Gradual Weight Loss

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Carrie Lam, MD


A woman using gradual weight loss techniquesYou look around and see billboard advertisement, magazine covers, commercials, and online ads all marketing images of thin and healthy figures. The issue is the obsession with being thin, rather than just being healthy. While it’s essential to be at an ideal weight in order to decrease your risk of health circumstances like cardiovascular condition, diabetes, or hypertension, pressuring yourself to lose weight in a very short period of time is extremely unhealthy and conceivably impermanent. You might have had friends or family, co-workers, and others brag about losing weight on a temporary protein drink diet. Or perhaps, you’ve come across the advertisement of a company that is promising you to lose a certain number of pounds guaranteed in a month or so. The issue with these various short-term diets that instantly deprive you of many foods you are heavily accustomed to eating, is that it’s unlikely your weight will be stable. Atop that, diets extremely low in calories leave you feeling deprived, hungry, more prone to feeling tense, and more susceptible to mood swings. That’s why gradual weight loss is much healthier for you both in relations to your physical weight, overall stress levels, long-term goals, and your mental health, too.

Gradual Weight Loss

If you are really hoping to still feel thin and energized in another five years down the road, it’s very important that you take it slow. You may see a ton of books marketing for a five-day diet, a week-long diet, or the “30 days to a slimmer you” slogan calling you out. At the cashier in a majority of supermarkets, magazine covers are occupied with various diet plans, recipes, and tips to try and help you on your weight loss journey. Many use celebrities that brag about their very short-term miracle diets. However, many researchers have demonstrated that if you fluctuate your weight erratically, you will less likely keep that weight off continuously and gradually. It may take you much more time, effort, and patience to eliminate one negative habit after another, but you will feel less stressed about it, and eventually, with certain food and exercise changes, you will find yourself losing weight without feeling deprived and hungry.

Don’t obsess with deadlines.

Deadlines and gradual weight lossWhile we live in a society that utterly lacks patience, constantly swarming to drive-thru restaurants, relying on instant coffee and meals, always seeking the shortcuts, and even high-speed internet, at this time and age you may come to realize patience is quite difficult to adhere to. It’s no different when it comes to wanting to reach your dream weight goal, and looking and feeling your very best. Nonetheless, it’s essential that you take note of this: recent research has proven that gradual weight loss done in a leisurely and steady manner is more likely to be maintained for years to come. On the contrary, those diets that call for shorter periods of times, go cold-turkey and eliminate habits you are accustomed to instantaneously, are less likely to last you very long. After all, isn’t long-term results much better to achieve than enjoying being at your dream figure, only to watch yourself put the weight back on again? With that being said, keep these essential tips in mind, and watch as one habit after another aid you to successfully reaching your weight goal, once and for all. Progress into a constant and recurring behavior of change in your diet and exercise routine, in order to maintain the weight you desperately desire. You might be tempted to starve yourself for a week, have protein bars, and stock up on supplemented shakes or drinks that are marketed as healthy to lose weight quickly. You might fall in love with the idea of looking slim in a month- but if gradual weight loss is not the route you take, you may find yourself back to square one in no time. Atop that, trying to lose a certain amount of pounds in a drastically impossible amount of time increases your frustration and stress, thus could cease your weight loss altogether.

Reduce your stress levels.

Gradual weight loss and stressYou may find it difficult to accept, but chronic stress is a leading cause of heart conditions, headaches, low energy and weariness, autoimmune conditions, inflammation in your body and joints, weight gain, depression, food allergies, high blood pressure, a lack of sexual desire, bone loss, suppression of your immune conditions, memory loss in the long-run, joint pain, and many digestive disorders. Having high-stress hormones makes it difficult to lose weight, as your bloodstream is swarming with cortisol, and your digestive system is constantly suppressed.

