In this episode of my Hungry for More series, I stick to the basics and offer 10 practical tips for weight loss. I cover things such as establishing your routine, not skipping meals, getting proper amounts of sleep, and yes, even exercise. Implementing these 10 strategies for weight loss will help you achieve true, long-lasting results.
If you haven’t listened to previous episodes in the Hungry for More series, go back and check them out to deepen your understanding of hunger:
Episode 1: The anatomy and physiology of our hungers - listen to it here.
Episode 2: The science behind emotional eating and what we can do to overcome it - listen to it here.
Episode 3: Mindset and how it can affect your chances of success - listen to it here.
Episode 4: The importance of cultivating self-compassion – listen to it here.
Episode 5: The Five Pillars of Nourishment and Nutrition (Part One) – listen to it here.
Episode 6: The Five Pillars of Nourishment and Nutrition (Part Two) – listen to it here.
Find more inspiration, join my newsletter, or see my curated collection of supplements and protein bars at dradrienneyoudim.com.
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My new book Hungry for More: Stories and Science to Inspire Weight Loss From The Inside Out is now available! If you’d like a hardcover, personalized, autographed copy with free shipping, use the code freeship at hungryformore.net.
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As you know the last few episodes, we have taken a shift in the podcast to explore a little bit more deeply our emotional and our spiritual hungers. We have done this so that I could tell you a little bit more about my book, Hungry for More, which explores 15 years of my personal and professional experience in dealing with these hungers. And it turns out that a lot of these hungers are emotional, they are spiritual. And in describing these, I end up talking a lot about what I like to call the mushy gushy stuff, right? The positive self-acceptance, self-compassion, mindset, all of these things that really help us promote weight loss, or any kind of habit change, or any kind of leveling up in your life, whether that is in terms of your professional life, business, academics, athleticism, we know that these things matter. But of course, practical tips are important too.
On today's episode, I want to spend some time talking about some of the practical strategies for weight loss. Again, I don't focus on these often because I think intuitively we ultimately know the practical strategies towards healthy eating and healthy living. But I also know that there's a lot of noise out there. So let's get back to the basics and offer you some practical tips.
1. Reestablish Your Routine
The first tip that I want to offer is routine. And what we have seen in the last 18 months of this pandemic is that our routines have really been thrown out the door. Our eating schedule has become obsolete. Our sleeping schedule has become interrupted, and we'll talk about the importance of sleep further on in this podcast. And also those rituals of driving to and from work, or driving our kids to school and back, those things that we used to hate, like sitting in traffic, we realized was part of our routine, and it punctuated our day, it gave us book ends, it gave us time to decompress and really transition from one part of our day into another. And it was only until we lost those commutes, at least for me personally, did I realize how valuable they were in my routine.
So my first tip to you is: reinstate that routine. Without it, habit change and weight loss is absolutely impossible. That means getting back to a normal sleeping schedule. That means resuming three meals a day at proper times and at proper intervals. That means scheduling in your activity. And what I actually offer to my patients often in the office when they're having difficulty with routine is: do a time audit. Get a planner, if you don't have one download a timesheet or purchase one, and really go into detail. What is it that you're doing? What time do you wake up? How long does it take you to get out of bed and drink your coffee? How long does it take you to get out of the door? What are you doing in between that time? And use that time audit to really carve the time out and create a routine.
2. Create an Environment for Success
My number two practical tip for weight loss is to create an environment for success and the first aspect of that is cleaning out the foods that are triggering, and/or difficult to consume mindfully. Now a lot of people will say that we should be intuitive about this, we should see or feel what our body wants. And we should learn to be with those things in our pantry, like chocolate chip cookies, or chips that might tempt us or trigger us and learn how to be with them mindfully. And yes, I absolutely agree, it would be great if we could be with a bag of chips mindfully. But that may not happen quite yet, we might be in a situation in which certain foods are triggering. Certain foods are just too tempting to consume at regular portions. So get them out of the house. And what I want to say is don't feel bad about throwing these foods away and just getting them out of the pantry. Maybe one day, you and I can be in a situation where we can consume one or two Mint Thin Girl Scout cookies at a time, but that day may not be today. Get it out of the house.
