What a strange time in the world this has been!
Stress has been high, and one of the easy comforts and pleasures has been food for many of us. One of the unfortunate side effects of this has been a slow and steady weight gain over the past months.
Too many hours with Netflix and our favorite comfort foods have not been so kind. And depending on where you live, our stay at home situation may not be changing anytime soon, so it’s time to start creating a new way forward. It’s time to come back to center and focus on what can nourish you, help you thrive and make you stronger. Taking small steps in a positive direction can be a boost to your confidence, your outlook and your health.
So I’d like to give you a simple place to start with a three phase approach to starting to shed those unwanted ‘Quarantine 19’ pounds. And please be easy on yourself. Even if you can only do one phase, or start with a piece of it – pat yourself on the back. You are moving in the right direction.
The first phase is to pick a diet approach that resonates with you. The weight gain likely came from the combination of high calorie/dense foods and inactivity, and we will address both, but let’s begin with food. The intake of sugar, alcohol and processed carbohydrates are like little pleasure stimulating, dopamine boosting hits – they make us feel great in the moment, and then settle right into our hips. The dopamine release is part of what makes it so difficult to set those foods aside. It’s a mini-addiction. The good news (yes, there is some good news here) is that when we eliminate or reduce these foods, they lose their grip on us. And it doesn’t take as long as you might think. Most people lose their intense cravings within 3-5 days, and it gets easier from there.
So what is the best diet approach? The answer: It depends. (Doesn’t it always!) What resonates with you? Do you like high fat foods? Do you prefer more diet flexibility? Like keeping at least some carbs in the diet? Prefer to have your plan laid out for you in detail? Want a fast approach, or are fine with the weight loss occurring over a period of months?
Choose the best approach for you, then begin by selecting one resource within the diet to begin educating yourself. Buy a Whole 30 cookbook. Subscribe to a local keto diet youtube channel. Start to make some of their recipes. This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. You can work in good eating habits, while reducing the less desirable ones. And remember, if you would like more personalized guidance, we are here for you.
Here are different diet approaches to consider:
–Keto Diet: A diet where most calories (approximately 85%) come from healthy fats; the rest of the carbohydrates come from low sugar/carb foods. You are allowed to have some natural sugar substitutes such as xylitol and erythritol. This is a great diet for people who love fatty healthy foods, and are looking for significant weight loss) (high fat intake without carbs burns up fat! Who knew!) There have also been other great health benefits associated with the keto diet, especially for certain health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, and Parkinsons. A review of the keto diet by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD of the Cleveland Clinic here.
-The Whole 30: A whole foods diet approach where you eliminate all grains, sugars and dairy. You can still have all veggies, meats and most nuts and oils. See a Whole 30 overview here.
-The Plant Paradox Diet: An anti-inflammatory diet which focuses on eliminating high lectin foods such as gluten, corn, tomatoes, etc; and encouraging low lectin foods such as avocados, olive oil, certain nuts, vegetables, fruits and organic meats. Great for arthritis and auto-immune conditions. I love incorporating healing foods and eliminating inflammatory foods off of Dr. Steven Gundry’s ‘Yes and No’ food list.
-Paleo: A whole foods approach that is based on diets of early humans, which includes fruits, veggies, meats, nuts and seeds; but excludes anything processed, sugars, and dairy. Dr. Andew Weil, MD, a Harvard-trained Functional Medicine physician says this about paleo, “Studies comparing the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet have shown that eating Paleo can lead to more weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, better control of blood pressure, lower triglycerides and better management of appetite.”
-Weight Watchers: A diet that emphasizes high fiber fruits and veggies, and will score foods according a points system. So processed foods and sugars are allowed, but in limited quantities daily.
-HCG: A low-calorie diet that is used for quick weight loss; the diet focuses on specific low carbohydrate vegetables and fruits, meats, egg, and limited grains for up to 6 weeks. HCG suppresses appetite and works on metabolizing fat, so most people will lose between 0.5 – 1 lb per day while on the diet. We offer the HCG medical diet at Sage.
Mediterranean Diet: A whole foods diet that includes 7 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day, with lots of olive oil, non-gmo/organic grains, with red wine allowed. Research published in August 2018 showed that among 5,200 seniors (age 65 and older) those who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet had a four to seven percent lower risk of death over the eight-year study period. You can find Dr. Weils overview here.
Intermittent Fasting (IF): The IF approach can be added to any of the above diets, or on it’s own to help with weight loss and improving metabolism. IF also has been shown to help with better detoxification and improving longevity markers. Basically, you carve out a window of time where you are fasting, ranging from 12 hours (say no food from 7pm until 7am), up to 18 hours. We have a free guide available on Intermittent fasting, and you can find an in-depth overview here.
We assist people with these diet approaches (all except Weight Watchers, they provide coaches), and would love to help guide you within your most ideal diet approach. Let’s pick one and get started!
The second phase is to identify your vitamin and glandular deficiencies. Did you know that if you are B-vitamin deficient it can slow down your metabolism? Slow metabolism is also associated with low thyroid, low adult growth hormone levels, adrenal deficiency, mineral deficiency and amino-acid deficiencies, and sub-par testosterone levels (in men and women). When was the last time you had these checked? We are able to test many of these nutrient and glandular deficiencies through our traditional clinic lab, that are billable to insurance. (Note: remember every insurance and plan has their own deductibles however, which will be specific to you) We can also run super informative, detailed specialty vitamin/mineral/amino acid/toxic element panels, such as Genova Labs Nutr Eval, that also give you gut issue markers if you want to take a deeper dive on how to support your energy and metabolism. If you have an underlying deficiency, and in my many years of practicing medicine, I find that most people who are struggling with weight do, this is a part of your health that needs to be addressed to get and keep your weight where you would ideally like it to be.
The third phase is to clean up your gut. Even if you don’t think you have any gut issues or diagnoses such as IBS, constipation or chronic loose stool, you can still have a leaky gut issue. There are actually ways to test for levels of leaky gut, such as markers of Zonulin. The reason gut health is so important is that it is responsible for the absorption of all of our nutrients that optimize our metabolism, our energy, our detoxification pathways. Say if you’re excessively gassy or bloated, there can be an underlying reason such as parasites or SIBO (Small intestinal Bowel Overgrowth). Or when you eat a food group (for instance, gluten or dairy, which are common), you feel bloated or achy. Identifying these underlying gut issues are paramount for optimizing weight and metabolism. Your personal food intolerances, which we all have at least one or two of (mine are almonds and coffee – yikes!!), are creating inflammation in your body, and likely water weight gain. We can do an extended food allergy panel of 96 foods to help you identify these, making it a little easier to identify what is causing your gut issues. Or we can dive a little deeper and find out what’s living in your gut, and possibly generating toxins, with a panel such as Genova’s GI Effects Comprehensive Stool panel. Healing your gut is an important piece of your overall health, and within your weight loss journey.
The final part is to find a coach. We know embarking on a new health journey can sometimes be a little daunting! So the most important piece of this journey is to bring in help and guidance. We encourage to find a coach, or an accountability partner – ideally a person who is versed in this area, such as a Functional medicine doctor, a physical trainer with nutrition training, or a weight loss coach. People who are accountable to another person are much more likely to be successful with their goals. We are happy to be that coach for you, and to create your own personalized approach for your health and wellness.
Have questions? We are here for you!
Please stay safe and be well.
Yours in health, Dr. Angila Jaeggli