Many people follow the right diet and exercise regularly but are still far away from their goal weight and dream body. But, what is the right diet and the right exercise?
You can easily achieve the right diet in the long run, and keep it up for the rest of your life. Any eating regimen that recommends eliminating junk food, simple sugars and empty calories will inevitably produce weight loss. However, all diets fail when it comes to weight loss retention for two reasons; lack of sustainability and the physiologic response to caloric deficit. I would like to address both of these issues and offer you solutions how to overcome them.
- Lack of sustainability: after dieting, people tend to go back to their previous habits so it is natural for weight to come back. You may even end up heavier after dieting as your body will try to store energy and prepare for the next fast. This leads to weight cycling, which is more harmful for your metabolism than simply staying overweight.
- Physiologic response to caloric deficit: when you cut back on calories there is a natural decrease in your metabolic rate and an increase in hunger; Your body fights back, doing its best to hold on to every pound. These compensatory mechanisms are natural and much stronger than your motivation and willpower.
Going into a weight loss or catabolic mode, one has to be aware of the metabolic response of calorie deficit and be prepared with the appropriate tools to overcome them.
Berberine can aid both in sustainability and the decrease in your metabolism, as it has been shown to reduce the secretion of the appetite stimulating hormone leptin. (1) In addition, Berberine prevents sugar cravings by regulating the anabolic hormone insulin. Unstable blood sugars are the main reason why we have sugars cravings. Low blood sugars, which lead to sweet cravings are often caused by insulin spike from intake of simple carbohydrates without protein and/or fat. While avoiding sugars is the best a supplement like Berberine can help in the transition.
Berberine is extracted from Barberries, a shrub that grows tart, red berries. Barberries are native to Europe, African and Asia, but now are grown all over the world. In traditional medicine Barberries were used to treat digestive problems, infections and skin disturbances. But later were also used for treatment of diabetes and ache due to their potent antioxidant properties (2).
Nowadays, its extract, Berberine, has been suggested to treat obesity by down-regulating expression of genes that promote the proliferation of fats cells (3,4,5). Moreover, it could alleviate the growth of fats tissue by inducing the enzymes that activate the glucose and fatty acids uptake.
Berberine regulates the levels of gut hormones, subsequently, treating obesity and insulin resistance. In other studies, it is suggested that Berberine helps with insulin resistance by modulating the gut microbiota (6, 7, 8). Berberine has been shown to be effective in the treatment of dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease accompanying obesity by different molecular and cellular mechanisms (9,10).
Eat More Plants
People who follow a predominantly plant-based diet appear to be leaner and healthier (13). If you are actively trying to lose weight, adopting the plant-based diet is known to be the most appropriate approach when it comes to adherence and sustainability. This means that if you start eating a plant-based diet, there is a high likelihood that the positive changes you make are going to stay with you and the weight will be easier to keep off. A meta analysis from 12 randomized controlled trails involving more a 1,000 individuals concluded in their efforts to lose weight, people who followed the plant based diet lost significantly more weight and kept it off for years after. (14)
In a review from 2017, researchers analyzed the results from over 12 studies of the effectiveness of the plant-based diet in weight loss and maintenance. They concluded: ” The adoption of plant-based diet appears effective for weight loss. Based on the available evidence, plant – based diet should be considered a viable option for patients who are interested in losing weight and improving dietary quality consistent with chronic disease prevention and treatment.”
But how does it work? Please who follow the plant-based diet continuously report feeling better, calmer and more self-content, making the plant-based diet “addictive” in a way. Veggies are low in calories, most are high in fiber, water and provide anti-inflammatory properties (14). Fiber being a key nutrient, diets high in fiber tend to produce more weight reduction because fiber provides satiety, blocks the absorption of fat, cleans the colon from toxins and feeds the good bacteria in your intestinal lumen thus protecting us from pathogens and strengthening our immune system.
Bottom Line: Consider adopting a plant-based diet for weight loss.
