Natural Weight Loss
Weight loss "programs" do not seem to work for many people. The question, then, is how to lose weight without depriving oneself of food enjoyment, and at the same time making sure one is properly nourished. In general, if one takes in less calories per day than current intake, then one will lose weight, but what is the best way to do this? Maintaining balance in the body whether related to emotions, an endocrine (hormonal) imbalance, digestive or adrenal issues, chronic inflammation and/or detoxification is important. The old adage of less calories in versus more calories out does not work for everyone. For example if one is gluten sensitive or has food allergies and keeps eating foods he/she are sensitive to, that situation can send negative messaging throughout one's body contributing further to weight gain and illness.
- Favor whole, natural (and preferably organic) foods.
- Avoid refined foods
- Avoid fast food, fried food, bad oils
- Try healthy snacks
- Drink lots of water, green tea, etc
- Drink water before meals
- Get a minimum of 15-20 minutes exercise daily.
- Limit computer / TV time.
- Try yoga.
- Get enough sleep
- Keep a routine.
- Try acupuncture
Also, all sugars are not equal. For example, consuming simple sugar (such as white refined sugar) is ready-made glucose and therefore does not require digestion to access the sugar molecules. Often this amount of available glucose is not needed, so the excess glucose gets converted to fat.
The largest source of high calorie intake for americans now is through ingesting high fructose corn syrup, loaded into soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks and hidden in almost all processed foods. Fructose can cause even greater weight gain as compared to other sugars in that it does not appropriately stimulate insulin production, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone"), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
Causes of Obesity
While there are known genetic and hormone imbalances that cause obesity, there are really a wide variety of possible causes and combinations of contributing reasons.
- Poor diet and eating habits. Fast foods, not taking time for well balanced meals, snacking, eating to calm unhappiness or nervousness - these all contribute to being unable to maintain appropriate weight.
- Sedentary lifestyle. With more time on the computer and in front of the TV and less time playing outside, the onset of obesity is becoming a greater problem among younger and younger children.
- Impaired movement. Conditions such as arthritis may make it hard to have enough daily activity.
- Pregnancy. Women correctly gain weight during pregnancy, but may have trouble losing it after childbirth.
- Environmental pollution. Pollution in the environment can contribute to hormone imbalances leading to obesity.
- Home/work temperature. If it is too hot or too cold, your body burns calories to keep you cool or warm. Thus, too-high air conditioning or too-high heat can be a contributing factor.
- Sleep. Unless you get at least seven hours sleep nightly, hormone changes may take place that affect your weight.
- Circadian Rhythms. Researchers believe that disruptions to daily waking/sleeping rhythms caused by artificial light, irregular meals and sleep times increase risk of obesity.
- Medications. Some medications such as steroids, antidepressants, contraceptives and drugs for diabetes and blood pressure lead to increased weight, particularly if diet and exercise are not adjusted appropriately.
- Health conditions. Sometimes there are medical causes such as Cushing's syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome and others.
- Race and age. Hispanic americans and middle aged people are more susceptible to being over-weight.
Self Help Guide
Pay attention to all of the causes and contributing factors above. Sometimes adjusting your lifestyle with respect to these can make the difference.
The goal here is to move away from processed foods - anything that comes already prepared in a box, jar or can, and move to more fresh fruits and vegetables. A reasonable goal is to have 2/3 of each meal be colored (green, red, yellow) vegetables and 1/3 be meats and starches.
- Make sure your diet consists of primarily whole, natural (and preferably organic) foods.
- Avoid refined foods (white sugar, pasta, rice and bread for example).
- Avoid fast food, fried food, bad oils (transfatty acids). For salad dressing, use a high quality first cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar for example. Making a salad dressing with fresh herbs added is delicious. avoid using vegetable oils such as canola oil.
- Prepare daily snacks for yourself that satisfy your palate but do not add a lot of calories such as fruits, nuts and seeds.
- Drink plenty of filtered spring water, mineral water, or freshly brewed or iced herbal tea or green tea each day.