The second part of creating an environment for success is stocking your house appropriately, taking the time to stock your house with good food, and taking the time to prepare that good food. If you don't have an environment that is set up for your success, set up for proper choices, then you have no choice but to make the wrong choice. Create an inviting environment in which you are called to doing the things that you really want to do for yourself.
3. Don’t Skip Meals
My third tip is to not skip meals. And I know this is kind of controversial right now. And of course, at the end of the day, I really recommend everyone taking their own tailored approach. And I know that intermittent fasting is kind of in Vogue, I will say that at the time of this recording, which is August 2021, we just had a randomized control trial published in the last week. And randomized control trials is our gold standard of evidence because you take a group that is doing the intervention, meaning intermittent fasting, and you're comparing them to another group who may be doing some type of restrictive or dietary change themselves. And so you compare these two groups, and they found that in fact, intermittent fasting was not causing or creating or inducing more weight loss. If you really believe it, or it's working for you or you're doing it because you think it gives you energy or vitality or some metabolic edge, you do you. But here's my experience, personally and my experience in the office, when people skip their breakfast, they skip a couple eggs that are, what, 70 calories each? So not a huge kind of cost savings in terms of calories. And then by the time they eat lunch, they are absolutely starving. Same with people who go all day without eating. What happens is by the time you arrive to lunch or dinner, having skipped meals, your hunger cues are so very dysregulated that it's hard to catch up. And in essence, there's nothing you can eat that is sufficient to help fill you up. And I'm sure you guys have all had this experience where you've dashed out of the house, you've had a busy day, you forgot about eating because you were busy and you weren't even hungry. But then you take that first bite and all of a sudden you're famished, you're flooded with hunger. And it's like no amount of food is going to fill you up. If you really feel like meal skipping is helpful to you, fine, but be mindful because I find that when people really dig into this they realize that it is not helpful at all.
4. Eat in Terms of Abundance, Not Restriction
Tip number four is eating in terms of abundance and not restriction, and maybe you guys think this is a mindset thing. We're talking about food in terms of abundance that makes us feel good. It makes us feel there's availability, whereas restriction makes us think of deprivation, makes us feel fear. and you get this kind of FOMO for food, right? You have this fear that if you don't take advantage of the food, you're missing out in some way.
But this is actually practical. Because when I talk about eating for abundance, I say, eat so much of what serves you so that there is less room for that which does not. So one of my favorite Instagram quotes that I recycle on my feed at Dr. Adrienne Youdim is: Nobody gained weight from eating too much chicken, right? Like, what is this nonsense about eating protein that conforms to the palm of your hand? That's just ludicrous. Eat as much of what you need to fill you to satisfy you. And to that end, I always recommend doubling up on the veggies. So while I don't restrict or don't limit the amount of protein, I say double that in what you're consuming in veggies. And invariably, then that is portion control, right? If you're planning on having a 12 ounce steak, and you have to have 24 ounces of veggies, and I don't think you should measure and all that nonsense, but visually, it's half your plate, then you're probably going to scale back on that 12 ounce steak.
The other benefit of all those veggies is they are so filled with nutrients. So one cup of arugula and I eat arugula daily in my salad, is only two calories. And yet it has 30
vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I mean, that is just tremendous. So again, if you're thinking of your food in terms of abundance, in terms of what is serving you, and consume that as much as you can, then you're going to have less room for that which doesn't and so part of that is protein which I'm going to get into a little bit more and then making half your plate green.
You know, carbs is not one of my tips, but now that we're talking about veggies and proteins and carbs, let's just talk about it. Let's not be fearful of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates is a really big category of food. And it includes veggies. It includes beans, and it includes Twinkies and pop tarts. So let's not mix those things up. Don't be afraid of carbs. The good carbs or the healthy and satiating carbs like beans, legumes, which includes soybeans and lentils, grains like qinhuai, farro, barley, these are all high and complex carbohydrate, high in fiber, so it helps satiate you and helps you maintain a healthy gut, they also have protein in it, so they're not totally carbohydrate. So don't be afraid of those carbs, because sometimes you may find that all of the protein in the world is not going to necessarily satiate you without a little bit of that.
