The Skinny on Weight Loss
WEIGHT LOSS! For many of us, these two words bring to mind endless calorie counting, failed gym memberships, and an overwhelming sense of low self-esteem. I, Dr. Hailey, am overweight and have been since the age of 5. I’ve gone up and down on the scale more times than I can count, and I will gain weight if I just look at lettuce. Does this sound like you, too? Well, hopefully this blog post will shed some light on why weight loss is such a difficult thing for most, and what you have to do to change your situation.
Just want the short and sweet answer to losing weight? Check it out:
- Belly fat is controlled by gut hormone regulation
- Eating too few calories will turn off your gut hormones
- Endotoxins (a part of bad bacteria) mess up those gut hormones
- Grains, legumes, sugars, and poor quality fats will increase endotoxins
- Colorful veggies and high protein will decrease endotoxins
- The gut microbiome (all the bacteria) is the first thing you have to regulate
- You cannot lose weight if you are in an inflamed state
- The best way to get out of an inflamed state is by eating meat, veggies, and fruit
- You have to work out at specific times of the day
- Coffee, red wine, and dark chocolate might be your friend
Want more explanation than that? Good. Here we go…
The topic of weight loss and belly fat is ever evolving. Most people assume others are overweight because they have the inability to stop eating. This could not be further from the truth. Yes, okay, some people just won’t put the cookies and soda down. That’s a problem. That has everything to do with our “food” industry, but I’ll save that for another post. The real problem, in my opinion, is that the majority of the so-called nutrition information we’ve been given over the years is simply wrong! For example, in the past three decades, Americans have been told that eating egg yolks and red meat will raise serum cholesterol levels and cause heart disease. Just recently, the FDA reversed their stance on dietary cholesterol, stating that there was no correlation between the cholesterol found in these foods and heart disease. What have we been doing to ourselves during this time? We’ve been eating low-fat, low-cholesterol foods to try and save our hearts. Instead, what has remained one of the top killers in this country? Heart disease! Also, now we have a rise of dementia and neurological conditions, which can be directly linked to low cholesterol levels. Now, however, we have more science, more studies, and a greater understanding of how the body actually works. It may just take a bit of work to weed through the propaganda and find the nutritional truth.
Bariatric surgeons are actually on to something when it comes to weight loss. While many of us assume that gastric bypass surgery simple makes people eat less and stop processing extra calories (this was the original intent), the actual purpose of the surgery is to regulate gut hormones. Certain hormones create hunger and others create satiety. It appears that the hormones that cause satiety actually increase after the surgery, while the hunger hormones, such as insulin and leptin, decrease. The hunger hormones, especially leptin, also happen to increase inflammation and decrease the immune system. Now, this is not a plug to go have surgery. It simply allows us to understand that in order to truly create weight loss, we have to affect gut hormones.
How can we naturally affect gut hormones? Quite easily, if we follow a few rules! First, we have to do away with the idea that counting calories is the only way to lose weight. In fact, most people who go below 1200 calories a day will turn off good gut hormones. Your body has a resting metabolic rate (usually about 10x your weight), and you have to stay in that zone to minimize inflammation and hormone dysregulation. When you dip too low in the calorie count, your body goes into starvation/survival mode, and while you may lose pounds on the scale, it does not translate into fat loss. In fact, you’re mostly losing quality muscle mass, which is detrimental for your health. You must eat regularly throughout the day to lose weight in a healthy way.
