Lose weight naturally

Obesity is a medical condition which involves excess body fat accumulating to the extent that it has a negative effect on health. People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, is over 30 kg/m2. In the UK, 20% of the population are classed as obese.

Overweight is defined as falling within the range of 25–30 kg/m2. While less serious than obesity, the impact on health is still harmful, especially if associated with other negative lifestyle factors such as a lack of exercise, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, low polyphenol intake, smoking and poor gut health. It affects 60% of the UK population, and this figure is increasing year by year. 40% of all cancers are thought to be linked to excess weight.

Day to day problems linked to obesity

  • Breathlessness
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweating
  • Snoring / Sleep apnoea
  • Limitation of physical activity
  • Fatigue
  • Poor gut health
  • Joint pains (back / knee / hips)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling isolated

Medical complaints linked to obesity

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease and strokes
  • Indigestion
  • Depression
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy problems
  • Urinary problems
  • Impotence


How does obesity increase health problems?

Direct biochemical mechanisms:

  • Oestrogen levels higher / Progesterone levels lower
  • Insulin resistance
  • Insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1)
  • Higher leptin / lower adiponectin
  • Inflammation – Cox 2 overexpression

Indirect mechanisms:

  • More difficult to exercise due to shortness of breath and arthritis
  • Lower vitamin D levels
  • Alters gut health

Benefits of exercising if overweight

Direct mechanisms – reducing risks (independent of weight loss):

  • Improves insulin sensitivity (Lowers IGF-1)
  • Lowers sex hormones
  • Enhances antioxidant enzyme production
  • Improves DNA repair P53 (BCRA 1&2 expression)
  • Epigenetics (telomere length, gene expression)
  • Anti-inflammatory (prostaglandin & COX-2)
  • Reduces cholesterol and saturated fats

Indirect mechanisms:

  • Helps individuals lose weight (10% after 6 months >3.5hrs/wk)
  • Reducing weight elevates mood
  • Increases light exposure and vitamin D – if exercising outside
  • Helps arthritis

Tips on losing unwanted weight

The trick is not to put on weight in the first place, but of course, this is easier said than done, if we were all perfect we would not be human. Remember, it is never too late to start slimming down.

Below is a list of lifestyle habits which aim to reduce calorie intake, increase energy expenditure, alter the gut flora and reduce inflammation – all of which can help reduce excess weight.

Tips for eating fewer calories

  • Do not add any processed sugar to foods or drinks
  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Look at the label to check sugar has not been added to foods such as crisps or bread
  • Avoid faddy diets
  • Train yourself to eat slower and chew your food carefully
  • Try not to snack between meals
  • Eat your evening meal early
  • Do not snack after your final meal of the day – if peckish, try a herbal tea
  • Have no processed sugar for breakfast – see ultimate breakfast bowl
  • Distract yourself from thinking about food
  • Avoid processed food
  • Eat less fatty foods
  • Avoid pastries, pies, pasties, donuts, cakes, muffins
  • Cut fat off meat
  • Eat less meat and more fish
  • Eat a large salad with every meal (this fills you up)

Try to improve gut health

The influence of gut health has gained scientific credibility as it has been observed that as weight increases, our gut bacteria change to a more inflammatory (bad) pattern. Poor gut health effects digestion and absorption food and has several consequences for weight gain:
  • Increases whole body inflammation so the body enters a defence mode, storing more energy >>
  • Reduces joint health so exercise is more uncomfortably >>
  • Effects sleep causing fatigued in the day reducing motivation to diet and exercise >>
  • Increases hunger hormones encouraging us to eat more >>
  • Interferes with oestrogen levels, increasing menopausal symptoms including weight gain >>

As part of a weight reduction programme, strategies to improve the gut microbiome should have a greater role. This would including increasing intake of probiotic foods and reducing processes sugar and artificial sweeteners and even considering taking a good quality supplement

Tips for burning more calories

  • Go for a short walk before breakfast (extends the overnight fasting period)
  • Do some physical activity every day
  • Join an exercise class
  • Aim for at least 3 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week
  • Use the stairs not the lift or escalator

Other lifestyle factors linked to obesity