I just finished my Facebook Live Series and I want to provide you with a summary of what I talked about.
Facebook Live Series #1: How to Lose Weight After Menopause
5 Tips to slim down after menopause
We're live and we have 5 Tips to Slim Down in 2017. Ask questions or say hi.This is Part 1 of a 5-Day Series. If you missed an episode, like our page and visit us. PS: We'll be back tomorrow at 1 pm EDT, 4 pm EDT, Saturday at noon EDT, and Sunday at 12:30 pm EDT.Posted by Dr. Carissa Alinat on Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Although the average age for menopause is 51, some women experience symptoms as early as the late 30’s.
There is a period before menopause called “perimenopause.” This usually lasts 1-3 years until at least 12 months have passed with no periods and menopause is in full swing.
Symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, night sweats, skin dryness, loss of hair, slowed metabolism, and WEIGHT GAIN, particularly around the belly area.
Most women gain 10 to 15 pounds starting in perimenopause and then a pound a year after that.
Causes of menopausal weight gain include hormonal fluctuations, which cause food cravings, slowed metabolism, increased fat storage, and fat redistribution to the waistline.
Because metabolism slows around menopause, fewer calories are needed. However, many women do not change their eating habits or lower their calorie intake to match their changing calorie needs as they age.
Keep in mind that an extra 3,500 calories consumed will contribute to 1 pound of fat storage. That means consuming an extra 500 calories (equal to 2.5 bottles of coca cola) for 7 days will cause 1 pound of weight gain. Burning 500 calories per day through exercise (about a 2-hour walk) for 7 days will result in 1 pound of fat loss.
Which seems easier? Skipping the soda and having water instead, or walking for 2 hours?
5 easy ways to lose weight after menopause:
- Cut down on refined carbs (they cause blood sugar and insulin spikes)
This means sugar, “white” foods such as potatoes, and refined products such as white bread and rice. The point is to keep your blood sugar levels steady. High blood sugar results in increased insulin hormone, which results in increased cortisol hormone, which promotes fat storage.
Carbs also cause water retention, which means walking around with a bloated belly area.
- Don’t eat low-fat foods.
Eating fat does not necessarily make you fat.
Eating healthy fats helps you lose weight because when you eat fat, your brain is signaled that enough calories are coming in, which makes you eat less. Low-fat foods do not have the same effect, and more calories are often consumed because you have to eat more to feel satisfied.
- Exercise your whole body.
There is no exercise that targets the fat in one area of your body. Your body burns fat evenly, it won’t attack belly fat just because you’re doing tons of crunches.
By lowering your overall body fat, your belly fat will decrease. Doing core exercises, which are exercises that mainly use your abdominal muscles (sit ups and crunches) will strengthen your core/ build your muscles, which will give your tummy a tighter look if you’re also burning calories through cardio.
The best exercise for weight loss is a combination of cardio and weight resistance exercises.
- Build more muscle.
Muscle mass declines with age, especially with menopause.
Keeping or building muscle is important for weight loss because muscle cells require a lot of energy (calories) to function. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs to keep up.
Toning your body doesn’t require excessive weights. Just using your own body weight by doing planks, push-ups, etc., is sufficient.
- Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep increases cortisol (the “stress” hormone), which causes fat storage.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. More is needed if you are exercising excessively.
The reason for this is because when you are tired and your body lacks energy, it wants the fastest source of energy, which is by eating refined carbs or “comfort foods.” That’s why most people crave carbs when they are tired.
Since menopause often causes sleeping difficulties, consider natural ways to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. These include drinking chamomile tea before bedtime, melatonin supplements, meditation, and removing electronics (TV, computer, etc.) from the bedroom.
What about hormone replacement therapy (HRT)? Can it help with weight loss? Is it dangerous?
HRT is a treatment used to improve the body’s natural hormone levels. Most people know it as hormone replacement for women undergoing menopause, either in the form of estrogen-alone therapy (ET) or as estrogen with progesterone therapy (EPT).
