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In our jam-packed lives, weight loss can be hard. That being said, it is doable. Tried and tested strategies are available to help you lose weight and keep it off. A few of the proven approaches include:
- Keep a log of everything you eat and drink
- Increase vegetable consumption and cut back on refined carbs and high-fat foods
- Weigh yourself every morning
- Use pre-portioned foods
You may be asking, “Is there anything else I can do to improve my odds?”
New research shows some promising possibilities. Keep in mind, the evidence is limited and more studies are needed. Also, remember everyone’s body and lifestyle are different, so what works in research studies may not work for you.
Your body has a circadian rhythm that is optimized to do different things at different times of the day. For example, the calorie burn from eating is greater in the morning, while fat burning increases overnight. When the timing of your meal is off, there can be problems with metabolism. What should you consider?
- Eat a greater amount of calories earlier in the day: Eat a large breakfast, a medium-sized lunch and a small dinner. This may boost weight loss, improve blood sugar and insulin levels and decrease hunger. Another option is to eat your largest meal before 3 p.m.
- Extend your overnight fast: Eating dinner earlier and going longer overnight without eating may improve fat burning, weight loss and hunger swings.
You may have seen the headlines of celebrities touting the “5:2 Diet” – eat moderately five days per week and slash calories (500 calories for women and 600 calories for men) two days a week. The diet suggests two days a week, women slash 500 calories from their diet and men slash 600 calories. Does it work? Here’s what we know:
- The 5:2 Diet appears to result in similar weight loss to normal “dieting” methods, which include consistent calorie cutting
- There may be a greater loss of fat and less muscle loss
- Improvements in insulin function and lowered risk of diabetes are possible
- It’s uncertain if the weight loss can be sustained long-term; the research studies last only 6 months or less
- The approach isn’t easy and it takes time for hunger to lessen on the low-calorie days
The human gut contains an estimated 100 trillion micro-organisms. This intestinal microbiome plays a role in our digestion, metabolism and immune system. More research is identifying potential links between our gut microbiome and a number of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and obesity. The research is still in its infancy, but there are a few things you can do to help boost the diversity and amount of healthy micro-organisms in your system.
- Eat more high-fiber and plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits and legumes
- Add more prebiotic fibers to feed good bacteria; foods such as oats, green bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks and onions are great options
- Cut back on foods and nutrients prevalent in the “Western” diet including saturated fat, sugar and refined grains
At this time, there is not enough research to make recommendations on probiotics for weight management.
- Eat more of your calories earlier in the day
- Cut out night-time eating and aim to go to bed a little hungry
- Boost your fiber intake by eating more plant-based foods
By Molly Wangsgaard, MS, RDN, LD, NSCA-CPT