Secondly, we have to regulate the bad bacteria in our gut. One part of the bad bacteria that creates hormone dysregulation is called the endotoxin. When we increase endotoxins, we increase inflammation and belly fat. When we decrease endotoxins, we decrease inflammation and belly fat. Simple enough, right? The best way to fuel your body and to decrease endotoxin actions is by eating high quality meats, vegetables, and fruits. Colorful veggies and high protein are the key. Yes, you read that correctly, I did not say to eat whole grains or beans. In fact, you should cut those out completely. Grains, legumes, sugars, and poor quality fats will raise endotoxins and increase inflammation within the body. Please note: YOU CANNOT LOSE WEIGHT WHILE YOU ARE IN AN INFLAMMED STATE! Did you hear me? The best way to decrease your inflammation is to cut grains, legumes, sugars, and poor quality fats from your diet. Yes, I mean you need to cut out your “heart-healthy” oatmeal, your gluten-free bread, your black beans, and your vegetable oils. This also includes poor quality meats. You cannot safely purchase meats at the regular grocery store. You need grass-fed beef, organic chickens, and less fatty marbling in your meats. While it may cost more, it’s your only option. Endotoxins thrive in poor quality, fatty, and old meat. They cannot be cooked off with high heat either. Ignore those “manager’s specials,” and just go for the humanely-raised choice. If you take anything from this blog post, it should be this information.
Third, we need to increase good bacteria. I hear this a lot, “Well, Doc, I eat yoghurt every day, so I don’t need a probiotic.” I will agree that some people can handle yoghurt, but I will not agree that it’s enough to regulate the gut microbiome. In fact, lactobacillus, the bacteria that is used most often in yoghurt, may actually do more harm than good. What we do know, however, is that a probiotic that contains various forms of Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii will decrease endotoxins and build up a good gut microbiome. In order to burn fat, keep a healthy immune system, and to feel less bloated is to have a good quality probiotic with these strains. Another choice for good bacteria is fermented foods. Kimchi, for example, is a great choice. You don’t have to eat buckets of it. Use kimchi as a condiment in at least one meal each day. Please note, regulating your gut microbiome will go far beyond weight loss. You will sleep better and be happier!
Next, let’s talk exercise. There’s really no way around it. You have to move your body. While 80% of weight loss is controlled by what you put in your face, the rest is controlled by keeping your body fit. Believe it or not, there are actually specific times of day that are better than others to work out. Basically, your daily schedule should look like this:
- Morning (3x/week): Wake up with the sun, drink a cup of coffee, and go do 20 minutes of cardio (light running, sprints, bike, etc.). Then eat high quality protein.
- Lunch: Eat the majority of your food during this time. Lunch should be your biggest meal of the day.
- Around 4 – 5pm (3x/week): Lift weights. Specifically, do squats and deadlifts. Do this until you are uncomfortable (8-12 reps). If you can only exercise one time, weight lifting is better than cardio. Immediately following, drink a protein shake (try our paleo protein).
- Within two hours of your afternoon weight training, eat a sensible dinner high in protein and colorful veggies.
- Go to sleep by 10pm.
When you are working out, the key is to build muscle mass and lose fat. Many people think the more exercise you do, the more weight you will lose. This is not the case. Too much exercise is just as bad for you as no exercise. You truly only need about 20 minutes a day. I suggest using protein shakes because they are highly absorbable compared to meat. However, it must be a good quality protein (not soy, rice, or hemp). Pea and whey have been shown to build muscle mass and reduce fat. If you do not have protein immediately following a work out, you will break down muscles, and we don’t want that.
Last, but not least, there are a few extra “treats” that will actually help you in your weight loss journey (assuming you’re not allergic to them). I mentioned coffee before your morning work out because caffeine is actually protein sparing and fat burning. It is good to get that jolt of energy right before a run, and it will help you maintain a constant pace. Coffee will increase Bifidobacterium if you drink no more than 3 cups per day. Caffeine also turns on the hormone lipase, which breaks down fat. Also, dark chocolate reduces inflammation and endotoxins in the gut. It must be at least 70% cocoa, and have minimal sugars or other additives. Red wine has also been shown to aid in decreasing endotoxins, but be careful here. Don’t drink the whole bottle.
There you have it: a straight-forward approach to weight loss. While there may be other factors in play (autoimmune diseases, medications, food allergies, etc.), this can at least give you the basic understanding of why our gut health is the most important key to losing weight and getting fit. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, who wants to drink coffee and go for a run?