1 Secret To Life-Long Weight Loss
I’ve been asked, time and time again, to give people “the secret” to longterm weight control. In a world of quick fixes, with technology at our fingertips and communication happening in a flash, we just don’t seem to have the patience for a long and complicated eating plan. But, as I’ve said in my response to this question many times, unfortunately, the answer is never as simple as just “don’t eat refined carbs” or “choose your fats wisely.”
There’s no magic pill, no gimmicky singular “trick” to shedding pounds; any sensible eating plan incorporates a vast spectrum of factors to be considered, from calories to nutrients, ingredients to portions. Since I’m a big believer in balance, and choosing a nutrition strategy that works for your body and personal taste, it can be a pretty intricate matter, one that can’t be summed up in one little sentence.
Or can it?
I started to change my tune a few years ago when I worked closely with the American Diabetes Association to develop tools designed to help people combat Type 2 Diabetes. As we delved into the science of eating to reprogram the body, it dawned on me that the breakthrough approaches to diet we were recommending to patients is closely connected to the balanced methods I’ve been recommending for years. It’s just that I’d never described it this way. It become clearer and clearer to me that, to a certain extent, we should all approach food the way a person who’s concerned with diabetes approaches food. Because that way of eating can lead to profound results – and might just be the secret to reversing our country’s staggering obesity epidemic.
So maybe there is “one little secret.” One technique. One simple, straightforward answer to that age-old question about longterm weight loss. And it can all be summed up in four little words. Drumroll please…
Balance your blood sugar.
We often associate the idea of “balancing blood sugar” with diabetes. But healthy blood sugar levels are a key concept for all of us. Here’s why:
Food, and the types of foods we eat, trigger the sugar, or glucose, in our blood. And when our blood sugar levels rise or fall too dramatically or too frequently over the course of the day, we’re suddenly stuck in a vicious cycle. Our energy levels are quickly depleted, we become prone to fuzzy thinking, and we start to crave sugary foods. We reach for those foods, get a quick sugar boost, and suddenly it all begins again.
It All Starts with Insulin:
Most of us have a vague idea about insulin. We know it’s got something to do with how our bodies process sugar, and that’s of particular concern to people living with diabetes. But it’s vital for all of us, regardless of our age or fitness levels, to have a deeper understanding of the insulin process. Here’s an intro to insulin:
When we eat carbohydrates – grains, cereals, pastas, fruit and, yes, anything containing sugar – our digestive systems start to break them down into glucose, the simple sugar found in our body’s tissue. Glucose rushes through the bloodstream, which signals insulin, the hormone produced in the pancreas, to kick in. Insulin’s job is to sweep in and distribute that glucose to various cells in our organs, muscles and brains. Those cells, in turn, turn the glucose into energy. The more often we put our bodies through this roller coaster, the more insulin we have to produce to keep blood sugar balanced. That issue is what’s known as insulin resistance.
This process varies depending on our own genetic makeup (which is why people with diabetes often have to manage their insulin levels through medication), but it also depends on the makeup of our meals. The type of food we eat determines whether our insulin levels stay nice and balanced, or whether they skyrocket too quickly, creating that infamous blood sugar “spike” we should try and avoid. That spike leads to a crash in energy quickly afterward, leaving us groggy and often craving more sugar.
Here are a few telltale signs that we’ve been on the insulin resistance roller coaster for too many rounds:
- We vacillate between feeling anxious and tired
- We deal with various forms of inflammation
- We see signs of premature aging
- We might deal with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, and low sex drive
- We lose muscle mass
- We gain fat (especially in the midsection)
That fat around the midsection is of special interest here. A big belly may be a sign of insulin resistance – and it may also be an indicator that something more is going on.