Gut microbiome and weight loss

How To Improve Gut Health For Weight Loss

Gut health and weight loss go hand in hand.

You’ve probably heard of gut health, but have you ever really thought about how important it is for your OVERALL health?

What is gut health?

Gut health is the function and balance of bacteria in the many parts of the gastrointestinal tract. The term “gut microbiome” refers specifically to the microorganisms living in your intestines.

If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” or had that “gut feeling” to make a decision, or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, these are clues that the brain and gut are talking to each other. This is why your gut is known as the second brain .

This “brain in your gut” is the link between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.

Scientists call this brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). 

There is research showing that a healthy gut can even improve your mood, your thinking and can help boost memory.

gut health is important for overall health and weight loss
Gut health is important for overall health and weight loss.

There are many different types of bacteria in the gut, good and bad.

We will not talk much about bad bacteria in this post. But just know that bad bacteria causes illnesses like digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, some diseases and has even been linked to mood fluctuations.

On the other hand, our bodies have a symbiotic relationship with our good bacteria. This means the bacteria lives with us and on us in a way that is beneficial for both of us.

One of the amazing benefits of having a healthy gut is the production of short-chain fatty acids by the good gut bacteria.

These short-chain fatty acids are the main source of nutrition for the cells in your colon. The release of these short-chain fatty acids play an important role in reducing the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions while improving the immune system.

The opposite of symbiosis is dysbiosis, or the disruption in the balance of the microbiota, which can lead to physical problems that show up as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, even depression and anxiety. 

Gut health is an important, yet often neglected, factor in losing weight and can impact your overall health.

Not a lot of people know this fact. So in today’s blog post, I am sharing a roundup of facts on how gut health works and how it can affect your ability to lose weight.

In fact, in a new study, scientists found that weight loss is heavily influenced by the genes and enzymes within the bacteria living in your gut. 

The science behind gut microbiome and its effect on weight loss or weight gain is still in its infancy. However, this new study expands our understanding to how the gut microbiota influences weight-loss outcomes.

Gut Health and Weight Loss: How To Improve Gut Health For Weight Loss

Your gut health can either help or cause resistance to weight loss. 

Thankfully, you can drastically improve the health of bacteria in your gut by doing just a few easy things on a daily basis.

1.Eat more probiotics.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. Probiotics are found in yogurt, kefir, tempeh and fermented foods. You can strengthen these good bacteria with prebiotics. Because probiotics are living things, they need food for these healthy bacteria to survive and thrive. Prebiotics is the food for the bacteria’s growth.

You find prebiotics in fiber rich foods like apricots, artichokes, almonds, pistachios and legumes, berries, apples. You can boost fiber when you eat these fruits and vegetables with their skin.

Here is my favorite smoothie recipe that is fiber rich and loaded with prebiotics!

2. Fill up on fermented foods.

Some examples of fermented foods are: kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, and yogurt. 

Fermented foods are important because they are loaded with probiotics. They further help strengthen the health of your gut bacteria.

Fermented foods like pickles helps improve gut health which can lead to weight loss
Fermented foods like pickles are loaded with probiotics which can help the good bacteria in our gut thrive and multiply.

3. Limit processed foods.

Even though most foods are processed these days, pay attention to the ultra-processed and refined foods because they lack diversity and fiber. They are also filled with added sugars, salt, artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives. Your microbiome thrives on diverse fibers that can be found in a variety of plant-based foods like colorful fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Try to choose a wide variety of colorful produce items when you go to the grocery store to maintain a healthy microbiome.

Disclaimer: please note that the gut microbiota isn’t the only factor that influences weight and body fat. There are many other variables that play a role including age, physical activity, diet, and gender.

highly processed foods can alter gut health
Limit ultra-processed foods as they have been shown to disrupt your gut health and microbiome.

Medications and the gut microbiome

Let’s quickly talk about medications as it is important to know that some very common medications can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome.

This is NOT to say you need to stop taking your medication, but if you are taking some of those listed below, it may be a good idea to really focus on strengthening your gut microbiome and increasing your fruit, veggie, and fermented foods intake.

Some medications you should be mindful of and that can affect gut health include:

  • Antibiotics – While antibiotics can be highly effective in treating serious bacterial infections, there is concern about misuse and overuse.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs (i.e., Motrin, Advil and Aleve) disrupt the normal balance of the beneficial bacteria living in your gut.
  • Antacids – All antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach, which is the body’s first line of defense from harmful pathogens that we eat every day. We increase our risk for stomach bugs and infections if we are taking antacids regularly.
  • Antidepressants – One of the most popular classes of anti-depressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Scientists estimate that 90 percent of serotonin is made in the gut. Imbalances in serotonin have been linked to diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
  • Sleeping pills – Like antidepressants, sleeping pills are fat-soluble drugs. They can penetrate the gut wall and injure the natural balance of the digestive system.
  • Laxatives – Laxatives can also affect the balance of gut bacteria.
  • Statins – Statins, or cholesterol lowering medications, may negatively influence the balance of gut bacteria.

