WHAT IS WEIGHT LOSS?
To put it simply, weight loss is the loss of body weight when calorie consumed is LESS than calories used. Calorie IN < Calorie OUT.
On average, to burn 0.5kg of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories. That is less 500 calories a day over 7 days. To burn off this extra 500 calories, you can eat less 250 calories (1.5 bowl of plain rice) and burn 250 calories from exercise (30 mins of running at 5 mph). Ideally, you would want to lose fats and not muscles, so it is important to do some light weight exercise. The healthy rate of weight loss recommended by Health Promotion Board Singapore is 0.5kg per week.
0.5kg fat loss = Need to burn 3500 cals.
TCM does not treat “excess weight” per se, rather it deals with the underlying body condition that may have led to the excess weight. Once the body’s balance is restored, the metabolism will process food properly and excess weight should no longer be a problem provided correct foods are eaten in moderate quantities. TCM takes a holistic approach to obesity and not a spot reduction method.When you eat too much sweet, fatty and processed food, the Spleen gets damaged. It will fail to move and transform waste fluids and foods. Instead these excess wastes will gather, collect and transform into dampness which will congeal into phlegm and become fat.
WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT ALL ABOUT SALAD
I believe for most of you, the first thing that comes into mind when going on diet is the “S” word- SALAD.
Low cal-easy-simple- healthy-slightly pricey-salad. And yes, salad is good but not very good for your body if you are eating it 2 times a day , 7 days a week. Especially if you are Yang deficient (always feeling cold is the most common signs). Many of my patients experience bloating or even loose stool when they overdo the whole salad diet. In these types of cases, I recommend them to eat grilled or steamed cooked vegetables and add in some ginger or pepper if they still want to eat salad. The warm properties of ginger and pepper will help to balance out the cold nature of the salad.
What if you are not the Yang deficient type? Then what?
In TCM, weight loss (or treatment of “obesity” as stated in books) is catagorised into 5 different types.
To find out which catagory you belong to and what food to eat, click on the box below to get your customized food therapy tips.
I’M EATING LESS BUT NOT LOSING WEIGHT!
I hear you. It’s a common frustration that I often encounter from patients. Perhaps, the key to weight loss may not be simply eating less and exercising more. After months of acupuncture and dietary advice, some have hit a plateau which can be very stressful and demotivating to them. We hit this plateau because the body doesn’t like change. Usually it is easy to lose the first 10% of the body weight but beyond that point the body goes “What? I still need to lose more? I’m already 10% off, you want me to lose more? I’m worth more than that!!”
Body goes to panic mode and tweaks its already complicated system to keep the weight as stable as possible.
As TCM sees it, weight loss is not just about the body. The whole mind, body and soul ( I call it the MBS) need to believe that the body will be better losing a little bit more weight.
After much convincing and calming the body, it rethinks and goes ” Ok, maybe you’re right, I’m ready for round 2 of the mini weight loss now”.
This is only then, the body will say “Let it go” to the unwanted fats.
If all fails, there are some other factors that might be stopping you from blasting those fats.
1) Nutritional imbalances
You can eat too many calories and too few nutrients. And we know that vitamins and minerals are crucial to process all those empty calories. Low nutritional status leads to a poorly functioning metabolism. With bi-weekly acupuncture treatment, it can improve your digestive system and balance your appetite hormones. Together with nutrition consulting, it can often help reset your metabolism.
2) Gut microbiome imbalances
We have over 1,000 species of bacteria in our gut and they out number our own cells by over 10 times. And we know that the bacteria in our gut can have profound effects on weight and metabolism. Here are some simple steps you can take on your own to cultivate a healthy microbiome flora.
a) Eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods.
b) Eat high fibre food because they are food (prebiotics) for the gut bacteria.
c) Eat good fats such as omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil. Add some coconut in your diet as studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits from adding Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oils which are present in coconut oil.
d) Eat probiotics supplements or fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso which also contain good source of probiotics.
