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From Sakara In-House Nutritionist Colleen Coffey, MS, RDN, LDN
The overly simplistic and outdated “eat less, work out more” approach to weight loss has left many of us defeated and unable to feel strong, sexy, and free in our bodies. It’s time to rewrite the script of how we manage our weight—whether that looks like maintaining, losing, or gaining—so that it honors our bodies, and never makes us feel less than.
Current data even debunks the old restriction prescription. Societally, we are eating less calories than ever before but are gaining more weight. Inability to lose weight is not a matter of individual failure or lack of willpower. Rather, it’s a multifaceted societal issue—involving factors like quality of food, stress management, and gene-environment interactions.
While some of these factors are out of our control, the good news is that with emerging science, an understanding of the body’s biochemistry, and tapping into our deep-seated intuition, we can begin to understand the complexity of weight loss, make choices in service of our goals, and let go of toxic, unhelpful mindsets and practices.
Ready to ditch diet culture and love the body you live in?
First, and Most Important
We must show ourselves compassion, nourishment, and nurturing, rather than using shame, punishment, and force as an approach to weight loss. The number on the scale simply explains your gravitational pull toward Earth and is not the best indicator of health. Instead, focus on optimizing your body composition and capabilities—which is much more important in living a long, joy-filled life.
Remember: Our Genetics Are Not Our Destiny
We’re uniquely us in part because of the behaviors and habits of our ancestors, and there’s no denying that we’re each genetically predisposed to our body type and weight. Healthy ancestral habits can set us up for success, and vice versa. (For example, maternal stress and diet are associated with higher birth weight.) Genetics don’t tell the whole story, though: emerging science is proving that our genetics are not our destiny.
Epigenetics explains how our behaviors and environment can affect the ways our genes work. Growing evidence suggests that epigenetic changes are mechanistically linked with the regulation of body weight, and that eating a plant-based diet is a proven way to optimize epigenetic expression and manage weight at a genetic level.
Over half of the calories Americans consume comes from ultra-processed food—which is widely available, inexpensive, and activates the reward system (that salty or sweet craving, satisfied) in the brain in a way that overpowers our innate body intelligence. These foods are also predominantly filled with refined carbs and low-quality, inflammatory fats, and directly correlated with weight gain.
In order to tap back into body intelligence, skip the ultra-processed foods (and the chemicals within them), low-quality ingredients, and imbalanced meals that cloud your body’s innate wisdom. Instead, opt for balanced, whole food, plant-rich nutrition. Where to start? Our Signature Nutrition Program is filled with fiber, plant protein, healthy fats, and an array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients—helping optimize your body composition and recalibrate your body’s communication channels.
Reduce Toxin Exposure
Toxic substances like fertilizer, insecticides, plastics, artificial sweeteners and food additives (to name a few) can interfere with cellular metabolism. Known as obesogens, these substances may alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to gain weight by disrupting the body's normal homeostatic controls and promoting fat storage and lipid accumulation.
Dieting and cutting calories can often result in a weight gain rebound because typical diets don’t support liver detoxification and, in turn, toxins aren’t cleared from the system. When toxins are not properly cleared from our system it can trigger the body to store more fat to house circulating toxins. To minimize toxic rebounding and shed excess fat for good, cleanse the body and support detoxification pathways by eating balanced, organic meals.
Nourish Your Microbiome
The calorie counting approach to weight loss doesn’t account for the fact that we are not the only ones eating our food... Our gut microbiome consumes about 7-22% of our caloric intake before our body even gets a chance to absorb and utilize them. The types and quality of foods consumed interact with the composition and health of our gut microbiota to influence digestive efficiency, nutrient utilization, metabolic expenditure (more on metabolism below), and fat storage.
In order to optimize your weight, focus on your gut. Feed it with fiber- and polyphenol-rich ingredients, limit sugar, and supplement with certain anti-obesogenic probiotic strains like Lactobacillus acidophilus (which you’ll find in our Complete Probiotic Formula).
Let Your Metabolism Burn Bright
Metabolism is an umbrella term for the chemical reactions in the body’s cells that change food into energy, and your metabolic efficiency is directly correlated to your weight. Metabolism generates ATP (a.k.a. adenosine triphosphate), an essential energy molecule found in all life forms. Think of ATP as the energy source for your body—it’s how we breathe, digest, and pump our hearts, as well as run, dance, and move through all of life’s pleasures. An efficient and healthy metabolism will burn energy and stabilize weight, whereas an inefficient metabolism burns slower and can lead to an increase in weight.
(Our Metabolism Super Powder is designed to support your metabolism and consists of ingredients that can shift your fat tissue into metabolically active tissue.)
Soothe Your Stress
Stress can impair our ability to lose weight. When under duress, the body’s main focus is to get you into safety, not to shed excess weight. Excessive stress can also deplete essential nutrients, alter our blood sugar response, negatively impact the gut and microbiome, and even turn down our metabolic rate. Try lowering excessive physical stress (i.e. skip the daily HIIT classes, and instead incorporate rest days and gentler movement into your week) and avoid eating processed food or food you're intolerant to.
Dieting can also bring up a lot of mental stress—and that carries its own strain. We must heal our past to release weight, letting go of what doesn’t serve us. What thoughts, emotions, stories, trauma are you carrying, and how can we shift those thoughts and behaviors to release unwanted heaviness? Try to show yourself more love, kindness, and patience during this process, and know that no matter your weight you are worthy, strong, and radiant.
Support Your Sleep
Good ZZZs are imperative for many aspects of our health, weight management included. Insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite, and lower levels of the hormone leptin, which leads to feeling less full. It’s also associated with increased oxidative stress, glucose (a.k.a. blood sugar) intolerance—a precursor to diabetes—and insulin resistance. Nurture your circadian rhythm—and set yourself up for a blissful night in bed—by eating hormone-supporting, plant-rich nutrition, like mushrooms, tart cherries, goji berries, and nuts.
Once you adopt habits that serve you—like incorporating stress management techniques, supporting your sleep, and nourishing with real, whole, unprocessed foods—you’ll start to feel amazing and energized, in a body you truly love living in.
If you’re looking for a more guided route to weight management, check out The Metabolism Reset.
By S LIFE MAG • January 31, 2023