy Weight Loss Program includes the LeanBiotics Cleanse, Probiotic, LeanMeal RS Meal Replacement and accompanying guidebook to help balance your microbiome for superior, sustainable results.
Add More Fiber to Your Diet
Studies have shown that getting an adequate amount of fiber every day can greatly aid in both initial weight loss and keeping it off over the long term. Fiber-rich foods positively affect weight management by increasing satiety (sense of fullness) and altering the secretion of hormones related to food digestion. In addition, fiber is important for heart and digestive health. Yet a vast majority of Americans are consuming less than half the recommended intake of 25-38 grams of fiber per day.
Most of us are familiar with the terms “soluble” and “insoluble” fiber, but less well known is a third type of dietary fiber called resistant starch. Whereas soluble fiber acts as a bulking agent and insoluble fiber keeps you regular, resistant starch “resists” digestion in the small intestine and instead moves into the large intestine where it is fermented by gut bacteria to form beneficial short chain fatty acids. Because this type of starch is not digested it does not affect blood sugar levels. Resistant starch may also help to burn fat and lead to lower fat accumulation.
Legumes, including beans, peas and lentils just to name a few, are a great source of fiber as well as protein, complex carbs and many vitamins & minerals. Legumes can be stir-fried, sautéed, baked, steamed, roasted, added to soups and salads, or just enjoyed fresh. LeanBiotics™ Prebiotic is a fiber supplement that is formulated with all three types of fiber to feed your gut bacteria and promote a healthy weight. Three servings provide 14% of your recommended daily intake.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein not only plays an important role in a healthy diet but is your ally in a weight loss program. Protein is more satiating than carbs or fat, which keeps you feeling full longer between meals. Modestly increasing protein intake, while controlling total calories, improves body composition, facilitates fat loss and improves body weight maintenance after weight loss. Consuming dietary protein at double the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) protects lean body mass while increasing loss of fat mass during short-term weight loss. Higher protein diets are associated with increased thermogenesis and retention of muscle mass.
A diet that features more protein and complex carbs has been shown to aid both weight loss and weight maintenance. It turns out when compared to other types of diets (less protein, more simple carbs), adhering to a high protein diet is easier for dieters to follow and maintain.
If you’re struggling to get sufficient protein in your diet, consider taking a whey protein supplement. LeanBiotics™ LeanMeal RS™ is a meal replacement drink mix that provides 18 grams of whey protein and 8 grams of Fibersol-2 (fiber) per serving, providing a one-two punch in helping you with weight loss.
Avoid Added Sugars & Stop Using Artificial Sweeteners
The number once source of added sugars in our diet is sweetened beverages like soft drinks. These beverages can easily add up to 500 calories a pop, contributing to weight gain over time. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that consuming less sugar can have a significant effect on reducing body weight. If that wasn’t enough, drinking a diet soda isn’t any better as the artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks can really do a number on your microbiome, making it that much more difficult to lose weight. If you’re thirsty, opt for a glass of sparkling water and liven up with lemon, cucumber or mint.
Track Everything You Eat
Successfully slimming down, and sustaining that weight loss, is about 90% diet. “Diet” in these terms simply refers to what you eat every day. And the best way to know what comprises your diet is to track your daily food intake. Seeing in black and white exactly what you’re currently eating and how much can be an eye-opening experience. A number of websites and mobile apps specialize in weight management with tools to help track your calories, nutrients, water intake and physical exercise.
Likewise, spend some time learning to read food labels so you’re aware of added sugars and portion sizes (many single-serve items are labeled as providing two or more portions). Sweetened beverages, candies, chips and baked goods are obvious culprits. But excess sugar, salt and calories are also hiding in less likely places such as canned goods, breads, sauces and condiments.
Becoming more aware of your eating habits and what’s in your food is a good place to start whether you’re trying to actively lose weight or just eat healthier.
Learn How to Cook
As more women juggle work and child care, less time is available to prepare meals. In the process, many young adults have grown up with limited cooking skills, relying instead on prepackaged processed foods and eating out. It is easy to blame the current obesity epidemic on fast food, but sit-down meals at even smaller chain and independent restaurants are equally as culpable.
