How I lost excess body fat and kept it off.

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I love my food. Pizza, burgers & fries, cakes, bread, biscuits, savory pies, and chocolate. I just love them but they don’t love me back, they made me fat and miserable but not anymore. I am no longer under their influence, I kicked the habit. I have the occasional indulgence, but not like I used to.

There are two main reasons why we eat food. One is to supply fuel for our body and the other reason is for pleasure. For many of us though food is a reward, and also a mindless habit we engage in while watching television. Food is ingrained in our culture. It’s a central part of any celebration, it brings friends together and helps co-workers’ bond. So, it’s no wonder we’re getting fatter if we’re eating even though we’re not hungry. The advice we have been given over the years for losing weight doesn’t seem to be working because worldwide there is an obesity epidemic.

When we talk about weight gain and weight loss, we think about energy balance – the amount of calories we consume and the amount of calories we use up as energy. Nutritionists and dietitians used to think this is a really simple equation, that it was just about energy balance. It’s much more complex than that. It has to do with hormones, basal metabolic rate (BMR), gender, and social factors as well.

Overweight and obesity are serious and costly problems. Obesity is associated with a reduced quality of life and development of serious chronic health conditions, these include heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, sleep apnea, bone, and joint problems. It’s a risk factor for premature death. We have to be responsible for our own health and that of our family.

To shed some weight and get our waistline back to normal many of us will try going on a restrictive weight-loss fad diet, if our first choice doesn’t work, we move on to the next one. But most overweight people know that trying to lose weight is an uphill struggle, good intentions, and will-power more often than not won’t do it. I realized that after I watched a lecture “Why dieting doesn’t usually work” by neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt. The first thing I did was to stop going on diets because they don’t work in the long term.

Losing weight is difficult, but it’s often much more difficult once you have lost the weight to keep it off. When we start looking at weight loss, people tend to have unrealistic goals. It takes time to gain weight and it takes time to lose weight. We should focus on healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.

When I was carrying around excess fat, even though I had a few false starts, I adopted a low carb way of eating together with the intermittent fasting 16:8 protocol. This simply means reducing carbohydrates, fasting for 16 hours, and eating within an 8-hour window. It’s as simple as skipping breakfast.

I have my first meal of the day at 12 pm and my last meal of the day finishes by 8 pm. During the fasting period, I don’t consume any calories, I drink a lot of water. Some people drink, black coffee, tea, or green tea without sweeteners.

Intermittent fasting makes sticking to caloric deficit much easier to do. Research shows that it is more effective at suppressing appetite than traditional dieting.

What you choose to eat is up to you, the healthier you eat the better. The rule is that you only eat in an 8-hour window, I found that the 16:8 fasting protocol and eating a low carb diet works for me. During weight loss, the body is going to call on stored fat. It can’t do that if we’re always consuming carbs.

Low carb diets have been around for a long time. In fact, William Banting an obese man living in 19th century London was advised by his doctor William Harvey to avoid sugar, bread, butter, milk, beer, and potatoes. He was told that these foods contain starch and saccharine matter which tend to create fat. He gave it a try and he lost 46lbs (20kg). We know this because William Banting wrote a book in 1863 called Letter on Corpulence.

This is what he ate:

Breakfast – 4 or 5 oz of beef, mutton, kidneys, broiled fish, bacon, or cold meat of any kind except pork; a large cup of tea (without milk or sugar), a biscuit, or 1 oz of dry toast.

Lunch – 5 or 6 oz of any fish except salmon, any meat except pork, any vegetable except potato, 1 oz of dry toast, fruit, any kind of poultry or game, and 2 or 3 glasses of claret, sherry.

Afternoon tea – 2 or 3oz of fruit, 1 or 2 rusks, and a cup of tea without milk or sugar.

Evening meal – 3 or 4oz of meat or fish, similar to lunch, with a glass or 2 of claret.

That was his diet, and he says in his book that he lost 35lbs in weight in 38 weeks. His total weight loss was 46lbs. He succeeded in losing weight and improved his health at the same time without medication.

The food and drinks I avoided when I was on my fat loss journey were: bread, cakes, biscuits, rice, potatoes, grains, cereals, ultra-processed foods, sugar, milk, beer, soda, fruit juices. My focus was on eating whole foods and I lost 21lbs (10kg) and I have kept it off effortlessly.

The way to do this is to make small dietary modifications that can facilitate healthy weight loss. Set goals. If you want to lose 20kg in total, break that down into smaller goals. 1-2kg per week is a realistic goal.

Changing our relationship with food, and our lifestyle can be challenging but not impossible.

Since you’re here…

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