A couple of years ago I had an unpleasant encounter with the scales. I hadn’t weighed myself for nearly ten years, based on the premise that, as I had worn the same jeans for over a decade (washing them at regular intervals, obviously), there was no need. Beware! This can be misleading – it’s a bit like claiming that you haven’t gained weight because your shoes still fit…
After the age of forty, the metabolism slows down and where once you could have eaten three helpings of Death by Chocolate, you have to start to show some restraint. I was so shocked by my ten kilos’ excess baggage that I took immediate action. With a passion for good food and a limited attention-span, I wasn’t about to start weighing and measuring portions, whipping up disgusting powdered drinks or calorie-counting. My new eating plan (never ever use the word ‘diet’ – you will set yourself up for failure as it’s subliminaly connected with ‘punishment’ and ‘suffering’) had to be simple and sustainable. The approach I adopted — and continue to adopt as it’s no hardship — is loosely based on several concepts:
- Montignac’s food-combining method
- Glycaemic index
- Dr D’Adamo’s eating according to Blood-type
- Boosting the metabolism
- Intermittent fasting
It’s important to eat three proper meals a day, with no snacks inbetween. If you’re eating properly, you shouldn’t need to ‘graze’ in order to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. If you need to snack continuously to keep your blood sugar in check, there’s either something wrong with your diet or something wrong with your body, or both! You won’t lose weight without experiencing a certain amount of ‘hunger’. Listen to your body and eat enough at mealtimes to stop feeling hungry, but don’t overeat. Overeating even the healthiest of foods will lead to weight gain. Stop eating for the day after your evening meal and don’t eat again until breakfast time. This gives your body a well-deserved rest from its digestion duties allowing it to concentrate on other maintenance. I cut out potatoes and bananas (both very starchy) and had already stopped eating bread and pasta. But this was easy for me as it represented no loss. If it would be a real hardship for you to cut these things out, there’s always a way to incorporate them in reasonable (ie small!) quantities; the aim is not to punish yourself. Last but not least, drink water (lots of it), a glass of red wine or champagne (but only with meals) and pure unadulterated black coffee. There is absolutely no place in a healthy weightloss programme for diet sodas (the Dukan diet condones the use of diet drinks on the basis that they’re low carb; low carb perhaps, but the chemical toxicity plays havoc with the endocrine system).
Add to this reasonable and enjoyable daily exercise – anything from a brisk walk to swimming, horseback riding, cycling, gardening or even whatever it is one does at the gym. Personally, I would rather gnaw my own arm off than visit a gym but, on the other hand, I do appreciate that there are people who think I’m out of my mind to hoist myself onto the back of a crazed and uncontrollable quadruped. Walking before breakfast is particularly beneficial as it boosts the metabolism for the day and increases fat burning.
The main thing with exercise is to do something you enjoy and to do it at least five times a week. That way, you will continue doing it and your enthusiasm will mean you increase your metabolic rate more efficiently. It is absolute rubbish that you have to suffer to see good results – on the contrary! Just one provisio: if your idea of ‘sport’ is remote-controlling the television, you are going to have to make an effort.
Try to avoid eating after about 8pm (or earlier if possible). You will sleep better and the fact that by breakfast time, you will have not eaten for about 12 hours counts as an ‘intermittent fast’. This is very beneficial as it gives your body a well-earned rest from digesting and it also means that you dip into your reserves.
Finally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make weight-loss your primary objective; you’ll become obsessive and dispirited and it won’t happen. Weight loss should be a by-product of eating properly and moving enough. The payoff of the above measures was that I lost my ten extra kilos in about five months and have not regained them.
Montignac’s food combining method
My husband introduced me to the Montignac philosophy, which was originally aimed at French business men who were eating five copious business lunches a week. He still swears by it and is more or less the same weight as he was in his twenties.
