How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way
Losing weight can be really frustrating, and the solutions may seem elusive. What do you do when exercise and dieting don’t seem to be enough?
Even in those difficult times, proper nutrition is the best path to success. It isn’t always easy, but weight loss through nutrition is achievable when you get the science right. For example, Whole Foods Market has worked with a team of medical doctors who use food as the only prescription to reverse disease and achieve weight loss.
We send Whole Foods Market team members or employees who need to lose weight or come off medications to these doctors for 7-day medical immersions. Some people have lost up to 100 pounds in less than a year — and kept it off. Many have gotten off, or drastically reduced, their high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and other medications within weeks or a few months.
Not all of us have a team of doctors at our disposal. That’s why I’m here to help! In order to lose weight the right way, it’s important to understand some important factors about how your body operates.
The first things you need to know about healthy weight loss
Your body wants to gain weight
The highest weight you’ve ever been is the weight your body will continually strive to return to. This is especially true for women. Women are more likely to climb back to their highest weight than men, and they will often do so more quickly. I won’t get into the science behind this right now, but just know we must work harder and more consistently. WE MUST GRIND! This means staying focused and avoiding behaviors that set us up to fail. Once we reach and maintain our new low weight for up to two years, we can reset this number.
Skipping meals will not help
To avoid cravings and out-of-control eating impulses, we must feel full and satisfied. We must enjoy our food, and we must feel some weight and bulk in our stomachs after every meal. A sweet potato or chunky vegetable lentil soup will fill you up and keep you satisfied longer than a small green salad or a light vegetable broth. Don’t skip meals or allow yourself to get too hungry: This is when hunger cravings kick in, and those cravings often lead us to make poor choices. “Dieting” and will power don’t work. It is important that we stop “dieting” and simply start eating the right way. There is a lot of science behind this that I can explain if it would be helpful to you. Just send me a question on my Ask Dr. Akua page, and I’ll be happy to reply to you personally!
Fake food will sabotage your efforts
Your body will sometimes hold onto water weight or develop inflammation when you eat processed or unnatural fake foods. It’s very important to reduce your intake of all added sweeteners, sugary snacks and beverages, chips and salty foods, junk foods, fast foods, alcohol, white flour, white rice, and white pasta. Also eliminate all artificial colorings, sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives, and additives. Drinking plenty of water and herbal teas for up to 24 hours after consuming these foods can help reduce bloating and inflammation, bringing your body back into balance.
Eat foods that heal your body
To help the body release excess water, toxins, waste, and other impurities that cause us to retain weight, we must flood the body with foods and beverages that nourish and heal. With every bite you take, ask yourself if what you’re about to eat is more likely to cause harm or reverse disease. For practice, pick which you think is best for your systems, organs, and cells. A bowl of broccoli, or a bowl of white pasta? A handful of berries, or a handful of M&M’s? A glass of fresh water, or a glass of sweet iced tea? A plate of spinach, or a plate of ribs? Be honest and start choosing foods that can heal. Healing foods are naturally packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. They’re also lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
Get the most bang from every bite
Until you lower calories and nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods at the same time, it will be difficult to lose weight. The body’s hunger signals are wired to respond to both missing calories and nutrients. To turn these cravings off and keep them turned off, you’ll need to consume the proper amount of nutrients throughout the day. Focus on making every calorie you eat a healthy calorie.
Don’t get down on yourself after an unhealthy day
Instead, focus on minimizing the damage of any lapses by flooding your system with nutrients. After a day of unhealthy eating, drink lots of water and herbal teas. Eat more colorful produce, especially dark-green leafy vegetables. All these things will help flush your system and get you back on track.
The mantra of healthy eating is also the mantra of healthy weight management
Over the past century, there is a direct correlation between the increased availability of fast foods, junk foods, and processed foods and the skyrocketing rates of obesity and obesity-related disease throughout the world.
It’s important to remember that the mantra of healthy eating isn’t specifically about weight loss. It’s about eating as human beings were intended to eat. When we eat things we weren’t intended to eat, our health suffers and we often gain weight.
By keeping the mantra in mind, you’ll set yourself up to manage your weight in the healthiest way possible. You’ll eat more nutrient dense foods, you’ll provide your body and mind with a wide range of healthy disease-fighters and strength-builders, and you’ll ensure you get the most bang from every bite.
Need a quick refresher on the mantra of healthy eating? Here we go:
1. Consume only whole foods
These are real foods made by nature, not by factories. Whole foods come from the earth, and our ancestors would have recognized them. Toaster pastries, most boxed cereals, most cereal/protein bars, white/enriched flour bread, white/enriched/semolina pasta, boxed mac and cheese, instant potatoes, frozen meals, canned soups, diet sodas, and most other processed foods didn’t exist when our great grandparents were alive. They’re not real foods. Pick foods off the farm!
2. Go plant-based
Build every meal around a foundation of green and colorful vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, legumes, and whole grains. Keep in mind that every color of the rainbow corresponds to a different nutrient that our bodies critically need. Eat as many colors as you can at each meal. Pick foods that grow in the garden!
3. You only need a few healthy fats
Try to get your fat from whole foods and plants such as avocados and raw, unroasted, and unsalted nuts and seeds. These foods are high in calories, healthy fat or not, so consume only half an avocado or half a handful of nuts and seeds each day. Add them to your smoothies and salads, or grab a small amount as a snack on the go.
4. By making the above changes, your food will be nutrient-dense
Nutrient density is so important. By choosing whole, plant-based foods and limiting your healthy fat intake, your entire diet can be low in calories, saturated fats, and cholesterol — and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. You won’t just lose weight, you’ll also help prevent and reverse disease. Your food will become MEDICINE!
Once you’ve mastered the mantra of healthy eating, you’re all set to dig deeper and take your daily nutrition habits to the next level. If you’re looking for additional advice on how to pursue weight loss in the healthiest possible way, read my advanced tips for general and rapid weight loss.