Years ago, HRT was being handed out like hotcakes. But then a study by the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 found that HRT had life-threatening risks such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. However, some experts say that HRT is making a comeback, and a few studies found that it actually has protective benefits for women who are early in menopause.
It has been said that bioidentical hormones are much safer than the original synthetic ones because they have a closer molecular structure to those made in the body, and are generally not linked to cancer.
Common bioidentical hormones used in HRT:
- DHEA facilitates weight loss as it increases the body’s metabolism, inhibits body fat storage, and reduces appetite for dietary fats.
- Estrone (type of estrogen): A deficiency of this hormone can make women particularly choose the wrong foods and crave sugar.
- Growth Hormone is critical for the conversion of body fat to muscle mass, and it reduces visceral and subcutaneous fats, and inhibits the formation of body fat.
- Progesterone: Progesterone therapy may be useful for treating excessive weight as it facilitates the utilization of stored body fat as energy. It is a sex hormone that when imbalanced makes women overeat.
- Thyroid: T3, T4: Used for hypothyroidism. Often used to prevent or reverse obesity in individuals who are low in this particular hormone.
As far as weight loss goes, because HRT puts your hormones back into balance during menopause, it can help you lose weight, but you need to see your healthcare provider to see if it’s right for you.
Doesn’t fat cause heart disease?
Not really. New research shows that heart disease isn’t caused by fat itself, but by too many carbs and sugar.
Listen to this scam: Back in the 1960’s, as sugar was gaining a bad reputation for potentially causing heart disease, the sugar industry dished out money to Harvard University to fund Project 226, which resulted in a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, an internationally-known prestigious medical journal. The article blatantly placed the blame for heart disease on cholesterol and saturated fat, to detract attention away from sugar.As a result, the word on the street came out that eating less cholesterol and saturated fat would prevent coronary heart disease, which we know is not exactly the case, based on current evidence. Consequently, it was recommended to avoid butter and limit beef, pork, and other fatty animal products, while eating more unnatural fats such as margarine and low-fat foods, which are often laced with sugar.
Finally, although it took many years, we now know that the most effective way of lowering cholesterol quickly and preventing heart disease is by avoiding added sugars.
However, I do recommend avoiding artificial trans fats. Trans fats are naturally found in meat and dairy, but trans fats that come from hydrogenated oils can be harmful. In fact, the FDA is placing a ban on trans fats, and companies have until 2018 to rid them from food products.
I really have a sweet tooth. How can I satisfy it without eating too much sugar?
Instead of eating something sweet as a snack on its own, have it at the end of a meal. It won’t have as big of an effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Cut down gradually. Instead of cutting all sugar from your life, cut one thing at a time. Soda, then the lattes, etc.
Don’t punish yourself. If you want a small treat, have it. Otherwise you’ll crash. I eat a piece of dark chocolate every single day. But I don’t eat the whole bar.
The average calorie needs for women during lifespan:
19 to 25- 2,000 calories
26 to 50- 1,800 calories
Age 50 and up- 1,600 calories
19 to 25- 2,200 calories
26 to 50- 2,000 calories
Age 50 and up- 1,800 calories
19 to 30- 3,000 calories
31 to 60- 2,200 calories
Age 61 and up- 2,000 calories
Facebook Live Series #2: Total Pantry Clean-Up for Wellness, Key Ingredients
Have you ever heard the saying, “if you don’t want to eat the cookie, then put your hand in the cookie jar?” It’s best not to have the cookie jar at home in the first place!
Temptation is difficult, so if you want to eat healthy, it’s time to clean up the pantry and get rid of all the things you shouldn’t have in it.
And never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach… That leads to buying unnecessary and often naughty things.
Key ingredients that you should have in your pantry include:
Oil & vinegar
Clean up the oils. An absolute pantry essential is extra-virgin olive oil. Note that not all olive oils are created equal. If it doesn’t say “extra-virgin,” then stay away because it does not have the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil. Plus, it doesn’t taste as good. Keep a cheaper bottle for cooking and a nicer, more expensive one for salads
This makes a homemade vinaigrette super tasty! You can add as little or as much as you’d like.