Please review with your physician or primary care provider before taking or stopping any drugs and medications.

Pills and medications can alter gut microbiome
Certain medications have been shown to alter the microbiome.

If you want to learn more about how to build your meals for a healthy weight loss that prioritizes your gut health, click here.

Woman stepping on a scale to see weight loss

How To Lose Weight And Sustain It

How to lose weight and sustain. This is a very common question I frequently get asked.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I can 100% tell you that there is a better way to lose weight and actually keep it off. Most women make the mistake of eliminating certain foods and trying ALL the diets thinking they keep regaining the weight due to lack of willpower or because they’re weak.

In reality, it is NOT a lack of willpower. It is that you are using methods that simply do not work.

When you restrict foods and drastically cut calories, you do lose weight, but you quickly regain it as soon as you go back to eating normally or you go back to including the foods you had been restricting.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important, keeping in mind a “healthy weight” is very individualized and personalized to you. Maintaining a healthy weight does not mean being at your thinnest size and having a low body weight.

I define having a healthy weight as:

  • The weight where you are eating a diet full of foods that are nourishing, give you energy and make you feel good
  • Being able to eat your favorite foods without any guilt, shame or feeling “out of control” around them
  • Having a healthy relationship with food and your body

Today I will be sharing practical and effective ways on how to lose weight and sustain it.

How To Lose Weight And Sustain It

Eat breakfast everyday

You probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I would have to agree. You do not need to eat breakfast as soon as you wake up, but it’s important to eat something before you are famished.

Waiting to eat until you are overly hungry leads to overeating which leads to weight gain, if done consistently.

I have worked with many women helping them lose weight and keep it off and one of the most common characteristics of women struggling to lose weight is they cut calories low and they usually skip breakfast. This is the worst way to lose weight because it slows your metabolism and it messes with your hormones. And these negative effects take A LOT of time to undo.

The best way to keep your metabolism revved is to eat meals that are high in proteim, high in fiber with some healthy fats. This way, you can eat MORE food and lose weight.

healthy balanced breakfast as part of your weight loss diet | How To Lose Weight And Sustain It
Eating a healthy balanced breakfast helps keep your blood sugar levels stabilized which leads to fewer cravings and weight loss that lasts

Eating more produce

One of the simplest ways to eat more and lose weight is by eating more produce. You can eat so much more food when you load up on the veggies, specifically. 

Eating more fruits and vegetables ensures you are eating a diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This helps you feel good and energized as you are losing weight.

Have you ever been on a diet where you were exhausted and cranky all the time? Yeah, we don’t want that because then what’s the point?

One of the best ways to add more fruits and veggies is to plan it in.

Make a list of the fruits and vegetables you love to eat so you know what you’re getting at the grocery store. You can also decide to try a new recipe or a new vegetable once a month. 

When you have a list and a plan ready to go, you are more likely to stick to it.

eat more produce to lose weight and sustain it
Prioritize adding more produce in your diet for a healthy and sustainable weight loss

Exercising

Most people think they need to sweat profusely and be completely out of breath for their exercise to count, but that is not the case.

Taking a 20-30 minute walk most days of the week as an exercise routine is a great start.  Studies show that walking daily helps reduce depression, anxiety, lowers blood pressure and even improves insomnia.

Once you’ve gotten into a stable exercise routine, you can switch it up and even add some strength training.

Getting into a routine that you can actually stick to is a bigger priority when you are first starting out.

Small, realistic goals

Trying to change everything all at once leads to unsustainable methods and therefore unsustainable results. 

Focusing on one thing you need to improve on TODAY and sticking to that one area of focus until it becomes routine is important.

Some examples of small, realistic goals include:

  • Eating 3 veggies a day or;
  • Drinking an extra cup of water or; 
  • Taking a 15 minute walk 3 times per week

Start small. Remember this is not a race and there is no finish line. You are working on improving your health in little ways every day so they add up and show up in a big way in the future.

weight loss dietitian setting small realistic goals | How To Lose Weight And Sustain It
Taking the time to set small realistic goals and getting clear on your weight loss goals is important for taking intentional action

Finding a support network with others who also want to learn how to lose weight and sustain it 

Having a support network and those who are on a similar path makes the journey more fun and exciting. Being able to share struggles and ways to overcome obstacles with someone who understands what you’re going through helps keep you on track and can help keep you motivated.

