This is a very common and complex health topic. Most Americans are heavier than their optimum weight, so in that sense they are overweight, but most are not obese, which I would define as being overweight to a degree that clearly increases our health risks. Being overweight could also be defined in terms of what we think and feel about ourselves, as the psychological attitude toward our weight is so very important. Some people, mostly young women, may think that they are overweight and eat sparingly, when they are actually malnourished and underweight.
Most “overweight” people are very fickle about their weight-control regimens. They will try any and many programs, mostly short-term crash diets that focus on calorie restriction or a single food group, such as the high protein diet. The up-and-down weight syndrome may lead us to the path of lifelong obesity.
Quick weight loss is not the aim of this program. That is relatively easy to do time and again. The only healthy and effective long-range weight reduction plan is to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle such as described throughout this book, and to find the diet and eating habits that allow us to reach and maintain our “right” weight.
Working to change our dietary habits and following the many guidelines and diet suggestions discussed here can really make a difference. With moderate to active regular exercise, we can all be close to our optimum weight. We must realize, though, that this optimum weight may not be quite as low as that of the body we idolize or even as low as that listed in the ideal weight charts. Heredity, conditioning, and metabolism, as well as percentage of body fat, will influence what is ideal, or healthy, for each of us.
Significant excess weight—more than 30 pounds—and more extreme obesity are some of the bigger health concerns of the Western world. The over-intake and under-utilization of food and the storage of excess fuel in our body as fat and waste create a serious nutritional disease. This problem contributes to many more serious diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes—the three most life-threatening, chronic degenerative conditions in our society. Obesity is an important risk factor in all of them; in addition it causes a general decrease in longevity.
|High cholesterol levels||Gout|
|Heart disease||Liver disease|
|Kidney disease||Menstrual problems|
Mother. Weight problems begin early; the majority of overweight adults had some problem with their weight as children or adolescents. Genetics clearly plays a part, but our ability to distinguish its effects from those of conditioning and environmental stimuli is very limited. We can say that children of overweight parents have a greater tendency to be overweight. Our mother is usually the first one to feed us, and early on we develop patterns of eating and relating that often influence us for life. And for many this pattern with mother continues, with moms trying to nourish us on many levels throughout life. Counseling concerning the relationship with mother helps many overweight people clarify the issues and desires related to food and may allow new motivations to come forth.
Motivation. Most overweight people know that ups and downs in weight do not work. Fad diets may be fun, but they are usually frivolous, because 80–90 percent of people who lose weight with them then regain the weight lost or sometimes even more, and this is less healthy than just staying the weight we are. We need a lifetime plan, and this is where motivation comes in. Gathering our deeper strength by focusing on the long-range vision as well as the quick benefits, and continually telling ourselves that we can do it, is what will help to overcome our weight problem. It has been conditioned very deeply. Most people think more about the immediate benefits of the slimmer body or better appearance, often believing it will please another, than the lifelong health risks of being overweight. Emphasizing both may help improve motivation.
Overeating and poor habits are hard to change but easy to develop. I know from experience. It is easy to simply say change the diet, but without the motivation and the ability to break through our psychological barriers, it is very difficult to make major changes. I found it very successful to first change the types of foods I ate to a more natural-food diet. Sugars, fats, and refined foods can easily be replaced with more wholesome choices. These refined and rich foods may increase our hunger as well as add low-nutrient calories. (Complex carbohydrate foods fill us with fewer calories and reduce our appetite.) Thus, reducing their intake usually makes a difference in calorie and nutrient intake, and often in our metabolism and general health, which will influence our weight. Then we can move on to deal with our more difficult habits. Isolating and eliminating allergenic/addictive foods is difficult only for a few days. Then, eating a variety of foods will minimize other possible allergens in the diet. Really, we need to create a new, stable lifestyle approach to give us the right body weight and energy, and the effective level of metabolism to maintain them.