5. Eat Lots of Protein
So now to protein goals. There is something to be said for consuming lots of protein because protein is very satiating. 20 to 30 grams of protein has been shown to help suppress hunger hormones all day long, including snacking in the afternoon. So what does adequate protein mean? Again, the studies show 20 to 30 grams. An egg, for example, is 7 grams of protein. So that means like two to three eggs. Egg whites are 4grams of protein, animal protein, like fish, 21 grams for every three ounces, chicken and beef 27 to 30 grams for every three ounces, peanut butter, only 2 grams of protein. Just track one day what it is you're consuming and actively and mindfully trying to implement more protein in your diet and you will get a sense for what your daily intake is. Keep in mind that protein is not only important in terms of weight loss, and also weight maintenance because it helps you preserve muscle mass. Also keep in mind that as we get older that our protein needs increase. If we have chronic disease or are acutely ill, our protein needs increase. If we are more physically active, our protein needs are increased. So keep in mind the different scenarios in which more protein is helpful to the diet. So 20 to 30 grams per meal.
6. Meal Replacements
Now my next tip is in terms of meal replacements or snack replacements. And I think meal replacements kind of have a bad rap because we think of commercial weight loss programs, or we think of these crazy diets, but meal replacements used in conjunction with a balanced meal plan. So maybe you replace your breakfast, or maybe you replace your afternoon snacking with a high quality protein bar or protein shake is an evidence based way to help lose weight, help maintain weight loss, and also helps you get that protein in. Sometimes it's hard to get 20 or 30 grams of protein in, particularly for breakfast when an egg is only 7 grams or an egg white is only 4 grams. So having a high quality protein shake can help in getting you to get those protein goals.
What I recommend is please don't overdo when you're making a protein shake. So sometimes people will come in and tell me well I am having a meal replacement. So I'm adding in a scoop of whey. Ours is only 100 calories per 20 grams of protein. But sometimes people are buying over the counter protein powders that have a bunch of other stuff in so it could be 150 or 200 calories, they add almond milk, which is okay, only 30 calories per serving, but maybe they're adding coconut milk, which is three times that or regular milk, then sometimes people will add peanut butter, that's 100 calories per flat tablespoon, chia seeds, 60 calories per tablespoon. Again, I don't like to focus on calories, but I just go through this exercise to show you that if you're creating a smoothie, and it's got chia seeds, and peanut butter and avocado and protein powder and tons of this and that, you are replacing with something that is far more caloric than what you otherwise would have consumed. And if the goal is weight loss, it's just not conducive. So if you're making a meal replacement for yourself, keep it lean, mixed with water, and then replace or add to it, lots of veggies and fruits which are giving you also the vitamins, the minerals, the micronutrients, the antioxidants we talked about.
7. Be Mindful of Your Thirst
My number seven practical tip for weight loss is: be mindful of your thirst. So a lot of times people will say have eight servings or eight cups of water or 64 ounces, or we'll give these arbitrary numbers. And they really are arbitrary. I don't recommend any specified amount. But I will say that you know, when you go to the bathroom, it kind of has to be clear-ish. And I know that might be TMI, but, you know, that's how you know. Really concentrated means you're not hydrated. Another way of assessing it is you should be going to the bathroom every couple hours to three hours. If you go all day without going to the bathroom or needing the restroom, that means you're just not getting adequate hydration.
And so water is important for so many things. The majority of our body is made up of water, but in terms of weight loss, we know that interestingly enough hunger and thirst pathways get mixed up. And so sometimes you're really thirsty but you're perceiving that thirst as hunger. Stay hydrated. And if you're wondering then start with drinking a big cup of water and see if that might not quench not only your thirst but also your sensation for hunger.
8. Watch Caloric drinks.
Watch caloric drinks. I absolutely disagree with consumption of juice. You're essentially having all the sugar without the pulp, the fiber, and the vitamins and minerals that come with it. So just eat the fruit. I also recommend that you mind other caloric liquids. We all know that soda is not conducive to weight loss. But what about our coffee beverages? What about those of us who are having you know, grande venti lattes every day or even the blended drinks that are super high in calories. Alcohol is a big caloric drink. Not only is it empty calories, it also makes you disinhibited, right? So you have kind of more munchies or more likelihood to snack and munch. But we also believe that alcohol does interfere with leptin, which is a hormone that's released by our fat cells, that signal to our brain that we're full or satiated. So, alcohol actually interferes with hunger signaling or fullness signaling, satiety signals, and is another way in which it's a problem.