In his remarkably insightful book, Ultra-Metabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss, Dr. Mark Hyman dedicates an entire chapter to the link between high stress and weight gain. Essentially, he shares various research done in the lab; even if you eat less and exercise more, if you are in a chronic state of stress, you will gain additional weight. He mentions how you may feel like your body is in constant “fight-or-flight” mode, with possibly having a tremendously demanding job, lack of sleep, conflict in your marriage, or trying to juggle your never-ending to-do-list. A chronic level of stress hormones circulating in your bloodstream will consequence in a disruption of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system. As that occurs, it leads you to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), as your body overworks your adrenal glands to make more and more hormones to combat stress. Feeling stressed about things that actually have no physical impact on you, like completing your next work or school project, finishing up the vast pile of dirty laundry, or dealing with your naughty child, could disrupt your hormone levels completely.

Eliminating or reducing your stress levels with various means may aid you on your voyage to gradual weight loss as well. Forcing yourself to go on an awfully deterring and temporary diet may add more stress to your plate, as you sense tension while being deprived of accustomed food, or you feel overly stressed in not being able to achieve your desired goal successfully.

Simple Habits That Cause Big Results

Stop counting calories; count chemicals instead.

Gradual weight loss and calories countingWhen you walk around the supermarket, you may notice fat-free ice cream, 35 calorie toast bread, butter-like spread advertised as lower in calories or fat, and a ton of cookies, crackers, and breakfast food items all marketed as healthy options for you and your family. Being obsessed with calories, and even drastically restricting a number of calories you intake daily, could in fact cause you to gain weight instead. These foods, such as the 35-calorie toast, may truly contain fewer calories than other alternatives. However, they come along with supplementary harmful chemicals to reduce the calories, while keeping the food item soft, tasty, and appealing to the eye. Many of them come along with bleached flour, dough conditioners, artificial sweeteners, margarine, caramel coloring, genetically modified oils, and a ton of preservatives you might not be able to pronounce. So, you may be consuming fewer calories with your peanut butter sandwich, but you’re undoubtedly consuming a lot more chemicals. Bread does not need more than several ingredients, such as flour, water, oil, and salt. It may contain more calories, but it is full of whole nutritious food and does not flood your body with harmful chemicals. Many chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and bleached flour, in fact, spike your blood sugar, cause you to crave more, disrupt your hormone levels, and thus lead to weight gain before you know it. Having a slice of all-natural bread will satisfy you rapidly, provide your body with energy and will lead you to gradual weight loss. The same concept applies to fat-free dairy products, sugar-free granola bars, or low-calorie liquid egg products. When you stop obsessing with calories and begin eating more whole foods like healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and protein, your mood will enhance, your elevated stress levels will diminish, and you will find yourself dropping weight without any frustration or notice.

Don’t go cold-turkey; crowd out.

While many weight loss programs and diets call for the concept of cold-turkey, completely eliminating your favorite foods or perhaps that dessert you simply can’t go by without, if done properly, gradual weight loss can still be grasped while including a treat every so often. Instead of waking up tomorrow and going hard on yourself, finding your mood down due to your cravings and blood sugar spikes, try to crowd out. If you have a habit of having two cinnamon rolls for breakfast every morning with your coffee, try to crowd the habit out. Don’t eliminate that gooey and warm treat your body got used to as much as the sunlight. Instead, have a banana, and enjoy one cinnamon roll. You will automatically find yourself too full to reach for anything beyond that, as the vitamins and nutrients you intake with the fruit also cause satisfaction from further cravings. If your lunch includes a deep-fried chicken sandwich, try to swap it for grilled chicken, and bulk it up with a fresh salad and nuts instead of bread. Gradually decrease the amount of sugar in your coffee, and with time, if done progressively, you may find yourself enjoying a cup of organic herbal tea or organic black coffee with organic milk instead. Instead of consuming deep-fried doughnuts, try to bake homemade muffins instead. You may feel satisfied with having a delicacy, yet your body is dumping the custom habit of having something completely unhealthy. As research has found, if you go on impermanent diets that are extremely restrictive, they will cause you to have constant mood swings, extreme cravings for sweet and salty foods, and possibly even lead you to binge eating-especially when the diet deadline has finally ended. This leads you to feel overly stressed, fatigue, and even more tired as you wish to give up. Gradual weight loss, on the other hand, changes your overall eating and exercise lifestyle one milestone after another. Increasing healthy whole foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables before your comfort foods that are unhealthy, will boost your vitamins and nutrients intake, decrease your cravings, and slowly push out the bad habits from your system altogether.

