Last time I wrote about foods and lifestyle habits that make you fat. Let’s take a look at foods and habits that keep you feeling good and looking healthy. If you’ve been on a weight loss plan, these are great guidelines to maintain your healthy weight.
How to Maintain Healthy Weight
1. Eat protein. Believe it or not, lack of protein is one of the most common factors I see with my clients who are having difficulty losing weight. They’re either vegetarian and eating too many grains or carbs (and this is not working for their physiology or it’s causing inflammation that prevents weight loss), or they’re just not eating enough protein with meals, so they’re not satisfied (hungry an hour or two post-meal is a good indication), or they’re experiencing blood sugar fluctuations that cause cravings. Protein stabilizes blood sugar. Protein is essential, folks, because the body uses it for muscle and tissue repair, and it breaks down into the amino acids the body uses for liver cleansing and as precursors to the feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain responsible for good mood, sex drive, appetite control, sleep, craving regulation, etc. Lack of protein = cravings, fatigue, hunger, mood fluctuations, weight gain, poor concentration. Have protein with every meal. Eating a vegetarian diet may not make or keep you thin and could subject you to serious deficiencies if you avoid protein or eat too much soy. Quality counts here. Choose from wild fish, cage free eggs, organic poultry, beef/bison, lamb, and organic pork. ALWAYS buy organic meats. A good rule of thumb for most people is to consume half your body weight in grams of protein daily. If you’re under stress, you have a need for more protein. Your body’s needs change all the time, and one diet direction may not work for you for life. Listen to your body’s needs. If you’re a vegetarian dreaming about steak, eat one.
2. Good Fats. The fat phobia craze continues. EATING FAT WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT. You know what will? Sugar. Gluten. Read all about why you need fats for weight loss here. Also, no need to be afraid of saturated fat. Your brain is mostly fat and your cell membranes need fat to stay permeable. Read why fat doesn’t give you high cholesterol here.
3. Supergreens. Spirulina, chlorella, concentrated sea vegetables (dulse, nori, kelp, etc), herbs, grasses (wheat grass, barley grass; yes, they are gluten free), concentrated veggies (some supergreens formulas have concentrated beet, broccoli and leafy greens, for example). Eat these. These formulas are chock full of antioxidants, chlorophyll, phytonutrients, and they are cleansing to the liver. They give you a boost. They contain trace minerals so lacking in our diets. Minerals are necessary for enzymatic functions and they help stabilize blood sugar (read: reduce sugar cravings). Chlorella even chelates to heavy metals and assists in removing them from the body. I like VitaMineral Green and Amazing Grass formulas. Mix with smoothies or coconut water.
4. Green tea. Read my ode to tea here. Green tea is thermogenic (it burns fat), contains antioxidants, and is an all around delicious miracle as far as I’m concerned. Drink it in the mornings instead of coffee, which jacks your blood sugar and can leave you with a crash/sugar cravings by afternoon. Green tea, on the other hand, gives you a pleasant boost and may reduce cravings. I drink several cups a day. Have a cup of green tea to ward off your 3pm sugar cravings/crash.
5. Burst Training. Instead of pounding the pavement for hours (I can’t tell you how many marathon-training clients have come to me befuddled by the fact that they’re actually gaining weight), try doing 20 minutes of intense bursting in intervals. Walk for 1 minute; sprint for 30 seconds. Or run/sprint or walk/power walk, depending on your fitness level. It’s a much more effective way to burn fat than running for hours. Better for your joints, too. Your body perceives training for a marathon (or long periods of any exercise) as a stress, which can raise cortisol levels. High cortisol = increased fat storage. Mix it up with some strength training on off days and you’re golden.
6. Sleep. Just as I wrote in the list of things that make you fat, lack of sleep will pack on the lbs. Getting sleep will keep you thin. Sleep is essential to maintain body composition. Stop thinking that sleeping too much makes you lazy. Stop it. We need 8-9 hours. Working 16 hour days and not sleeping is not sustainable. Like too much exercise, your body perceives lack of sleep as a stress, which raises cortisol (fat storage) and also increases carb/sugar cravings. Ever notice how you crave sugar or are hungrier the day after you haven’t slept enough? Also if you’re chugging coffee because you’re not sleeping enough, you’re burning out your adrenals and further raising cortisol. A vicious cycle. Get to bed and sleep.
7. Bone Broth. I love bone broth. Read all about it here. Broth beats cravings, boosts metabolism, strengthens immunity, and is highly nourishing and high in minerals. Make some and drink it every day.
8. Fiber. Eat 35 – 50 grams daily. Know what the average person’s intake is? Something like 8 grams. Fiber binds to toxins in the gut and helps to whisk them out of the body, scrubbing your colon clean in the process. I’ll spare you a lecture on insoluble and soluble fiber, but you need a certain amount of both because soluble fiber (fruit, legumes) makes you feel full and stabilizes blood sugar, and insoluble fiber (grains, leafy greens) feeds the probiotic bacteria in your gut and fosters regularity.
How to get enough fiber:
- Smoothie for breakfast with strawberries, almond butter, flax and chia seeds, supergreens powder: 15 grams
- Green salad with chopped veggies and chicken for lunch: 10 grams
- Celery and pumpkin seed dip for a snack: 4 grams
- Salmon, kale, raw kraut and sweet potato with coconut butter for dinner: 10 grams
(all rough estimates depending on portion size)
- BONUS: 1 cup of lentils have nearly 20 grams of fiber!
9.Probiotics. Studies are showing that probiotics, (the good bacteria in your gut) play a role in weight loss and help prevent weight gain. Probiotics are essential for synthesizing certain vitamins, good digestive function, and immune health. Get them from raw kraut, kvass (Zukay makes a good one), or kefir if you tolerate dairy.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.