Common Weight Loss Myths Busted

Directional Sign

Weight loss advice is so common (and controversial) now. There are competing opinions everywhere. I say, forget about “who’s right” and let’s focus on “what’s right.” Because what gets results is what I’m focusing on in this post.

I respect you too much to make empty promises and try to sell you on something that doesn’t work.

There are too many weight loss myths out there, i’m going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.

Myth #1: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss

Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s is of course going to store some for later. Calories do matter but, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss; they’re important, but they’re the symptom, not the cause.

There are many reasons as to why people eat more calories, it’s not always because they’re hungry. Sometimes it’s because they feel sad, lonely, or bored or maybe because they’re tired or stressed, or maybe even because they’re happy and celebrating. All of these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.

Myth #2: “Eat less move more” is good advice

Well, then we’re all in great shape, right? Because people have been giving and taking this advice (myth) for years.

The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).

Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, hormone issues or health conditions we may dealing with or our exposure to environmental aspects that are “obesogenic” (environments that encourage people to eat unhealthily and not do enough exercise.)

Myth #3: A calorie is a calorie

Can we please put this one to bed already? Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.

For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.

Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats.

Myth #4: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.

There are products that make these claims, and they may work in the short term but there is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off when they stop taking these product(s). The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product. This may mean that it takes 6 months or a year to reach your goals instead of 30 days but you will be more likely to maintain the weight loss and be healthier than ever before!

Conclusion

Weight loss is hard! There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!).

Don’t fall for the myths that say:

  • Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
  • “Eat less move more” is good
  • A calorie is a calorie.
  • Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.

Now check out my recipe below. No myths, just filling and nutritious real food.

Recipe: Taco Breakfast (or anytime) Bowl

Serves 4

1 1/2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 lb Extra Lean Ground Turkey

2 Tbsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Sea Salt

½ cup Water

4 Eggs (fried or poached)

4 cups Baby Spinach (chopped)

1 Green Bell Pepper (diced)

1 Tomato (diced)

1 Avocado (mashed)

  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the ground turkey and saute to cook through. Break up the meat as it is cooking.
  • Once it is cooked through add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, black pepper and sea salt. Add the water and saute for another minute as you mix well.
  • Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let simmer while you prepare the rest or until all water has been absorbed.
  • Fry or poach your eggs and set aside.
  • Divide the spinach between bowls. Top with diced green pepper, tomato, mashed avocado, taco meat and fried egg. Enjoy!

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-12-biggest-myths-about-weight-loss/

https://authoritynutrition.com/metabolism-boosting-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/5-chemicals-that-are-making-you-fat/

 

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My Journey with Hashimoto’s

Hashimoto's Butterfly Shaped Word Cloud

 

For those of you that have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you may already know that earlier this year I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. This means that my immune system views my thyroid gland as a foreign invader and is attacking it.

Yes, me, a holistic nutritionist, has an autoimmune condition. To say this came as a shock was an understatement. So many feelings went through me – shock, sadness, fear but most of all I felt like a fraud. How could I, a Nutritionist who deals with clients that have Hashimoto’s and other hormone issues, not have recognized the symptoms or prevented it.

I have an awesome diet of real food, I was exercising 5-6 times a week but what I believe for me was the greatest culprit was lack of self-care and stress management.

I went back to Nutrition school when my oldest son Ben was just 7 months old and from then on I haven’t stopped. I am a type A personality so a perfectionist, control freak and I give my everything to everyone else. Whether it was studying, working or building my business to being a Mum and wife, I put my own self-care on the back burner. Instead of listening to the signals that my body was sending me, I just pushed through it as I had another goal or deadline I had put on myself.

How did I find out?

I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue a couple of years ago and I had made a lot of changes since then. I removed all foods I was sensitive too, did work on my gut, I supported my adrenals and I improved my diet but yet I still didn’t feel as great as I knew I should. My energy and mood levels were still not balanced. I felt like I had everything I had ever wanted – a husband who loves me, 2 beautiful boys and a job I truly loved, yet I still felt a void.