Metabolism. There are several theories regarding the effects of our metabolism on our weight, and I am convinced that they each describe important factors. Our basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which our body burns calories to maintain its functions at rest. It is affected by our gender, age, diet, activity level, thyroid function, amount of sleep, amount of body fat, body temperature, weight, and likely, by our genetics. We need a certain number of calories to maintain our weight with a regular exercise level. We can calculate our acceptable calorie intake by figuring the number of calories required to meet our basic needs (BMR) and adding to it the extra calories used in exercise and mental activity. Formulas for doing this are provided in many nutrition books, such Jane Brody’s Nutrition Book.
|Metabolic rate||Excess calories and/or fats|
|Set point||Excess sugar refined foods|
|Fat cell type and number||Overeating|
|Slow liver metabolism|
|Family Influences||Nutrient deficiencies|
|Hereditary||Low thyroid function|
|Eating patterns||Lack of exercise|
|Food choices||Food allergies|
|Family relationship||Yeast infection|
|Food as security substitute||Parasites|
|Psychological attitudes||Insuline insensitivity|
|Self-image within family||Emotional factors|
|Fat body self-image|
“Set point” theory is a newer way of describing this complex metabolic process. This theory applies to what our body “thinks” is normal and the set point is actually the amount of body fat our body tries to maintain. Obese people have a higher set point than trimmer ones. This may be related to the number of fat cells, which may in turn be tied to genetics and early eating patterns.
The set point theory suggests that our body works like a thermostat. When we diet and consume fewer calories, our body reacts as if a starvation crisis is upon us, with compensatory responses, such as lowering the BMR, the rate at which we burn calories, in an attempt to conserve calories and weight. The end result is that we can maintain the same weight on fewer calories. This theory makes sense, considering our long-term experiences with weight reduction.
Regular dieting, especially the low-calorie starvation diet, is met with ever greater difficulty in maintaining weight loss and often results in faster rebounds. As our weight goes up and down, our metabolism seems to slow, as it does with age, and it becomes harder and harder to lose weight. Once established, our personal set point and level of body fat are not easily influenced. Our set point, and thus our weight, might even go up. Our body really needs regular exercise and a long-term, steady, lower-calorie diet plan to adapt to a lower weight and better energy efficiency, or “turning our thermostat down.”
The “fat cell” theory also applies here, and seems to correlate with the “set point” philosophy. It has been shown that we each develop a specific number of fat cells in our body. This mainly occurs at certain times of life—before birth, during infancy, and during the adolescent growth phase. This may be genetically determined, but it also appears that if we are overfed or overeat during these times, we may create more fat cells. At other times, as in our adult life, we increase only the size of our cells. When we take in more calories than we use, our cells and fat stores get bigger. So a trim person may have a lower number of cells, or the same number of smaller cells than a heavier person, but when we lose weight and become thinner, our fat cells become smaller.
This process involves primarily “white” fat found mainly in the fat cells that lie under our skin. This is our energy, or calorie storage fat. The “brown” fat, or the “good” fat, actually burns calories for body heat. This fat is deeper and surrounds and protects our organs. Normal fatty acid metabolism supports and nourishes the brown fat. The storage, or white, fat is where our body puts the extra calories from dietary sources that we do not utilize. When we diet regularly or our weight goes up and down, our internal weight control system fears starvation and will store more fat as energy for the future. With repeated weight loss and weight gain, the same number of calories in our diet may keep us at a higher weight because we have a higher set point.
When we have developed more fat cells during our growth periods (infancy and adolescence), we will tend to have more fat, a slower metabolism, and a higher set point, and we will be more likely to have a higher weight. Once this pattern develops, such as by being overweight early in life, it is very hard to change. It takes work and a new self-image! Regular exercise and increasing exercise capacity are the main physical ways to improve the set point and lose weight and then to be able to maintain our weight with a reasonable number of calories. This is a far healthier approach than taking thyroid pills or one of the many possible diet stimulants.
Other ideas about individual weight suggest two opposing views. One school says that people are thin because they do not overeat as much as fat people, since they are guided more by internal signals of hunger and the types of food that their bodies want. Overweight people on the other hand respond more to external signals, such as the presence of food or other people and social situations, or they may react more emotionally to the normal internal messages.