Getting enough sleep

Sleeping enough is so underrated when it comes to weight loss and weight maintenance. Getting adequate sleep helps hormone balance and helps curb cravings. Have you ever noticed that when you’re sleep deprived you crave sweets and snack foods? This is because your body is looking for a quick boost of energy and those highly processed foods provide that quick boost of energy.

Try getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and long term weight loss.

sleep is important for longterm weight loss and sustaining it
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and weight loss

To summarize: How to lose weight and sustain it

The question how to lose weight and sustain it is a complex one and it is very individualized.

Losing weight and keeping it off does not have to be complicated. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight is more than just dieting and exercise. Focusing on a well rounded, balanced healthy lifestyle will lead to habit and behavior change which leads to weight loss that actually lasts.

This is not to say that healthy food and the number of calories does not matter when it comes to weight loss. But in order to maintain the lost weight, it is important to look from a holistic perspective. 

Clients have been able to maintain their weight loss and achieve their health goals by shifting their focus from  solely relying on the number on the scale to tell them how far they’re come to tuning in to how their body is feeling.

Take some time to analyze your health and the different areas in your life where you may need to shift some attention. This is because more often than not, your weight loss is tied to the other areas in your life.

Stay in touch on Instagram and TikTok

High Protein High Fiber Smoothie

High Protein High Fiber Smoothie

A fiber and protein rich smoothie that is delicious, thick and creamy.

high protein high fiber smoothie green smoothie
High protein high fiber smoothie that is simple, delicious and creamy.

If you are a busy mom trying to find ways to fit in your nutrients without spending too much time in the kitchen, smoothies are a great option!

Smoothies are great for breakfast, snacks, and even as a pre- and post-exercise drink. They are packed with nutrients, and can easily be customized depending on your nutritional needs.

High Protein High Fiber Smoothie

When you are making a smoothie, it is important to make sure you are balancing the carbs with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This combination of nutrients helps you feel full and energized for a long time, because it is digested slower than a plain fruit smoothie or a juice. 

This is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer smoothies over juicing. Juice is digested quickly and, even though it provides a quick boost of energy, that energy does not last and makes you feel hungry soon after. This is because when you juice all of the fiber and sustenance is removed. 

Smoothies are also a great way to help you reach your weight loss goals because they are filling and help you curb cravings and they are so easy to make!

One of the biggest reasons women have a hard time losing weight is because they are not eating enough food AND they are not eating enough of the nutrients that help support their weight loss in a way that is healthy and sustainable.

Therefore making smoothies a part of your lifestyle, especially if you feel like you do not have the time to focus on your weight loss goals, can be extremely helpful and helps keep you on track.

A few extra benefits:

They are an excellent way to sneak in some greens and a squeeze of lemon juice will help with digestion. Adding healthy fats from chia seeds and avocado will keep you full, your hormones balanced, and your skin glowing.

This smoothie can be considered a meal in a glass as it contains healthy fats, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates all in one. 

 

ingredients for weight loss high fiber high protein smoothie
The ingredients used in a high fiber high protein smoothie are simple and you can use only whole foods if you prefer

 

Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups liquid of choice (I prefer almond milk)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 handfuls Spinach 
  • 2 mini cucumbers
  • 1 cup berries 
  • 1 date
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 scoop of protein powder 
  • Squeeze of lemon 

This smoothie provides 23 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein per smoothie.

Instructions:

Simply add all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until thick and creamy.

You may add ice if you prefer your smoothies chilled.

Enjoy!

Tips for making a high-fiber/ high-protein smoothie:

1. How to lessen sweetness:
  • Don’t use dates
  • Substitute the banana with a frozen zucchini
2. How to choose the right ingredients:
  • Aim to choose between 1-2 high-fiber carb choices and try and limit the amount of fruit added (no more than 2)
3. How to substitute the ingredients:
  • Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients with what you have on hand.
  • You can use peanut butter instead of hemp seeds as a way to add healthy fats
4. How to prepare the ingredients ahead:
  • Freeze bananas and keep frozen zucchinis on hand
5. How to add creaminess:
  • Use ice
  • Use frozen fruits and veggies to help add creaminess and thickness to your smoothie.

Here is a link to the video of this smoothie and you can visit my Instagram page for more recipes!

If you are looking to lose weight for the last time without cutting out any of your favorite foods or food groups, click here to book a 1:1 call with me.

My Healthy Costco Shopping List

My Healthy Costco Shopping List

My Healthy Costco Shopping List
Healthy food items I always buy at Costco

A few of you requested a healthy Costco shopping list of what I usually buy and I am so excited to share this with you!

