It’s so tempting to step on the scale first thing in the morning isn’t it? Of course your weight will be lowest then…you’ve used the toilet already, you’ve been fasting for 7 hours, you’re dehydrated, and you haven’t eaten breakfast yet. For those of you who are overweight, you step on the scale in hopes to see if the number that comes up is lower than it was yesterday. This can happen even several times a day for some of you…and it’s really difficult to stop doing it. People tell you that you look “thinner” and in fact your jeans do feel less tight but you’re weight is the exact same number it was 2 weeks ago. But does the number on that scale truly tell us that we are getting any healthier? What sort of “numbers” should we really be looking at?
A Bioimpedence Analysis (BIA) is a cool tool that I use in my practice that can tell us a lot more about losing weight in a healthy way than what shows on the scale. I’m sure you would all agree that someone who is 150 lbs with a 19% body fat is much healthier than someone who is 150 lbs with a 38% body fat.
Well a BIA tells us just that, a person’s % body fat and % muscle mass. It can even tell us if someone has been drinking enough water and if that water is in fact being absorbed and utilized by the muscles. If I hadn’t even met you yet, I could tell you from your BIA if you are someone that retains water, or whose weight easily fluctuates 3-5 lbs in a day. A BIA can also tell us if you are incorporating enough omega-3 oils in your diet, or if your body is having difficulty eliminating toxins from its tissues. And all of these numbers are so much more useful to make sure you’re on a proper eating & exercise regimen and therefore an effective path to weight loss, then just relying on the scale. And that also means that being successful in losing weight in a healthy way cannot be done alone—the experience of a group setting or with a naturopath will take away a lot of the frustration and de-motivation that can come with trying to lose weight.
As a Naturopath, I’ve been helping people achieve healthy weight loss for over 12 years now, and I have yet to find one “diet” that works for every person. I see the frustration people have over trying diets that don’t give them lasting results, and it frustrates me too. Sure, there are templates like FirstLine Therapy and the Healthy & Active Metabolism Program that I use, but I have to tweak them to take into account my patients’ health status, family history, bloodwork, lifestyle habits, family life…there are a lot of variables!!! However, there are a few tips that I give to all my patients when it comes to optimizing metabolism:
1. Drink half your weight in ounces of filtered water or non-caffeinated herbal tea daily. For example, if someone weighs 150 lbs, they should be drinking a minimum of 75 oz. (or 1.6 L) daily. If you exercise, you need more.
2. Be strategic about the timing of your grain/carbs. This means that you consume your grains around the most active time of your day. For most people, this means having grains with breakfast or lunch (not both) or just after a tough workout.
3. Always eat a protein serving with breakfast. This can be leftovers, eggs, meat, beans, tofu, or a protein shake.
4. Please don’t starve yourself. Starving puts your body into hibernation mode and hold on to fat. Don’t go for more than 4-6 hours without food, but don’t graze all day either. Grazing does NOT improve your metabolism. It actually makes your gut work overtime to produce digestive enzymes and stomach acid all day long. (This rule differs for people with diabetes, or other blood sugar metabolism disorders, but does apply for the general population).
5. Always eat fruits at the end of a meal, or with some nuts or protein. For regulating blood sugar, we need to view fruits as a sugar. If you eat it alone, it will spike your blood sugar faster than if you eat it with some almonds, which will slow down the absorption of the fruit. Stick to low sugar fruits too. I don’t think I need to say that drinking fruit juice is not the same as eating fruit. Juice should be avoided.
6. Exercise!!!! And it has to incorporate high-intensity interval training. Yes, I mean weights, and probably heavier than you are imagining. Why? Because you need to do movements that increase muscle mass and strength—especially for women, this is key!!! Running or fast walking are great for improving cardiovascular health, but will not help you increase muscle. Muscle is a metabolic tissue. It will burn more calories than fat in between workouts. You need more muscle. If you need a personal trainer to help you with knowing what to do and do it safely, then I highly recommend you invest in one, or come talk to me!
7. And most important – get enough sleep. Proper rest lowers your cortisol levels. High cortisol levels caused by stress causes you to gain (and keep) abdominal fat. And if you can’t, or work shifts, or have kids, or whatever, come talk to me about natural ways to lower cortisol levels.
8. For us ladies….hormones and weight loss….well, that is a whole other blog post!
Interested in getting on a path of healthy weight loss? Come book a free 15-min meet & greet with Dr. Misa, or book a 90-min initial visit (includes BIA test) to get started right away! Naturopathic Medicine is covered under most work health benefits.