There are many factors leading to an inability to lose weight, and the amount of calories we take in, compared to the amount we lose is only one of them. The quality of the calories is one of the most important factors in controlling weight.
When you're overweight chances are your body has become programmed to turn food into fat instead of energy. Many factors in today’s diet and lifestyle stop you burning fat. The body is like a machine it needs fuel to function and the quality of that fuel is very important (you wouldn't put petrol into a diesel car now would you). So why do we put the wrong fuel into our bodies. We constantly do this and every time we make a mental note not to do it again. But again and again we top up the wrong fuel.
So what fuel should we put into our bodies?
The fuel we get from our food is called glucose and the way it burns depends on the quality of the food we eat. Imagine this, if you threw a piece of paper into a fire it would burn very quickly, the fire would go out and give you no heat, now on the other hand if you threw a log into the fire, the log would burn for a long time and you would have heat for a few hours. That’s the kind of fuel you want for your body. Foods that will keep that fire (energy) burning for longer.
The body burns glucose (sugar) and turns it into energy; so much of what you eat gets broken down into glucose to make energy. Problems arise when your body has more glucose than you need, the glucose can’t stay in the blood so the body has to store it somewhere. Problem with glucose is, when we don’t use it all up as energy some of it ends up getting stored as FAT. So you see it’s not always the fats that make us fats – SUGAR is just as bad. And all those Low Fat foods have the fat removed and taste horrible then, so they add SUGAR to make them taste good again. Stay clear of the Low Fat Foods. I heard recently on the radio Special K breakfast cereal has the most sugar of all the popular breakfast cereals. Imagine the one they advertise for weight loss has the most sugar.
Keep your Blood Sugar Balanced
If you can get your glucose or blood sugar level to stay even you will have constant energy and no problem maintaining your weight. Same with the fire you have to keep putting the fuel on throughout the day to keep the fire burning. If you leave it too long without fuel the fire will burn out. You will burn out too it you don’t keep toping up on fuel throughout the day. When your glucose level is uneven, sometimes high and sometimes low, when it’s too high you turn glucose into fat, and when it’s too low you feel tired and irritable and you crave food, especially sweets and carbohydrates. And then the cycle begins you eat those foods to get your energy up and then your blood sugar goes down and you feel crap again. Cutting calories or low fat diets may help in the short term to lose weight but the answer lies in maintaining your blood sugar and reprogramming your body to burn fat.
To become a FATBURNER, stop eating ‘fast releasing’ sugar foods and switch to ‘slow releasing’ carbohydrates that release their sugar slowly. (Remember the log theory)
Factors that contribute to blood sugar control:
1. Your sugar and carbohydrate intake
2. Your stress and stimulant load
4. Quantity and type of food you eat
5. Fiber in your food
6. Vitamins and minerals
7. Hormone imbalances
Sugar - glucose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose all are fast releasing carbohydrates. They need little digestion and so are rapidly burned and turned into glucose the primary fuel of the body. These are found in breakfast cereals, cereal bars, junk food and also in some fruit such as raisins, dried fruit and bananas. Fruits in general contain fructose which although is a sugar it cannot be used by the body until it is been turned into glucose, a job done by the liver. This slows down the conversion into glucose and makes the fruit a slow releasing carbohydrate. Sugar is absorbed into the blood stream so that it can be used as fuel for energy. Be careful with Fructose though, if we eat too much of it the liver can’t handle the conversion and the excess will get stored as fat.
Sugar (glucose) is like a high octane fuel and is dangerous if levels are too high. The second your blood sugar becomes too high the body produces insulin and moves quickly to expel the sugar from the blood stream and if you don’t need it for energy it gets stored as fat. The more quick releasing carbohydrates you eat the more insulin is produced, the more insulin produced, the more sugar you dump as fat.
To become a FAT BURNER stop eating fast releasing carbohydrates, switch to slow releasing carbohydrates that release their sugar slowly. But how do you know what is fast or slow releasing? A simple guide is foods that are wholegrain, and unprocessed are slower releasing. The fast releasing are usually white processed foods, processed cereals, sweets, sugar, and the more starchy carbohydrates.
Eating sugar is not the only way to upset your blood sugar levels, too much stress and too many stimulants can do the same thing. Stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol, cola, chocolate and smoking, although they work in the short term to control your weight in the long run they work like sugar and will cause you to gain weight. The majority of people turn to stimulants because they feel tired all the time, this is a result of eating fast releasing carbohydrates devoid of vitamins and minerals. Stimulants are addictive and before long you find yourself not being able to start the day without a cup of coffee.
Stress too will cause a raise in blood sugar. Long term stress leaves the body in a state of “fight or flight” the body releases sugar from storage to give our muscles and brains a boost of energy. Unlike our ancestors who’s main stresses required a physical response like running up a tree to avoid been eaten, twentieth century stress is mainly mental and emotional. The body copes with the excess sugar by releasing more insulin to take the glucose out of the blood and the excess gets stored as fat. So, you get up feeling stressed about the hard day you face ahead in work or at home managing the kids and the house, your kids need to be fed and lunches made, the dog needs a walk, you reach for a cigarette and a cup of coffee, and a bowl of fast releasing cereal…
Food is made up of protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
Protein is a vital part of the diet because it is the basic building block for all the cells, muscles, and bones as well as skin, hair and nails. Without sufficient protein the body will start to breakdown faster than it repairs itself. Protein is needed to build lean muscle and the more lean muscle you have in your body the more efficient your body will be at burning fat. Adding protein to each meal slows down the rate at which the stomach empties its food into the next part of the digestive process. Because protein slows the rate of digestion it also helps in the control of insulin. As soon as you add protein to a carbohydrate you change it into a slower releasing carbohydrate. You need to eat 30g protein every three or four hours in order to maintain your lean muscle and help the body burn more fat. The body is a complex machine and it likes to keep everything running smoothly and evenly. It will do whatever it takes to keep things “normal” and that includes what it thinks is your “normal” weight. The body will struggle to keep you at the weight you are currently. We have to retrain our bodies to become more efficient at burning fat and not muscle to maintain that homeostatic balance.
