The Best Ways to Reverse Your Recent Weight Gain, According to a Nutritionist
If you've noticed a pair of your favorite old jeans fit a bit tighter than they did a year ago, you're not alone. 2020 was an unforgettable year for many reasons, one of those being the glocal pandemic that hit. Everyone was trying to do what they could to stay safe, and during times of crisis, looking at the scale wasn't really a major priority.
"We were blindsided by the coronavirus pandemic. When the virus hit and the quarantine was slapped on us, most of us went into stress eating, and many gained weight, known as the quarantine 15 or the Covid 19," explains Dr. Daryl Gioffre, certified functional nutritionist and author of Get Off Your Acid and Get Off Your Sugar.
It wasn't very uncommon to find between piles of toilet paper and sanitizing wipes, plenty of homes were also loading up on ice cream, potato chips, cookies—classic comfort foods. And that created a problem.
"The more stress you have, and the more sugar you eat, the more addicted you will become. When we are under stress, and we stress eat, the first thing we reach for is the worst thing, and that's comfort food," Dr. Gioffre says. "Comfort foods are loaded with sugar, and the reality is they don't comfort us at all. They may give you that instant gratification because of the dopamine hit you're getting [but], it actually increases the stress in your body because these foods loaded with sugar are highly acidic and lead to inflammation in our bodies. And the more sugar you eat, the more you're going to burn for energy, and therefore, the more sugar you're going to crave. It literally becomes a vicious cycle, feeding the sugar addiction."
It wasn't just what people were eating that played a role in their quarantine weight gain. The fact that everyone had to stay put didn't help, as this led many to move less daily.
"Add to that, most of us stopped exercising and moved less as we increased our sitting with Zoom meetings. This was literally a perfect storm for weight gain, amongst many other health issues people have been suffering with," Dr. Gioffre says.
But now the time has come to reverse that recent weight gain!
So how do you do that exactly?
Don't worry—Dr. Gioffre explains it's a lot easier to start adopting healthier habits right now than you may realize. Here are a few simple things you can do to help you shed those pounds. Check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work to keep you on track, too.
Focus on having a strength eating plate at every meal.
"At mealtime or whenever you feel hungry, you want to eat foods that strengthen your body, foods that strengthen your energy, foods that strengthen your immune system, your focus and mental clarity, and food that make you burn fat, not sugar," Dr. Gioffre says.
Here's what you should be aiming to see a mix of on your plate:
- Greens: green juices, green smoothies, green soups, green salads
- Healthy fats: avocados, raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts), raw seeds (chia, flax, hemp), raw oils (EVOO, avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil)
- Moderate protein from a clean source: 2 to 4 ounces (wild-caught fish, grass-fed, pasture-raised meat)
- Fiber-rich slow-burning carbs: quinoa, wild rice, sweet potato, butternut squash (½ cup per meal)
"This is what a strength eating plate should look like, where you should be fueling your body with two(if intermittent fasting) or three meals a day and not grazing, which causes you to crave more sugar," he explains.
Add, don't just take away.
"Start out meal planning with what you can add—dark leafy greens, healthy fats, and nutrient dense foods that are high alkaline and low acid, low sugar vs. limiting your meals with what you can't have," Dr. Gioffre says. "As you begin to add the good stuff, over time, it will soon outweigh the bad stuff."
So what other foods should you add more of to your diet?
"Add mineral-rich foods like red bell pepper, brussel sprouts, spinach, and avocados which are not only loaded with minerals, but healthy fats as well," Dr. Gioffre suggests. And speaking of…
Don't be afraid of fat.
"When most of us look to lose weight, we think we have to avoid eating fats, but that is one of the biggest mistakes we make," Dr. Gioffre says. "To burn fat, you have to eat more fat to burn fat. Once you start adding in the fats, you'll feel full for so much longer that not only won't you have the room for the carb-rich foods, but you also won't have the appetite for them either."
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Take a good-better-best approach.
You don't have to completely give up what you enjoy eating to drop the unwanted weight!
"Start out by choosing a better version of the things you love. When you've settled into that habit, take it to the next level with an even better version and ultimately the best version," Dr. Gioffre says. "For example, instead of having milk chocolate, have dark chocolate (better), and [then] instead of dark chocolate, have raw cacao. Dieting and deprivation can actually cause sugar cravings! Strength eating focuses on moderation, never deprivation."
"Weight gain is an acid and inflammation problem. When we become toxic, inflamed, and over-acidic from stress and stress eating, our body has to hold onto fat to buffer or neutralize these toxins, so that they don't harm our more important and vital organs like our lungs, liver, heart, brain, kidneys, and blood," Dr. Gioffree explains. "The body literally binds these toxins to our adipose tissue, or fat, and lodges it into our connective tissues, which I call the acid magnets of the body (your belly, butt, etc). So to burn fat and lose weight, you need to get off your acid. Detoxifying the body with alkalizing foods will kick the acid, and the fat that is attached to it."
The easiest way to do that is to start going green. Or sipping on green, we should say.
"That is why the core of a strength-eating diet starts with green juice," Dr. Gioffree says. "Years ago when I was addicted to sugar, I added two things—I drank 2 green juices a day, and bounced on a rebounder (mini-trampoline) for 10 minutes. Within 21 days, my lifelong addiction to sugar and stress eating was gone, and in just under 4 months, I lost 42 pounds and became a fat-burning machine."
Give yourself time.
Don't think you're magically going to change your diet and shed the weight you've recently gained overnight. It takes time! So don't be too hard on yourself and even if you're slowly making changes, it's all steps in the right direction to reverse any recent weight gain.
"To truly go from stress eating to strength eating, you have to give your body what it needs to break free from the addiction to sugar—minerals to help quell the cravings; healthy fats to encourage the switch to fat-burning so the drive to replenish glucose is lessened; the right proteins to provide long-lasting energy; and lifestyle changes that give you alternative tools to keep yourself feeling fulfilled, rewarded, and relaxed," Dr. Gioffre says. "It's not like flipping a switch; it's a slow build where you add more of the good things so that the unhealthy things you've been eating naturally start to fall away."