This is a guest post from Dr. Sara Gottfried MD of the Gottfried Institute and SaraGottfriedMD.com. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Dr. Sara here. Tis the season to be jolly when we indulge and let go of our usual food code, but then feel awful starting around January 1. Ugh. I want to save you that anguish and suffering with a few wise tips that I’ve been following myself (and so far, I love what they’re doing to the bathroom scale).
Tip #1: Prime your muscles to soak up incoming calories
If you want your body to utilize all those extra calories instead of storing them as fat, then before you sit down to eat, get your muscle “hungry.” To do this, simply contract your muscles forcefully for a few seconds or better yet, do 10-20 push ups or hold a wall sit for 1 minute. (My kids do them with me!) Sounds odd but your body (i.e., your muscles) are most receptive to nutrients after they’ve been called into action and sensitized to insulin. That’s why your biggest meal should often come after you workout.
But if you don’t have time to workout, doing a few simple exercises can prime your muscles to soak up those incoming calories and nutrients instead of storing them as fat.
Tip #2: Follow your feast with a mini fast
If you’re having a huge meal (or several of them), then your body will have plenty of energy reserves to last you several days. One way you can allow your body to burn through more of that excess fuel (and stored fat) is to follow a day of feasting with a day of fasting. It’s as simple as this:
Start your fast at night after your last meal. (I stop eating before 7 p.m.)
When you wake up in the morning, half of your fast will be complete. Hurray for that. Then, if you can make it until the early afternoon on water and herbal tea, then you’ll have completed your intermittent fast. I break my fast with a green shake at 1 p.m. – that’s 18 hours!
Of all the health promoting and fat loss accelerating strategies, fasting is easily the cheapest and in some people, the most powerful.
Here’s just one aspect of the science behind it that I learned from my friend Yuri Elkaim, a New York Times bestselling author and former professional soccer star: Uncoupling protein-3 is a very important protein found in our muscles that is associated with fat burning. When fat burning increases, so does the amount of uncoupling protein-3 in our muscles. In as little as 15 hours into a fast, the gene expression for uncoupling protein-3 increases 5X, according to a study in theJournal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. That translates into 5X more fat loss. I’m suggesting for you to skate through the holidays by incorporating ONE 18-hour fast during each week, especially after a heavy day of eating.
Tip #3: Eat carbs before bed
Yum! Carbs! If you’ve been told that carbs are evil, then rest assured that the right carbs at the right times can be your best fat-loss friend. Here’s why: Carbs are especially important for healthy adrenal and thyroid function, as even several days of low carb intake can raise cortisol and lower your T3 levels. They’re also important for the proper functioning of your satiety hormone, leptin.
Research shows eating healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, yucca) about 4 hours before bed increases time spent in deep sleep (where growth hormone is released, which also speeds fat loss) and reduces the time it takes to fall asleep.
This occurs because carbs are a strong precursor to tryptophan uptake into your brain (more so than even Turkey), where it is then converted to serotonin, and then into your sleep hormone melatonin.
Getting quality sleep may be the most important thing you can do to stop unnecessary weight gain and ensure great health since it regulates all your body’s circadian and hormonal rhythms.
According to the Quebec Family Study, the risk of developing obesity was elevated 27% higher for those who slept 5-6 hours per night compared to those who slept the ideal amount of 7-9 hours. (I’ve been reviewing these studies for my new book.)
In case you’ve been told not to eat carbs later in the day because they will get stored as fat, the research simply disproves that too. As long as total calories remain equal, there’s no danger – only upside – to eating more of your carbs later in the day.
Please pick at least one of these wise tips and put them to use during your holidays, so that you can wake up restored on January 1, happy with your body and peace of mind.
To your best health,