Honestly it took me about a year to go to Costco when it first opened its doors in my city. I didn’t understand the hype or why I would need to purchase items in bulk.

But I was SO WRONG!

Costco is a membership-based warehouse store that sells a large variety of items in bulk. It also carries its own in-house brand, Kirkland Signature, to help keep prices low and budget friendly.

It is one of the most popular big box retailer stores in the country and they have a wide variety of healthy items and products that are fun and exciting to try.

They also offer a wide variety of foods for those with different dietary restrictions and preferences like gluten free, dairy free, organic, etc so it has something for everyone to enjoy.

I also always thought that buying items in bulk is mainly for big families, but honestly, it can be a time and money saver for most people, no matter the size of your household.

Purchasing specific products from Costco can save you time in your future grocery shopping because there are items you buy once and they last for months, like their coconut oil and canned foods (not to mention non-food items like toilet paper and paper towels).

Few things to keep in mind: 

  1. Make sure to have a shopping list ready otherwise you end up buying way more than you had anticipated and you save time when you know what you are looking for
  2. It’s almost always busy

Let’s get started!

My Healthy Costco Shopping List

Fruits And Vegetables

I don’t buy a lot of  fresh produce from Costco because it is difficult to eat it all before it goes bad. However, there are a few items that I always like to grab because quality and price is superior to other grocery stores.

Brussels Sprouts from Costco in healthy shopping list
Brussels Sprouts from Costco are a great deal. Fresh and enough for the whole family.

Brussels Sprouts

Organic Gala apples

These are small and delicious making them an easy snack for you or your kids.

Berries

Depends on the price but the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are usually in better shape than other grocery stores and last longer.

 

Pantry items included in my healthy Costco shopping list:

Dave’s Killer Breads and Ezekiel:

They have great ingredients, are higher in fiber, and have whole grains. You don’t need to cut out carbs from your diet – I talk more about it here and here. Reading the ingredients and aiming for high-fiber options is a great start in knowing how to make better bread choices.

Nut butter/ almond butter/ peanut butter:

Great price and quality and are an easy addition to your smoothies, crackers, fruits and veggies. They also come in larger containers so you don’t need to purchase as often.

Coffee beans

I have been buying whole beans and grinding them at home for years now and let me tell you, it is life changing!

The coffee tastes so much better when it is freshly ground and it is so fun trying new coffee beans every time I go to Costco.

Coffee beans from Costco for my healthy Costco shopping list
Coffee beans from Costco are so fun to try. I love buying different ones for a change in taste, flavor and aroma.

Olive oil:

Great price and I appreciate that it comes in a dark bottle because even a few weeks of light exposure will accelerate the aging of olive oil. 

Protein/snack bars:

When it comes to protein bars, definitely take the time to read the ingredients. Most protein bars are equivalent to eating a candy bar.

That’s it fruit bars are a family favorite. Even though they are not high in protein, they are made with just fruit and I can easily add a protein or healthy fat option on the side like a greek yogurt or nuts. I am all about simple ingredients most of the time and these bars are perfect.

Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers:

Great snack option with great ingredients. Add cheese and you have a filling and satisfying snack.

Coconut oil/ avocado oil:

I cook with either avocado oil or coconut oil and they come in large containers. They last for months so you definitely save money buying your oils from Costco. The reason I like using coconut or avocado oil during cooking is because they have a higher smoking point, which means it can be used to cook at higher heat and are great for stir-frys. They doesn’t have much flavor, which makes them a good option for cooking.

Chia Seeds and Hemp seeds:

Tiny but mighty! One serving offers loads of fiber and protein and are so versatile to use. Add them to your salads or smoothies to add fiber, protein and healthy fats to your meals. They also come in bulk and we buy them once every 6 months!

Pastas and grains:

Organic quinoa, Banza pasta and basmati rice – again, buy once every few months (some even up to 6 months) and you save time and money.

My Healthy Costco Shopping List: Frozen Foods

Alaska Salmon Frozen Burgers:

Love these when I want to cook something nutritious with little prep and effort.

Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon:

Sustainably sourced and helps you get your daily protein needs. Sockeye salmon provides 24 grams of protein per serving and it’s one of the top food sources of vitamin D. It is also one of the best sources of EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids). 

Stir fry veggies:

Add a protein to this and you have yourself a 10-minute meal that is balanced, satisfying and healthy.

Frozen edamame:

Rich in protein and fiber and it takes 5 minutes to heat them up! Great price too and you get so many servings from one bag.

Frozen fruits:

I always have frozen fruits on hand for my smoothies and I don’t need to worry about them spoiling. Frozen foods are just as nutritious as fresh, sometimes even more nutritious as they are picked at peak ripeness.