Want to know how to make a quick, healthy, delicious homemade salad dressing and build a salad?
Something that most people struggle with is how to find a sweetener suitable for weight loss. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll find these alternative sweeteners to be a pretty sweet deal:
- Coconut sugar
- Stevia (Truvia is a brand name)
- Maple syrup
How to store vegetables and fruits properly
Leave fruits/veggies on the counter if they aren’t ripe enough. Make sure they are out of the packaging so they are able to “breathe.” To slow down the ripening process, put them in the fridge. Keep in mind that potatoes should never be refrigerated. It breaks down the starches which leaves them unpleasantly sweet and gritty. Tomatoes should be left at room temperature, as colder temps make them dull and mealy. Garlic should be left out as well.
Pasta, rice, and other grains
These carbs are often touted as the enemies of weight loss. However, there are some ways to make eating them less of a tragedy. First, make sure they are whole-grain. If the packaging doesn’t say “whole grain,” then they aren’t. Whole grain is important because it adds fiber which diminishes the effect on your blood sugar, which is better for losing weight.
Rice is not created equal. Rice with short, round grains have the highest amount of starch which negatively affects your blood sugar levels. On the other hand, rice with long, thin grains have less and are better for weight loss. Also, color matters. Brown or black rice is better than white rice. Also, sprouted rice is the best because it contains the most fiber.
Facebook Live Series #3: Sleep Better, De-stress, Slim Down, All at Once?
Sleep better, de-stress, slim down? All at once?.. Music to my ears. Join the convo!Posted by Dr. Carissa Alinat on Thursday, January 19, 2017
Stress, sleep, and weight are all connected. What happens to one will affect another…
When most people are stressed, they tend to overeat. This is because stress causes cortisol “the stress hormone” to rise in the body, which causes food cravings, in particular carbs, and it also accelerates fat storage, especially around the belly area. Stress also causes sleeping difficulties.
The same thing happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Cortisol levels rise, you crave junk food, you gain weight..
When we’re stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the “fight or flight response” in which our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (requiring more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict.
While in the pre-civilization world, the increased blood flow to our heart and muscles helped us escape from predators and dangerous situations, but we find ourselves in a very different position now. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between an approaching hungry tiger and a ticked off spouse or a particularly epic traffic jam, so our stress response is triggered when there’s no imminent danger. Instead of helping us to escape, this can contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension and headaches, as well as mental health concerns like depression and anxiety disorders. And of course, fat storage.
The good news? Just as we have a stress response, we also have a “relaxation response,” during which our breathing slows, our blood pressure decreases and we even use less oxygen.
In order to sleep better and lose weight, you need to de-stress FIRST. Sounds kinda hard to do during times like these right? Working, maybe taking care of kids, trying to keep an organized home, cooking, shopping, paying bills….
However, I am going to give you a few tips on how to de-stress RIGHT NOW.
- Sounds a little counter-intuitive right? When you’re tired and stressed, your instinct is probably to lay on the couch and watch TV right? Well, if you can just push yourself to get out of the house and go for a walk around your neighborhood, even if just for 10 minutes, I can guarantee you will feel better than you did before. In fact, you might not want to go back home. Especially if you have a bunch of needy kids to get back to right? Ha. Exercise is great for de-stressing because it increases endorphins (“the happiness hormone”). Ever heard of runner’s high? That’s what causes it.
- Meditation really helps you take charge of your nervous system and emotions. It is “mind over matter.” Studies have shown that meditation improves the ability to regulate emotions in the brain, permanently!
When I was working in research involving Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which involves various forms of meditation, I saw first-hand the effects it had on the body and the results were amazing. Not only does it help you relieve stress, but it also improves your concentration, it increases self-awareness, it encourages a healthy lifestyle, and it slows aging. Stress causes you to age faster, so cut down if you want to stay young.
