If your goal is to lose weight or prevent weight gain, one thing you must do is stabilize your insulin, the fat-storing hormone. Insulin is the one hormone we have control over. You can prevent insulin spikes by what you choose to put in your mouth. The following are my top pick foods and beverages to include in your diet if you want to lose weight.
Numerous studies have shown that a diet of a low carbohydrate to protein ratio with at least 100 grams of protein per day increases fat loss and helps maintain muscle during dieting.
Some of my personal favorites include grass-fed buffalo and beef, free-range poultry and eggs, wild salmon and seafood, hemp, rice and whey protein. One egg has 6 grams of protein. Three ounces of protein (approximately the size of a deck of cards) contains 20-25 grams of protein.
• Grass-fed Bison (Buffalo) and beef: In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women on a diet that included red meat lost more weight than those eating equal calories but little red meat. The protein in red meat helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss and is loaded with CLA. The best sources of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a healthy fat, is found in grass-fed beef and raw dairy products. CLA increases metabolism, helping you lose weight, boosts immune function, maintains cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and is helpful in fighting diabetes and cancer. According to The International Journal of Obesity, CLA helps reduce fat.
A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reveals that just 3 grams a day of CLA significantly reduces fat in obese and overweight children (http://www.localharvest.org).
• Eggs: Many people eat the egg white only without the yolk, which is an incomplete protein source, due to their fear of fat and cholesterol. When you do this, you are throwing out the most nutritious part of the egg!
The egg yolk contains 43 percent of the total egg protein and has the highest concentration of nutrients and amino acids required for optimal brain function.
The yolk contains 100 percent of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D and K. These fat soluble vitamins support your thyroid, reduce the damaging effects of diabetes, boost your metabolism and immune system, reduce your risk of cancer, encourage healthy bones, teeth and skin, and help you feel fuller longer. Enjoy with some nitrate-free bacon or sausage.
• Whey Protein: Whey protein is a very digestible protein that contains all of the amino acids. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that older women who supplemented their diets with whey protein lost weight without losing muscle mass.
Whey protein stimulates thermogenesis (fat burning) and satiety better than casein and soy. One animal study found that whey protein reduced appetite, as well as visceral and subcutaneous fat. Whey protein reduces blood levels of insulin and increases insulin sensitivity, which has a great impact on body composition.
One of the whey protein powders I recommend is Whey Cool because it comes only from grass-fed cows without added hormones, steroids or antibiotics. Australian research shows that "supplementation with whey protein improves blood pressure and vascular function in overweight and obese individuals."
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that supplementation with whey protein improves fasting lipids and insulin levels in overweight and obese individuals.
Eat fat to lose fat
• Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat, rich in lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid (MCT). The MCTs in coconut oil provide numerous health benefits such as stabilizing blood sugar, balancing hormones, nourishing for the thyroid and increasing your metabolism.
It contains anti-viral properties, helps reduce risk for hypertension and heart disease, and helps boost immunity and brain function.
Metabolizing MCTs creates ketones, known to stall or even reverse Alzheimer's. Coconut also contains caprylic acid, an effective and potent antifungal and antimicrobial.
One cause of obesity is overconsumption of long-chain fatty acids (vegetable oils), medium-chain fatty acids. MCTs reverse obesity, resulting in steady weight loss for obese individuals, and weight maintenance for healthy people.
• Just a handful of almonds or walnuts provide a feeling of satiety. They're packed with fiber and contain unsaturated fat, both of which are beneficial to cholesterol levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.
Walnuts have two times the antioxidants compared to other nuts, and have two to 15 times more potency than vitamin E in terms of antioxidant capacity. An easy-to-pack and carry snack that helps stabilize blood sugar.
• Vegetables and leafy greens, including romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, collards, watercress, kale and fresh sprouts are associated with a lower risk of weight gain. They're loaded with nutrients galore that help boost immunity, beautify skin, accelerate fat loss, increase energy, prevent heart disease and fight cancer. Plus, vegetables are jam-packed with phytonutrients, chlorophyll, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes and fiber, which contribute to post-meal feelings of satisfaction and fullness. Nearly all of us can benefit from more fiber in our diets. Aim for 30 grams a day of fiber. If you're someone who lacks daily vegetable intake, I recommend juicing your vegetables in a Vitamix. It's a simple way to boost your vegetable intake. Make sure to add a protein powder and fat source to avoid an insulin spike from the juice.
• A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that women who consumed an increased intake of fruits and vegetables had a 24 percent lower risk of obesity. Eating half a grapefruit before each meal or drinking a serving of the juice three times a day helped people drop more than 3 pounds over 12 weeks.
The fruit's phytochemicals helps reduce insulin levels and increases the flow of digestive juices in the stomach. Eaten at the beginning of a meal, grapefruit helps digestion.
Drinking grapefruit juice first thing in the morning helps prevent constipation. Grapefruit is beneficial for any hardening of body tissue (liver and arteries); and helps prevent stone formations. It is also an excellent aid in lowering fevers from colds and flu. Grapefruit is conducive to a sound sleep when taken right before bedtime.
Lemons and Limes: Add as little as 4 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice on your salad or the juice from a fresh lemon or lime in a cup of warm water before meals. Doing so, cleanses your body of unhealthy toxins, aids in digestions and lowers blood sugar levels by as much as 30 percent.
Blueberries are high in fiber and help you lose that hard-to-get-rid-of abdominal fat. The polyphenols in blueberries inhibit the formation of new fats cells and help in the process to break down stored fat.
Water is calorie-free, suppresses the appetite naturally and helps metabolize fat. In a study, those who drank 2 cups of water before each meal lost an average of 5 pounds more weight over a 12-week calorie controlled diet than those who followed the same diet but did not drink the water. Without enough water, your kidneys can't function properly, which forces them to send some of their workload to your liver.
Since one of the liver's main functions is to metabolize stored fat, the added work from the kidneys means that the liver burns less fat, so that more fat remains in the body. Aim for a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water daily, more if you're athletic or live in a hot climate.
• Coffee can increase your metabolic rate. A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research showed that people who drank four cups of coffee daily lost 1.5 pounds of body fat in four weeks.
• Green Tea helps boost your metabolism. Six cups of fresh brewed, non-fluoridated green tea daily (or take standardized green tea extract supplements) will help you lose weight and increase your fat loss efforts.
The catechins found in green tea have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and fat oxidation benefits. A study of overweight adults consumed green tea catechins (625 mg) and 39 mg caffeine for a period of 12 weeks.
The effects of moderate intensity exercise (at least 180 minutes a week) on weight loss, abdominal fat loss and reduced triglycerides were much higher as compared to those on a control beverage containing the same amount of caffeine (39 mg), without green tea catechins.
On the side
Chili peppers and hot, spicy mustard increase your calorie-burning capacity by 5 to 10 percent for up to two hours after eating them because they contain capsaicin responsible for amping up your metabolism.
Apple Cider Vinegar Acetic acid in the vinegar may slow the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine. A small amount of apple cider vinegar in water before meals is helpful for digestion, improves satiety and prevents overeating.
Apple cider vinegar lowers the glycemic load of a meal and prevents fluctuations in blood sugar, which can influence weight loss, especially for diabetics and those who are insulin resistant. Opt for organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar.
• Cinnamon can help control post-meal insulin spikes. Health bonus: One USDA study showed that just a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon a day lowered the blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens is a nutritionist, fitness expert and weight loss coach with more than 20 years of experience. Reach her at www.PaulaOwens.com.