Others believe that obese people do not really eat a great deal more than thin people; they just have a different set point and a slower metabolic rate. Heredity and early conditioning play a major role here. Heavier people’s food choices may not be as wholesome as those of thin people, with higher-fat and higher-calorie foods predominating. Malnutrition from nutrient deficiencies and food allergies can also be influential. Obesity is really a combination of these many factors. Of course, most of us know overweight people who eat a lot of food. Then again, we may know overweight people who eat lightly, as well as trim people who can really put it away. Most overweight people, I believe, have overeaten at some point to develop their capacity for obesity, unless there is some hormonal imbalance, which is not very common.
We need to start as early as possible to achieve dietary control. Children need both wholesome, nutritious foods and loving guidance! Only about 10 percent of elementary school children are overweight, yet between 20 and 30 percent of high schoolers are at least moderately obese. To lose weight and maintain it, behavior must change. Behavior modification is a form of therapy that can be effective in helping us change from an overweight person to a trimmer one. This can be practiced by ourselves or with the help of a close friend, spouse, or diet “buddy,” but a behavioral or other counselor can often assist with it.
An important beginning is to try to get in touch with our level of hunger. Most “fat” people do not eat from hunger; in fact, many rarely experience this natural guide to eating. Using an eating diary to evaluate what, when, and where we eat, how much, our level of hunger, and what else we are doing at the time can be very revealing. An example of this form is found in Taking Charge of Your Weight and Well-Being by Joyce Nash and Linda Ormiston (Bull Publishing Co., Palo Alto, CA., 1978). Keeping such a diary for several weeks can help us to see more clearly our relationship to eating. We can then make a plan incorporating our new, positive habits and use new rules to change our behavior in weak areas. For example, if we snack while we make dinner or pick at the leftovers in the kitchen, we can make a commitment to eat food only at the dining room table and allow no eating in the kitchen or when standing. It may be difficult at first; constant awareness is needed. Behaviorists claim that it takes three weeks to change a habit and create a new one, so keep at it. Part of our eating behavior is affected by psychological aspects, such as our self-image, relationships to family or partner, sexuality, and general stress. Often, counseling is important to help change behavior to meet our dietary challenge.
Successfully achieving a new weight means changing our diet, not “going on a diet.” When we return to our old, “normal” diet, we will create the same body we had before, and likely add another pound or three. First we change our diet by substituting wholesome foods for the more high-calorie and chemical foods in the diet. Next, we work to create good habits. The following list offers some suggestions for behavior patterns, food choices, and activities to help reach and maintain our optimum weight.
Before beginning a new diet plan, a health evaluation may be important, especially for those with recent weight gain or symptoms of medical problems. Before embarking on any low-calorie diets, we should have a complete exam, general biochemistry panel, and, if over 45, an electrocardiogram. A complete thyroid hormone panel is often useful to rule out low thyroid function, which could be a cause of weight gain or difficulty in losing weight. Blood fats, protein, potassium, and calcium levels are also important monitors in the process of weight loss. A positive side effect of diet change and weight loss is reduction of blood cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood pressure, yet also watching for mineral depletions, particularly of potassium, is a good idea.
A food allergy evaluation may be a valuable step on the path to a trim and healthier body. Many people have internal reactions to foods, with increased immune response, cellular irritation, and many possible symptoms. These can cause inflammatory activity and water retention, as well as poor utilization of other foods. Currently, the best way to isolate problem foods is a blood test that measures levels of IgG antibodies to specific food antigens (the protein stimuli of the food). This reveals delayed or “hidden” food allergy or hypersensitivity. Measuring IgE levels can determine foods causing more immediate reactions, such as hives, asthma, or eczema, though these reactions are relatively uncommon, which is why skin tests, which measure the IgE reactions, are not very helpful. Cytotoxic testing, looking at cellular reactions, is no longer used because interpretations of its results were too subjective. Antibody measurement is more reproducible.
Testing food reactions ourselves by trying different foods in the diet and observing how we feel can be very useful for the astute person, but the reactions may involve other variables besides the foods. TV doctor Dean Edell feels that the best method is double-blind testing—giving patients encapsulated dried foods as well as placebos, without the patient or tester knowing which is which, or even what food is being tested. This is a good method, but it is time consuming, and it assumes that food reactions occur so dramatically and immediately that people can be aware of them. Some reactions do happen at once, but many are more subtle and occur 12–24 hours later. Avoiding the causes of these quieter internal reactions contributes to the body’s fine-tuning and makes weight loss easier. Food allergy testing followed by a rotation diet avoiding the reactive foods plays an essential part in reaching and maintaining optimum weight and health (see more in the Allergy program in this chapter).