Tip number nine is sleep. So I talked about this a little bit earlier. Sleep is something that is really a nutrient. I talk about sleep in terms of how we are using it to nourish ourselves. We know that sleep, of course, is restorative, it's the time when your body can really dial down and focus on repair and restoration. It's also the time in our body, which we lay down memories. And so it's so important when we're doing cognitive work, to have that time to really solidify what we've done and what we've learned during the day. Without adequate sleep, we really don't lay down those building blocks. And we don't cement those ideas, those memories, and the things that we have learned throughout the day.
Sleep, of course, is also important for mood and focus and cognition. So when we're sleep deprived, we're irritable, we're agitated, we can't focus as well, we can't do our jobs as well, whether that job is taking care of our kids, or our parents or our dogs or our work in our business.
But we know that sleep also affects metabolic health. And sleep deprivation will result in an increase in those hunger hormones we talked about. So it will physiologically make you more hungry. Sleep deprivation will also result in insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes. So sleep is really important for your weight, and as a practical tip for weight loss, and for your metabolic health.
And then finally, exercise. Another quote that I like to recycle on Instagram is: can exercise and weight loss get a divorce? Because really, they have so little to do with each other. And invariably, people who exercise for the purpose of weight loss, get discouraged, and then stop exercising. And the benefits of exercise or moving your body far far exceed what they can do for your weight. And that includes risk reduction of almost every physical and mental chronic disease. So reduction of diabetes, heart disease, dyslipidemia, hypertension, cancers, including breast cancer, just as the risk of cognitive issues including dementia, or Alzheimer's disease. And of course, it reduces the risk of emotional issues and mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
But when it comes to weight loss, there are some benefits of course, which include one maintaining weight. So exercise is one of our number one predictors of weight maintenance. Why? Because again, it helps us preserve that muscle mass like adequate protein does, but exercise will also help us maintain lean body mass so that our metabolism also can be maintained and healthy. But there is a kind of exercise that specifically helps target fat, and that is HIIT, high-intensity interval training. And this is exercise in which you hit these intervals of your target heart rate. So hitting your target heart rate at intervals, followed by a period of recovery, or recovery of your heart rate, has been shown to specifically target visceral fat, which is that fat that's in the belly in the midsection that we know is particularly harmful because it's associated with metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and so HIIT specifically will reduce visceral fat and it will also improve our cardiometabolic profile and bring down blood pressure more than just your regular exercise which is already helpful in doing so.
So how do you do HIIT? That target heart rate is calculated by taking 220, subtracting your age, and then multiply that by 80%, and that is your target heart rate. I caution that for people who are not physically active, people who are older, have heart disease, have chronic medical conditions. Please don't try and hit your target heart rate right away. Any kind of movement or exercise is going to be helpful and ease yourself in. But doing intervals of getting your heart rate at a target rate will help facilitate visceral fat loss and weight loss in general.
So there you have it. 10 practical tips for weight loss.
You can get this also in written format in our newsletter, the newsletter can be found at DrAdrienneYoudim.com can sign up there, I also wanted to bring to everyone's attention, speaking of practical matters, that in response really to so much goodwill for the book Hungry for More: Stories and Science to Inspire Weight Loss from the Inside Out. This book is available on Amazon and anywhere else where you purchase your books. But people have been asking for actionable follow-up. And so I have created a 30-day journaling course to help you get in touch with your true hunger. If you've heard me talk before you know that journaling is super near and dear to my heart. It is something that I have done since the age of six. Personally, it is a way in which I process my thoughts, my emotions, and really my day. And studies also confirm this that writing helps reduce brooding and ruminations, that thing we do right reliving the event or the difficult circumstance over and over in our minds, it actually also is associated with reduced depression, as well as anxiety. I should point out that for people who are in the throes of depression, sitting with a journal and with your own thoughts may actually exacerbate or worsen depression. So please, if you are in that circumstance, reach out to a trained mental health professional for help. But if you're looking for some practical guidance, some actionable way in trying to learn and dig deep, to determine your true hunger, go to the website, DrAdrienneYoudim.com and you can find the 30-day journaling course it will be up in the next week or so. So this is a preview, share it with your friends if you find it helpful. These are prompts that have specifically been created by me to help you identify your hunger.