September 3, 2012

10 Fabulous Foods for Weight Loss (…& Exhilarating Wellness).

Carrying a few extra pounds?

You wouldn’t be alone.

I talk to people all the time who want simple solutions for life-long problems.

If there were a simple, easy way to lose those extra pounds off your belly, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

The formula for losing weight and maintaining optimal weight must take into consideration a multitude of factors including metabolic rate (the amount of energy your body needs to function), blood sugar regulation and activity level. It’s important not to depend on any one food, nutrient or dietary formula to stimulate weight loss.

I advocate variety being the spice of life!

(And I do this for valid scientific reasons! Paleolithic Aboriginal tribes in Australia studied in their natural habitat have been shown to have eaten over a 100 different foods per day. Compare that to the average Western diet—sugar, dairy, wheat, soy, cow’s meat, potato, pork, corn syrup… Need I say more?!)

The most crucial element is to lower calorie intake via food and increase activity level by exercise. Watch out for fads! All food does contain calories, so if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! Weight loss does not occur magically.

To help strip off unwanted pounds, I have a simple formula—eat foods that fill you up, and eat foods that speed up your metabolism.

Here are my Top 10 Foods for Weight-Loss:

1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a superstar of soluble fibre, absorbing 12 times their volume in water, and containing the highest known levels of omega-3’s in any food. Soluble fibre expands throughout the digestive process, making you feel full for hours. It also keeps you “regular” stimulating healthy digestion.

2.  Green Tea

Green tea extract has been shown to create a considerable increase in energy expenditure, plus has a positive effect on fat breakdown. Researchers theorize that this may be due to the theanine in the green tea rather than the caffeine—theanine is an amino acid that is helpful for brain balance, fatigue, and both physical and mental energy.

3. Coconut Oil

Aside from palm oil, breast milk and raw unprocessed full-fat cow’s milk, coconut oil is the only food to naturally contain medium-chain fatty acids. MCFAs are broken down in your liver, boosting energy and burning existing fat. The fast rate of oxidation of MCFA leads to greater energy expenditure. In addition, coconut oil also makes you feel full.

4. Cacao

A rat study showed that Cacao may lower cholesterol and moderate blood-sugar levels. Whether you believe the rats or not, Cacao is delicious raw, in chocolate or hot chocolate. Cacao also contains antioxidant polyphenols which are protective against several diseases—including cardiovascular diseases and cancers—and demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Caffeine—e.g. Coffee/ Black Tea

Caffeine in small doses has shown promise at increasing metabolism, particularly within one hour of intake. Caffeine before exercise may be a way of boosting fat-loss.

The scientific literature doesn’t recommend large intakes of caffeine. One cup of coffee a day may provide benefit, but more than that, may be too much, and may have the opposite effect as it’s difficult to digest, requiring various liver detoxification processes. It also places a burden and stress on the adrenal glands.

Since most people over-stress their adrenal glands in the modern world, it is crucial to limit caffeine intake, and provide “rest days.”

6. Chili

Good news for chili-lovers! Chili and its active component capsaicin has been shown to enhance energy and fat metabolism. I recommend only moderate amounts.

7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s have protective effects via inhibiting inflammation and improving insulin tolerance. A diet containing good amounts of omega-3s may protect the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it causes. Best absorbed via cold water fish, and vegetarian sources flax, chia (see number one) and hemp seeds.

Farmed fish are to be avoided due to chemical contaminants—they also contain vastly inferior quantities of omega-3s due to their unhealthy and artificial diets. Also, watch out for mercury levels.

Pregnant women and women planning children in the future need to be particularly careful, and when in doubt rather avoid fish altogether and take a mercury free omega-3 supplement instead.

Mercury is stored in the body, and this is why there are long-term risks. (Fetuses, infants and young children with developing nervous systems face the largest potential risks.)

Some relevant sustainable fishing websites:

8. Protein

Moderate protein intake may aid weight loss as it:

  • >> increases satiety and may facilitate a reduction in energy consumption.
  • >> increases thermogenesis (the production of heat).
  • >> stimulates muscle protein building, increasing the retention of lean muscle mass while improving metabolic profile.

Excess protein produces purine by-products which place a heavy toxic burden on detox channels of elimination, particularly the kidneys. Especially when digesting purines produces excess uric acid. (This can cause gout.)

Theories about optimal protein intake differ widely. Generally, most Westerners err on the side of excess protein. It’s beneficial to eat proteins regularly, yet in small digestible amounts. Animal proteins are the most difficult for the body to break down, often producing systemic stress. Proteins start to break down when cooked, and become even less absorbable. The highest known protein source is vegetarian—spirulina.

The China Study linked excess protein intake to a number of Western diseases. I recommend eating small amounts of protein in the context of a high fibre and high water diet. Vegetarian proteins should outweigh animal proteins.

9. Water

Clean water is vital for human health. Since we contain between 55-78 percent of water, we require adequate water for optimal cell functioning and the detoxification required to aid weight-loss. The more active you are and the warmer the climate, the greater the loss of hydration, and concomitantly the greater the need for water.

10. Acai Berry

A much-touted berry sold in powder form over the internet via clever network marketing. Acai berry is a staple part of some Amazon jungle tribes’ diet.

While berries are a healthy part of any person’s diet due to their antioxidant, polyphenol, fibre and bioflavonoid content, to claim that they promote weight loss requires further scientific validation.

I would advocate berries as superfoods and definitely part of my recommended wellness diet. I always advocate that people buy from local sustainable sources where possible. Whether acai berry fits into this ideal, is debatable. I recommend people support their local farmer’s markets instead, or better, grow their own organic berries.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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