Do you feel frustrated trying to lose weight?

This blog discuses six key steps to help you adjust your metabolic set point, lose weight,…

The weight of the problem

Concern about being overweight is a common topic in my clinic. There are heaps of different weight loss methods and diets on offer. Where do you start and what might have been missing?

The most recent statistics state that 63% of Australians are classified as overweight or obese. This is linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, sleep apnoea and mood disorders.

Successful weight loss also results in improved mood, energy, mobility, self -confidence, work performance and social interaction.

Unfortunately, successful weight loss is not a simple matter of cutting back on calories. The fact is that 80% of people who lose weight put it back on within 5 years.

The body weight metabolic set point

One reason why people fail on a weight loss diet is due to the metabolic changes that happen in response to dieting. Studies show that the body may go into “starvation mode” for years after a short term weight loss attempt. For example, six years after contestants competed in “The Biggest Loser” they had a significantly lower metabolic rate than before entering the competition.

Your body weight is regulated in part by the hypothalamus in the brain. With dieting, your body and mind have one intention – put the lost weight back on.

Energy expenditure and appetite are adjusted to restore the fat mass back to the set-point.

Six principles to lower the set-point

  • Unprocessed food
  • Adequate protein
  • Fat OR carbohydrate restriction
  • Diet Breaks
  • Adequate sleep
  • Physical activity

Low to moderate diet palatability

A relatively bland diet is generally more filling and has a greater influence on the set point.  Choose unprocessed whole food in preference to refined addictive foods. Unprocessed whole foods are generally lower in calories. They also contain adequate protein and fibre that stimulate the reward centre of the brain to reduce appetite. On the other hand, progress will be slow if you choose addictive foods such as Chocolate, ice-cream, French fries, cookies, chips, cake, popcorn, cheese burger, muffin, breakfast cereal.

Adequate protein

Protein helps increase weight loss by increasing metabolism, balancing blood sugar levels and reducing hunger hormones such as ghrelin. A palm sized serving of protein at most meals is suggested.

Fat or carbohydrate restriction

There has been a lot of debate over the years about whether low protein or low carbohydrate is better for weight loss. Research is now showing that either fat or protein restriction work. The diet still needs adequate protein and calorie restriction.

Diet breaks

Research shows that diet breaks help prevent your metabolic rate from slowing down when calorie intake is reduced. Effectively, your body no longer thinks it has to overcome starvation.  The result is better long term weight loss.

Read more: Intermittent Fasting – What’s In It For You?

Adequate sleep

Your quality and quantity of sleep have a big influence on what you eat, how much you eat and whether you have the energy and motivation to exercise. In fact, sleeping may well be more important than exercise for weight loss.

Physical activity

Increased physical activity is great for general health, mood and wellbeing. Increased physical activity tends to increase appetite so the intensity of exercise and food choices need to be monitored.

What else can you do to optimise weight loss?

Self- monitoring helps you identify eating habits, such as times and places associated with eating, and potentially make healthier choices.

Keeping a diary of your food and fluid intake, calories, weight, physical activity and emotions is really helpful so that you are consciously aware of your progress.

Related topic: What Does Your Poo Say About You?