Several possible diets can be used as long-term plans for people who have problems maintaining their optimum weight. These are all generally healthier diets than those of the general population. There are literally thousands of quick-weight-loss, low-calorie, nutrient-deficient diets available to consumers. That is not what we are looking for to achieve our goals. I do not usually recommend fasting for weight loss, but if someone wants to lose a quick five to ten pounds in a short period of time, I will work with them, after an evaluation, with the overall intention of using that period to create a new eating plan to be used when the fast is over. Fasting is very valuable at increasing food awareness and sensitivity to both bad and good foods and eliminating addictive food and eating patterns, so that people can come back to eating with new enthusiasm and attention. A one-day-a-week fast on water or juices can be a valuable tool for many people who want to lose or maintain weight as it reemphasizes the importance of food choices and food awareness.
- Focus on decreasing caloric intake and increasing calories out (exercise).
- Eat most foods early in the day for best utilization of calories.
- Drink eight to ten glasses of water daily, but not with meals.
- Drink two glasses of water 30 minutes before meals to reduce appetite.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables—as snacks, too.
- Walk a lot and exercise regularly.
- Avoid fats in the diet—they are more caloric.
- Use only low-fat or nonfat milk products.
- Minimize salad dressings, cream soup, and meats.
- Lessen or avoid alcohol and caffeine; minimize salt intake.
- Rotate foods—eat a variety; isolate allergenic foods and avoid them.
- Practice food combining.
- See a nutritionist to help with the eating plan or for food-habit counseling.
- Use smaller plate and portions.
- Fill up first on lower calorie foods, such as soups or vegetable.
- Avoid high-calories snacks and desserts.
- Wait 10–15 minutes before taking seconds—hunger will decrease.
- At restaurants, avoid overeating and take any extra food home.
- Take at least 20–30 minutes to eat a meal, even snacks.
- Eat at only one or two places in the home.
- Sit and relax before eating.
- Avoid eating while watching TV, driving, or doing other things.
- Shop for food only after eating, not when hungry.
- Create a schedule for eating.
- Plan meals and food choices ahead, snacks included.
- Carry food with you to work or when going out so that you have the right choices.
- Put snacks and sweet foods away at home.
- Stay out of the kitchen, cupboard, and refrigerator unless preparing food.
- Plan activities to occupy your free time when you might snack.
- Tell family and friends to support you and not push food.
- If you blow it, go right back to your plan, and do not make it an excuse to indulge.
- Weigh yourself only once every week or two.
- Learn about food, fats, calories, and so on , so you know what you are doing.
- Keep a good self-image and positive attitude toward life.
- Allow yourself to indulge (within reason) once weekly without guilt or self-judgement.
- Realize that it is ultimately up to you.
The essential aspects of a healthy weight-loss diet are lean protein (for example, fish and poultry), low fat, and lots of vegetables. High-fiber foods, with some complex carbohydrates, are also helpful, especially with an orientation to vegetables and vegetable-protein combinations such as grains and legumes. Eating a variety of foods and rotating those foods every few days is important. Cold-pressed vegetable oils are the main fats, with some low-fat dairy products if tolerated. Saturated and hydrogenated fats are minimized. Refined sugar and flour foods, including baked goods, candy, sodas, and other sweets, are avoided. Alcohol is out, and caffeine is minimized. We need to drink lots of water instead to support normal weight and healthy skin and internal functions.
Meals are restructured to include a moderate breakfast, great lunch, and light dinner. Snacks are low-calorie foods, such as fruits, vegetables, popcorn, or crackers. Overeating is prohibited. We must take breaks during big meals to let the body balance and let us know whether it needs more food. It usually does not; we really require a lot less food than our overweight mind tells us. Our satiation meter needs to be turned down, and that will take a golden key, which is not always easy to find. It may require going through our past, our emotional and psychological barriers, to find our creative spark and drive to be our best self and not let food interfere with this path of power. It really takes responsibility and a commitment to our new body-to-be, and a knowledge and belief that we can do it. We need to think more about eating to survive and feeding our body with the best possible fuel. Taking the time to eat, chewing each bite thoroughly, is essential to short-term digestion and absorption and the long-term health of the whole digestive tract. Being aware of the process of eating and of what food is eaten is a must.
