July 14, 2016

Weight loss success is that elusive reward we strive for. We all have friends or family members who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight, and we all have others in our lives who are completely different. Even amongst family members, there are striking differences in the foods and amounts that siblings can eat. So how can you improve your weight loss success?

The bottom line is that each body is different. While that seems obvious when you think about appearance, it’s less obvious when considering hormonal responses, microbiome, appetite regulation, taste preferences, and social influences. These can all have an impact on the amount we weigh.

A study being undertaken in Israel is comparing individual responses to foods, and coming up with surprising results. The old dogma that calories control weight is clearly being disproven: in its place is a far more complex set of criteria that are different for each person.

As an example, two women were paired up and tracked for a week. Their activity levels and food choices and amounts were the same, with the aim to eliminate confounding factors. What the two have discovered about their own bodies is enlightening. One found that some of her favourite foods – grapes, sushi, chicken sandwiches, and cereal made her blood glucose skyrocket. Her partner’s blood glucose did little in response to these foods.

On the plus side, the first woman’s blood glucose rise was minimal after eating chocolate, ice-cream and soft drink. That’s pretty much the opposite of what most people would think.

The study is now looking at gut microbes to determine the influence they may play, and the results are looking promising.

While the study is on-going and the results are a long way off, there are things you can to do improve your chances of weight loss success:

  1. Keep an open mind. No matter what you think you know about how you “should” lose weight, it may well be wrong.
  2. Make a change. If you’re trying to lose weight and it’s not happening, it might be time to make a change. As an example, just because you think muesli and yoghurt is a healthy breakfast suitable for weight loss, doesn’t mean that it’s right for your body. Perhaps a protein-based smoothie would work better, or bacon and eggs, or even avocado and vegies.
  3. Listen discriminately. Other people’s suggestions may well be true for the person giving the advice (you know, “If it worked for me it will work for you, too.”), but don’t try to incorporate all suggestions, and don’t just accept them to be true.
  4. Be disciplined. Decide on an eating pattern and stick to it with discipline for a few weeks. Take note of how you feel and how clear your mind is as well as how much weight and centimetres you lose. If you notice improvements in none of these areas, the eating pattern is clearly not right for you. Refer back to point 1.
  5. Get help. Help may come as an eating plan with built-in support like Healthy Inspirations or consulting a dietitian, but it needs to be from someone who knows how to help you adapt a healthy eating pattern in response to the needs of your body.

While research may not yet be able to give us all the answers when it comes to effective weight loss, your body knows exactly what you need. Listen to your body and the responses it has to particular foods, and you’ll be well on your way to lasting weight control.