3) Inflammation and toxins
In this world, we are constantly surrounded by chemicals and radiations. These environmental toxins called obesogens are known to promote weight gain which may affect your metabolism, your hormones, and your brain function. In order to eliminate exposure, you can eat clean, organic animal products by choosing grass-fed animals that haven’t been exposed to hormones or antibiotics. Stop eating mercury in big fish such as tuna and swordfish. Drink clean water, go to the toilet every day, sweat often and limit alcohol. Moreover, personalised TCM herbs can assist in strengthening the body’s natural detox channels such as liver, kidney and colon to invigorate your body inside out.
4) Hormonal imbalances
Thyroid function plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight and we understand that those with hypothyroidism find it difficult to lose weight. Your thyroid needs including selenium, zinc, iodine and omega-3 fats to run at its optimum. Eat right for your thyroid. Limit soybeans, raw kale, and other raw cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, which might contain thyroid-blocking compounds called goitrogens. It is ok to eat it they are cooked.
a) Eat a hormone-balancing diet, which is low in sugar, high in good fats, and high in fibre, can help balance hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin.
b) Bulk up on fibre. Ground flaxseeds provide optimal fibre and lignans, which balance hormones. Sprinkle two tablespoons onto cereals or yogurt.
c) Get moving. Exercise helps balance hormones, reducing oestrogen and increasing testosterone, which helps you lose fat and build muscle.
The bottom line is: Eat real whole food, eat very little sugar and refined carbs.
HOW ACUPUNCTURE CAN HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS?
Acupuncture is not used to “poke” your fats away. Acupuncture works in a holistic way, meaning that it is not a spot reduction treatment. It has a cumulative effect on your whole body to reduce cravings and appetite, and stimulate and balance your hunger hormones.
The theory behind acupuncture’s weight loss effects can be complicated. Needling is said to increase levels of endorphins and serotonin in the blood, chemicals that suppress appetite and speed up fat loss.
Endorphin is the chemical produced from the brain during physical exertion. Heard of the “runner’s high”? That’s the effect of endorphin to combat physical stress and pain. When you are getting acupuncture, your body is in a slight physical pain hence endorphin is produced.
On the other hand, serotonin is nature’s own appetite suppressant. This powerful chemical in the brain will shut off our appetite to reach out for the 2nd donut, leaving us satisfied even if we only ate a little bite.
The acupuncture points used are based on theories in Traditional Chinese medicine, which hold that stimulating some spots on the body will redirect the flow of qi, or energy. For example, pressing the “hunger point” on the ear can potentially suppress one’s desire for food, while other acupuncture points on the body are used to balance your digestive activities.
HOW MASSAGE CAN HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS?
When you go for a massage. the motion of massage creates friction and warms the skin. This heat stimulates microcirculation, which helps to metabolise the fat to be burnt.
The mechanical movement of the massage will stimulate the connective tissue which invigorates the flow of lymph due to compression of blood vessels. To be specific, it stimulates the lymph system in gastrointestinal tract which absorbs fats from the intestine and transports them to the liver. The liver is our main fat burning organ for processing.
So, in order for proper function, they must be kept in tip top shape. If the body cannot clear the waste, this causes fat to accumulate in the abdomen.
Other than fats, lymph system helps to get rid of excess water, cellular waste, bacteria and toxins out of the body
WHY EAT LOW CARBOHYDRATES?
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and it is the easiest for the body to burn. By restricting our carbohydrate intake, our blood insulin is lowered and forces our body to burn our fats instead. However, this does not happen over night so a gradual decrease of carbs overtime is recommended. Eat less or none of simple carbohydrates such as white bread, donuts, sweets, cakes and swap them for small amount of sweet potato, sweet corn, lotus and beans instead. Trust me, your body will thank you for it.
Imagine the body as an operating system. For it to function at its optimum, it needs proper resources and signalling. In our body, that translates to proper nutrients and exercise. By having the right nutrients, essential minerals and vitamins, and exercise for your physical body and brain, the body’s metabolism will be boosted.
More horse power, more fat burning power!
To kick start your diet, find out your body type and get your 5 TCM Weight Loss Tips today.
Thank you for reading 🙂