In the Everyday Roots Book I begin the chapter on weight loss by stating that I believe there are only two ways to truly manage weight, through exercising and eating healthy. There simply is no magic shortcut, and while this may seem obvious to some people it is overlooked far, far, too often. Now you’re probably wondering, if diet and exercise are the only ways to lose weight, why did you write this list? Because there are still natural remedies and recipes that will help you reach your ultimate goal. If you use these in addition to eating better and getting some exercise, they can speed up the process. There are many different contributing factors to losing/gaining weight, so the below remedies cover a wide range.
Before you go on you should have a simple understanding of the process your body goes through when dropping the pounds. Fat (along with protein and carbohydrates) is stored energy, plain and simple. Calories are the unit that is used to measure the potential energy in said fats, carbs, and proteins. Your body will convert fat to usable energy through a series of chemical processes, and any excess energy (calories) that you don’t need will be stored away. To lose weight, you must expend more energy (or calories) than you take in. When you are using more than you taking in, your body draws on stored fat to convert it to energy, which makes the fat cells shrink. It doesn’t disappear; it simply changes form, like water to steam. While this is the basic process, you also have to take into account genetic and environmental factors. How well the above process takes place does vary from person to person.
1. Cinnamon Tea
Blood sugar has a direct impact on your weight as it affects how hungry and how energetic you are (if you have energy you’re much more likely to exercise!)
If your blood sugar is balanced you are less likely to have a disproportionally large appetite, and your body will be more apt to use fat (energy) rather than storing it.
While debate about its effectiveness drags on, more and more preliminary studies are coming out showing that cinnamon can help manage blood sugar levels, so why not whip up a spicy cinnamon tea?
You will need… -1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon -1 cinnamon stick -8 ounces of fresh water
Directions Place the cinnamon in a mug and cover with 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes before straining. Drinking 1-2 times a day.
2. Green Tea & Ginger
Green tea has long been debated as a weight loss aid, and more research is needed to confirm or deny how well it works. While some studies have turned up nothing, others have identified three main components in green tea that could help manage weight-caffeine, catechins, and theanine. Caffeine is just an overall boost to your system, and speeds up a number of bodily processes, including metabolism related to weight (technically speaking, metabolism refers to any and all biological processes in a living organism needed to sustain life.)
Catechins are considered anti-oxidant flavonoids, and are superior in green tea rather than black tea due to a difference in processing (black tea is fermented.) While the mechanism is yet to be determined, in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that catechins can help lower the absorption of lipids (fats) via the intestinal track. Theanine is an amino acid in green tea that can encourage the release of dopamine, the chemical that makes you “happy” and relaxed. If you tend to eat due to stress, this may be useful. It also counters the caffeine so you don’t get all jittery. The ginger added to green tea will help improve digestion and add a little flavor-no sugar or milk in this tea!
You will need… -1/2 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped OR ½ teaspoon ground ginger -1 teaspoon of green tea -8 ounces of fresh water -Raw, organic honey (optional)
Directions Place green tea and ginger in a strainer or sieve and cover with 8 ounces of boiling water. Steeping green tea for too long can leave it with a bitter taste, so don’t exceed 3-4 minutes. You can stir in a little raw honey if you really need to sweeten it, but avoid milk or sugar at all costs. Drink 1-2 cups daily on an empty stomach.
3. Rose Petal Water
The benefits of rose petal water are backed more by anecdotal evidence than anything, but that’s no reason to shrug off this mild yet refreshing drink. Rose petals act as a very gentle diuretic. Diuretics encourage your kidneys to put more sodium (salt) into your urine. This excess salt in turn draws water from your blood, decreasing the amount of water in your circulatory system. This is not “permanent” weight loss-just water weight-but the action encourages you to drink more and keep your system flushed clean and hydrated. Staying hydrated, believe it or not, can be hugely beneficial to losing weight.
You will need… -Handful of fresh or dried rose petals -Distilled water (roughly 1-2 cups) -A pot with a tightly fitting lid Note: Be sure, especially if using fresh rose petals, that they have not been treated with any sort of chemical (insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.)
Directions Place the pot on the stove, put in the rose petals, and add just enough distilled water to completely cover them. If some float to the top it’s not a big deal. Cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid and simmer until the petals lose most of their color, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the liquid into a glass jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Drink about ½-1 cup every morning on an empty stomach.
