Summer has arrived and my patients are asking me how to get trim and fit for the neighborhood pool party. I get it, especially after my recent PBS tour visiting 15 cities in 16 days, when my sleep and workouts were limited. Despite doing my best to order healthy food on the road, it isn’t always easy, especially when stressing over a live 2-hour TV show day after day. When I weighed myself after 20 days, I had somehow gained 7 pounds.
Here are the tips I used to drop that weight over the next couple weeks.
- Don’t drink your calories. When you drink calories you don’t feel full, and no matter how much calorie-packed fluid you drink, you are still likely to eat the same amount of food. Add an extra 140 calories from a soda, a glass of juice, or a couple alcoholic beverages every day and you’ll pack on pounds of fat pretty quickly. Plus, when most people drink alcohol, they end up snacking more, too. So when you consume beverages, water, unsweetened tea, and protein and fiber-rich smoothies are a much better decision.
- Eat foods that make you satisfied. The things that make you full and satisfied are protein and fiber. When you enjoy a meal packed with protein and fiber—you are satiated for hours. Think clean protein with each meal, plus a protein packed snack, such as wild seafood, beans, organic yogurt, grass-fed beef, cage-free-organic fed poultry and eggs, and organic non-GMO soy. For fiber, focus on eating more vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts—not whole grain flour from flour, such as cereal, pasta, chips, and bread.
- Rev up your metabolism. Not only do you burn calories during a workout, but a good aerobic session will also increase the rate you burn calories while sitting at your desk for hours to come. We measure resting calorie burn rates (basal metabolic rate, or BMR) in our clinic nearly every day and I am often surprised by how low a person’s calorie burn can be.
- Start your day with 20 grams of protein. Eating protein first thing in the morning will increase your calorie burn all day long. Consider a 3-egg veggie omelet, or a protein smoothie with frozen fruit for extra fiber. Yum!
- Eat Smart Fats daily. Inflammation lowers calorie burn rate, so eat more smart fats to lower inflammation. Wild salmon, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, dark chocolate, and avocado are good options.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation decreases your ability to burn calories all day. Make sure you get at least 7+ hours of sleep nightly.
- Get a nice aerobic workout 5-6 days per week. Getting your heart rate up for at least 20-30 minutes daily will rev up your metabolism for hours. If you are short of time, then do 10-20 minutes of interval/burst training; (high intensity workouts ) for 1-2 minutes, rest 1-2 minutes, repeat high intensity 5-6 times.
- Do some strength training, at least twice per week. If you build one pound of muscle, you will burn an extra 40 calories every day. Over a year, adding one pound of muscle will help burn away four pounds of fat.
- Support your gut microbiome. If you had asked me five years ago about whether your gut microbiome impacted your weight, I would not have had any idea. As of today, we have new studies showing all sorts of relationships between the bacteria in your intestinal track and your health–including your waist line. Weight-gain promoting gut bacteria (firmicutes) make a chemical compound called propionic acid, which flows via the blood stream to the brain and stimulates cravings for you to eat sugar and refined carbs. The more sugar you eat, the more firmicutes bacteria you grow. In contrast, you grow good bacteria (bacteroides) from eating fiber, and these good bacteria suppress firmicutes bacteria. You can also take a good probiotic supplement to promote healthy bacteria in your gut. If you need help finding a great quality probiotic supplement, click here.
- Drink Green Tea. Drinking 4 cups of green tea (unsweetened of course) in controlled trials has helped people lose 2-4 pounds of fat. If you don’t drink this much green tea daily, then take the next best thing, a 500 mg EGCG supplement, which is the active agent in green tea. We have recently added 500 mg of EGCG to our Smart Fat Multivitamin packs with weight loss support. Click here for details.
- Consider following an Elimination Diet. If following these first five steps isn’t working, then maybe you have a food intolerance that raises your inflammation and lowers your calorie burn rate. This same food intolerance could be stimulating cravings for foods you should not be eating, as well as portions you shouldn’t have either. The two most common food intolerances are to gluten and dairy. If you have resistant weight loss despite doing everything right, I highly suggest you follow a 30-Day elimination diet and get rid of all gluten and dairy for at least one month. In my clinic, even people who have never been able to lose weight by eating healthy and working out have lost an amazing amount of weight following an elimination diet.
I hope these suggestions help you to get a good start on your summer. I wish you the best of health!
Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS