Healthy Weight Loss

woman celebrating easy weight loss

Weight Loss: 5 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Swimsuit season will soon be upon us!  This is the time of year where it is relatively easy to shed your winter weight. If trying on your spring and summer wardrobe has been a depressing experience, here are some weight loss tips and tricks to help you lose weight and get into summer shape more quickly and easily:

  1. Reality check – use a program like MyFitnessPal or the Fitbit app to track your caloric intake and exercise for a day or two.  You don’t need to get obsessive about it, but people tend to underestimate how many calories they consume and overestimate how much exercise they get.
  2. Reduce your stress.  Stress is bad for weight in so many ways: Increased cortisol, emotional eating, lower T3 (active thyroid hormone), higher reverse T3 (inactive thyroid hormone).
  3. Get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep lowers your willpower, promotes sugar cravings to supply energy and even one night of less than 4 hours sleep makes you more insulin resistant the next day and higher insulin means more fat gain
  4. Don’t snack.  The old 3 meals two snacks advice was bad advice.  Research has shown that people who snack between meals consume more calories in a day than those who don’t.
  5. Exercise. If you want everything you need to do to lose weight, my amazing colleague, Dr Jade Teta, has created an exercise program for weight loss, with bonus materials that include a healthy menu and recipes.  His workout will challenge what you thought you knew about exercise, it won’t take you long (only 15-20 minutes 3 times per week), there is no gym membership required, you can do it in your own living room, with or without weights or bands, it’s science based and it is cheap. The purpose of the program is to reset your metabolism to it’s prime.  I’m in my second round of the 12 week program and I can attest to the fact that it is hard, but I feel fitter than I have in years and I have lost weight and I’m exercising less. (despite my best efforts, my weight has only been doing a slow steady climb since I hit 45). Best of all, the program creator is a naturopathic doctor as well as a personal trainer and a heck of a nice guy. Check it out here. 

Boost Metabolism

woman exercising to boost metabolism

Rev Up Your Engines! 3 Effective Ways to Boost Metabolism

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Your metabolism dictates how quickly and efficiently you burn calories to use for fuel and maintaining your body temperature.  The higher your metabolism, the more calories you can consume in a day without gaining weight.  Many of the patients that I see, complain of a sluggish metabolism – they don’t feel like they overeat, they consume healthy food, exercise regularly and yet they gain weight easily.  Let’s take a look at three ways you can boost metabolism to help with weight loss.

Nourish Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in your neck that regulates your metabolism.  Think of it like the gas pedal for your body.  A sluggish thyroid means a slow metabolism  In order to do it’s job, your thyroid needs iodine, zinc, selenium, copper and tyrosine to build thyroid hormones.

Our main food source of iodine is iodized salt.  As a public health measure, iodine was added to table salt as a means of gently supplementing everyone with a little extra iodine, to stave off underactive thyroids.  However, excessive salt intake is considered unhealthy, so people have either stopped using salt in food preparation or shifted to using sea salt instead.  Those of you strictly avoiding salt or using sea salt may not be getting the benefit of the iodine added to regular table salt. I recommend switching to iodized sea salt, which is readily available at most health food stores.

Selenium is a trace mineral that is vital to healthy thyroid function.  Brazil nuts are a rich food source and consuming as little as 3 Brazil nuts per day supplies plenty of selenium for your thyroid.

Zinc is found naturally in beef, pumpkin seeds, egg yolks and shellfish.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so protein rich foods like beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, beef, fish and chicken will supply the amino acid, tyrosine, that is also crucial to healthy thyroid function.

Restore Your Adrenals

The adrenal glands are your stress glands; they help your body cope in times of stress. They assist the thyroid hormone to function properly by enabling transfer of the hormone into the tissues where it works to increase metabolism. The adrenal glands need substantial amounts of vitamins B5, B6, C, potassium, magnesium and zinc especially while under
stress.

To nurture healthy adrenals:

  1. Eat lots of leafy green veggies like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and spring mix salad greens.  These are chock full of B vitamins, C, zinc, potassium, magnesium and zinc, everything that the adrenals need, all in one food.
  2. Get adequate rest and sleep.  Stop working by 8 p.m. and relax.  Aim to be in bed by 10 p.m..  The adrenals operate on a daily schedule that is regulated by daylight.  They peak in the morning and taper off to their lowest between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m..  Try to work with their schedule, not against it.
  3. Reduce your stress.  Easier said than done, but whatever you can do in this regard will help your adrenals and help to maintain a healthy cortisol level.  Excessive cortisol contributes to weight gain around your waist.  Stress reduction through psychotherapy, exercise, yoga, tai chi and massage therapy can all help if stress is the problem.