Preparing meals at home not only saves money, but helps you to better control portion size and the amount of calories, fat, sugar and sodium. The key is to replace nutrient-deficient processed foods with a wide variety of high-quality, wholesome options. Set aside a little time on the weekend to create a stockpile of healthy snacks you can quickly grab throughout the work week for a tasty and satisfying alternative to vending machine snacks and fast food. Better for you and your wallet!
Homemade soups in particular are ideal for several reasons. If you make a batch on a Sunday, then you can eat soup for lunch during the week and freeze any leftovers. Broth-based soups made with beans and vegetables help fill you up but are lower in calories and fat than cream-based soups. Most store bought soups are loaded in sodium. By making them yourself using a low-sodium broth, you can keep the sodium content at a reasonable level. Check out our 15 Favorite Soup Recipes that are easy to make, healthy and delicious!
When you’re really strapped for time, LeanMeal RS Meal Replacement Drink is a well-balanced shake that is high in protein and fiber while low in sugar and calories.
Get Your Sleep
Are your ghrelin and leptin levels out of whack? If you’re not getting enough sleep the answer is likely yes, and that has big implications for weight loss. Ghrelin and leptin are hormones that regulate hunger in ways such that a lack of sleep increases ghrelin, stimulating hunger and increasing fat retention, while also decreasing leptin, the appetite suppressant hormone. The result is that even when you’re eating well and exercising you will still have a harder time losing weight if you are not well rested.
The increase of ghrelin when you’re sleep deprived doesn’t just stimulate your appetite, but makes you crave unhealthy starchy, sweet and salty foods specifically. This may account for the general observation that people with poor sleep habits are more likely to be overweight. Moreover, there is evidence that a consistent sleep schedule of 8 to 8.5 hours per night is associated with lower body fat.
Develop Good Habits
The bottom line is losing weight, keeping it off and improving your overall health all depend on creating good habits. From tracking your diet and exercise to upping your water intake to getting enough sleep, when you set your intention and use all the tools at your disposal to stick to it you’re taking control of the situation in a positive way. This is the difference that makes or breaks your willpower to carry on in the face of obstacles which, let’s face it, will always rear their ugly head.
So exactly how long does it take to form healthy habits? Contrary to popular belief that 21 days will do the trick, the time it takes for any given behavior to become habit can vary widely from as few as 18 days to as many as 254, but the average is 66 days. While that may sound discouraging, it is really just about 2 months, not that long at all.
Remember that we fall back on our habits—both good and bad—during times of stress, so the sooner you start making changes like cutting back on alcohol and not skipping breakfast, for example, the better your chances of reaching your weight loss goals.
Get Social & Stay Motivated
Losing weight can be challenge and going it alone can make it more difficult. There’s no downside in relying on a spouse, friend, sister or mother to keep you accountable and motivated. Statistics prove that your chances of sticking to your exercise routine and reaching your weight loss goals are significantly better when you have a support system. Whether you join a gym, a social media workout group, or just get together with a buddy or two, find a network and utilize it.
Get Moving Every Day
All this is emphasis on diet is not to take away from the importance of exercise. Getting enough physical activity is vital for cardiovascular and cognitive health, keeping muscles strong and building bone density, while also reducing your risk for depression and disease. When you’re trying to lose weight, exercise helps burn calories and boosts your metabolism. Furthermore, studies have indicated that staying active may encourage beneficial bacteria in your microbiome to thrive.
Just as with eating better, getting more exercise doesn’t have to be an overwhelming proposition when you break it down into manageable chunks. And also similar to eating healthier, improving your physical fitness is more about quality than quantity. Incorporate a variety of activities throughout the week that include aerobic/endurance exercises to work your heart and lungs, resistance/strength training to build lean muscle mass and bone density, and flexibility/balance exercises for stretching, stability and coordination.
And here’s one more tip that is free and free in calories!
Increase Your Water Intake
How often have you wished for a magic potion that would help you lose weight – something safe, with no side-effects, and of course, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? It turns out this secret weapon may have been under our noses the whole time, and we may just need to have more of it. Simply stated, to see results, we may just need to drink more water.
Last updated January 3, 2017
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.