Certain food combinations are not allowed, such as fats and sugars, or animal protein and carbohydrates – so say goodbye to steak and chips or spaghetti bolognaise! Sugars are only allowed two or three times a week, but fats and proteins can be eaten as often as you like, as long as they are eaten on their own. For example you can eat cheese after a meal but accompanied by salad and not bread. Fruit can be eaten between meals and cereals and pulses must be unprocessed, to keep the GI rating low. The method also allows a glass or two of wine – preferably good quality red – to be drunk with food.
For more information : The Montignac method
The glycemic index ranks carbohydrate-containing foods according to how they affect blood glucose, or sugar, levels and is something also addressed in the Montignac method. The index measures how much your blood sugar rises after you eat a specific food; the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. Pure glucose is used as a reference food (it raises blood sugar the quickest) and is assigned the arbitrary value of 100. All other foods are then given a number relative to it.
The GI value of a food is determined by the speed at which your body breaks it down and converts it into glucose, or sugar, which is your body’s main source of energy. High-GI foods are broken down quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar, whereas low-GI foods take longer to break down, causing a slow, steady rise in blood sugar. A tip for lowering the GI value of the food you eat is to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice just before eating.
Eating foods with a low glycemic index doesn’t only have weight-loss advantages – it’s also essential for general health, as insulin spikes caused by eating high GI foods are very detrimental to the body.
For more information : The GI guide
Dr D’Adamo’s Blood type
The evolutionary theory of blood groups that is used by Dr D’Adamo stems from work by William C. Boyd, an immunochemist and blood type anthropologist who made a worldwide survey of the distribution of blood groups.
Blood group O is described by D’Adamo as ‘the hunter’ and is the earliest human blood group. The diet recommends that this blood group eat a higher protein diet. This is the only blood group suited to the popular ‘paleo’ and ‘primal’ diets.
Blood group A is called the cultivator, a more recently evolved blood type, dating back from the dawn of agriculture, 20,000 years ago. The diet recommends that people of blood group A eat a diet emphasizing vegetables and grains and free of red meat.
Blood group B is the nomad associated with a strong immune system and a flexible digestive system. The diet asserts that people of blood type B are the only ones who can thrive on dairy products and estimates blood type B arrived 10,000 years ago. However, people with blood type B tend to be from Asia (specifically, China or India), and not from northern Europe, whereas lactose intolerance is most common among people of Asian, South American, and African descent and least common among those descended from northern Europe or northwestern India.
Blood group AB is the enigma, the most recently evolved type, arriving less than 1,000 years ago. In terms of dietary needs, this blood type diet is regarded as an intermediate between blood types A and B.
For more information : Eat right for your type
Boost the metabolism
Do reasonable aerobic and weight-bearing (muscle-building) exercise. Exercise performed on an empty stomach (for example first thing in the morning) is particularly beneficial for weight loss.
Drink plenty of water
Drink black coffee (preferably organic), especially before exercising
Eat spicy food
As with most things, there is a fine line between benefit and drawback; the right amount of coffee or red wine is extremely beneficial, too much detrimental.
There are many supplements claiming to help with weight loss but beware; some can be dangerous. I have taken (or still take) all of these supplements at some point, and can recommend them for an added boost.
B complex vitamins are important for blood sugar balance as they are necessary for glucose metabolism.
Chromium is vital for the metabolism of sugar. It is excellent for keeping the blood sugar balance in check and, as such, can even reverse insulin resistance.
Omega 3 fish oil (or flaxseed oil) helps maintain a good metabolism and has an anti-inflammatory action. As a general rule our Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio is out of whack (we usually have too much Omega 6 in relation to Omega 3) so supplementing helps to correct the balance.
Co-enzyme Q10, which is vital for energy production and carbohydrate metabolism. We become increasingly deficient with age and deficiency signs can include depleted energy and weight gain.
Glucomannan (or konjac root) is a very concentrated source of fibre which will lower the glycemic index of anything you eat subsequently.
Magnesium, like chromium, is necessary for keeping blood sugar balanced. It is also necessary for energy production, bone health and muscle relaxation. Finally, it calms the adrenal glands which is absolutely vital within the framework of a weight loss programme.
5-HTP if you suffer from food cravings
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