As we discussed earlier there are two main types of carbohydrates: fast releasing and slow releasing or simple and complex. Basically the slow releasing carbohydrates are found in wholegrain foods and fast releasing ones found in sugars and refined products. Refined products are products that have been broken down and put back together with some of the nutrients missing. That’s why you see on the packets of breakfast cereals that they have added B vitamins or added calcium; these nutrients were in the foods before they refined them. The role of carbohydrate is to produce energy for the body. Carbohydrates go through a process in the body to break them down and turn them into glucose, but to insure this process it is important that you have the vital nutrients needed for sufficient energy to be created. These nutrients include B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, chromium, essential fatty acids, zinc and iron. If you’re eating processed foods chances are your are not getting these nutrients and that’s part of the reason why you feel tired all the time and your glucose is being stored as fat and not been turned into energy.
When you think diet you automatically think low fat foods and if you’re thinking of taking a supplement to help your weight loss chances you will go for a fat blocker or fat absorber. But to ensure that your body can convert the carbohydrate you have eaten into glucose for energy it is vital you have enough essential fatty acids, without these you will feel tired, have dry skin, poor memory, low moods or depression. And the fat blockers don’t just block the bad fats or the saturated fats they block the good guys too, the essential fatty acids. Our brain and nervous system is made up of about 60% fat, we need fat to produce our hormones and we need fat to lubricate the skin. Let your skin be the tell tale sign if you need more essential fats in your diet. Saturated fats are the ones to abstain from or cut back on, these can be found in meat, dairy products, cakes, pastries and butter. Omega 3,6,9, and polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated are the good guys that help to protect the heart, maintain a healthy weight and maintain a healthy nervous system.
Quantity and quality of food
We have covered most of this. In order to maintain a healthy weight you must eat complex carbohydrate and cut out or cut back on the refined slow releasing ones. You must add protein to every meal; combine about 20g - 30g of protein with 40g of carbohydrate with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fibre in your food
We talked about fast releasing carbohydrate and slow releasing carbohydrates and the effect they have on blood sugar control, fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate and when you eat a food high in fibre it tends to slow down the release of sugars in the food. Fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans and whole grains all are high in fibre and if you are eating these foods you won’t need to add fibre to your diet. Fibre is calorie free and a diet high in high fibre foods will keep you full for longer. There are two types of fibre soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is better for slowing down the release of carbohydrates from food and insoluble improves the digestion by bulking up stools and reducing constipation. Many foods contain both types.
Vitamins and minerals
To maintain a healthy metabolism and turn your body into a fat burning machine you will need to make sure you have the right tools. To tune up your metabolism it is vital to consume optimum amounts of them. In order for your body to make insulin you will need zinc and B vitamins. Insulin’s ability to control blood sugar is helped by the mineral chromium. And to turn glucose into energy and not fat you need B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin C.
Fat burning minerals: calcium, magnesium, chromium and zinc are essential to the body for making energy. The more efficient the body is at making energy the less likely it is to store fat. The most important are most likely calcium and magnesium as all muscle cells need an adequate supply in order to relax and contract. A shortage of magnesium is very common and often results in cramps because the muscles cannot relax.
Zinc together with B6 is needed to make sufficient enzymes that digest food. They are essential in the production of insulin which is needed to control blood sugar levels. A lack of zinc often disrupts appetite control and can cause a lack of taste and smell, which can lead us to eat more salty or sugary foods.
Chromium, the older we get the more likely it is we are not getting enough chromium. Chromium is an essential mineral that helps stabilize blood sugar and hence weight control. Chromium is found in wholegrain foods, beans nuts and seeds, asparagus and mushrooms are especially high in chromium. It works with insulin to stabilize your blood sugar, weight and appetite and the more uneven your blood sugar the more chromium you use up. So if you’re a sugar and stimulant addict the more chromium you are using up and the more deficient you become.
Excess oestrogens can hinder weight loss and excessive weight on hips and thighs is a good indicator that you are high in oestrogen. Oestrogen and progesterone are mainly produced in the ovaries and need to be in balance with one and other. Excess oestrogen arises when the women produces too much oestrogen in relation to progesterone. This usually stems from a progesterone deficiency rather than an actual oestrogen excess. Progesterone is only produced by the ovaries once the egg has been released at ovulation. If a woman doesn’t ovulate as is common when a women approaches menopause then no progesterone is produced. After menopause progesterone production falls to almost nothing and oestrogen is dominant and helps lay down fat for storage around the hips and thighs.
Imbalance in the thyroid gland can lead to weight gain. Excess oestrogen and low progesterone will hinder the hormone that is essential for thyroid function. Often blood tests will come back normal when there may well be an imbalance in thyroid efficiently.
Everyone knows exercise is an important factor in the battle to lose weight. But sometimes it’s the complete lack of motivation and feelings of “what’s the point” etc that holds us back. These feelings can be a direct result of a deficiency in the very vitamin and minerals that are needed to become efficient at burning fat. So once you sort out that imbalance you will see that not only are you becoming more efficient at burning fat but your spirit, drive and sense of enthusiasm will return, making exercise seem less like a chore.
Christine Meehan Dip N.T IINH,ITEC,FETAC
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with Christine, please contact us on 053 9121613comments powered by Disqus
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