Ginseng is any one of 11 perennial plants with fleshy roots belonging to the genus Panax. While there are different kinds of ginseng, the two that you should use –also the ones that have had the most controlled double-blind studies done on them-are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng.) While widely known as a stimulant to speed up a sluggish metabolism, that description doesn’t do it justice. Ginseng’s greatest quality is that it can help fight fatigue and boost energy as well as mental alertness (in a randomized double-blind study in 2010 290 cancer patients at the Mayo Clinic were given ginseng daily and it was found to fight even the crippling fatigue caused by chemotherapy.) This is huge when it comes to weight loss-without energy, it’s hard to exercise. Without exercise, it’s near impossible to lose weight-at least in a healthy way. In addition to boosting energy, there is tentative evidence that it can help manage blood sugar, which also affects energy levels as well as appetite.
You will need… -1 teaspoon of chopped American or Korean ginseng -8 ounces of fresh water -raw honey/lemon to taste (optional)
Directions Roughly chop the root and measure out 1 teaspoon per cup of water. Bring water to a boil and then pour over the ginseng, allowing it to steep for 5-9 minutes. Strain, add honey or lemon if you like, and drink 1-2 times daily.
5. Dandelion and Peppermint
Dandelion and peppermint tea is a fabulous drink that will help keep your liver healthy. The liver is an incredible organ. Not only is it the only way to truly detoxify your body, it is also plays a central role in many metabolic processes-a lot of which affect weight. In terms of fat metabolism, the liver is full of cells that break down fats and turn them into usable energy. These cells are also responsible for the flow of bile, which helps breakdown and absorb fats. In the metabolism of carbohydrates, the liver helps keep your blood sugar steady, therefore keeping energy levels up and regulating appetite. The list goes on, but the point is helping your liver helps your weight, as it plays a crucial role in managing fats and their absorption. Dandelion and peppermint both help your liver. Dandelion has hepatoprotection constituents, with hepatoprotection meaning an ability to prevent damage to the liver. Peppermint and dandelion both automatically stimulate the production of bile in the liver, helping with digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Mix these two together, and you have a powerful liver protecting tea!
You will need… -1 teaspoon of dried dandelion leaves -1 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves -8 ounces of boiling water -Lemon to taste (optional)
Directions Pour a cup of boiling water over the dandelion and peppermint and steep, covered, for 5-10 minutes. Strain, add lemon to taste if you like, and drink a cup twice daily. You can also make this with fresh dandelion leaves/roots and fresh peppermint, just use a rough handful of the fresh leaves for the amount. If you do use fresh, be absolutely certain that there have been no chemicals applied to them- this is especially important for dandelion. If you use dandelion on a regular basis, I suggest growing your own.
6. Sip on Sage
We live in a hectic world, and most of us are stressed about one thing or another on a daily basis. The thing is, our bodies weren’t made to handle constant stress, and it can have damaging effects on a wide variety of functions-including weight gain/loss. When under stress, the body releases cortisol, a steroid hormone that is part of the fight-or-flight response. Cortisol can effect blood sugar level (therefore appetite), and cause energy to be stored more readily as fat. Neuropeptide Y is a neurochemical that is also related to stress. When released, it causes growth of fat tissue (energy is stored easily as fat around the abdomen) as well as an increase in appetite. One way to fight this underlying stress can be to ingest more sage, which has calming effects on both the body and mind. Making a calming sage tea, or even just adding it in dishes you cook, is one way to help combat your stress levels.
You will need… -A handful of fresh sage OR 2 teaspoons of dried sage -8 ounces of boiling water -Lemon to taste (optional)
Directions Pour boiling water over sage and steep for 4-5 minutes. Strain, add lemon to taste if you like, and drink 1-2 times daily.
7. Chew Gum
Chewing gum is a great way to trick your brain (and your stomach) into thinking it’s getting more than it is. The flavor of the gum reduces appetite and curbs the urge to snack on something unhealthy, and also stimulates the flow of saliva, whose enzymes help break down starches and fats.
You will need… -1 piece of natural sugar free gum
Directions When you feel the need to start munching, pop in a piece of gum instead.