Cut out processed food from your diet.

Gradual weight loss and processed foodsThis might take a stretch, but it’s definitely an advice worth investing your effort, time, and money in. While crowding out, and focusing on reducing chemicals, try to implement the habit of reducing processed food from your diet as much as possible. In His book, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan mentions “Eat Food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” Michael Pollan numerously emphasizes the issue with processed food, and how you now rely on a thirty-two-billion-dollar food industry to dictate what the healthy options of food for you and your family are, rather than your grandmother. With a diet extremely high in processed foods, snacks, breakfast meals, heavily processed and preserved meat products, and deep-fried treats, it becomes extremely challenging for you to obtain gradual weight loss. Again, don’t obsess with calories, and instead be focusing on meals consisting of whole foods, and especially plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Your energy levels will splurge, your stress hormones will reduce, and you will feel very joyful as you are better able to manage your AFS.

Eat a lot more of healthy fats.

Gradual weight loss and healthy fatsYou may find it tremendously startling to be told to eat more fat as you move forward on your journey to gradual weight loss. Nonetheless, research after research has proven that fats, the good and healthy ones, can, in fact, aid you in losing weight astonishingly. To clarify, eating a doughnut high in fat would not be a suggested option, nor would a bag of deep-fried and heavily processed potato chips. These foods, very high in shelf-stable hydrogenated oils, Trans fat, margarine, unhealthy saturated fatty acids, chemicals, and preservatives are in no way, shape, or form nutritious for your physical or mental health. In fact, they will withhold you in both your tracks to managing AFS and losing weight alike. A diet high in processed food is not recommended as you aim in reducing your stress, gaining energy back, and losing several pounds. Besides slowing your progress to weight loss, unhealthy fats have been linked to an increase in cravings, heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune conditions, inflammation in the body, and even an increased risk of cancer growth. Healthy fats on the other hand, such as extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, several other healthy and natural oils, nuts, seeds, organic grass-fed butter, avocados, and other whole foods, will be remarkable additions to your gradual weight loss plan. These nutritious oils not only reduce your stress hormones levels, grant you satiety, boost your mood and energy completely, decrease your risk of heart conditions, strengthen your gut lining, improve your memory and cognitive health, aid in better digestion, and boost your immunity, but they will also cause you to drop some weight without having to feel hungry. Healthy fats grant satiety, and balance blood sugar, thus reduce your cravings after meals. That in and of itself is a great habit to try on its own, and you will see change take part in your body with time. Try to drizzle extra virgin olive oil over your lunch salad instead of heavily processed salad dressing. Instead of deep fried-chicken for dinner, aim to have grilled salmon with steamed vegetables for a boost of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, too.

Hydrate sufficiently.

The importance of proper and sufficient hydration cannot be emphasized enough. Drinking enough water cools your body temperature, reduces stress, and can help you manage AFS while trying to drop a few pounds. Water is essential for you to sustain life, and every cell in your body will properly function and be in a healthy state when you consume a sufficient amount of water. Lack of hydration, in fact, causes headaches and weakness, and as you struggle to properly complete your tasks, your stress hormones are on a high. Consuming plenty of water on an empty stomach early morning replenishes your cells, gets your digestive system moving, and hydrates your body. It boosts your mood, reduces your stress levels, and will flush toxins out of your bloodstream. Additionally, consuming enough water before meals will grant you improved digestion, and thus will lead to gradual weight loss alone.

© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Consuming plenty of healthy fats is essential and extremely helpful for gradual weight loss. These fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, organic and grass-fed butter, and proteins such as salmon, grant your body satiety, reduce your stress levels, improve your digestion, and cause you to lose weight.


Gradual Weight Loss