The best time to start losing weight, how many times a day there are and the main mistake of all dieters: only scientific answers to eternal questions from a nutritionist
Candidate of Medical Sciences, doctor Andrey Beloveshkin (@beloveshkin) talks about a healthy lifestyle exclusively from the point of view of evidence-based medicine – for which we appreciate him. The founder of BeautyHack.ru Katya Domankova asked the doctor questions about the main trends that exist at the moment in nutrition: do I need to eat often, but in small portions, is intermittent fasting really useful and what mistakes we make at the stage of deciding to lose weight.
Do not wait for a special sign to rebuild on a healthy lifestyle
– What is the best time to learn new habits? Is there a season when it’s easier for the body to rebuild?
– I see traditional bursts of interest in healthy habits in spring and autumn. Spring is the notorious “preparation for summer”, expectation of changes after winter, and autumn is the time of realizing summer mistakes and another chance to change. But the best time to change is when you have a reserve of energy, time and energy, you don’t feel the pressure of commitment. In such conditions, it is possible to direct attention to rebuilding the patterns.
It is also very effective to introduce healthy habits or get rid of old ones in new places, such as on vacation. In this case, there are no triggers for old habits, there are no temptations, and therefore it is much easier to form a new one from scratch than to fight at home with stable long-term patterns of behavior.
Although we often postpone the start of changes until January 1, we should not wait for the beginning of the year. You can make your birthday a great start date. Better yet, next Monday.
– What is most often overlooked by most people who decide to start losing weight?
– The biggest mistake is already in setting a goal. As Mark Twain said, “There is nothing easier than quitting smoking, I have done this a hundred times already.” Losing weight is the same: creating a calorie deficit and losing weight is not at all difficult. It is more difficult to maintain results, overcome a weight loss plateau, and maintain weight in the long term. And only 5% of people who go on a diet succeed.
Set a goal to “create a nutritional system that will maintain a healthy weight until old age”, not “lose 5 kg.”
Then you will gradually introduce smart things into your lifestyle, rather than resort to dangerous and short-term solutions. First – a regular diet, a good breakfast, control of satiety … So little by little, you will introduce habits that will gradually automate and begin to work for you.
Set a goal to “eat sweets every other day” instead of “never eat sweets for the rest of your life” (bad goal, you will go off).
It sounds simple, but you can cut your sugar intake in half without much effort and effort, no inhibitions. Restrictive diets are not effective in the long run.
– Is it correct to focus on weight in the process of losing weight?
– Weight is not the best guideline, as it pushes people to dangerous methods. Focus on body structure – muscle condition, subcutaneous and internal fat. By creating severe stress during hunger, we increase the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to muscle loss and an increase in dangerous internal fat. This weight loss is hazardous to health. Therefore, act smoothly, monitor your strength, sleep well and control stress – this is optimal weight loss.
– And yet: how often do you need to eat to lose weight? Most sources tell us that eating 4-5 times a day is most useful: it speeds up metabolism and helps to lose weight. Is it so?
– For the absolute number of adults, three meals a day are enough, and for some even two. The myths about the acceleration of metabolism by fractional nutrition have no scientific justification. Of course, if you count calories, then there is no fundamental difference between three and five meals a day, but in the long run, people stop focusing on the amount they eat. And they start eating in large portions five times a day.
How stress affects weight loss
– Tell us about “useful” and “unhealthy” fat in the body: what are the risks of excess visceral fat and how to deal with it?
– We are used to traditionally considering all adipose tissue dangerous, but the real picture is much more complicated. Normal amounts of subcutaneous fat are important for health, protect against heart disease, and reduce inflammation. Fat on the buttocks and thighs is especially protective.
But the fat in the waist area (inside the abdomen) of a completely different property: it increases inflammation in the organs, disrupts the work of hormones, increases the risk of cancer, etc.
There is also a fat that is difficult for us to see – brown and beige fat, which helps burn calories and stay warm. Overeating and thyroid problems can reduce its beneficial effects. You can assess your fat level using bioimpedance, hidden fat and ultrasound.
– How does stress affect fat storage?
– Stress is considered one of the leading causes of obesity. It’s an instinct – in an unpredictable environment, those who have been able to gain more fat are more likely to survive. Previously, during a cold snap, drought, hunger, this saved the lives of our ancestors, and now it is killing us. With chronic stress, appetite increases, satiety decreases, and is especially attracted to hypercaloric food. Stress weakens the mechanisms of conscious control, makes us impulsive. Under stress, fat is deposited in the most inaccessible places, in the waist area.