8. Have a Routine (and stick to it)
Having a routine is, in my opinion, in the top three most important things you can do to lose weight, right up there with exercise and diet. If you don’t stick to a routine, you won’t see results, and you’ll be discouraged. Several years ago I saw a personal trainer and, after paying a decent sum of money, I figured out that it was the routine of going to see her made the biggest difference. It’s probably the single hardest thing you’ll do when you try to lose weight, but once those habits become hardwired into your brain, things will only get easier.
9. Just Add Water
Staying hydrated is an important aspect of weight loss that people often brush off-you don’t want to gain water weight and feel bloated right? Either that or you hear that you should drink ice cold water to burn more calories. Not exactly. The idea that ice cold water burns more calories because your body tries to “warm it up” first may technically be true, but the effect is miniscule (like 8 calories miniscule.) Rather, you need to be hydrated for your body to run smoothly, and that includes burning fat. It flushes bad stuff through your system, and also helps curb appetite. And don’t fret about water weight-if you are staying hydrated, your body is less likely to retain water since it simply doesn’t have the need to-similar to how eating more can make weight loss easier, within reason. I should also say-DO NOT BUY INTO SPECIALTY WATERS! Get your vitamins through your diet or supplements. Those waters are not better for you-in fact some are so loaded with flavoring and what not they rival soda.
You will need… -8 ounces of fresh water
Directions Drink at least 8 cups of fresh water every day.
10. Coconut Oil (as a replacement fat)
In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, saturated fats got shoved into the spotlight as the main cause for obesity. Coconut oil, being a saturated fat, was tossed along with the rest of them. The healthier alternative that we created? Trans-fat. One could say that backfired a wee bit eh? Coconut oil isn’t just any old saturated fat though; it contains unique fats called medium chain triglycerides that help you use energy (aka calories) more efficiently. MCT’s are indeed a saturated fat, but they are not the same as many of the other saturated fats we hear about-those fats are long chain triglycerides. Why does the length matter? Its chemical makeup is what determines how our body processes it and breaks it down. MCT’s are not broken down in the intestines, and therefore do not get stored away immediately as fat. Instead, they absorbed intact and sent right to the liver, where they are used as energy. Now sitting around eating coconut oil isn’t going to make you lose weight, but using it as a replacement fat can be a good choice. In addition to that, just plain coconut oil is an incredible appetite suppressant (it’s almost scary, actually.) Tack on that it can raise energy levels and you are more likely to get out, move around, and exercise.
As far as studies on it go, here are some that I mentioned in The Everyday Roots Book. In 2002 the Journal of Nutrition concluded that it can aid weight loss when used in place of long chain triglycerides. It was also shown to strongly curb appetite and it appeared to increase the burning of calories. In 2003 Obesity Research found that it may help burn calories, probably due to the fact that it boosted energy. In 2010 the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition also found that it could help boost metabolism and reduce appetite.
You will need… -2 tablespoons of good virgin cold-pressed coconut oil
Directions Twice a day, take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. You can take it before, during, or after a meal. If you tend to struggle with proportions, I suggest taking it before you eat, or if dessert is your demon, take it right after dinner. In terms of substitution I’ve used it in place of olive oil and love it.
11. Plain Yogurt and Honey
This is an awesome breakfast/snack. It’s one of those “I wouldn’t guess this is good for me!” type foods. The probiotics in yogurt do wonders for the digestive track and maintains a healthy balance of gut flora that optimizes digestion and the breakdown of certain substances (like fat.) When you digestive track is running smoothly, your body is processing things better and it’s not as likely to pack on the pounds. The honey is just a little added (healthy) sweetness to satisfy any cravings you might have. The beautiful thing here is that you really don’t feel like you’re getting shorted any flavor or fullness when you eat it. For optimum weight-loss awesomeness, try low fat yogurt.
Note: There was once a time when certain large companies began to add so much sugar to their yogurt the amounts surpassed those found in sugary breakfast cereal, like Lucky Charms. People were gobbling it up and wondering how it could be so tasty and good for you, when really the image and wholesomeness of yogurt was simply being abused. Read the nutrition label first.
You will need… -1/2-1 cup of plain (not vanilla) yogurt -1 tablespoon of organic raw honey, or to taste
Directions Eat this for a snack or breakfast, adding on the honey for flavor. Feel free to try adding fresh fruit or even oats for a little variety.