My biggest concern was my estrogen levels. My sister was diagnosed with estrogen dominant breast cancer when she was in her 30’s and that has always been a concern of mine so I finally made the decision to get all my hormone levels tested through my amazing Naturopath Dr. Danielle Marchildon. I tested the following:

  • Full hormone panel – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHA and cortisol.
  • Thryoid panel – TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO (Thyroid antibodies)
  • B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Ferritin (Iron)

The first results I got back where my thyroid panel. My TSH was 3.34 so normal within the medical range however, I knew that optimal levels should be below 2. My Free T3 and Free T4 were also within normal ranges so, if I had gone to my medical doctor and been tested I would have been told that everything was normal and there were no issues with my thyroid. However, I had one more result to come, my TPO (thyroid antibody levels) and these came back at 154 when they should be under 35. This was what confirmed my autoimmune diagnosis.

The rest of my results began filtering back in and there were others that were far from optimal. Despite the initial fear and upset, I finally felt that I wasn’t going crazy, science was telling me there was a reason behind why I was feeling the way I was.

My Next Steps

Since the diagnosis I have made a lot of changes. I began on a supplement regime to help restore my hormone and nutrient levels. I have been following an autoimmune paleo diet and eliminated all grains, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, beans and lentils and alcohol from my diet.

As for my self-care, I am asking for help, saying no a lot more, I am resting and trying to take time for me every day, even if it is just sitting on my favourite sofa with a cup of peppermint tea. I have cut back on my exercise and incorporated restorative yoga and stretching into my routine instead. I am also working with an awesome therapist to help me lose some of my control freak tendencies and deal with my anxiety and depression.

It’s a work in progress and some days are better than others but I know what I am doing is working. I recently got my thyroid antibody levels retested and they are coming down which means I am on the right track.

I consider myself lucky, if I hadn’t decided to get all my levels tested I would have got worse. Being proactive saved me and has allowed me to get back on the path to my optimal health and prevent further damage/illness.

I am normally a very private person but, I wanted to share my story because I know other women are struggling too. According to the thyroid foundation of Canada “It’s estimated that 200 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease. In Canada there is a staggering number of people affected. Recent studies indicate that 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition of one type or another! Of those, as many as 50% are undiagnosed!”

I will keep you posted on my journey and if you need help, reach out, let me help you. You are not alone and definitely not going crazy!

Thanks for taking the time to read my story x

 

 

 

 

How Stress Hormones Keep You From Your Weight Loss Goals

Stress

There are many, many effects that stress hormones, mainly cortisol, have on your body, including the link that people with abdominal obesity tend to have higher cortisol levels.

In fact, there are actually many links between stress hormones and weight. These include the effect stress has on digestion and gut health, inflammation and the immune system. Stress can cause cravings, increased appetite, and “stress eating.” It can promote fat storage around the waist with its effect on insulin sensitivity. Stress can also be mood-busting and demotivating, not to mention how it worsens sleep.

Let’s dive into each one and see how stress hormones keep you from your weight loss goals

  1. Poor Digestion and Gut Health

Being in a state of stress puts digestion on the back burner. This is because your body is ready to “fight or flee,” rather than “rest and digest.”

One of the most obvious impacts stress has on digestion is “transit time.” You may notice that stress can either quickly speed up how fast your food moves through you (diarrhea). Or, it may slow it down quite a bit (constipation). Neither one of these is ideal.

So, even if you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, you may become nutrient deficient! And proper nutrition is needed at the best of times, let alone when you’re stressed and trying to lose weight.

New research is also showing the impact that stress has on our friendly gut microbes. We’re just beginning to understand the influence that our gut microbes have on all aspects of health, including weight loss.

