This is a guest post from Theresa Grisanti, MA, CHHC
With the New Year kicking in and the over-indulgence of the holidays complete, weight loss resolutions abound. If you are looking to make weight loss your goal for 2013 here are some tips you might want to know.
Our body is a fine tuned machine. It uses a wide range of signals to keep itself in balance. Think heart rate, breathing, blood pressure. This system is known as homeostasis by the medical system. Your weight is no different. There are actually hormones that encourage weight loss and weight gain.
Here is an example: Has this ever happened to you?
You cut back on your food hoping to lose weight by restricting your calories. A common weight loss chant by the diet gurus is “calories in/calories out”. If you make your caloric intake less than what you use up, you will begin to lose weight. But then you plateau and the cravings begin. Next thing you know the weight starts to creep back up and you are off your “diet”
The key is, This Isn’t Your Fault! It is actually your body’s way of protecting you.
There are two hormones in your body that cause this cycle and work against calorie restriction.
The first is ghrelin, which your body uses to signal hunger to your brain, specifically your hypothalamus. When your body is hungry the stomach secretes ghrelin into the blood to signal the body to begin eating. Once you start to eat the levels of ghrelin drop.
The counterpart to this action is leptin which is the hormone released by your fat cells to signal you to stop eating and tells the body when your fat levels get too high. This is one of the primary signal to the body that fat stores need to be burned up for energy.
Eating less doesn’t help to lose weight
If we look closer at this cycle we would think that a higher calorie intake would encourage fat burning if we have an increase of leptin in our blood stream. But here’s the catch. Our body becomes resistant to leptin in much the same way as insulin resistance.
When we have too much sugar and processed food in our diet the body stops listening to the signals from insulin and develops a resistance. The same thing happens with leptin. When there is too much leptin in the bloodstream the body no longer pays attention and stops breaking down fat stores.
Here are 3 steps to increase leptin sensitivity and make it work for you.
1. Include cheat days in your weight loss plan. Cheat days do more than satisfy our desire for favorite foods. When your body gets regular doses of high fat and sweet foods, such as pizza and ice cream, leptin sensitivity is reset. The body begins to see the lower calorie intake as a temporary experience.
2. Keep the carbohydrates. The best way to keep your leptin levels up and retain their sensitivity is to eat a small amount of simple carbohydrates to your daily diet. This can be in the form of whole grain breads, pastas, or rice, natural sweeteners and sweet vegetables like roasted sweet potatoes. Our bodies crave these foods to prevent us from starving to death. Having some everyday at dinner time is a great way to signal your body you have plenty of food.
3. Eat one-ingredient foods. The more whole foods you eat, the more sensitive your body is to leptin. When we eat too many processed foods, the body immediately begins to store fat which lowers our leptin sensitivity. When you are eating whole foods with a high water content the body gets plenty of calories, uses what it needs and eliminates the remainder. Then begins to work on the fat stores to eliminate the excess toxins and fat cells to promote homeostasis within the body. Whole Foods = Natural Body Weight.
This balance of whole foods and simple carbohydrates in absence of processed foods will create the ideal conditions within your body to encourage weight loss. If 2013 is the year you are going to lose weight and keep it off, there are many ways to create a healthy and lasting lifestyle that support natural weight loss.
Theresa Grisanti has been studying and applying her understanding of health, nutrition and intuitive eating for more than 15 years. Her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, included instruction from leaders in the holistic healing field, such as Andrew Weil and Mona Lisa Schultz. Find out more about Theresa’s new program Break Free From Dieting and learn how to lose weight the natural way.