Eating at the Right Time
The natural rhythm of our appetite, nutrient deposition or utilization is not behavioral, but rather biological. In other words, when we are hungry depends on our inner biological clocks, not our obtained habits. Our bodies are programed to nutrient intake during the day for 8 to 12 hours and to detoxify during the night. We are not meant to eat late in the evening or too close to bed time (3-4 hours), and when we do we gain weight. That is why you can’t find an overweight animal living in its natural habitat, as animal eat instinctively with their circadian rhythms and when they are hungry, not when they are bored, happy, anxious or stressed like we do.
There are natural daily swings of our blood pressure, hormone production, digestion, immune activation and all other physiological processes. Body temperature for example, it is lowest around 4:00 am, it is because our bodies cool down as we are in our deepest REM sleep phase. Even if you are not sleeping the temperature dip still happens. It is part of our physiological circadian rhythm similar to when we should eat.
Eating with Your Circadian Rhythm:
- Have 12 to 14 hours of fast between dinner and breakfast
- Eat more calories in the first half of the day
- Let breakfast be your heaviest meal of the day
- Let dinner be your lightest meal of the day
- Do not snack after dinner
Israeli researchers randomized obese women into two groups given the same number of calories. One group was given 700 calories for breakfast, 500 for lunch and 200 for dinner. The other group was given 200 calories for breakfast, 500 for lunch and 700 for dinner. Despite the same number of caloric provision the group that ate the high calorie breakfast lost 19 pounds compared to only 8 pounds lost in the group that ate a low calorie breakfast. (16)
Our internal clocks drive not only our behavioral patterns, such as eating, sleeping, fasting, wakefulness, but also our internal physiology such as digestion, nutrient utilization, body temperature, blood pressure, and immunity. We are simply not meant to eat too close to the end of the day when physiological processed are slowing down, getting us ready for the night rest, when other activities are tuned on such as clearing accumulated waste, detoxification, renew and repair of tissues.
Bottom Line: Eat early in the day. Make Your Dinner the smallest meal
There are three components of human energy expenditure; our basal metabolic rate or the energy needed for us to stay alive (60 to 80 % of all energy needs), the thermic effect of food, or the energy needed to break down food (~ 10 %) and activity thermogenesis, or the energy expected with movement (the remaining energy). The activity thermogenesis can be subdivided into exercise and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT appears to be fundamentally important in human fat gain. (17)
Ways to increase NEAT:
- Clean your house more often
- Park at the furthest parking spot
- Go to the furthest restroom at work
- Use the stairs
- Stand up more often
- Take walking breaks
- Pace when you talk on the phone
But exactly what is NEAT? NEAT is every movement that is not intentional exercise, such as light house chores, going up and down stairs in you house, light cleaning, daily house chores etc. It seems that some people engage in NEAT much more than others and they may do that without realizing it. NEAT can really increase a person’s energy expenditures to the point to significant weight loss.
How can you increase NEAT?
First, make a conscious decision that you would like to increase your NEAT.
Second, find activities that are enjoyable and non-stressful.
Third, ensure that the activity elected are low in cost, meaning the activity selected does not require changing location or clothes, such as pacing in the room while talking on the phone as opposed to sitting on a chair.
Other examples include walking to the bathroom on another floor, parking your car at the far end of parking lot, standing up more often while working, and doing house chores such as vacuuming or wiping surfaces.
Green tea is well known metabolic stimulant via two mechanism– One is the caffeine content. Despite the much lower caffeine content compared to coffee (coffee has about 60 to 200 mg caffein per cap vs 20 to 40 mg in green tea), it still can stimulate your metabolism according to number of studies (18, 19). The reason why green tea has advantage over coffee is its antioxidant effect (20) from catechins (21), the most active among them being epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that can boost metabolism.
It may come as a surprise to you, but EGCG has fat-burning properties, which is why most pre-work out supplements contain EGCG. (22) It is known to inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine (23). Norepinathrin is know for its fat-burning properties, as it is a constituent of the sympathetic nervous system. When norepinephrine stays in the blood stream for longer it promotes fat breakdown more readily (7).
EGCG is scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties.(24) Studies have also shown ECGC to have anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects by reducing circulating cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, improving body mass index ratios, increasing thermogenesis (the body’s rate of burning calories) and increasing body fat oxidation – which consequently results in improved endurance capcity ( 25, 26).
Bottom Line: drink at least 3 cups of green tea per day