- Electronics-free day. Sounds impossible? You would be shocked if you knew how many times you check your phone texts, email, social media, the news, etc. It’s such a major distraction during the day, which causes you to get less work done and then work piles up and stresses you out. Take 1 day off (maybe a Sunday) and have everyone in your house put all electronics for one day, take off to the beach (if you’re in FL) or skiing (if you’re up north) and learn to breathe and relax and de-clutter your mind.
Next are my tips for sleeping better…
- Get it all out. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed so that if you start to worry about things you need to do the next day, you can just write them down so you don’t worry about forgetting them, which will prevent you from getting a good nights’ sleep.
- Create a ritual. Do the same thing every night. Set a consistent bedtime, have some chamomile tea in bed, listen to music.. Consistency will help you.
- Avoid big meals, sugar, and alcohol before bed. Meals high in protein will have a negative impact on your sleep. The same goes for foods high in sugar, which includes alcohol. If you’re very hungry before bed time, have a small snack that is easy to digest.
- Avoid energy drinks and don’t drink caffeine after 4pm. Besides being loaded with sugar and nasty chemicals, energy drinks can obviously kill your sleep. It takes caffeine a long time to exit your body, so try not to have coffee, tea, or anything with caffeine after around 4pm.
By de-stressing and sleeping better, you’ll have an easier time losing weight. You’ll have more energy, you’ll be able to make better food choices, and you’ll have less cravings.
Facebook Live Series #4: What Exercise is Best? What Works, What Doesn’t?
What exercise is best? What works? What doesn't? These are the latest science based tips on working out and slimming down. Join me LIVE and ask questions. 😉🏃🏻♀️👙👍Posted by Dr. Carissa Alinat on Saturday, January 21, 2017
Years ago, when I first started working out, I really had no idea about what I was doing. But, I was working out and that made me feel good.
However, I was heavier than I am now (YES, it’s true! I gained 50 pounds with each of my first two pregnancies, and although some of the weight came off, I was consistently wearing a size 10). Now I am a size 2-4 depending on brand, but not through exercising a ton, just by exercising the smart way and eating the right foods.
Anyway, back then I was working out a lot but I wasn’t really seeing much of a difference. I was intimidated by all the gym equipment, was afraid I looked stupid and people would notice how my butt jiggled when I ran on the treadmill, etc. So I did the SAME thing every day. Didn’t try anything new.
Now I know that:
- You have to mix things up. If you keep doing the same thing and use the same muscles, your body gets used to it and doesn’t really change. I was also doing just cardio.
Well, I discovered that the magic formula for burning fat (besides through what you eat, because honestly I think that is more important), is a combination of cardio and weight resistance with core exercises. The cardio gets your heart pumping, the weight resistance helps build muscle, and the core exercises tone your belly area.
When I say cardio, I mean walking, running, swimming, chasing your kids, anything that gets your heart rate up.
When I say weight resistance, I mean lifting weights (or your kids) or using your own body weight, like push ups, squats, etc.
When I say core exercises, I mean weight resistance exercises that mainly use your abdominal muscles, like crunches and sit ups.
So by doing a combination of these exercises, you will burn calories and build muscle, which will increase your metabolism and burn fat.
2. ENJOY what you do. I’m not going to say one type of workout is better than another. Because if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re not going to stick to it. If you hate running, but run for cardio, that’s not going to last too long. Find exercises that you think are fun.
3. What I have found to be the most effective is to alternate cardio days with weight resistance days. For example, you go for a walk/run on M, W, F, and you do weight resistance on T, R, and Sat. Then have Sunday off.
If you do weight resistance two days in a row, only work your upper body on one day and then your lower body the next. This gives your muscles a little time to repair themselves and become stronger. The soreness you feel after a workout is because intense lifting causes microscopic tears to form in the fiber and connective tissue of muscles. People used to think it was from build up of lactic acid, but research shows that that’s not really the case.
Your body needs a little time to repair these tiny tears and make your muscles stronger. That’s also why it’s important to eat protein after a workout. Your body needs it to repair and build your muscle.
With that being said, ladies, don’t worry about building muscle and turning into a muscular beast. We just aren’t built that way, it’s not in our DNA.