Stress is also linked with tiny holes or “leaks” in your digestive tract. This means that incompletely digested food particles can get into your body through these leaks. This can cause alot of inflammation.

Which leads us to the second major way stress keeps you from your weight loss goals.

2. Inflammation and Immune System Dysregulation

Guess where over 70% of your immune system is located? Right around your digestive tract. So, you can imagine if chronic stress is messing with your digestion, it’s going to also mess with your immune system.

More and more research is suggesting that inflammation is part of many chronic diseases. When you’re chronically stressed, this affects your immune system which is supposed to control inflammation. It can make your immune system either hypervigilant, or less-responsive. And both of these can keep you from reaching your weight loss goals.

If your immune system is hypervigilant, you can develop high inflammatory levels. If your immune system is less-responsive, it can allow your body to get sick more often, and stay sick longer.

For optimal health, and the ability to lose weight, you want your immune system to work properly (not too high, nor too low).

3. Cravings, Increased Appetite, and “Stress Eating”

When you’re stressed do you reach for celery? Or do you prefer fatty or sugary snacks?

Many people tend to eat more food, particularly comfort food. Things that tend to be fatty and sugary. And there is science to back this up. Scientists are now looking at interactions between stress hormones and the “hunger” and “fullness” hormones.

I don’t even have to tell you how this is going to keep you from your weight loss goals.

4. Insulin Sensitivity

Stress also increases your blood sugar, to make sure that your muscles have the fuel (sugar) they need to “fight” or “flee.” And if your muscles are not working and using up that excess blood sugar (i.e. you’re not running for your life), your body secretes insulin to re-absorb that sugar into your cells.

This increase in both cortisol and insulin promote both insulin resistance and fat storage., especially around the mid-section.

5. Mood-busting and Demotivating

Stress can not only bring down your mood, but that can also be terribly demotivating. When you’re feeling stressed, you may start feeling moody. You may also have less motivation to do the healthy weight loss activities that you really want to do.

If you’re down in the dumps and not motivated to prepare healthy meals or snacks, or get some exercise, then you’re less likely to do those things and we all know how important they are for weight loss.

6 – Negatively Affects Sleep

Cortisol is part of your natural sleep-wake cycle. Under normal (non-stressed) conditions, cortisol levels would increase before waking, and slowly drop during the day.

And this makes sense, because we know that it helps increase mental clarity as well as blood sugar to fuel your muscles. And we need mental clarity and to move our muscles, especially when we are awake.

But we also need this effect to “wear off” by the end of the day so we can start getting tired and relaxed enough to get a good night’s sleep. In other words, in the evenings, we want to start more resting and digesting.

Getting enough sleep is probably a more common reason why people don’t reach weight loss goals than most people think. Science is showing the links between not getting enough quality sleep and obesity.

Now that we’ve gone through six major reasons how stress hormones keep you from your weight loss goals, let’s talk about what the heck you can do about it.

STRESS-REDUCING TIPS

I’d love to help you manage your stress better so that you can meet your weight loss goals. There are really two main strategies to go about reducing your stress.

First off, you can reduce the amount of stress put on you by re-balancing some demands. Try:

  • Saying “no” more;
  • Ask for help or support;
  • Delegating to someone else;
  • Re-negotiating deadlines that seem unreasonable;
  • When working, focus on just one thing at a time (don’t multi-task).

Secondly, since you can’t (and maybe don’t want to) completely remove stress from you life, you want to learn to deal with it better. You can improve your personal stress tolerance by trying to:

  • Have some fun and laugh;
  • Make time for people (and pets) you love;
  • Get more, better-quality sleep;
  • Be mindful and live more “in the moment”;
  • Have one or two cups of green tea (which has been shown to lower stress levels);
  • Do light exercise most days per week (e.g. yoga, walking swimming, or tai chi);
  • Go for a walk outside;
  • Spend more time in nature;
  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet;
  • Meditate or deep breathing;
  • Relax every evening (e.g. have a bath or read a book);
  • Listen to soothing music;
  • Do a “brain dump” every night before bed where you just make notes of things you’re keeping track of in your head so you can relax more;
  • Treat yourself to a massage, nice meal, or pedicure.