My Healthy Costco Shopping List: Refrigerated Foods

Greek yogurt Kirkland and Fage
Dairy finds at Costco

Kirkland Greek yogurt or Fage 2% Greek yogurt:

Greek yogurt is loaded with protein and is a personal favorite 

Sweet Kale salad :

This is a great option for those that want to eat more greens but don’t really have the time or energy to prep ahead of time. I love buying this when I know that I have a very busy week. It’s also delicious and satisfying.

Eggs:

You have a few different options here. Costco even sells hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator section. Easy protein snack or breakfast.

My Healthy Costco Shopping List: Canned Foods

I usually buy canned vegetables, beans and sauces from Costco. They are a very budget-friendly option and are easy to add to your meals.  Many people think that canned foods are not as nutritious as fresh and that is not true. Canned foods are just as healthy and are a great way to add nutrients to meals without having them go bad.

Here is a list of canned foods I buy from Costco:

  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Rao’s homemade sauce
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Canned black beans
  • Canned tomato paste
  • Kirkland Signature Organic Diced Tomatoes

My Healthy Costco Shopping List: Meat Options

Seasoned rotisserie chicken

You can eat this alone or shred it and add it to soups or salads.

Costco Rotisserie Chicken is an easy protein option for busy moms
I buy this chicken a few times a month to help making meal planning easier

Ground beef

I portion this out and then freeze them into about 8-9 servings. It lasts a little less than a month and it’s a much better deal than buying it at other grocery stores. Quality, texture and color of the meat (we also love their steaks!) seem fresher than other places.

Organic chicken tenderloins:

I always have frozen chicken in the freezer as they can easily be added to a stir fry for a quick meal.

As always, if you ever have any questions, make sure to send me a message on Instagram and I’d love to help!

Happy shopping 🙂

XX

Ayat

 

 

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month? A Healthy Weight Loss Plan 

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month? A Healthy Weight Loss Plan 

I’m sure you’ve seen those magazines that feature celebrity stories of rapid weight loss and the step-by-step meal plan on “how to lose 10 pounds in 10 days.”

Yeah, those don’t work (as I’m sure you know).

Instead of asking yourself “how fast can I drop these 20 pounds?” I want you to change the question to:

“What changes do I need to make daily that will help me lose the weight safely and actually keep that weight off?”

 

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month? A Healthy Weight Loss Plan 
Weight loss that lasts does not have to feel impossible

So let’s get right in to it!

How much weight can you lose in a month?

A good rule of thumb is to drop 0.5-2 pounds per week.

But know that there WILL be weeks where you don’t drop any weight AND there will be weeks where the scale spikes a little – and that is NORMAL!

In order to lose 1 pound of fat, you must expend or burn off about 3,500 more calories than you eat each week.

This requires you to drop your current energy intake by 500 calories per day.

Before you panic, there are ways to reduce your intake by 500 calories without feeling hungry or even needing to count calories.

Remember, the slower the weight loss, the more likely you will keep it off.

Woman stepping on a scale to see weight loss

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month?

A healthy rate of weight loss is different from the maximum amount of weight you can lose in one month, as rapid weight loss isn’t always sustainable long term.

Focus on ADDING non-starchy veggies in most of your meals

Non-starchy veggies are satiating and they fill you up with more volume and fewer calories. 

Examples of non-starchy vegetables include leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and asparagus.

Fill half of your plate (or more if you want) with non-starchy vegetables, like salads or sautéed veggies.

Make sure there is protein at all of your meals and snacks

Including protein at every meal helps keep you full and satisfied for longer periods of time!

Protein is also important during weight loss because it preserves muscle mass during periods of caloric restriction.

Examples include grilled chicken, turkey, fish, shrimp, other seafood, eggs, tofu, and seitan.

Aim to fill one-fourth of your plate with protein-rich foods.

Swap some of your carbs to fiber-rich carbs 

Fiber is found in many different kinds of food but is especially abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Eating more fiber is one of the most freeing ways to lose weight because you can be generous with your portions!

Additionally, they are loaded with nutrients giving your body the nutrition it needs to function properly while helping you lose weight without the restriction that often comes with dieting.

Fiber-rich foods include whole-grain spaghetti, lentils, beans, and peas.

Aim to fill ¼ of your plate with fiber-rich carbs.

Make time for regular movement and exercise

You need to get that movement in, sister!

Aim for at least 20 minutes a day and bonus points if you go outside to get that movement in.

My favorite underrated form of movement is walking. Don’t overcomplicate it because that’s when the excuses start coming up 🙂

Finally, allow flexibility into your meals for long term weight loss

It is so important if you are looking for long term weight loss that you allow flexibility into your day. The more rigid and strict you are with your diet, the less likely you will actually stick to it.

