The results: estrogen isn’t an angel or a demon; it’s a hormone that should ideally be within a healthy range, and too much or too little can be dangerous. So far, some studies suggest that a high-fiber, lower-carb diet might be useful in treating estrogen overload, but the best advice for anyone with PCOS or another serious problem will come from a real endocrinologist.
Do the Mediterranean diet. Any diet will work at first if you consume fewer calories than you burn. This does not mean that the diet is necessarily sustainable or healthy, but you will lose weight in the short term. A plan like the Mediterranean diet may be able to help you sustain weight loss. It is based on the traditional ingredients and cooking styles of people living near the Mediterranean sea. Research has shown that people adhering to this diet have reduced risk of heart disease - plus it helps you shed pounds and look lean and trim. Focus on eating the following foods (and eliminate bread, dairy, and processed foods):
Portion size matters and it’s easy to fall into the habit of overeating and underestimating protein portions. An extra egg for breakfast, an additional ounce of nuts as a snack, or perhaps one more ounce of cheese on your salad–it all adds up. Too much dietary protein can drive down ketone production (Marliss 1978) when consumed in excess of our body’s needs. Read more about this in our deep dive on protein.
And then there is the controversial NuSi study* (Hall, 2016). This involved 17 individuals confined for 2 months in a metabolic ward and fed two different diets containing identical energy contents but differing in carbohydrate contents – one ‘balanced’ and one ketogenic. After 4 weeks of adaptation to each diet, the subjects had their metabolic rates monitored by two different methods: one using isotope analysis over the last 10 days and the other with continuous indirect calorimetry in a chamber for 24-hrs. The average chamber energy expenditure over 24-hrs was 75 kcal/day greater during the ketogenic diet. Given that the average subject in this study was consuming about 3000 kcal/day, that translates to about a 2% difference. Using the different isotopic method to assess average metabolic rate over the last 10 days of each 4-week study period, the calculated increase in daily energy expenditure on the ketogenic diet was closer to 150 kcal (i.e., 4%).
And as people get older they tend to become less active, which means you burn fewer calories all day long. Plus, you naturally lose muscle mass due to hormonal changes, which further drops your daily calorie-burn rate. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so a body with less lean tissue has a lower metabolism and is prone to weight gain.
Count calories. Knowing how the minimum amount of calories your body needs to function correctly will help you make your own personalized healthy eating plan and lose weight in a way that's quick but sustainable. Your individual calorie needs will vary based on age, gender, height, and activity level. There are online calculators you can use to determine the amount of calories you should be consuming each day.
“My dad is like a food-pushing wizard, he’s always pulling stuff out of his pockets or showing up with delicious food,” says Mary Mock. While the family tradition of surprise sweets was fun, when it came time to lose weight, she knew she had to put a stop to all that temptation. “At first, he seemed hurt when I kept saying no but when I explained it was for my health, he got on board. Sometimes I still have to remind him though!” she says.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
“Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne pepper,” says Michelle Keough. This helps her start her day off on a healthy note while getting her hydrated after a long night. This trick, combined with eating meals built around protein and veggies, helped her lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
To prep his patients for success, Dr. Seltzer tells them to plan around a large evening meal by eating a lighter breakfast and lunch—NBD since most people who eat a meal before bed tend to wake up feeling relatively full, he says. Research suggests balanced bedtime meals may also promote steady next-day blood sugar levels, which also helps with appetite regulation.
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A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
In this study, women were put in one of two groups. Group 1 ate a “normal” diet with 15% of calories from protein. Group 2 ate a high-protein (30%) diet, with a special emphasis on low-glycemic-index foods. Both groups lost weight, but the Group 2 also had impressive hormonal improvements, specifically a decrease in androgens (male sex hormones) and markers of inflammation, and an improvement in insulin sensitivity. It’s complicated because there were two interventions at once (the protein and the glycemic index), but this seems to suggest that getting enough protein is important for hormonal healing.
“It can take 12 minutes or longer for the signal that you’ve started to eat to make its way to your brain,” says Mark S. Gold, M.D., of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. Quick tips: Sip some water between every bite of food you eat, or at least eat more meals with friends or family members. You’ll be more likely to talk and therefore to eat more slowly.
Adam thank you for the feedback. I will certainly switch to cream and see if that helps and maybe eliminate the wine. I have been using that as a “treat” at night. It is a dry red-pinor noir. Dinner is usually fish, chicken or pork with veggies. I do not always eat beans or lentils with dinner but work them in when I can. It is a challenge to cook for myself and then my husband and kids.
Gina Harney started The Fitnessista after she’d already lost 40 pounds. At the time, she was in maintenance mode in Georgia where, as she explains it, “healthy options were pretty scarce.” The blog was her way of chronicling how she sought out those healthy choices and often created them for herself. Today, Gina works as a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and weight loss specialist. She loves sharing tips with her readers as they embark on their own journeys toward health. Visit the blog.