I was doing some research recently and stumbled across an interesting article in the Washington Post that revealed some “secrets” of highly obese people. What researchers discovered provided a primer about what not to do for fat loss and fast metabolism.
For instance, obese people begin eating sooner, devour larger portions, skip breakfast, and eat faster than their lean counterparts. That last one really got my attention because I see it far too often.
Welcome to fast food nation, where we engulf double cheeseburgers driving 80 miles an hour on the freeway and mindlessly devour half a pint of double chocolate chip in the kitchen while flipping through gossip magazines.
If you stayed awake during high school or college anatomy and physiology class, you might recall how amazingly your digestive system performs. Regardless, allow me to recap the highlights.
Digestion begins in your mouth, when that first taste of wild-caught salmon saturates your taste buds. Chewing well helps your tongue recognize the food, alerting your brain to signal your digestive system to release the right juices to break down that food.
Are you with me so far?
Breaking down your food optimally also helps your digestive juices in your stomach coat the food, and consequently your body more effectively assimilate those nutrients.
Except when you engulf your food, your brain doesn’t get that message to stop eating. That’s because it takes about 20 minutes before a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) tells your brain to stop eating. Devouring your food doesn’t give CCK enough time to relay the message to your brain, and you eat too much.
If I’ve lost you here, just remember these 5 words: slow down when you eat.
Optimal Digestion through Elimination
Indigestion is a frequent sign of food intolerances. Highly reactive foods trigger inflammation, bloating, cramping, and other gut-related issues. You’re not breaking down food efficiently, which means you’re not absorbing optimal nutrients. Listen, it’s not normal to run to the bathroom or grab the antacids after a big meal. Those are big red flags that you’ve got gut problems.
I take several steps to rectify these issues with clients. For one, I ask them to pull the top 7 highly reactive foods for 3 weeks. Those foods include egg, soy, gluten, dairy, peanuts, corn, and sugar and artificial sweeteners. Fast fat loss isn’t the only goal during this elimination period (though most people lose up to 7 pounds their first week). When you aren’t eating these foods, you allow your gut a chance to heal.
Besides pulling those 7 foods, you need the right nutrients to heal. My number-one gut healer is the amino acid glutamine, your small intestine’s preferred source of fuel. I call glutamine powder a 2-for-1 deal, since it also curbs sugar cravings that can seriously stall fat loss.
Ginger, quercetin, and aged garlic extract are also part of my leaky gut-healing regimen because they reduce inflammation and help restore your gut barrier.
Let’s look at how that benefits you. Maybe you had food intolerances to soy. Every time you ate tofu stir-fry, you suffered post-meal cramping and a headache.
So you pull soy completely (along with the other highly reactive foods) for 3 weeks. You follow my leaky gut nutrient protocol. You minimize stress, which adversely impacts your gut. You get 7 – 9 hours of consistent sleep every night. You slow down and eat mindfully.
What often happens is that when you challenge soy in cycle 2, you discover you can occasionally tolerate some organic tempeh without that miserable after-meal misery. That’s a surefire sign you’ve healed leaky gut, which is one reason I don’t want you to skip cycle 2 no matter how great you feel in cycle 1.
Slow Down to Slim Down
Being mindful and eating slowly are easier said than done, but these 10 strategies can help you optimize digestion, reduce food sensitivities, meet your fat-loss goals, and actually enjoy your food:
Don’t drink water during your meals. I want you to drink half your body weight in water ounces every day on The Virgin Diet. The 1 time I don’t want you drinking is during meals, when too much liquid can dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein.
Try a digestive enzyme if you need it. Your body’s digestive enzymes slow down by time you’re in your 30s, which means you have more problems breaking down and assimilating food. Bio-gest from Thorne Research is a comprehensive digestive enzyme with hydrochloric acid (HCl) that eliminates post-meal gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.
Chew every bite 20 – 25 times. Seriously.
Don’t dashboard dine. Many states ticket you if you’re talking or texting while you drive. Let’s get a similar law for drivers who engulf breakfast burritos on the freeway.
Eat during a regularly appointed time at your designated eating area. Eat your almond-crusted chicken and Brussels sprouts at the dining room table at 6 p.m., not while watching Cosby Show reruns on the sofa. Keep the bed for sleep and sex, not an 11 p.m. rendezvous with a jar of almond butter.
Be mindful and savor your food. Pretend like you’re dining with monks at a Zen monastery or the Queen of England.
Use chopsticks. Good luck slamming your food down with these guys!
Shrink your plate to shrink your stomach. Your stomach holds about a quart of food. Can it handle the amount you’ve got piled on your 14-inch plate?
Put your fork or chopsticks down between bites and chew. This isn’t a race. There is no prize, only potential indigestion, if you’re first to finish eating.
Make your dining mantra “smaller bites, increased chewing.” This might require some practice if you’re used to devouring your food like a Coney Island hot dog contest.