– Even if we do not change our healthy eating habits during stress?
– Stress can still “melt” the figure, because different areas of subcutaneous fat react differently to the level of adrenaline. Severe stress, episodes of fasting and overeating – all this creates “fat traps”, places in which it accumulates, but does not disappear with weight loss.
Stress also contributes to fluid retention and swelling as more sodium is retained. It causes increased fat deposition in the upper body: face, neck, abdomen and shoulders.
– Another popular topic is intestines and weight loss. To what extent is microbiome-dependent success in maintaining weight?
Nutrition and the microbiome have a mutual influence on each other. On the one hand, when we eat, we feed not only ourselves, but also the little friends inside. Therefore, it is so important to have a varied plant-based diet, including different types of foods: legumes, vegetables, herbs, fruits, berries, nuts, algae, root vegetables, etc.
A diet poor in prebiotics leads to a decrease in microbiome diversity, which increases the risks of many diseases.
On the other hand, the microbiome also directly influences our cravings for certain foods, intestinal permeability, hunger and satiety, and how we react to and tolerate different foods. By changing the diet, we are gradually changing the microbiome, which means we improve the tolerance of food. It is important to understand that intestinal adaptation to dietary changes is not always smooth. The abrupt transition from buns to a large amount of legumes and raw greens can cause discomfort, bloating, and flatulence. Therefore, you need to act gradually, increasing the amount of raw herbs, adding multi-probiotics.
– Nowadays, intermittent fasting is an extremely popular practice. How do you feel about him? Who will benefit from it and who will it harm?
– I have a positive attitude to fasting, but I prefer not to call it that. I’m talking about “fasting”, “food abstinence” or fasting, because even 24 hours without food is not real hunger from the point of view of our body. For three or more days, yes. I think that the practice of fasting is suitable for those who have already established a certain diet for themselves, regularly eat breakfast and, most importantly, keep clean intervals between meals. Then you can try the simplest fasting systems, for example, narrowing the food window (8 by 16 system, when you need to keep within the 8-hour interval from breakfast to dinner and observe 16 clean hours without calories every day). Intermittent fasting improves mood, increases insulin sensitivity, and reduces inflammation.
But it is not recommended for people with eating disorders and should not be used in the early stages of dietary changes.
Physical education – only “for love”
– How important is physical activity in the process of losing weight and maintaining health? What happens in the body if fitness is not just not fun, but the thought of the need to exercise is depressing?
– For weight loss, nutrition is definitely the key, not increased physical activity. But without physical activity, it will be more difficult to maintain the achieved result. Treat movement not as a means to burn calories, but as a medicine for your metabolism, because movement reduces appetite, reduces stress, increases self-confidence, improves metabolism, forces all organs and tissues of our body to work in optimal mode.
If the thought of sports makes you feel bad, then raping yourself is a bad idea.
Start small: count how many hours you sit and reduce sitting time: talk on the phone, walk around the room, start working while standing, take more breaks, buy an exercise bike or ellipsoid for home. Centenarians did not play sports, but they were always on the move.
Also useful are activities where you do not force yourself to do something, but spontaneously get involved, for example, in different games. Everything – from tennis to Latin American dances or zumba – will be a plus, there are more different movements in such activities, they are fun, and there are still people near you who like it.
– What non-obvious habits of a modern person (within the framework of the topic of nutrition / weight loss), in your opinion, are the most dangerous? And how to deal with them?
– The biggest mistake is impulsively following a fashionable diet. Changing your diet is a difficult task, as a person makes up to 400 nutritional decisions every day. Therefore, it is important to plan everything, set the right goals, gather resources for change, master the necessary skills: picking food, cooking, collecting food supplies, enlisting the support of friends, learning the basic principles of healthy eating.
Often people are let down by the expectation of quick results and self-doubt. The inability to cope with stress makes them impulsively break down and quit changing the diet, for some it is important to first solve psychological problems, and only then take up changing the diet. For many people, the lack of support from the environment or outright provocations from relatives are critical. It is also important to keep a food diary and note everything you eat, and then analyze and correct mistakes once a week.
– What advice would you give those readers who want to lose weight or acquire healthy eating habits?
– Read my book “What and When to Eat” or take an online nutrition course. In my book, I talked about the basic rules of diet and food choice, there are many practical tips to help you achieve your goals on your own.
Interview: Katya Domankova