1. Avoid Eating Fruit
Eating fruit is a more common obstacle for women trying to lose weight.
This advice is controversial as fruit has an almost magical health aura today. People may believe that fruit is nutritious but unfortunately fruit contains a lot of sugar– around 10% by weight (the rest is mostly water).
Woman with servings of 5 fruit per day is equivalent to the amount of sugar in 16 ounces of soda (500 ml). Contrary to what many people believe the sugar is more or less identical (about 50% glucose, 50% fructose).
Sugar from fruit can shut down fat burning. This can increase your hunger and slow your weight loss. For best results avoid fruit– or enjoy it occasionally as a treat.
Bottom line: Fruit is candy from nature.
2. Men Avoid Drinking Beer
This applies to women too, but men drink more beer on average. Beer contains rapidly digested carbs that shut down fat burning.
Here are smarter alcoholic options for losing weight:
- Wine (red or dry white).
- Dry champagne.
- Pure spirits like whiskey, cognac, vodka (avoid sweetened cocktails– try vodka, soda, lime instead).
These drinks hardly contain any sugar/carbohydrates so they’re better than beer. Large amounts of alcohol might slow weight loss somewhat, so moderation is still a good idea.
3. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners.
Many people replace sugar with artificial sweeteners in the belief that this will reduce their calorie intake and cause weight loss. It sounds plausible. Several studies, however, have failed to show any positive effect on weight loss by consuming artificial sweeteners instead of plain sugar.
Instead, according to scientific studies, artificial sweeteners can increase appetite and maintain cravings for sweet food. And one recent independent study showed that switching drinks with artificial sweeteners to water clearly helped women lose weight:.
When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners can maintain an addiction to sweets and lead to snack cravings. And the long term effects of consuming artificial sweeteners are unknown.
Studies claiming to show neutral or positive effects of sweeteners are usually funded by the beverage industry.
By the way, Stevia is marketed as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners. That’s marketing talk. There is nothing natural about a processed super-sweet white powder like Stevia.
If you’re having trouble losing weight I suggest that you completely avoid sweeteners. As a bonus you’ll soon start to enjoy the natural sweetness of real food, once you’re no longer adapted to the overpowering artificial sweetness of junk food and “diet” sodas.
What Is Sugar Addiction?
Do you find the idea of avoiding sweeteners almost impossible to imagine? Addiction to sugar and sweet foods is very common, but it’s possible to become free. Check out this video course with addiction specialist Bitten Jonsson, RN.
4. Review Any Medications.
Many prescription drugs can stall your weight loss. Discuss any change in treatment with your doctor. Here are the worst three:
- Insulin injections, especially at higher doses, are probably the worst obstacle for weight loss. There are three ways to reduce your need for insulin:
A. Eat less carbs, which makes it a easier to lose weight. The less carbs you eat the less insulin you need. Remember to lower your doses if you can.
B. If this isn’t enough, treatment with Metformin tablets (at a dose of 2 grams– 3 grams/day) can decrease the need for insulin (at least for type 2 diabetics).
C. If this is not enough to get off insulin (again, for type 2 diabetics) you could try newer promising drugs like Victoza or Byetta. These reduce the need for insulin and cause weight loss.
- Insulin-releasing tablets (e.g. sulphonylureas) often lead to weight gain. Tablets like Avandia, Actos, Starlix and NovoNorm also encourage weight gain. The newer drugs Victoza and Byetta (injectable) often lead to weight loss, but possible long-term side effects are still unknown.
- Cortisone often causes weight gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g. more than 5 mg Prednisolone per day). Asthma inhalers and other local cortisone treatments, like creams or nose sprays, hardly affect weight.
These other medications can also cause problems:.
- Neuroleptics/antipsychotic drugs, can often encourage weight gain. Especially newer drugs like Zyprexa (Olanzapine).
- Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Tryptizol, Saroten, and Clomipramine; as well as newer drugs such as Remeron (Mirtazapine). Lithium (for manic-depressive disorder) often leads to weight gain.
- Some contraceptives often contribute to slight weight gain, especially those that contain only progesterone and no estrogen, for example the mini-pill, the contraceptive injection, or a contraceptive implant. More on fertility.
- Blood pressure medicine, in the form of beta blockers can cause weight gain. These drugs include: Seloken, Metoprolol and Atenolol. More on high blood pressure.
