Want to lose weight?

Friday, 20 October 2023

Nothing beats a heap ton of comforting, warming food and a lazy night in, binge watching your favourite show during the long winter nights. Now that spring is here and the days are getting longer, many of us are looking to shed them winter kilos and get back into shape. The science behind weight loss is evolving and the journey to sustained weight loss involves understanding our body’s biochemistry, the role of transformative new medicines, and the importance of cultivating long-term habits.

1. Understanding that insulin is the key to weight loss

Insulin is a hormone that plays a pivotal role in regulating blood sugar levels. When we consume carbohydrates (in your body this get processed to sugar or glucose), our blood sugar rises. In response, the pancreas releases insulin which prompts cells to take up glucose and store it in the liver. When you eat too much sugar, the liver struggles to keep up and begins to transform this sugar into fat. A diet rich in sugars and refined carbs (pretty much the modern western diet) leads to weight gain because insulin promotes fat storage. When the body’s insulin levels remain elevated for long periods, it becomes harder to tap into stored fat for energy, making weight loss challenging. Losing weight isn't about drastically reducing calorie intake, or increasing exercise more. What really makes a difference is cutting down on foods that raise your insulin levels: sugars, refined carbs and ultra-processed foods. Also avoid snacking between meals.

Another biochemistry point that’s important to understand: out of the 3 macro nutrients in food, carbohydrates, fat and protein, your body will always select carbohydrates to burn as fuel first (as it's the easiest fuel to use). As mentioned above, excess carbs, the carbs you don't burn during the day through physical activity, get stored in the liver as fat. However, if there’s little carb fuel in your body (ie due to limited intake of carbs), your body will always choose fat next as the fuel to burn. So science says this: limit the carbs and you WILL burn the fat.


2. Ok Andy, you say "reduce carbs". What should we be eating instead?

PROTEIN. Protein promotes satiety, which means it makes you feel fuller for longer than carbs and fats. This helps reduce over eating and snacking. Also when you're trying to lose weight, it's vital that you don't lose too much muscle mass. Protein is full of amino acids which preserve and are essential for the creation of muscle mass. One of the easiest ways of increasing our protein intake is using protein powders. Kiwi nutrition makes our favourite protein. Come in during the week starting Oct 23, 2023 for some free smoothie tastings. It even uses our freshly ground peanut butter, an excellent source of healthy fats!

3. GLP-1 Agonists: The Game Changer

GLP-1 agonists, like Saxenda (Ozempic is the brand that everyone is going crazy about in America) have transformed the world of weight management. GLP-1 agonists mimic a hormone called GLP-1 which slow down gastric emptying making you feel fuller for longer, and directly affects the appetite control area of the brain. There is a lot of good evidence showing the benefits of this medicine, but there’s just a few points we want to make about it.

  1. It's a prescription-only medicine, to be prescribed only if your BMI is over 30 (ask us if you’re not sure
  2. It's not funded: costs around $500 per month
  3. There’s some evidence that when you stop using it, the weight can come back on, which segways perfectly to our next point.

4. Good Habits: The Pillar of Sustainable Weight Loss

Sustaining weight loss fundamentally comes down to cultivating good habits.

  • Consistent Physical Activity: It’s not just about hitting the gym; even daily walks, stretches, and light activities can make a significant difference.
  • Mindful Eating: Pay attention to hunger cues, savour every bite, and avoid distractions while eating.
  • Balanced Diet: Focus on a diet rich in whole foods, with an emphasis on vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, and can help control overeating.
  • Sleep Well: Lack of sleep can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to increased hunger and weight gain.

So if you want to lose weight and keep it off, set your goal. Write up a plan. Follow the plan. Measure the results. Make adjustments. You GOT THIS. And we can help. Sugar-free, keto, paleo, slow-carb, intermittant fasting: we’ve heard it all before and we can help you make sense of it all. We are really passionate about this topic and would love to hear from you if you have any questions or thoughts about the above.

Stay well team!

Andy and the team at the Roslyn Pharmacy - Dunedins Friendliest Pharmacy