When you eat more fiber and protein during your meals, it helps to balance hormones which in turn leads to less cravings and fewer mindless snacking.

Filling your meals with nutritious foods ensures you are getting the nutrients your body needs to function properly and curb cravings because many times cravings are your body’s way of telling you to 1. Eat more food or 2. Eat more nutritious foods.

Bottom line, you do not want to lose weight rapidly and the goal is never to lose weight through restriction and strict dieting.

You really want to focus on losing weight in a HEALTHY way that improves your health, energy, mood and life.

My clients love how simple but effective this method is of being able to eat more food and still be in a calorie deficit without counting calories.

Send me a message on Instagram and let me know if this was helpful for you and which step you need to focus on!

 

Hormones and Weight Loss

Hormones and Weight Loss

Hormones and weight loss go hand in hand and your weight is hugely dependent on hormones.

So many women struggle with weight loss because they don’t understand how hormones affects their body.

Meaning it’s NOT lack of willpower.

Understanding hormones and how different types of nutrients releases these hormones will help you make better food choices without feeling like you are need to follow a set of rules.

And in case you did not know, there are MANY different kinds of hormones like sex hormones and thyroid hormones.

There are also THOUSANDS of diets, books and articles discussing the secrets to weight loss and the magical food you need to eat to lose weight, but none of them are backed by SCIENCE.

So what does the research say?

The truth is there are many overlapping ways to lose weight and there is not a clear cut answer.

Many diets DO work, but only for the short term.

This is what gets you stuck in the diet cycle. You try something unsustainable and drastic to lose weight and soon enough you go back to eating like you did before and you regain the weight.

Having said that, there are many factors that play a role in your weight loss like your diet, how much you’re sleeping, stress levels, when you eat, your gender, age, etc.

However, the number of burned calories and where you store fat (for example, belly fat) are largely determined by hormones.

Living a healthy life is more than just the food you are eating and I will be touching on this throughout the blog.

Hormone Imbalance

Hormone imbalance is a result of an imbalanced lifestyle (of course there are a few exceptions). Therefore reaching a body weight that makes you feel good and gives you energy is a result of finding a balanced way of living.

This includes your diet, your thoughts, movement, stress levels and sleep hygiene.

Hormones and Weight Loss

Hormones and Weight Loss

Leptin

This is a hormone that reduces hunger.

Leptin levels are directly correlated with body fat levels. This means that as the amount of body fat increases, so does the level of leptin, therefore suppressing hunger.

You might be thinking, “Well if leptin suppresses hunger with higher body fat, why are people still struggling with weight loss?”

A concept known as leptin resistance, happens when people have normal or increased levels of leptin but the feeling of hunger persists and they do not decrease food intake. 

This is because the body stops responding to the hormone due to overstimulation.

The body has natural hunger suppressants that when ignored for prolonged periods of time, we develop resistance.

Consuming a well-balanced diet, completing moderate physical activity and getting enough sleep is the best way to improve leptin resistance and encourage weight loss.

Insulin

This hormone is similar to leptin in that insulin suppresses hunger and insulin levels increase in proportion to body fat.

Insulin is the hormone that manages your blood sugar levels.

One of its key roles is to move glucose (and nutrients) from the bloodstream into cells. Consuming excess calories, especially from high-carb, sugary foods – triggers an insulin response and the excess calories get converted into body fat.

As body fat increases, the body’s insulin response starts to malfunction, progressing from insulin sensitivity to insulin resistance.

At the insulin resistance stage, cells stop responding effectively to insulin and this is when you may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

This results in a cycle of high blood insulin levels and more fat deposited in your body. It becomes harder to control and reverse.  Medication is needed at this stage.

A very effective way to lower insulin levels is to choose high-fiber carbs whenever possible and go for walks after meals to help your body use up some of the blood sugars.

Ghrelin

You know when you feel physically hungry? That is Ghrelin stimulation happening in the stomach.

This hormone secretion increases between meals when the stomach is empty and falls when hunger is reduced. 

Interestingly, with increased body fat, the reduction of Ghrelin does not occur and may contribute to overeating. 

Furthermore, when you go on a restrictive diet and you drastically cut calories, Ghrelin actually INCREASES.

That means when the body is in a state of eating a low-calorie diet, you feel hungrier.  This is a survival mechanism and it is your body’s way of protecting you.

Engaging in restricting calories, yo-yo diets, or crash diets will increase the levels of ghrelin in your body, which again, makes you hungry and all the more difficult to stick to a low-calorie diet.

how hormones affect weight loss

Cortisol

Cortisol is one of the body’s primary stress hormones and it triggers “fight-or-flight” mode.

