A conference that I recently attended was led by a 57 year old retired chiropractor from sunny Florida. He wore a black short sleeve shirt that displayed a toned and very fit physique. During his talk, he moved and spoke with confidence. When we took breaks every ninety minutes, he didn’t even need to sit down.
Many of us dream of looking good and having the kind of energy that sustains itself throughout the day. It makes a difference whether you’re leading a seminar, seeing old friends or strolling down the beach or the boardwalk.
As we inch closer to summer, it’s a good time to make a few lifestyle changes that will lead to a new and better you. Since nutrition is foundational to health and vitality, let’s look at a little chemistry and biology to help us understand how reshaping our diet can also lead to reshaping our bodies and our outlook on life.
Many people struggle with excess weight that they’d like to lose and weight is often a reflection of how our body deals with sugar. Have you ever taken your blood sugar outside of your normal doctor’s physical? It’s not hard. You can purchase a blood glucose meter to assess your levels right in your own home. It can really give you some powerful information, which can lead to some powerful motivation for shedding those unwanted pounds.
The Secret to Weight Loss
Blood sugar is an important consideration for weight loss because the body converts and stores excess blood glucose as fat. That’s right! When you eat foods high in sugar, your body converts them into fat. For a man, the body stores much of that excess sugar in the abdominal area while women tend to store it in their hips and upper legs.
The foods that have the greatest impact on glucose levels are refined carbohydrates. Refined means that the parts of the grain or plant which limit shelf life were removed after it was harvested. This process ends up eliminating most of the natural vitamins, minerals and fatty acids leaving only the carbohydrate or sugar portion of the plant behind.
Pasta, sweets, cookies, breakfast cereals, chips, cakes, muffins, donuts, soft drinks and even sandwich bread are all examples of refined carbohydrates. We normally associate candy and other sweets with high sugar levels, but the food that causes the most dramatic spike is actually white bread. White bread converts into glucose even more readily than ordinary table sugar! What this means is that a chicken sandwich can actually raise your blood sugar more than that candy bar.
The presence of glucose in the bloodstream leads to the release of the hormone insulin, which seeks to shuttle glucose into the body’s cells or store it as fat. Insulin is released by the pancreas and its operation is facilitated by other nutrients such as B Vitamins, Chromium and Magnesium. Unfortunately, these nutrients are removed from the plant during the refining process, so that makes the body’s job of regulating blood sugar even more difficult.
The most important dietary change that you can make to lose weight is to minimize your consumption of refined carbohydrates. For breakfast in the morning, consider starting your day with a couple eggs cooked in butter along with a few avocado slices. Homemade meat stock or broth can also help to supply some nutrients needed for digestive health. For lunch or dinner, try some homemade barbeque made with grass fed meats. Add plenty of unrefined carbohydrates such as onions, peppers and other vegetables.
Meats, eggs, butter and vegetables do not contain refined sugars which cause high levels of glucose in the blood. There is a surprising contradiction about foods higher in fat. That is, they don’t make you fat! Since they don’t appreciably raise glucose levels or stimulate the release of insulin, there is no excess sugar for your body to convert and store. Remember that chicken sandwich? It may end up actually putting more weight on you than the candy bar because of how readily the bread turns into glucose (not that I’m recommending that you eat the candy bar for lunch…or even dessert).
Some years ago, I gave up gluten along with a number of sweets and I ended up losing 20 lbs. A couple years later, I gave up all refined carbohydrates and lost another 20 lbs. The elimination of carbohydrates produced a much leaner frame. It was a real turning point for me as I had always been under the impression that fat made you fat. The results of my dietary changes told a different story – one that was confirmed years later when I formally studied nutrition.
At the chiropractor’s presentation, he made the comment that he primarily eats a paleo diet with occasional fruits for dessert. The paleo diet consists of meats, eggs, some dairy and vegetables. It was obvious that he had very little fat around his midsection, which is not typical for a 57 year old male.
What if low carb doesn’t work?
But let’s say you’ve tried the low carb diet before and still weren’t able to lose the weight. During one of the breaks, I had the opportunity to ask the presenter about individuals who struggle with this very issue. Many people lose weight when they give up foods high in sugar, but there are some who hit a plateau. Their weight loss simply stops after shedding a certain number of pounds.
The presenter recommended a form of exercise to me called “Resistance Training.” Resistance training is exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance. Weightlifting, squats, exercise bands, push-ups, pull ups and lunges are all forms of resistance training. During this form of exercise, the existing muscle fibers become thicker. The increase in density leads the muscle to develop more mitochondria, which are components of cells involved in energy production. The increase in mitochondria leads the body to burning fat more efficiently.
A number of published studies support this hypothesis. If you’re having trouble losing excess weight, consider making resistance training a part of your exercise routine. Couple this with a diet high in healthy fats and lower in refined carbohydrates. Summer is right around the corner, so this is really a great time to begin making changes. You probably have clothes in your closet that you never parted with because you always hoped you would fit in them again one day. Make today the beginning of that journey.
A coach for your confidence?
If you’d like a partner in reaching your health goals, consider enlisting the help of a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. NTP’s are trained to understand the value of whole foods and their impact on the body’s physiology. Lifestyle change and a farm to table approach to nutrition can make a big difference in your health and everyday vitality. Chris Bramich is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner in Dallas/Ft. Worth who works with clients locally and by distance. Visit www.vitalfoundations.com and sign up for a free 15 minute consultation today!