Eight Tips for Weight Loss

by Dr. John Haest

Question: What can I do to lose weight?

Patients routinely ask me for advice and tips on how to accelerate their weight loss. Perhaps they expect an intricate or lofty answer, but the truth of the matter is that we must get back to the basics. I find that in most cases, abnormal weight gain is caused by maladaptive lifestyle issues. To initiate a life long change, we must start with the basics – how we eat, sleep, exercise, reduce stress, and enjoy our lives. Here are a few tips!

Get Enough Sleep. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes one pound losing wise.” Research has shown higher levels of glucose in those who sleep between 4 to 7 hours each night. This means that your body’s metabolism slows down with consistent lack of sleep. Researchers say that this can occur with only 6 nights of sleep deprivation. Studies also show that every hour of sleep before 12 midnight is two times as valuable as each our after midnight, so get to bed early!

Eat Right! This simple concept will make all the difference in the world. Eat foods that are less refined/ processed, and closer to their natural form. Avoid fast foods, and foods with high sugar content or high-fructose corn syrup. Eat fresher, real foods, and make sure to get plenty of fiber. Trade in that cherry coke for some real cherries. Skip the apple pie for a while and stick to a nice juicy apple. There are plenty of foods out there that will satisfy your taste buds without tormenting your body… Keep yourself accountable! Get a glycemic index chart, eat foods that are 55 or lower on the chart.

Drink Right! Here’s another no-brainer. The best possible thing you can drink is water! With the advent of high-fructose corn syrup and other super sugars, most sodas, energy drinks, and other leisure libations are packed full of sugary calories (Statistics show that Americans drink 20% of their overall calories). Water is the primary foundation of the human body and has seemingly countless imperative functions, from toxin elimination and help in the digestion process, to transporting nutrients to our calorie burning cells. So next time, reach for the good old H2O. And make sure the water is filtered, don’t drink tap water. Tap water is full of chemicals, including high levels of chlorine and halogens.

Learn How To Cook. The plain and simple truth is that cooking food at home is healthier (and cheaper!) than eating out. However, eating microwave dinners, cooking with high amounts of salt and fat, or loading up on desert are sure fire ways to circumvent your weight loss goals. Buy a healthy themed cookbook or look up recipes online. Eating at home can not only help you lose the pounds in the right places, but also keep your wallet from losing them too.

Practice Conscious Eating. Our fast food culture endorses speed eating and large portions. One of the draw backs of our human anatomy is our stomach’s slow response time. It is quite possible to eat twice the amount of food our bodies need in a single sitting. When we eat too fast, our stomach doesn’t have enough time to tell us we’re full. The simple act of chewing food adequately and taking smaller bites allows our stomach’s response system to trigger the “I’m full” switch. Studies have also shown that chewing food more thoroughly actually makes you feel more full and helps digestion. So slow down speed racer…enjoy your food.

Chill Out. Stress and overeating are old pals. We as Americans consistently try to comfort ourselves with food. Had a bad day? Eat a pint of ice cream. NO! Instead of focusing on the stressful points of our lives and counteract them, we try to eat our way to consolation. The next time you find yourself reaching for the cookies and cream at the ice box, try hiking, meditation, breathing, yoga, playing with your pets, spending time with your family, or any other wonderful natural stress reliever. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll save yourself from unneeded calories, and burn some extra ones while you’re at it.

Don’t skip breakfast! As counterintuitive as it may seem, it is highly possible to under-eat and be overweight. If you starve yourself, your body goes into survival mode, storing the calories you do intake and feeding on your muscle tissue for energy. It is also important to eat breakfast to help jumpstart your metabolism for the day. Eating smaller portions of healthy food throughout the day will help keep your metabolism at top speed, and allow your body to feed on its fat reserves instead of its muscle tissue. Be sure to eat protein at every meal.

Exercise Is Not Enough. Many people believe they can eat what they want as long as they are exercising and then wonder why they can’t get rid of that spare tire. Exercise in combination with a healthy diet and a happy, stress free mind is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.

Dr. John Haest is the medical director of Austin Wellness Clinic. He currently supervises a wellness weight loss program, anti-aging, human performance, allergy resolution and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, and addresses adrenal and thyroid issues and nutritional deficiencies. More About Dr. Haest