- Drinking a glass of water before meals reduces your hunger so that it is easier to eat less.
- Green and Oolong teas may help promote weight loss.
- Consider the food and nutrients, listed below, that help reduce your appetite.
Exercise is essential. It doesn't have to be aggressive, and should be in accord with your overall health. But daily, regular, moderate building up to vigorous exercise not only helps you lose weight, but is even more important than diet for all the side effects of too much weight - problems with heart, respiration, joints, etc.
- Try to exercise daily (at least 15-20 minutes of vigorous exercise which can include walking, hiking, biking, dancing, aerobics, jogging, etc.)
- Limit the amount of sedentary time you spend in front of the computer or TV.
- If you experience movement impairment due to conditions like arthritis, taking a yoga class for seniors can be very helpful.
Surprisingly, scientists have determined that not getting enough sleep is, all by itself, a contributor to inability to maintain reasonable weight.
- Get a good night's sleep to enable the body to repair and restore itself.
- Try to keep a regular daily routine of daily activity and sleep patterns. Disrupted circadian rhythms can contribute to obesity. If you can, eat, sleep, work at the same times each day.
- Try acupuncture which can help one lose weight. acupuncture treatments help balance the body, and reduce one's craving for certain "emotional" foods we like. Other helpful modalities include hypnosis, homeopathy, ayurvedic medicine and yoga.
Food/Nutrients that help reduce one's appetite:
- Capsaicin is what creates the heat in chili peppers, and it is derived from chili peppers. It appears to enhance and enliven metabolism, making digestion take place more quickly and thoroughly, and it seems lessen fat tissue. It is believed that it helps manage overeating by lowering the appetite.
- Chia seed is used as a nutritious food source, and is of the mint family. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contains protein, fats and fiber. Many people think it can help manage weight loss and stay healthy.
- Chitosan is marketed as a natural weight loss aid. It made from the shells of crabs, shrimp, and lobster and other crustaceans.
- Psyllium is noted for its fiber-rich seeds and is used primarily as a dietary fiber which is not absorbed by the small intestine.
- Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae which provides many nutrients. It is a complete protein with all essential amino acids, though some are less than in the proteins of meat, milk and eggs. Dried spirulina is 60% protein.
- CLA is known for its body weight management capacity - lessening body fat and increasing muscle mass. It is a kind of fatty acid that comes from meat and dairy products. It apparently reduces fat while building muscle, as well as helping keep cholesterol in check. Research has demonstrated that it may be an anti-carcinogen, lessens inflammatory bowel disease, may help Crohn's disease patients. While research varies, a 2007 meta-analysis (averaging many research products) determined that it can help reduce fat mass.
- Aloe is most widely known for its helpfulness in soothing minor burns and other skin conditions. Some animal research suggests that it may inhibit tumor growth, and have a strong anti-hyperglycemic effect. It supports a strong cathartic response (bowel movements) and internally cleanses although the FDa has banned its extract, aloin, which has the laxative effect. Most aloe-based drinks do not contain aloin.
- Probiotics are live microorganisms, found in products like yogurt and soy yogurt or directly taken as supplements. With respect to weight management, it is felt by correcting bacterial imbalances in the digestive system, weight loss can be maintained.
- Vitamin D Some research indicates that low levels of Vitamin D increase obesity, and that supplementation with Vitamin D (Vitamin D3 is the most easily absorbed form) may promote weight loss and maintenance.
- Fucoxanthin is a type of carotenoid (giving a brown color) found in edible brown seaweed such as wakame and hijiki, and to a lesser extent, in red seaweed. Some animal research and a small double-blind human trial that suggest that it fucoxanthin assists with metabolism of fat in the body.
Weight Loss News
1. S W Keith and associates, Putative contributors to the secular increase in obesity: exploring the roads less traveled,
International Journal of Obesity (2006) 30, 1585-1594.
2. Cathy A. Wyse, Does human evolution in different latitudes influence susceptibility to obesity via the circadian pacemaker?, BioEssays, 2012,