It’s high time we get to focus on nutrition and its global contribution to our overall health and well being. Conventional medicine has been slow to recognize the major role that diet and lifestyle plays in our physical lives. Understanding my top 10 nutrition tips for weight loss will change your life.
Nutrition, defined as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth, was not a science taught in most medical schools. Western trained doctors can only offer nutrition tips for weight loss by way of the vague advice for you to “eat a well balanced diet and exercise”.
One thing missing from that nutrition tip is information about what constitutes a balanced diet. Food is not just energy or fuel for the body. It contains macronutrients like protein that help build our muscles and makes up every cell in our bodies. Food also contains micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that boost our immune system, helps regulate our metabolism, and are essential for healthy vision, skin and bones.
My Top 10 Nutrition Tips:
My first nutrition tip is for you to eat real food. This means food that has walked the earth, come out of the soil, or swam in the oceans. Real food spoils unlike the refined, processed food stuff that makes up the Standard American Diet (SAD). Loaded with chemicals and preservatives to allow for a longer shelf life, these food substitutes are nutrient poor and high in added sugar calories.
Our bodies are 60% water which makes hydration the second of my top 10 nutrition tips for weight loss. Water is critical for the many chemical reactions that help our bodies to function properly.
Dehydration results in dry mouth, decreased sweat and urine output, and a general feeling of fatigue. These are late signs of low body water content and are easily avoided by drinking water daily. A simple formula would be to drink half an ounce of water for every pound in body weight.
An added benefit of drinking water is that it contains zero calories while helping to increase calorie burning. It is the reason foods with high water content like celery are such good “diet food” recommendations.
Water also suppresses the appetite if consumed a half hour before eating your meals. Preloading with 8 ounces of water before a meal causes you to eat 100 calories less during that meal!
Plus, when you replace sugary drinks with water, you are also getting fewer calories per meal. Be aware that calories not immediately used by the body after a meal are stored as fat for our future energy needs.
My third nutrition tip is called the 80% Rule. The first part of this rule has to do with satiety or stopping your intake when you are 80% full as opposed to eating to or past 100% full. The other part of the rule is the concept of an 80% to 20% ratio of plant protein to animal protein on your plate.
This 20% limit is a major shift away from the notion that animal protein is superior to plant based proteins. Many studies confirm that people who eat more vegetables and grains and limit animal protein are thinner, have less chronic diseases, and live longer lives.
Generously adding certain spices to your food not only adds flavor but also turns up your fat burning.
Spice it up is the fourth of my top 10 nutrition tips for weight loss. Cinnamon helps your adipocytes or fat cells burn their stored fats when you exercise. Turmeric, Ginger, cayenne pepper, cumin, rosemary, and cardamom all have the power to help your body burn fat faster. These eight spices are also anti-inflammatory and can be helpful for people with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
We often forget about timing or the when of our eating and how it affects our weight and health. Sumo wrestlers know that eating a large calorie meal before sleep is an important means of maintaining their huge body mass and weight.
Americans have the grazing habit of eating multiple times throughout the day. Insulin will store every unused calorie as fat!
Eventually our cells become less responsive or resistant to insulin. Resistance to insulin allows the unused sugar to hang out in our blood which is the hallmark of type 2 Diabetes.
Time restricted eating is the fifth nutritional tip for weight loss. Simply stated you restrict or confine your calorie intake to an 8 to 10 hour window of your day. A general rule is no eating after 7 pm, period. The kitchen is closed until you “ break your fast “ the next morning. Avoiding late night eating or snacking results in less overeating, eating less toxic, sugary foods , and subsequent weight loss.
The sixth nutritional tip aligns with timing by including voluntary periods of not eating or fasting. Fasting does not lower your metabolic rate, allows rest and repair of your gut, and most importantly, does not trigger the fat storage hormone insulin.
Intermittent fasting is free, can be done as often as needed, and can vary in duration.
A great place to start is the 16/8 hour intermittent fasting window going from dinner to dinner which takes advantage of sleep time. Stop eating at 7pm and break your fast with an 11am breakfast.
Getting seven hours of sleep each night is the seventh of my top 10 nutrition tips for weight loss. Studies show 7 hours to be the optimal amount of time needed for repair, clearance of toxins, and weight loss. Our cognitive abilities and our mood improves when we allow our bodies a time-out to do the work of detoxification and removal of old, worn out cells.
Think of it as allowing time to clean up all the dirty dinner dishes each evening. Less sleep time allows more dirty dishes to pile up which can eventually result in running out of any clean dishes at all!
The number eight nutritional tip encourages increasing non-exercise physical activity. Think movement and play as the way to reframe the exercise issue. Studies show that standing burns three times more calories than sitting! So do get off your couch or out of that chair.
Physical movement increases muscle density, cardiovascular health, and flexibility. The adage “move it or lose it” is the best advice to honor as you age into those 100 years of living and eating healthy.
Managing your stress levels is nutritional tip number nine. In the past our fight, flight, or freeze response kept us alive and safe from overt dangers. Today our stressors are our fears and uncertainties about our work, family or our communities and societal issues.
Cortisol, our stress hormone, increases with perceived or real threats and causes weight gain by slowing fat burning. It is associated with that stubborn deep belly fat called visceral fat. Embracing meditation, gratitude journaling, yoga, music, dancing or singing, to name a few, are helpful tips that can shorten the duration of distress. We can’t avoid stress but we can learn resilience or how to recover and bounce back quickly.
The tenth of my top 10 nutrition tips for weight loss involves being in community with others. We are social beings who thrive on connection and collaboration with others. Loneliness undermines our motivation to make changes in our lives and saps our hope for a better future self.
Okinawan’s maintain a lifelong friendship group called the “Moai” which meets regularly and allows them to share life’s good and tough times. It is one of five areas in the world where a high percentage of people live to 100 years or more! Community and purposeful living are crucial for our longevity.
In summary, Dr Sy’s top 10 nutrition tips for weight loss are:
- Eat nutrient-rich, real foods
- Follow the 80% rule
- Add Spices
- Time-restricted eating
- Intermittent fasting
- Sleep 7 hours a night
- Physical movement
- Stress management/emotional resilience
- Being in community/belonging
The human body can naturally maintain and heal itself. Following these ten nutritional tips will give your body the correct fuel it needs to function properly. Most importantly, these ten nutritional tips support the body’s biological rhythms and timing, also known as our circadian clock. Learning to master not just the what we eat or how much we eat, but mastering the timing of when and how often we eat are key to our sustainable weight loss, optimal aging, and quality longevity.
I created my virtual Balance to Bloom group coaching program because it offers nutritional education, how-to guidance, motivation and most critically, accountability. Working in a group of like-minded people makes the process of changing your diet and lifestyle not just doable, but fun! Contact me today to schedule a conversation.