Experts reveal healthy ways to halt sneaking pounds and lower your risk for obesity-related illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
Heidi Archer, MD, BodyLogicMD, Vail, Colorado
- Don’t cut too many calories. Low-calorie diets lower your metabolism. Unless you’re less than 5 feet tall, don’t eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day. Women who consume less than this amount see their resting metabolic rate plummet as much as 45 percent.
- Take L-carnitine and chromium. The amino acid L-carnitine and the mineral chromium work synergistically to optimize fat and sugar metabolism. L-carnitine transports fatty acids across mitochondrial membranes (the energy-producing parts of cells) so you can use them for energy. Chromium transfers glucose across membranes, regulating blood sugar and minimizing cravings. Take 250 mg L-carnitine and 50 mcg chromium (as picolinate or aspartate) once or twice daily.
- Exercise in the evening. On average, your metabolism slows down by 10 percent to 15 percent while you sleep. Work out two and a half hours before bedtime and your metabolism will drop only about 5 percent. Do 20 to 30 minutes of moderate- intensity activity—where you can still maintain a conversation—such as power walking or bike riding after dinner. Anything later or more vigorous may interfere with sleep.
Jennifer Fugo, founder, glutenfreeschool.com, Philadelphia
- Build muscle tone with yoga. Myriad yoga poses increase muscle tone and bone strength. Try Boat Pose: Sit on the floor and press your navel towards your spine. Rock back onto your sits bones and extend your legs to form a “v” shape; draw your shoulder blades down your back and reach your arms next to your thighs; hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds, and repeat two more times.
- Reduce sugar. Apart from adding unwanted calories, sugar lowers your pH and produces toxic byproducts such as yeast. This spurs your hormonal and immune response, causing lethargy. Remember that although fruit provides key vitamins and fiber, it contains a lot of sugar. Swap sugary snacks for sweet vegetables such as red bell pepper slices, baby carrots, and sugar snap peas; pair with healthy-fat guacamole, hummus, or bean dip.
- Practice mindfulness. Stress triggers production of the hormone cortisol, causing your body to go into fight-or-flight mode. Quell stress by meditating for at least two minutes per day, slowly working your way up to ten or twenty minutes. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly; as you inhale, think “so,” and when you exhale, think “hum.” The “so-hum” mantra is a simple meditation practice translating to “I am that.”
Gloria Askew, RRN, coauthor, Eat to Save Your Life (Balboa, 2012), Calgary, Canada
- Find a mentor. Studies show that enlisting support from encouraging friends and family or a registered health expert can keep you on track better than doing it alone.
- Know your weight-gain foods. Every person responds differently to food— you may gain more weight from starchy foods like potatoes, while your friend may gain weight from rich, fatty foods like cheese. To discover which foods affect your weight, every week add four possible suspects into your regular diet; weigh yourself every day. If you gain more than 2 pounds, limit these foods.
- Take supplements. Throughout your weight loss and maintenance plan, take an organic, whole-food multivitamin every day to support general health. Also take a daily, high-quality fish oil supplement containing at least 150 mg DHA and 150 mg EPA to support heart health and mental acuity; fish oil may also improve insulin response.