- The fish-fowl-vegetable diet
- The allergy-rotation diet
- The high fiber-starch diet
- The Haas plan—the Ideal Diet
The fish–fowl–green vegetable diet is a fairly healthy weight-loss diet that should be used for one or two months at the most. Several pounds a week can be lost fairly easily with this diet even with only moderate activity. It includes fresh ocean fish, tuna, shrimp, and trout, organic poultry, and green vegetables, both raw and cooked—all to be eaten in the quantity desired (within reason, of course). One piece of fresh fruit and one cooked egg daily are also suggested. This provides good balance, though it is fairly low in fiber. Some bran and/or psyllium can be used to support bowel function. Salad dressing should be limited to one or two tablespoons daily of vegetable oil, such as olive, with some fresh lemon juice or vinegar. If no oils are used, an essential fatty acid supplement should be added. Herbal teas and/or spring or distilled water are the main fluids. Some clear soup broths are acceptable. Daily fluid intake should be eight to ten glasses (8 ounces), with two glasses being drunk first thing in the morning and 30–60 minutes before each meal. A general multivitamin or the program given at the end of this section should also be used daily for health insurance.
The high fiber-starch diet is another weight loss/maintenance alternative. This is not exclusively starches—it includes some fruit, green vegetables, and protein foods—but the main foods are the whole grains, legumes, pasta, potatoes, and starchy vegetables, such as carrots and squashes. These high-fiber complex carbohydrates when eaten at the beginning of a meal will provide bulk and thus decrease the appetite and give a feeling of fullness. They are also relatively low-calorie foods because they are low in fat, but only if they do not have sauces, gravies, butter, or oil added to them. The complex carbohydrates also provide a consistent energy production and can stabilize the imbalance that some people experience. Vegetables can be consumed as desired, at least several cups daily. They are also low in calories. A couple of pieces of fruit daily are suggested. Dairy foods, red meats, and any fried, fatty, or refined foods are avoided, as are sweets. One meal, early in the day, can include a concentrated protein, such as fish, poultry, eggs, or, for strict vegetarians, some tofu, nuts, seeds, or beans. This diet can be a good weight-loss plan for overweight vegetarians, especially if they avoid excessive grains and sweets. Soups and salads are helpful. Water intake is eight to ten glasses daily for this diet also. A multivitamin product can be used, along with some extra B12. Care should be taken that iron and calcium intake are adequate; these and other minerals might be supplemented, though most should be found in sufficient amounts in this diet.
The allergy-rotation diet is becoming more popular for weight loss as well as for general health, especially when there are food allergies present. The Ideal Diet described in Chapter 13 is a modified rotation diet; also see the upcoming Allergy program. When food allergies are suspected, we should be tested or guided by a doctor or nutritionist, and any foods shown to be a possible problem should come out of the diet for one to two months, depending on the degree of sensitivity. After that time, individual foods can be tested again (this is called a “challenge”), but only one per day. If we seem to be addicted to any foods, that is, we crave them and eat them every day, sometimes even at every meal—those foods should be completely removed from the diet for at least several weeks before testing them, although avoiding them even for only four days will allow our body to be sensitive to their true effects. If we can be aware enough of our diet to know which foods are doing what, then we can know which foods to eliminate. This rotation diet can be very well balanced since it includes a wide variety of foods. To desensitize to other possible food allergies, a rotating diet means setting up a four-day rotation plan—any food eaten on one day must be excluded from the diet for the next three days. For example, if apples, corn, or peas are eaten on Monday, we would not eat them again until Friday. This diet is not very easy to initiate, but once started is not too difficult. It does, however, require limiting restaurant eating and preparing most of our own foods. Just planning foods and meals and preparing food ahead of time creates better eating habits. Eliminating allergenic foods also reduces water retention through reduced immune reactions and secondary inflammation and may allow us to feel much better while we trim.
