In Australia, we are slowly creeping towards nearly 70% of the adult population being either overweight or obese. If people are carrying excess body fat, research has shown this puts them at greater risk for Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal problems and certain types of cancers.
Weight loss research over the past couple of years has been interesting. Science has demonstrated that the simplistic model of “eating less” and “moving more” which is favoured by many in public health, is in fact complicated. One of the factors that makes weight loss complicated is individual human metabolism.
Metabolism occurs in all our cells and is a series of chemical processes that turn our food into fuel. Metabolism can be unpredictable, it is complex and should not be generalised. A person’s environment such as work, home, hormones, stress levels and sleeping patterns will have a significant impact on each person’s metabolism. No one person is the same and no one diet strategy is going to work the same for every person.
Many people that have used the “eat less” and “move more” approach for weight loss, such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Light-n-Easy will know that that weight loss is not uniform. Weight loss stalls and weight gain is common even though the same diet protocol is followed. Measuring health through weight loss alone goes beyond the scales. There is too much disappointment when people are always trying to measure themselves on the scales rather than focus on what is happening with the body machinery such as metabolic health and overall wellness.
The Great Metabolism Slow Down
In 2016, a group of researchers published a study looking at past contestants that had participated in the reality TV show The Biggest Loser. This TV showed used the public health favoured model of eating less (a lot less) and moving more (a lot more) to force weight loss. After the show had finished what the researchers found is the vast majority of the contestants had regained all their weight. More disturbingly, it was found that their metabolic health had been damaged and was significantly slower than before they started the competition. This means that their bodies metabolisms are burning less calories every day. This makes weight loss enormously difficult due to the fact that they now have to cut back even further on food eaten each day if they wish to lose weight. This damage to a person’s metabolism is also seen in yo-yo and crash dieting. This is not sustainable.
The eat less and move more diets can work and have a place for some people in weight loss. However, I want to make it clear that there are other ways of eating that can protect your metabolic health as well as helping you lose weight.
Embarking On Your Next Weight Loss Journey?
Here are some points to consider if you are looking to start a weight loss journey.
- Engage with foods that will maintain your individual metabolic health.
- Be careful and think about your health long term before committing time and money into a diet that may cause more harm long term.
- We need to feed our body by putting in the correct nutrition and you don’t need to spend your hard-earned money on “quick fix promises”.
- Adopt a relationship with food for life, based on your own food ideal preferences (culturally and traditionally) that is going to benefit your health on all levels: metabolically, mentally and physically for the long term.
- Making some small changes in the focus of the types of foods you eat, can make a significant difference to your health. Eating real food and those foods that are minimally or traditionally processed such as butter, yogurt and fermented foods will start the process of getting back to health.
- It’s OK to try different approaches. It’s about your individual needs and health.
- Knowing there are different approaches sets you up for long term success by helping you find what works for you. You have choices.
What Are Some Simple Steps To Do Now?
You don’t need to throw yourself head on and full throttle into a weight loss programme, you can start with some easy everyday food and nutrition changes . When you are happy with these changes, then perhaps you can seek further diet strategies to enhance eating for weight loss and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Change your focus from food calories to nutritional quality.
- Plan your meals around good quality protein sources.
- Ensure you are only consuming naturally occurring fats in foods such as those found in full fat dairy (if able to consume), avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, fats naturally found in meats, nuts and seeds.
- Avoid foods high in added sugar, high in naturally occurring sugars or break down easily into sugars.
- Eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat if you’re not! Re-engage with your hunger signals.
- Engage with people and health care professionals that will support you and offer you encouragement for your choices. THIS IS ALL ABOUT YOU!!
- Strength training is essential to improve your metabolically active tissue, muscle. After the age of 30 we lose up to 5% of our muscle per decade. However, this loss can be significantly reduced or even prevented through strength training and the appropriate diet.
- Those in the Bunbury region that have never done any strength training or need more focused support, I can recommend Margunn at Lift:ED strength studio https://www.facebook.com/Geurts-Gym-PT-481334101978629/d.
Changes to your diet or nutrition to manage a health condition should only be undertaken with advice from a suitably qualified nutritional health professional.
This factsheet is for general information only.
Please contact me to discuss your individual needs.