- Epilepsy drugs may cause weight gain (e.g. Carbamazepine and Valproate).
- Allergy medicines called antihistamines can cause weight gain, especially at high doses. Cortisone is even worse (see above). More on allergies.
- Antibiotics can possibly lead to a temporary weight gain by disturbing the gut microbiota and increasing the amount of energy we absorb from food. This is still speculative for humans but it’s another reason not to use antibiotics unless you truly need it.
5. Stress Less, Sleep More.
Have you ever wished for more hours of sleep, and a less stressful life in general? Most people have– and that can be bad news for their weight.
This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life.
You should also make an effort to get enough good sleep, preferably every night. Strive to wake up refreshed of your own accord, independently of the alarm clock. If you’re the kind of person who always gets brutally woken up by the alarm ringing, you might never be giving your body adequate rest.
One way to combat this is to go to bed early enough for your body to wake up autonomously before the alarm clock goes off. Letting yourself get a good night’s sleep is another way of reducing stress hormone levels.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, comes hand in hand with sugar cravings. It also has an adverse effect on self-discipline and makes it painfully easy to give in to temptation (it’s no coincidence that induced sleep deprivation is a common interrogation technique). Sleep deprivation weakens your resolve to work out.
Do you have trouble sleeping even if there’s ample time for it? Here are five tips from an expert:.
- Stick to a certain bedtime every evening. In the long term, this will help the body prepare for sleep at that time.
- No coffee after 2 pm. Just don’t– and remember that it takes time for caffeine to leave the body.
- Limit your alcohol intake three hours before bedtime. While booze might make you woozy, it worsens the quality of sleep.
- Limit exercise in the four hours before bedtime. Physical activity can perk you up and make it difficult to get to sleep for several hours afterwards.
- Get 15 minutes of sunlight every day. This is good for your circadian rhythm (your “body clock”).
- Make sure that your bedroom is dark enough, and stays at a pleasant temperature. Sleep well!
Difficult, but worthwhile.
Many may find the above guidelines difficult to follow, perhaps because of a lack of time (or the equivalent– small children!). Stressing less and sleeping more doesn’t just feel good. It can also play a part in helping you get thinner.
6. Eat Less of Dairy Products and Nuts.
Can you eat as much as you like, and still lose weight? Yes, it tends to work just fine with a low-carbohydrate diet, as appetite regulation happens effortlessly.
Despite the fact that a low-carbohydrate diet generally makes it easy to eat just enough, there are foods classified as low carb which become a problem in larger quantities. If you find yourself having a hard time losing weight on a low carb diet, you could try to be more careful with:.
- Dairy products (yoghurt, cream, cheese).
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (the milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. Cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss.
Exempt from all these dairy-product warnings is butter, which is almost pure fat. Butter may be consumed liberally as desired.
Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down large quantities. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise– you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight.
For those of you having trouble losing weight: use nuts sparingly. When in a situation where nuts are an absolute must, know that the most harmless ones carb-wise are macadamia nuts (usually around 5% carbs), or Brazil nuts (4%).
7. Supplement Vitamins and Minerals.
What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious?– if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
On the other hand, reliable access to vitamins and minerals could perhaps mean decreased hunger levels and decreased cravings, thereby promoting weight loss.
The above is, of course, speculation. Now there are well-performed studies which suggest it might not be far from the truth.
A lack of vitamin D is probably the most common deficiency in northern countries such as Canada, or most of the US. Three recent studies indicate that, when compared to a placebo, a vitamin D supplement can decrease your fat weight or waist measurement [1 2 3]
In one of the studies, 77 overweight or obese women received either a supplement of 1000 units of vitamin D, or a placebo, every day for 3 months. Those who took the vitamin D supplement decreased their body fat by 2,7 kg (6 pounds)– significantly more than the placebo group, who hardly decreased their fat weight at all.
A study from 2010 involved around a hundred women with weight issues, separating them into three groups. One group received a daily multivitamin supplement, the other a daily calcium supplement, and the last group only a placebo. The study carried on for half a year.
Unsurprisingly, the results showed that nothing had happened to the weight of the women receiving calcium or the placebo. The group which took the multivitamin lost more weight– about 3 kg more– and improved their health markers. Among other things, their basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories when at rest) increased.
Another earlier study found that subjects decreased hunger levels by taking multivitamin supplements during starvation diets, compared to a placebo.