This hormone affects every cell in the body and it is a catabolic hormone. This means that it breaks down fat and protein into their building blocks to fuel the body during stress, infection, illness, etc. 

While this process is essential for survival situations, it also increases your appetite.

Elevated cortisol levels can cause cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods because your body is looking for a quick source of fuel to cope with the breakdown of nutrients in the body.

Cortisol also affects fat distribution by causing fat to be stored centrally around the organs and your belly area.

This distribution of fat leads to an increase in health issues like high cholesterol, inflammation, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

In fact, when you have excess belly fat, it’s a lot worse than having the same amount of fat around the hip.

Lowering cortisol is usually done through techniques that directly lower stress levels, like meditating, taking a bath, getting regular massages.

Take some time to figure out what helps you feel good and do more of that. Schedule it in and pamper yourself.

tips to lose weight healthily

So what does all of this information mean to you?

Using willpower and trying to drastically reduce calories in order to lose weight does not work long-term because your hormones fluctuate and will either help you or makes things harder for you. 

The good news is, you can lose weight by eating plenty of food and nutrients while losing weight HEALTHILY and SLOWLY.

Focusing on eating more high-fiber carbs, protein and healthy fats can help you feel full, help balance hormones, and promote weight loss.

Also, stress reduction techniques and correcting sleep deprivation is critical for weight loss.

As you probably figured by now, a broad-based approach is going to be much more effective than changing one thing.

Weight gain usually results from numerous lifestyle habits rather than a single cause. Therefore looking at your overall lifestyle will be beneficial.

For some, working on reducing stress makes a huge difference in results whereas in others a high fiber and protein approach is helpful.

It is very dependent on the individual.

To summarize:

Hormones and weight loss are very much connected. Simple sugar stimulates insulin secretion quickly and frequent high insulin secretion can lead to insulin resistance leading to weight gain.

Hint: fiber can help reduce the insulin-stimulating effects of high-carb foods.

To help balance leptin and ghrelin, balancing nutrient intake like healthy fats, protein and high fiber carbs is helpful.

Want to learn more?

You can check out my Instagram and you can read these articles: this one and this one are a great starting place.

You can also read an article I wrote for Poosh for more information: click here

To help reduce cortisol, prioritize sleep and reduce stress levels.

If you feel like you eat pretty well and still don’t know why you are having a hard time losing weight, it could be you’re sleep deprived or you have high cortisol levels.

If these are the major areas in your life that need to be addressed, then they must be directly taken care of through proper techniques.

These techniques include proper sleep hygiene, meditation, message, reading, etc.

If this all seems overwhelming, start slow. Choose one thing to focus on for a month and make it your goal. If it is to eat one high-fiber fruit a day, then focus on that for a month and build up from there.

Your health is a lifelong journey. There is no finish line, so you don’t need to feel rushed. The more you try to do all the things, the less consistent you will be and more likely to fall back into old habits.

Something that will be very helpful as you start on this journey is to keep track of your food intake. If you have no idea what kinds of meals you eat during the day and if you are eating enough nutrients, it would be wise to keep a journal for at least a few days.

I am a huge believer in tracking habits so you can learn from them and for you to do better in the areas that you want to improve in.

Dedicate a journal  (this is a personal favorite) to track habits and get clear on your goals. When you track, you are more likely to improve your habits.

Are you looking for a personalized and customized weight loss approach?

If you’re looking for support in weight loss, then working with a Registered Dietitian (RD) may be beneficial. An RD can help you create a specific and unique-to-you plan. I am always here to support you, so head to my WORK WITH ME page to learn more about becoming a client.

 

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Loss

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Loss

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Loss

Are artificial sweeteners a good alternative for regular sugar?

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Loss

Artificial sweeteners provide desirable sweetness without the added calories. There are different brands and types of artificial sweeteners. Some of the most common brand names are Stevia, Sweet and Low, Truvia, Splenda, and Equal.

Sweeteners contain zero calories because our bodies can not metabolize these sugars. In other words, our body does not digest or absorb it.

Artificial sweeteners are almost double in sweetness than regular sugar. For example, saccharin (a type of artificial sweetener) is about 200 to 700 times sweeter than regular sugar. And contains no calories.

However, even though artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, research shows that these sweeteners have controversial health effects in the long run.

Additionally, the chemical changes that occur in the body as you consume these sugar substitutes change your taste buds. Long term use of alternative sweeteners can cause sweet foods, such as fruits, to taste less sweet because of these changes. 

Studies have also shown that those who use artificial sweeteners do not end up losing weight compared to those that consume regular sugar.