Exercise

Exercise can boost metabolism for up to 48 hours afterward, so get off the couch and walk briskly, dance, go on the treadmill, do something active for 30 minutes 5-7 times per week.  Exercise, but not to the point that you feel exhausted after, you should feel energized after exercise.  It’s also the best stress reliever there is.  Weight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are particularly good for building muscle mass.  Muscles burn more calories than non-muscle tissue, so muscle can boost metabolism even while you are sleeping.

Lose Weight at Menopause

woman who wants to lose weight

Struggling to Lose Weight at Menopause?  Here’s Why.

What happens at menopause?

Aside from periods stopping, estrogen levels drop, ovulation stops and progesterone levels drop.

How do the hormone changes at menopause impact your weight?

There are a few ways that these hormonal changes can make it tougher to lose weight:

Lower estrogen levels mean that your body doesn’t respond to insulin as well as it used to before menopause. That means that if you eat carbs or sugar, your insulin levels will be higher post menopause than they were pre-menopause. Higher insulin means more fat production and also more inflammation. More inflammation means even more insulin resistance.

Progesterone helps to counter the effects of cortisol (your stress hormone). If you have less progesterone, and in menopause there is very little, then cortisol has a greater effect than it had pre-menopause. We know that higher cortisol increases belly fat.

So, how can we fix this?

I am not an advocate for hormone replacement therapy, bioidentical or otherwise. Menopause is a natural transition away from childbearing years and into golden years. The best approach in my opinion is to:

Adjust your carbohydrate intake accordingly. If you no longer tolerate the same level of carbs due to lower estrogen, it’s best to decrease your carb intake. Plug your daily food intake into an app like MyFitnessPal to get a sense of your total carb intake and where those carbs are coming from and adjust your diet to reduce your carb intake. What is the recommended carb intake? That’s somewhat individual, but you could go as low as 40-60 grams per day if you find that weight isn’t budging. Protein and fat will better serve your new post-menopause metabolism.

Reduce stress and stress inducing exercise. Anything that raises your cortisol level, will have a worse impact than it did prior to menopause.

Cortisol lowering tips:

Exercise: Exercise improves heart function, reduces the fight or flight response to stress, improves ability of tissues to use oxygen and other nutrients, improves self-esteem, and increases endurance and energy levels. The type of exercise is important though. Endurance exercise can become an additional stressor and requires more cortisol production. Short bursts of very high intensity exercise (HIIT training), with alternating days of low level relaxation type exercise like restorative yoga or tai chi is a great combination to maintain muscle mass for calorie burning, but also keep cortisol low.
Relaxation techniques: Gentle stretching, breathing exercises, yoga and visualization induce the relaxation response.
Humour: Laughter helps lower cortisol, even cracking a smile can help.
Social support: spend time with friends and family
Pets: one study showed that cortisol levels are lowest when you are with your pet and highest when you are with your spouse (I suppose it depends on the spouse)
Alone/quiet/down time: The hectic pace and never ending electronic stimulation is an additional stress to your body. Take time to be alone, out in nature, relax by 8 p.m..
Sleep: Don’t forgo sleep. Ensure that you get at least 7-7.5 hours of good quality sleep per night.
Support your Adrenal Glands: They need adequate intake of vitamins C, B5, B6, zinc and magnesium to help you deal with stress as easily as possible. Use of antidepressants, estrogen replacement therapy and birth control pills can all increase the need for vitamin B6 in the body.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

For help to lose weight at menopause, book a consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors.

Why is a Food Journal Important

woman writing in a food journal

Why Keep a Diet Diary?

One of the more “painful” things everyone does when they first come and see me is fill in a one week diet diary or food journal detailing everything they put in their mouth for that one week. They often return with comments like “I was on vacation this week” or “I had 3 parties to go to so this isn’t how I usually eat” or the classic “I forgot”.

It turns out that researchers have proved diet diaries to be an effective means to help people lose weight. The study looked at more than 1,500 people over six months and found that those who kept a food diary and updated it regularly lost about twice as much weight as those who did not.

The average weight loss for study participants was about 13 pounds. But those keeping food diaries six or seven days a week lost about 18 pounds, compared to just 9 pounds for those not regularly keeping a food diary.

As human beings, we have a tendency to underestimate how much we eat and over-estimate our physical activity.

There is a method to my madness!

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND.  Our naturopaths can help with healthy weight loss with food journals, but also healthy diet recommendations, lifestyle suggestions, exercise tips, and supplements that may help you stay on track.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.