A little side note on exercise and eating. Sometimes I hear people say, I am working out SO MUCH and I’m doing both cardio and weight resistance. I am not losing weight. When I hear this, I immediately ask, what have you been eating?
It usually turns out that because they’ve been exercising so much, they’ve been really hungry and have made up for those burned calories with new calories that they ate, usually in the form of snacking throughout the day.
Remember that when you burn calories, your body wants to make up for it. This is because of evolution. We have fat as stored energy, to use in times of crisis when there’s no food around.
However, we don’t need to store much fat anymore. We have a McDonalds on every corner. Starbucks with 900 calorie lattes. There’s food everywhere!
When you exercise a lot, you need to eat more protein to stay full longer, and you need to be cautious of snacking. Eat 3 solid meals a day. Enough so that you aren’t hungry between meals, but not so much that you feel stuffed. Some people think 5-6 smaller meals a day is better, but it’s kinda hard to know what “small meal” is, and it’s often not very effective. Also cut down on sugar to keep your blood sugar levels stable so you can burn fat.
4. Burn your own fuel before adding more in. One last thing, I am sure everyone has heard that you should eat carbs before a workout to give you more energy. However, your body best burns fat when you are in a fasted state, meaning you have not eaten, and your blood sugar levels are low. This is the most efficient state of being for burning fat.
5. I find that this is easiest to do first thing in the morning. You’ve been sleeping all night and haven’t eaten since last night’s dinner, probably not feeling super starving. You wake up, drink a big glass of water, and then do your workout. Then have breakfast. You’ll also be surprised at how much energy you have to work out.
Some people think they won’t have the energy to work out without eating first. But in the morning, as your cortisol levels rise after waking up, you should have a bit of a natural boost. I don’t find the same effect in the afternoon or evening.
Facebook Live Series #5: How to Cook FORBIDDEN Foods!
This might possibly be the BEST Facebook Live video I have!
First of all, I brought in a very special guest, my French Chef husband, Chef Gui! Who happens to be an expert at cooking healthy delicious meals. He’s not too hard on the eyes, either ; )
I am sure you have heard that pasta, rice, and potatoes are a no-no for weight loss. They kinda are, BUT there are some ways to get around it.
1. Choose the right type of potatoes. Instead of buying the big, bulky potatoes (the ones you use for ‘baked potatoes’), buy smaller, waxy potatoes and leave the skins on. Smaller potatoes have more fiber per cubic area because there is a higher skin versus starch ratio. The skin of potatoes is what adds fiber. Your body can’t digest fiber, so it’s good for weight loss.
2. Choose the right type of rice. Rice is not created equal. Rice with short, round grains (such as arborio rice) have the highest amount of starch which negatively affects your blood sugar levels. On the other hand, rice with long, thin grains (such as basmati rice) have less and are better for weight loss. Also, color matters. Brown or black rice is better than white rice. Also, sprouted rice is the best because it contains the most fiber.
3. Choose the right type of pasta. Make sure it says “whole grain” on the packaging. Whole grain pasta has more fiber, which is better for weight loss.
4. Boil Hard in Plenty of Water. Bring the water to a big, rolling boil before adding in the pasta, rice, or potatoes. Also, cook in plenty of water. Starch will exit the food and needs a place to go.
5. Cook “Al-Dente.” Cooking pasta “al-dente” means cooking it for the shortest amount of time. It should say how many minutes on the packaging.
6.Rinse pasta. Rinsing pasta under cold water after cooking will remove some of the extra starch. Just don’t tell your Italian grandmother what you did 😉
7. Cook and Chill. After cooking pasta, potatoes, or rice, chill them in the refrigerator. Serve as a cold potato or pasta salad, or add cold rice to a garden salad. When you eat them cold, they have less of an effect on your blood sugar levels, which helps with weight loss. Also, even if you cook and then chill, and then cook again, it is still beneficial. The reason for this is because the molecular structure of the starch changes.
8. Add More Fiber. Toss in some spinach, kale, asparagus, or other fiber-rich vegetables. Unshelled nuts such as walnuts or pine nuts are also a great addition.
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