If I had to pick the single most important intervention for nearly all of my patients’ long term health, it would be weight loss.
According to NIH, “Obesity is a significant risk factor for and contributor to increased morbidity and mortality, most importantly from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but also from cancer and chronic diseases, including osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease, sleep apnea, and depression.” Even being overweight carries significantly increased risk for death from the same conditions, as well as increased risk of pregnancy complications like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and risk for cesarean delivery.
In this three-part series I’ll run you through the weight loss advice that I give to my patients in my visits in text and video, from basic principles to advanced strategies.
Let’s start with five basic principles to remember before starting a weight loss plan:
1. Simplify the foods you eat to curb your brain’s hunger response:
Have you ever been so hungry that a handful of unsalted nuts tastes like a five-star meal? That’s how our ancestors lived most days, and unfortunately our brains evolved to handle a moderate and static amount of sensory stimulus. Highly palatable foods make the reward centers in our brains fire like Trump on “The Apprentice,” resulting in an involuntary uptick in consumption.
2. Eat enough to keep your metabolism going:
Be careful not to derail your metabolism or your thyroid and adrenal function by overdoing caloric restriction.
3. Match your carb intake to your activity level:
Low-carb diets don’t work for everybody and can work against you if your activity level is high. The thyroid needs starchy carbs and some insulin spikes to be able to make the active form of thyroid hormone.
4. Don’t wait until you’re at the gym to move your body:
Sprinkle movement and standing in throughout the day for extra weight loss efficacy.
5. Change habits that have nothing to do diet or exercise:
You can be perfect with diet and exercise and fail to move the needle on weight loss if you haven’t addressed sleep, stress and social support.
6. Consider a strict period of diet tracking:
Although caloric-restriction fails to produce and maintain long-term weight-loss in 99% of cases, tracking your diet for a short period may be the extra push you need to lose the last 5 – 10 lbs.