When you think of losing weight you think of eating less and start going to the gym. Right? Right…but it depends.
Losing weight shouldn’t be about starving yourself, becoming anxious and depressed about foods that you CANNOT have, being regimented or pushing yourself in the gym until you lose the enjoyment. It should be about empowering yourself through making better decisions about your food choices. Our relationship with food is, dare I say, broken. It is more helpful if we start viewing food as something we enjoy, that brings people together. As the world changed to become faster and us busier, we started to demand convenience, quicker ways to fuel. The other side of the coin is that we lost our understanding of how food is grown, how to cook, how to create flavour. I strongly believe this is one of the puzzles in the current health crisis.
Our mindset to losing weight is currently trained to look at quick gains, instant gratification. Therefore, we constantly look for miracle products that will be able to undo all the over indulgence we allowed ourselves. It’s not easy. We evolved to eat as much as we can as we had to hunt for food. However, food now is available 24h. Feeling hungry? You can even Uber your food these days. So we constantly need to fight this urge to feed in a world where we are more static than ever.
Wouldn’t life be better if:
- we were to use the energy from food quicker (or in other words burn more calories);
- feel fuller and therefore not hungry;
- have more energy;
- and potentially enable us to live better and longer?
Understanding how our body uses food
The body uses as energy GLUCOSE and FAT.
Glucose comes from plants which make this simple sugar from water(H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) using the energy from the sun. The way we get glucose into our body is through a food group called carbohydrates (ie. pasta, bread, parsnips, sweet potato, beetroot, etc). Our bodies digest foods like carbohydrates until they are broken down to its smallest molecule, glucose. The body uses some of the glucose to power up vital organs (the brain is a big consumer of energy) and muscles and whatever it is not needed straight away the body will use as storage of glycogen in the liver and muscles and finally as adipose tissue.
Our body can also use fat as an energy source. Fat can be either from food sources (ie. butter, olive oil, oily fish, etc) or from our own body (ie. adipose tissue). The body uses mainly fat when the presence of glucose in the blood is low. In other words when we are eating very few carbohydrates. So I am afraid that eating cake or burger and chips will not instruct your body to use fat. The liver transforms the fatty acids (the smallest molecule of fat) into ketones. These can be used by your brain and your body as energy.
Objective: keep your glucose levels even or low
So how exactly do we do this?
- Eating slow and little carbohydrate and high healthy fats
- Intermittent fasting
I will be talking about intermittent fasting in another post so look out for that if you are interested.
What is a slow carb?
A slow carbohydrate (or a low GL – glycemic load) is a carbohydrate that releases its sugar (glucose) into the blood stream slowly and therefore you maintain your energy levels for longer. You could say it’s a measure of its quality.
When you eat a slow carbohydrate diet:
- You will have less amounts of glucose into your blood and therefore smaller chances to gain weight;
- You will not suffer food cravings;
- Your body might start using fat as an energy source;
- The weight loss is sustainable over longer periods of time;
Avoid refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates (ie. white flower, white rice, white bread, white pasta) will release the sugar very quickly. So better to go for wholegrain or unrefined carbohydrate (ie. wholemeal bread, brown rice, brown pasta, spelt pasta, rye bread, quinoa, etc). Having said that the quantity something to be mindful of. Eating a large plate of brown pasta will not get you off in weight loss dream land even if it is a slow carb.
Combine protein with carbohydrate
By adding moderate amount of protein (ie. animal protein, nuts and seeds, eggs, yogurt etc) you are slowing down the carbohydrate even more. Pulses and legumes contain both carbohydrate and protein so if you add these to your plate make sure the amount of carbohydrate from other sources is smaller.
Caffeine and nicotine do not help in losing weight
Smoking and drinking caffeine can lead to weight gain by releasing certain hormones (adrenaline and dopamine) which in turn tell your body to start releasing the glucose storage from your liver. Therefore, this has the same effect as eating fast carbohydrates or high GL foods.
Wake up call smoothie
- 1 banana
- 1 large bunch spinach
- 2 handfuls hazelnuts
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 espressos
- 1/2 small glass almond milk
- Put all ingredients into a blender and blitz for 1 min until all ingredients are combined. Add more or less liquid to your preference. I like thicker smoothies.
Very berry smoothie
- 1 banana
- 2 large handfuls frozen berries
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 small glass almond milk
- Put all ingredients in a blender and blitz for 1 minute until smooth. With berries being frozen it might mean you will have to add a bit of water to loosen it.