Research is still being done on artificial sweeteners and their risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

However, artificial sweeteners can be consumed in moderation for those that want a low-calorie sweetener occasionally. The U.S. FDA stated that sugar substitutes are safe when consumed within the Acceptable Daily Intake.

My personal opinion is to learn to eat your favorite sweet foods in moderation. Rather than trying to substitute them with an artificial sweetener. Many people believe that just because they are using a zero-calorie option they can eat more of it. This is why most people who eat “fat-free” and “sugar-free” options may end up gaining weight instead of losing weight.

The best option is to enjoy regular non-diet options occasionally.

Are artificial sweeteners a good alternative for regular sugar?

Permanent weight loss requires you to understand your eating behaviors. And developing coping mechanisms that have a true impact on the rest of your life.

If this is something you want help with, click here to apply to my high-touch 1:1 program.

The program is created specifically for moms that are struggling with balancing their health, weight loss goals and motherhood. I can help you lose weight for the last time. Reclaim your life, and reprogram your thoughts around your body and food without cutting out any of your favorite foods.

 

 

Time Management Tips To Prioritize What’s Important

Have you heard of time batching as a time management tool?

 

If not, you NEED to know ASAP!

 

Time batching is one of the best things I have ever done for my health, business, myself and my kids.

 

For most of us moms, it can be a struggle to effectively manage our time to get the important things done. Unfortunately, this leads to inconsistency, hence, no progress made.

 

With the constant distractions and interruptions from others and technology, finding even just a few minutes at a time to concentrate can feel like a struggle.

 

Back in the day, when I first became a mom, I was a slave to time. I used to wake up without a plan and never got anything done.

 

I mean I would get the easy stuff done, you know the comfortable stuff, like empty the dishwasher and make myself a third cup of coffee because I thought that’s what I needed to be more efficient, right?

WRONG!

 

That’s when I discovered time batching.

This technique has changed the way I get things done.

 

Every night before going to bed, I would write down the top 3 priorities that I need to get done to move the needle in the areas of my life that I value and want to improve on. 

 

 And then, I would find batches of time where I know I can get things done with few distractions – for example, after the kids have had breakfast they can get some screen time while mama focuses and gets some work done.

 

This is a very easy time-management hack that takes full advantage of your CONCENTRATION by doing a lot of the same things together at the same time.

Here is an example of what my days look like when I batch my time:

Wake up – 9:00 AM coffee, feed kids breakfast, get myself ready for the day

9:00 – 9:30 AM clean house (whatever I can get done in that time period)

9:30 – 10:00 AM review my schedule, read, journal 

10:00 – 2:00 PM work 

2:00 – 3:00 PM make dinner  (I like to make dinner early because I get tired later in the day)

3:00 – 6:00 PM play time with kids, be present with the family, take an evening walk

6:00 – 7:00 PM dinner with the family

7:00 – 7:30 PM bath time

7:30 – 9:00 PM kids bedtime 

9:00 – 10:00 PM a little more work 

10:00 – 10:30 PM hang out with the husband & sleep

 

It just feels so much more organized. I used to vacuum 70 times per day, do dishes randomly throughout the day, as if that EVER ends. But one day as I was journaling, I realized that I was spending my days on all the wrong things.

 

Not saying cleaning isn’t important, but it’s not something I needed to be doing all day long at random times because that interfered with my goals.

 

I would get to the end of the day and you know when you’re laying in bed and you’re reflecting on what you had accomplished in the day, it turned out I was doing nothing that I WANTED to do.

 

It was all these tasks that I felt were important but actually weren’t. I was actually buffering but more on this topic another day.

 

Organizing  my time to prioritize the important things also created space for me to take care of my mental and physical health, my family and my growing business.

 

Here are the exact steps for my time management system:

  1. Choose the areas in your life that are a top priority you want to improve in – these aren’t things you have to do anyways like changing diapers, doing dishes or taking out the garbage. These are tasks that you know you need to be doing but you avoid doing them. Example: workout for 20 minutes, prep a fiber-rich dinner for the next day, publish your first blog post.
  2. Then, find times in your day that you CAN and are ABLE to get those things done. These are times when your kids are the most relaxed and when your spouse is busy in the stock market.
  3. Then get these things done – non negotiable. If Beyonce can do it, you can too.

 

Here are a few things you can batch: cooking, cleaning, e-mails, meetings, playtime & reading.

When you batch, you create more space in your life which I’m guessing is a priority if you are reading this.

Do you time batch? Would love it if you shared your tips and your process under this post.

With that, I’m about to sign off and hang with the husband.

Make sure to connect with me on Instagram  @momnutritionist 

Chat soon!