Weight loss is simple in theory, but we all know it can be difficult in practice.
We have developed for survival. 150 years ago, we had much less food availability, and worked in physical jobs. We have continued evolving in our pursuit for survival, but things have changed.
We live in a world where there is so much food and we do less activity – let’s face it, our jobs are mostly seated, but we still aim for survival, seeking out those high energy, convenient foods. We are so determined and practiced, we override our natural functions and hormones which signal satiety, to ensure we have more stores. This process is normal for us all. Being overweight is our natural drive, not something we should blame ourselves for.
For our bodies and health, if we want to, we can do something about it. Science is helping us to gain understanding on weight, but also helping to develop methods that can help us. Medications like Ozempic (semaglutide) do work, we know this, but currently demand outweighs supply, so we can’t use it freely to support those who would benefit. The other downside is that the NHS can only afford prescriptions for 2 years and the evidence shows that when it is stopped your weight and appetite concerns return.
Three key tips to help you before you can get a prescription and if your 2 years are soon up.
1 – Think about what your body needs each day.
- Is it a sitting down day, or are you very active?
- Break it down into: Energy, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, fluid etc. This can help guide us to choose high value nutrients, and these are often filling and harder to overeat. Have you had enough calcium for bone health? Have you included some oily fish? Have you had foods to support gut health?
- This Eating for survival means we’ll choose those easy to get, high energy foods, often lower in nutrients and an energy level we won’t use.
- Many carbohydrate-rich foods are fast to digest in the body and then we can eat more.
- Overeating energy from mainly carbohydrate-rich sources, means we struggle to store the excess energy we’re not using. Carbohydrate is converted to glucose.
- We produce more insulin to ensure the increased glucose is moved from the blood stream into storage (increased blood glucose causes damage to our vessels)
- When our storage areas in our muscles and liver are full, the glucose is then stored in our fat tissue.
- Fat stores can be around our organs and increasing these stores.
- Reducing intake of carbohydrate-rich foods if you do not need the energy, and increasing intake of protein, healthy fats, and fibre, which are slower to digest, will help to fill you up and reduce the effect of excess glucose.
2 – Don’t try to be a saint every day.
It’s not sustainable, we’re human and need some flexibility. Sometimes we need some rules to guide us and to help us establish some limits until we are pros at what our bodies need. We also have habits that encourage us to have more than we need, just because we always do these things.
- Consider intermittent fasting, e.g., the 5:2 diet or eating within a 7-hour window, just remember during the eating times it shouldn’t be all you can eat, pay attention to what you can do to change things.
- Set a routine when you know things can slip in and you know it’s not great for the body to have extra intake at those times, e.g., stop eating after 7, don’t buy a pastry with a coffee.
- Keep a little tracker of what you are doing to help identify those times when things are sneaking in without thought. This can be a note on your phone or carry a notebook.
- The key is keeping awareness in your week. You can plan and enjoy indulgences, or even if they happen by mistake and if you have more one day than planned, then you can probably manage to reduce another day. Your body will have stores to use, and you can reflect on what happened and change it next week if you feel uncomfortable.
3 – Activity is for health and wellness, don’t use it to lose weight.
Often when we try to exercise to a level that causes weight loss then we don’t enjoy it and cause ourselves injury. We know that increasing your respiratory and cardiovascular fitness along with your muscle strength reduces your mortality and risk of health complications. If you start enjoying exercise at a level that does result in weight loss, then great, but you probably then want to consider a possible increase in intake to ensure you can perform and then recover. We know our bodies are great at survival, so this is likely to happen naturally. The key thing about exercise is it can make us feel good about the choices we’re making, and that means we will make more healthy choices, which may include eating healthily. Don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t result in weight loss, instead feel good about your healthy activity. And if you’re not a fan of exercise, just start with what’s do-able for you right now, e.g., standing up at work every 30mins, or walking to take in a view. Once the endorphins are released, you’re likely to do it again and push it a little further.
Contact us for advice and support for weight loss or support with your health goals.
Please note, information articles are not a substitute for direct medical advice. If you have any concerns, please seek personalised advice from a doctor.