The Ideal Diet discussed in Part Three is very good for weight reduction and maintenance for most people provided we limit the quantities of food consumed. It is a well-balanced diet that incorporates aspects of all the previous diets. It is a rotation diet, good for food allergies; it has a high fiber content from the whole grains and vegetables; it is low in fat; and it contains good-quality protein. To reduce calories further, the morning nut snack can be replaced with another fruit.
|Early morning||one or two pieces of fruit|
|Breakfast||starch, such as a cereal grain or potatoes|
|Lunch||protein and green and other vegetables|
|Midafternoon snack||vegetable or fruit|
|Dinner||starch or protein with vegetable|
|Evening snack||vegetable or fruit, if needed|
Water should be consumed as usual—eight to ten glasses per day, mainly drunk about one hour before meals—and a basic multivitamin/mineral supplement could be used, including essential fatty acids or some fresh vegetable oil, one or two teaspoons daily. (Refer to the Seasonal Menu Plans and Recipes in Chapter 14 for more ideas.) More water and fiber and more filling low-calorie foods will help in decreasing the appetite. Water and fiber are the two most useful and inexpensive nutrients for weight reduction and maintenance. They will also support good colon function, which is helpful to detoxification and reducing food cravings. Lowering fat intake and absorption (fiber also does that) and increasing foods high in vitamins and minerals as well as supplemental nutrients will also support optimum metabolism and aid in weight loss.
Exercise is also crucial. Few weight-loss programs are effective without increasing physical activity. To lose weight or mass, we need to reduce intake and increase output. Reducing fat stores and adding muscle improves energy utilization by using more calories for active metabolic tissues. Exercise also improves general metabolism and vitality and lowers that important “set point,” allowing us to maintain lower weight and body fat with the same food intake. At a good level of exercise, the body will burn more calories than usual, even 12 hours afterward. Regular exercise is clearly needed to keep fat off.
Daily exercise is essential. If we are just starting out, we should first begin slowly and build to a regular daily program. If we make it a habit, we will really see the benefit. Then, at most we might skip it for one day a week, but only if we must, and then we should stretch and walk anyway. Some aerobics activity is ideal, even 20–30 minutes a day, five or six days a week. Our body stores energy, not as calories, but mainly as fat. Aerobic-type exercises will burn and reduce fat stores, without reducing muscle tissue (weight-loss programs without exercise can cause muscle loss). One to two hours daily of activity is fine; we must make the time to do it. We can add brisk walks to the more strenuous activity as we get into shape. A 30-minute walk about a half hour after meals is just the thing to further help digestion and assimilation. With more exercise, our vitality, endurance, and ability to handle stress and life all improve. Try it!
I want to say more about those two previously mentioned factors that are very important to healthy and easy weight loss—water and fiber. Water works in a variety of ways to promote both weight reduction and general well-being. In his article “Water: How 8 Glasses a Day Keeps Fat Away,” taken from The Snowbird Diet, Donald S. Robertson, M.D. (co-authored by Carol Robertson) states that “incredible as it may seem, water is quite possibly the single most important catalyst in losing weight and keeping it off. Although most of us take it for granted, water may be the only true ‘magic potion for permanent weight loss.’ ” Dr. Robertson also suggests that “water suppresses the appetite and helps the body metabolize stored fat, helps maintain proper muscle tone, clears wastes and may help relieve constipation.” More water is needed by overweight people; for those who tend to retain fluid, drinking plenty of water will help rebalance the improperly distributed body fluids. During weight loss, Dr. Robertson suggests about three quarts a day, each drunk over a 30-minute period—one quart in the morning, another at noon, and a third between 5 and 6 p.m. or thereabouts, depending on dinnertime. The water should be consumed about 30 minutes before meals to help hydrate us and reduce the appetite. The water should be cool to cold, because extra calories will then be burned to warm it. This can become a lifetime habit.
Sufficient fiber in the diet supports good colon function and helps to eliminate wastes that are released during weight loss. Especially if the diet is low in fiber foods, we may add supplemental fiber as psyllium seed husks and bran. Psyllium is a soluble fiber that will increase bulk and reduce the appetite. It has also been shown to reduce fat absorption by coating the intestinal tract. When olive oil is also used, it will help mobilize some of the toxins in the intestines and carry them out, while the psyllium will reduce the oil absorption and thus calorie intake. Insoluble wheat or oat bran fiber can also help in detoxification as well as in stimulating the colon function.