References:

Hewagalamulage SD., Lee TK., Clarke IJ. & Henry BA. Stress, cortisol, and obesity: a role for cortisol responsiveness in identifying individuals prone to obesity. Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2016;56 Suppl:S112-20. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2016.03.004.  http://www.domesticanimalendo.com/article/S0739-7240(16)30034-0/abstract

Incollingo Rodriguez AC, Epel ES, White ML, Standen EC, Seckl JR & Tomiyama AJ. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and cortisol activity in obesity: A systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015 Dec;62:301-18. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.08.014.  http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530(15)00887-2/abstract

Kolbe, I., Dumbell, R. & Oster, H. (2015). Circadian Clocks and the Interaction between Stress Axis and Adipose Function. Int J Endocrinol. 2015:693204. doi: 10.1155/2015/693204. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4426660/

Lucassen EA, Cizza G. The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis, Obesity, and Chronic Stress Exposure: Sleep and the HPA Axis in Obesity. Curr Obes Rep. 2012 Dec;1(4):208-215.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498460/?report=reader

Michopoulos V. Stress-induced alterations in estradiol sensitivity increase risk for obesity in women. Physiol Behav. 2016;166:56-64. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.05.016.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27182047

Pasquali R, Vicennati V, Cacciari M & Pagotto U. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Annual NY Academic Science, 1083, 2006;111–128. doi: 10.1196/annals.1367.009 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1196/annals.1367.009/pdf

Schorr M, Lawson EA, Dichtel LE, Klibanski A, Miller KK. Cortisol Measures Across the Weight Spectrum. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Sep;100(9):3313-21. doi: 10.1210/JC.2015-2078.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4570173/

Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

Woman In Bed With Insomnia That Can't Sleep White Background

Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing. Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night.  For real!

Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below to help improve your sleep:

  1. The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. 7 Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  2. Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. Do this by eating less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack).  Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  3. During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  4. Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  5. Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath or diffusing some relaxing essential oils.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Here’s a favourite recipe of mine for that mid afternoon “coffee break.”

Recipe : Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)

2 cups of boiling water

1 tablespoon coconut butter

1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)

2 dates (optional)

  • Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
  • Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
  • Blend until creamy.
  • Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

 

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

You may feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”. You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don’t worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out.” In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  • low thyroid hormone
  • your history of dieting
  • your size and body composition
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep

I am going to briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested. Ask for a full thyroid panel that includes your Free T3, Free T4, TSH and TPO (thyroid antibodies.) If your doctor won’t carry out the full panel, go and see a Naturopath such as my awesome one –  Dr. Danielle Marchildon and she can help you. This was how I discovered I had Hashimotos (an autoimmune thyroid disease) but I will leave that story for a future post where I will share my symptoms, diagnoses and healing protocol.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have and more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it – that’s what I focus on in my 12 week A Healthier You program as each participant receives a personalized plan showing them how much they should be eating each day Click here if you would like to set up a free call to chat more about how this can help you.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass. Which leads us to…

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day and aim to exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

 

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Gut Healing Green Smoothie

Serves 2

Gut Healing Green Smoothie

1 cup of Brazil nut milk* (see recipe below)

1 cup of water

2 cups Kale Leaves (or spinach if you’re just starting out with greens

1/2 Avocado (peeled and pit removed) 

Banana (frozen) 

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed

1/4 cup Hemp Seeds

2 Tbsp Raw Honey

  • Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a blender and blend for 60-90 seconds until smooth.
  • Serve & Enjoy!

*Brazil Nut Milk

½ cup Brazil nuts

2 cups water

Nut milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)

  • Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
  • Will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat