The secret to weight loss isn’t about what you don’t eat; it’s about what you do eat.
After studying 4 different types of diets over 3 months at McMaster University, the research was very clear: the diet that makes a patient feel more full is the one that works best for controlling their weight.
How come? Because when you’re full, you eat less.
The secret to getting full isn’t a simple answer, and has to be individualized to each patient’s underlying conditions, hormones and body composition. We can tell based on where you carry weight, and your tendencies for weight fluctuations what you should be eating. Which should partially explain why some trendy diets work for some patients and not others. Not every patient feels full by every diet, and not every diet honours the hormonal environment going on inside.
A complete physical exam, assessment of body composition (% body fat and muscle mass) and accounting for your symptoms, exercise and age can help us build a flexible diet plan that allows you to enjoy food, but with guidance on how to feel more full. By manipulating what you eat, and when you eat, we can help patients feel well during weight loss, and achieve long term results.
“Our bodies are actually hormonally wired for famine. Extreme diets, low protein diets and low-nutrient diets send a signal of ‘inadequacy’ that ultimately turns down your metabolism. If your diet is activating your stress response, causing inappropriate release of insulin, or down-regulating your thyroid, it won’t be sustainable, nor will it translate into long term results.”
Dr. Jordan Robertson ND
There are simple strategies that can help patients feel more full by their foods, and should be included in every diet plan to give patients a leg up as they start a weight loss program.
Tips on how to feel more full
- Eat protein at every meal. Protein stimulates the hormones required for appetite suppression better than both carbs and fats, which is how it helps patients feel more full. Patients need at the very least 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight to help their metabolism stay active, and prevent muscle loss during weight loss. Diets of the past restricted calories in all categories, which lead to muscle loss (and a subsequent lowering of metabolism). More recent research suggests that we should feed protein in the face of caloric restriction to achieve optimal body composition. If you’re active, have osteoporosis or other underlying health conditions this ‘protein number’ needs to be customized for you.
- Eat slower. Eating slower enables your body to become better aware of what you’re eating, and can help shut off the hunger better than wolfing down your meal. Eating and appetite is a complex set of signals (that actually starts when we see and smell our meal!) and it takes time for your brain to realize that food is being eaten. Chew slow, and eat slow. It will help prevent you from overeating.
- Front-load your day. Most patients cite that they have a “healthy” day until dinner, and then can’t control their appetite. If you’re not eating 2/3 of your calories before dinner then your day wasn’t healthy, it was depriving you! Going into the dinner hour deprived leaves you hungry, and unable to ‘turn off’ your appetite. If you pick at food all day you’re more likely to stand in front of the fridge before bed. Even eating a snack at 4pm can help patients lose more weight. They go into the dinner hour more satisfied, and less likely to overeat.
If you are struggling with weight loss, looking at the hormonal impacts of your food, and how full you feel after a meal might be the missing link. Although there is no magic trick to weight loss, there are strategies that have proven evidence for helping patients reach their goals, that are best delivered by one of our Naturopathic Doctors.