Other digestive supporters include liquid chlorophyll. A teaspoon or so added to water twice daily will help nourish the intestinal lining and improve digestion. With better assimilation, our tissues and cells are more nourished and there may be fewer cravings and less desire for food. Ginger-lemon water can help with circulation and diuresis, as well as support liver and gallbladder function. Even just lemon water—half a small lemon squeezed into water—drunk 15–30 minutes before meals will help digestion and utilization of fats. The new flavored mineral waters (no calories) can be used as a beverage, up to two or three cups daily. These drinks, because of the carbonation, are somewhat filling. Common flavors include lemon, lime, orange, cola, root beer, cherry, and cherry-chocolate.
Many other supplements can be helpful during and after weight loss. A general vitamin/mineral supplement is very important, especially when we are on special diets that may not be perfectly balanced (very few are) or if we take in fewer than 1,500 calories daily. Extra minerals are essential to prevent deficiency, especially with high fiber intake, which may reduce mineral absorption. Amounts over the RDAs are needed for iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and molybdenum. Calcium is especially important to prevent bone loss, as less calcium is also absorbed with the fiber. Magnesium is also cleared in the gut as well as through the kidneys, and so a good intake is needed. Vitamin B6 will help provide a diuretic effect during weight release.
Since weight loss involves a mild process of detoxification, with the body burning fat and other tissues (without proper exercise, the body loses muscle as well), some antioxidant nutrients are suggested to handle the extra toxin load. Vitamin C, 1–3 grams daily in two or three portions, and vitamin E and selenium, usually taken together in the morning, are suggested. L-cysteine can also be used; this amino acid helps liver and intestinal detoxification processes.
Other amino acids have been recommended by some authorities. A general L-amino acid formula can be used; Dr. Stuart Berger suggests taking it about 30–60 minutes before meals, as certain amino acids, such as phenylalanine, may help reduce the appetite. In Vitamin Power, Stephanie Rick and Rita Aero cite research that suggests that a combination of arginine and lysine, 1,500 mg. each, taken before bed can help weight loss by increasing growth hormone production and improving fatty acid metabolism and general energy. I have been more impressed with L-carnitine’s help in weight loss, as it supports the efficient use of fats in the body. The usual plan is 500 mg. taken twice daily, with the morning and evening meals.
Various fatty acids may also be taken to stimulate weight loss by improving fatty acid metabolism. An essential fatty acid formula can be used. Most obese people need more good polyunsaturated fats to balance their lipid metabolism. Gamma-linolenic acid from evening primrose oil and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fish oil are both precursors to different prostaglandins and may also be helpful. Some chronically obese people will respond to supplementation with essential fatty acids and evening primrose oil. Cold-pressed linseed (flax) oil is high in both omega-3 (EPA and alpha-linolenic) the omega-6 (linoleic and others) fatty acids and is a less expensive way to obtain these oils. Usually, three or four teaspoons a day are sufficient if fats are avoided in the diet. When taking additional fatty acids, it is wise to supplement the many cofactors that help in fatty acid metabolism. These are zinc, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, niacin, pyridoxine, and biotin. Vitamin E also aids our metabolism as well as prevents oxidation of the other oils.
- Improving digestive effectiveness. Poor breakdown of foods allows poor cell nutrition, which can lead to cravings and overeating. Hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, and pancreas may help.
- Improving metabolism (utilization efficiency) of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, particularly the burning of fats for fuel. Their suggested supplements include carnitine, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folic acid, choline, inositol, methionine, taurine, liver and thyroid glandulars, vitamin A, dimethylglycine (DMG), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
- Stimulating energy levels with vitamin C, pantothenic acid, adrenal glandular, potassium, magnesium, manganese, chromium, octocosanol, and the branched-chain amino acids—leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
- Reducing cravings, especially for sweets, by using the amino acid glutamine, chromium, and by avoiding allergenic foods.
- Suppressing the appetite with the amino acids phenylalanine and tryptophan.
*Adapted from the book Super Fitness Beyond Vitamins, Michael Rosenbaum, M.D., and Dominick Bosco.
