How to lose weight without starving yourself

With summer fast approaching, now is an ideal time to adopt a healthy eating programme and to lose weight without starving yourself, especially, as the warmer weather lends itself to eating foods helpful for weight loss, such as berries and salads.

The reasons why most diets fail is because you become hungry, obsessed with portion size or calorie counting and/or don’t want to fast or skip meals and then end up binging and eating more than you might otherwise have done.

Another reason, is that many diets don’t promote optimal eating habits, which means that a low-calorie diet doesn’t necessarily help you keep off the pounds, even after you have achieved your goal.

You may also think that you can just increase your exercise regime to lose weight and then lose heart because you still can’t shed those pounds. But most people have sedentary lifestyles and a couple of sessions in the gym each week, just isn’t enough to aid weight loss.

Why low fat, high carbohydrate diets don’t work

Our western diet has become over reliant on mostly white, refined carbohydrates: breads, cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, ready-meals, snacks sauces, alcohol and soft drinks with added sugar.

When we eat processed carbohydrates or sugary foods the body produces insulin to lower the blood sugar and the greater the amount of carbs or sugary foods, the more insulin we release.

This is bad for two very important reasons:

1.    Any carbs that the insulin can’t deal with is “parked as fat”, normally as fat around the waist and hips.

2.    As long as insulin is present, your body is prevented from using fat deposits to provide energy, and you can never burn fat if you are constantly producing insulin.

If you can understand this, you are half-way there, as whatever you do won’t shift the fat, until you increase the protein and healthy fat composition in your diet and lower your unhealthy carb choices.

The reason why this nutritional approach is effective for weight loss (and many other conditions too, such as diabetes) is because it lowers insulin production in your body. We are very fortunate that the advances in nutrition and medical science have helped us demonstrate this. 

If you have, however, adopted a low-carbohydrate approach and have still not been able to shift the weight, you could have an undiagnosed medical condition. A registered Nutritional Therapist could help you by, firstly checking your diet, and then referring you back to you GP for testing or for a private laboratory assessment, if necessary.

Some common reasons, include:

  • Food allergies/intolerances or gut dysbiosis, which often go undiagnosed and one of the most common symptoms of a food allergy is weight gain.
  • A neurotransmitter imbalance, frequently, serial dieters may become low in serotonin, as its precursor tryptophan (found in proteins) and is one of the first nutrients to be depleted by dieting. The carbohydrate binges that may result may be an unconscious attempt to correct the deficiency, as carbohydrates are needed to carry serotonin’s raw materials into the brain.
  • Hormonal dysregulation, such as sub-optimal thyroid function. The thyroid regulates calorie-burning and a well-established effect of an under-functioning thyroid is significant weight gain.

So, if you haven’t attempted to lose weight or think that one of the above may be preventing you from weight loss, what to do?

Keeping a food diary is a good start, as you may more easily be able to identify unhealthy, carb-laden foods and to make necessary dietary changes.

If you still require further help, as habits are often very hard to break, or if you have already been diagnosed with a disease and are overweight, you could ask a Registered Nutritional Therapist to carry out a dietary evaluation. They will be able to work out from your diet history how to improve what you are eating, what foods to avoid and how to avoid hidden sugars or how to wean yourself of sugar /high carb foods effectively, by employing some simple strategies and delicious alternatives to the high carb foods so readily available. They will also be able to discuss laboratory testing for nutritional assessment or a GP referral.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Melody Mackeown

Melody Mackeown, is a registered nutritional therapist who works in Putney, London.

My special interest lies in the dietary management of chronic and often complex health conditions.

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Written by Melody Mackeown

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