Doctor’s Tip: Cheat sheet for losing weight
Dr. Michael Greger is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading expert on evidence-based nutrition. He is famous for his book “How Not to Die,” and his website nutritionfacts.org. This is the last of a series of columns taken from his 2020 book “How Not to Diet,” about the most effective and healthful way to lose weight.
1) Eat low calorie-density food, such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains — which also happen to be high in health-promoting micronutrients.
Nuts and seeds are an exception to 1): They have a high calorie density, but limited amounts are important for optimal health. Limit nuts to a handful of raw, unsalted walnuts (the most healthful nuts) a day. Limit seeds to a tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily, and a sprinkle of unsalted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds on your salad. Avocados contain healthy fat but a lot of it and therefore have a high calorie density, so the limit is a quarter a day at most.
2) Eat legumes daily — beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas. They make you feel full, so you will eat fewer calories the rest of the meal. Furthermore, they feed the bacteria in your gut microbiome, which in turn produce chemicals that cause fullness, resulting in less calorie intake for hours after a meal that includes legumes.
3) Avoid high calorie-density foods such as animal products (including seafood) and added oil.
4) Avoid addictive food such as salt, sugar and fat (the latter is often hidden in the form of added oil).
5) Eat only whole food; avoid processed food, such as pastries, cookies, cake, chips, cereal in a box and most crackers.
6) Before each meal drink two cups of cool or cold, unflavored water.
7) Start each meal with a cup or small bowl of low-calorie vegetable or legume soup, and eat it slowly, with a teaspoon. This causes satiety, so you will take in fewer calories during the remainder of the meal. Another option is to preload meals with a salad with a low calorie (oil-free) dressing.
8) Incorporate two teaspoons of vinegar with each meal, which increases satiety, decreases blood sugar and insulin levels, and helps with weight loss. If you drink vinegar straight, be sure to dilute it with water.
9) Eat mindfully — don’t get distracted by your phone, tablet or TV during meals.
10) Spend at least 20 minutes eating each meal, which allows hormones to kick in that tell you you’re full. Chew your food well, and don’t drink your nutrients (this refers to smoothies, which enable people to unconsciously take in a lot of calories quickly, before realizing they’re full).
11) Eat ¼ teaspoon of black cumin (Nigella sativa) daily, which has been shown to aid weight loss. One-half teaspoon of regular cumin with lunch and dinner does the same thing.
12) Garlic powder — at least ¼ teaspoon a day — has been shown to reduce body fat.
13) Ground ginger (at least 1 teaspoon daily) reduces body weight, especially if taken in the morning.
14) Two teaspoons a day of baker’s, brewer’s or nutritional yeast facilitates weight loss.
15) Stay hydrated by drinking enough water or other calorie-free beverages to keep your urine clear to pale yellow. Avoid artificial sweeteners, though, which are associated with weight gain.
16) Avoid foods made from flour. As Dr. Greger says in his book, grinding grain into powdery flour causes it to lose the fiber and resistant starch needed to feed the health-promoting organisms in the gut microbiome. Furthermore, flour enters the bloodstream rapidly, causing harmful blood sugar and insulin spikes.
17) Front-load your calories: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. Dr. Greger explains that “because of our circadian rhythms, food eaten at night is more fattening than the exact same food eaten earlier in the day.”
18) Another important step in controlling weight by getting your eating schedule in sync with your natural, daily biorhythms is to confine eating to a 12-hour window and don’t eat after 7 p.m. If you brush your teeth right after dinner you will be less apt to snack after dinner.
19) Exercise: Any exercise helps, but at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise such as brisk walking is important for optimal health and weight.
20) Weigh yourself daily.
21) Get seven to eight hours of good sleep a night.
Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is a retired family physician with a special interest in heart disease and diabetes prevention and reversal, ideally though lifestyle changes. He’s available for free, one-hour consultations — call 970-379-5718.
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