There are many herbs that can also be helpful during weight loss. Juniper berry is a good diuretic herb and helps in detoxification. Parsley leaf is also a diuretic, and peppermint leaf tea helps reduce the appetite for many people, as it is said to relax the stomach nerves. Chickweed herb, a spring green, has historically been known for reducing appetite and helping in weight loss. Bladderwrack is a type of sea vegetable; when taken with kelp, it will support thyroid function, and the high mineral levels of this herb aid general energy utilization. Garlic has also been used in weight-loss programs to help lower blood lipids and for detoxification.
In The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, Dr. Mowrey notes that he never suggests chickweed because of the lack of backup research on it. Plantain (Plantago ovata) is a green with much more scientific support. The plantain fiber aids in weight loss by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, by lessening fat absorption, and by its “appetite-satiating” effect. Dr. Mowrey’s herbal formula for weight loss includes plantain, fennel seed, burdock root, hawthorn berry (to support heart function), kelp, and bladderwrack.
Losing weight effectively and healthfully and maintaining a proper weight is a complex and multifaceted process. Finding a diet that works for us is important, and creating a good exercise program is essential for long-term weight control. Implementing our healthy diet almost always requires changes in various habits and relationships that affected our weight previously. Behavior patterns need to be altered in order to achieve a new relationship to food. Both behavior and motivation can be learned, but it takes work—repeated and sustained effort. Beginning to believe in ourselves and our success is also catalyst and a source of support in becoming who we want to be, with the body and energy we desire. We have to know we can do it, believe it, see it in our mind’s eye, and feel it in our hearts to have the body, health, and life that we want—and then do the work it takes to maintain them.
The following supplement plan can be used during a weight-reduction plan when daily calorie intake is limited. The amounts for each nutrient are a daily total, which can be divided into three portions.
|Water||3 qt.||Calcium||800–1,200 mg.|
|Fiber (includes diet||20 g.||Copper||2–3 mg.|
|plus bran & psyllium||Iodine||150–225 mcg.|
|Psyllium||6–8 g. daily||Magnesium||500–800 mg.|
|(before meals)||Manganese||10 mg.|
|Bran||8–10 g. daily||Molybdenum||500 mcg.|
|(after meals||Potassium||1–2 g.|
|and at bedtime)||Selenium||200 mcg.|
|Vitamin A||10,000 IUs||Zinc||30–60 mg.|
|Vitamin D||400 IUs||Others:|
|Vitamin E||400–800 IUs||Digestive enzymes||2–3 tablets|
|Vitamin K||300 mcg.||(after meals)|
|Thiamine (B1)||75–150 mg.||Adrenal glandular||50–100 mg.|
|Riboflavin (B2)||50–100 mg.||L-amino acids||1,500 mg.|
|Niacinamide (B3)||75–150 mg.||L-carnitine||1,000 mg.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||250–500 mg.||Phenylalanine||500 mg.|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||50–100 mg.||(before meals)|
|Pyridoxal-5-phosphate||50–100 mg.||Flaxseed oil||1 Tablespoon|
|Cobalamin (B12)||100–200 mcg.||Olive oil||2 teaspoons|
|Folic acid||600–800 mcg.||(with psyllium)|
|Biotin||500 mcg.||(before meals)|
|Inositol||500 mg.||primrose oil||4–6 capsules|
|Vitamin C||3 g.||Coenzyme Q10||20–30 mg.|
|Bioflavonoids||250–500 mg.||Dimethylglycine||50–100 mg.|
|Organic germanium||100–200 mg.|
|Have you ever been too fat to touch your toes?|
|to blow your nose?|
|to get in or out of your clothes?|
|to smell a rose? to feel the wind blow?|
|to know, grow, show…|
Now it is time for front row…
Too fat to eat,
Too fat to eat those sweets
Too fat to reach your feet
to reach your defeat.
O, O, deplete my fat—
Skinny rewards in the sun
skinny, skinny on the run
NOW, station N.O.W.
that silent conversation—
can you hear it?
Some people are skinny
& very much material
but that’s immaterial
|—Lynn Segerblom & Bethany ArgIsle, written during a fast|