Nutrient-dense, good food is certainly the foundation of weight loss. An adequate amount of vitamin D can be difficult to ingest via food. In the case of a lack of sun (such as during the darker months of autumn and winter), it’s wise to supplement for multiple health reasons– and perhaps even for your weight.
If you’re overweight and not entirely sure that your diet provides enough nutrients, it may be worthwhile to take a multivitamin pill. They still contain only minimal doses of vitamin D, so you need both for the full effect.
8. Use Intermittent Fasting.
There are many things to consider before moving on to this tip # 8, but don’t let that fool you. This is one of the most effective weapons available to lose weight. It’s perfect if you are stuck at a weight-loss plateau despite “doing everything right”– or to speed up your weight loss.
This super weapon is called intermittent fasting. It means exactly what it sounds like … not eating, during a specified time interval.
Probably the most popular option is fasting for 16 hours (including sleep), which is usually easy to do on an LCHF diet. It only requires trading breakfast for a cup of coffee (or some other non-caloric fluid) and having lunch as the first meal of the day. Fasting from 8 pm to 12 noon– for example– equals 16 hours of fasting.
Of course there are many other variants of intermittent fasting, but this 16:8 method (16 hours of not eating, 8 hours of eating during a day) is the one I recommend as a first option. It’s effective, easy to do and does not require counting calories.
You can do a 16:8 fast as often as you like. Twice a week, or on weekdays only … or every single day. The more often you do it, the more effective it is.
On an LCHF diet some people spontaneously fall into this habit, as their appetite is reduced (see weight loss tip # 4, eat only when hungry).
Other Kinds of Intermittent Fasting.
There are many other options. Basically the longer periods are harder to do but more effective. Here are two more common options:.
- Fasting for 24 hours (often dinner– dinner) once or twice a week. Effective and can be surprisingly easy to do, especially on an LCHF diet.
- The 5:2 diet. Eat as much as you need to feel satisfied 5 days of the week and then eat calorie-restricted on two days (500 calories per day for women, 600 calories for men). I don’t recommend this as it requires calorie counting and extra planning, but some people still find they enjoy it.
What About Eating when Hungry?
Doesn’t advice on intermittent fasting contradict the advice to eat when hungry? Yes it does, somewhat.
I recommend eating when hungry as a first option, and I recommend always eating until you feel satisfied at meals. If this is not effective enough then intermittent fasting is a very effective addition. Remember– and this is crucial– that between fasting periods you’re still supposed to eat until satisfied.
Intermittent fasting is not the same thing as obsessively counting calories and starving yourself 24-7, i.e. “caloric restriction as primary” (CRaP) diets. Starving yourself is a recipe for misery and failure.
Intermittent fasting is about eating all that your body needs … while still allowing it to sometimes briefly rest from constant feeding.
What’s Acceptable to Drink During Fasts?
During a fast you can’t eat, but you should definitely drink. Water is the drink of choice, but coffee and tea are also great options. During longer fasts it can be wise to add a little salt too, or drink bouillon.
Anything you drink should ideally be zero calories. It may be acceptable to cheat by adding a small amount of milk in your coffee or tea– if you absolutely need it to enjoy your drink.
What to Eat Between Fasts.
What should you eat when you are not fasting? Well, if your goal is to lose weight I suggest following all the tips above, including eating an LCHF diet. Combining this with intermittent fasting is a great combination.
On a LCHF diet your hunger is reduced and it’s much easier to do a period of fasting. Your fat burning is already very good– so when fasting you’ll easily burn lots of fat.
While on an LCHF diet the fasting periods become both easier to do and more effective. 1 + 1 equals 3.
Who Should Not Do Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent fasting can be a great idea, but not everyone should do it:.
- If you are addicted to food or sugar then intermittent fasting will increase food cravings and increases the risk of a relapse … so be very careful. I recommend always eating when hungry.
- If you are totally stressed out or sleep deprived then take care or that problem first (see weight loss tip # 11) or fasting may be too stressful for your body.
- If you are on any medication– especially insulin– the doses may need to be adjusted when fasting. Discuss it with your doctor.
- Growing children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women should not do longer fasting periods, as they have an increased need of nutrients. I recommend eating when hungry and using the 14 tips above if you need to lose weight.
For more on fasting check out our material with our top fasting expert, Dr. Jason Fung