12. Get Enough Sleep
Our body is a cohesive unit, a complex system, not just individual parts. Everything has to be working harmoniously for things to be balanced and correct-like your weight. Studies have shown that even just a little bit of sleep deprivation over the short time frame of 4 nights results in increased insulin resistance, and essentially ages the metabolism 10-20 years in that time frame. The fat cells sensitivity to insulin dropped by 30% to levels usually seen in people who were obese or diabetic. By getting the right amount of sleep, you’re doing more than just resting your body-you’re ensuring that all systems are go, and that you have the best chance possible to succeed at losing weight.
13. Black Pepper and Lemon Juice
This spicy little concoction contains black pepper and lemon juice to create a drink that can help you keep ahead on your weight loss battle. Black pepper contains a naturally occurring chemical compound called piperine, which is responsible for giving it its pungent flavor. Several new studies have shown that piperine can interfere with the genes that control the generation of fat cells, as well as reducing fat levels in the blood stream and enhancing the absorption of nutrients from our foods. Lemon juice can help aid in digestion and give your G.I. track a helping hand when it comes to breaking down foods.
You will need… -Several sprinkles of freshly ground black pepper -Juice of half a lemon -Fresh water
Directions Mix lemon juice with water and sprinkle in black pepper (about 3-4 turns of the pepper grinder.) Drink once daily after a meal.
14. Bottle Gourd Juice
Bottle gourds are old-world hard-shelled fruits that anecdotal evidence suggests can help you lose weight. People who swear by it find that, due to its high fiber content, it creates a sensation of fullness and curbs appetite. It also has high water content (always a good thing) and has a number of great nutrients. If you do decide to drink bottle gourd juice, do not do so in such a way that you use it to “starve” yourself (see below.) Your body needs all the (good) food and nutrients it needs to maintain a balanced diet, however, it’s a great way to help resist cravings and potential snacking sprees!
You will need… -1 cup of bottle gourd juice, chilled -A little lime juice
Directions When you feel the urge to snack, drink a glass of cold bottle gourd juice with a dash of lime juice added.
15. Eat More (and figure out why you’re eating in the first place)
Deprivation never works. It is a painful struggle that will almost always result in failure. Instead of starving your body of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, eat “more” good stuff. Break your meals down to 5 or 6 small ones a day to reduce snacking (which is when a good chunk of weight gain takes place for a lot of people) and to prevent your body from storing more fat-which is does when it feels “starved.” Also ask yourself why you’re eating in the first place-we so often eat out of boredom or nerves or stress. Wait until you feel a rumble and let your stomach tell you when it needs to eat.
16. Apple Snacks
An apple a day keeps the weight at bay! While not overflowing with nutrients like other fruits or vegetables, apples still have a number of benefits that can contribute to weight loss. First, they are packed with fiber, which helps curb appetite, so eat one when you feel the urge to snack on some less-desirable foods. Second, they can help regulate blood sugar levels, and therefore help regulate your appetite and energy levels. Third, the pectin in apples can lower cholesterol, and serve as another way to help regulate blood sugar, by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates. Finally, apples are a naturally low-sodium food, which can help prevent excess water retention and water weight.
You will need… -1-2 fresh apples
Directions Rinse and slice an apple, and eat one to two daily. Leave the skin on, as that contains a good amount of fiber.
17. Add in More Asparagus
Pay attention to seasonal fruits and vegetables, and pounce on the asparagus when it comes along. Asparagus is nutrient dense and, like apples, contains a lot of fiber to help curb appetite. It also contains a host of vitamins that work together to metabolize blood glucose, therefore regulate blood sugar. If you find yourself feeling puffy or bloated, asparagus is a mild diuretic that can help reduce bloating and leave you feeling your best. Try eating asparagus steamed on the side of your favorite dishes-this vegetable doesn’t need much to make it taste good
You will need… -1 bunch of asparagus -some water
Directions Wash the asparagus and lightly peel the stems if they are thick. Place in a pan with ½-1 inch of water, and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Turn the heat to medium high and steam for 3 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.
18. Put Your Fork or Spoon Down Between Bites
Your brain lags behind your stomach by roughly 20 minutes, which ,means that it isn’t the best thing to rely on when it comes to letting your know when you’re full. To avoid over-eating, and thus consuming extra un-needed calories, slow down your eating by putting your fork or spoon down between bites. You might feel a little silly at first, but it can really help when it comes to managing your weight.
19. Snack on Flax
Flax seed has been known to help with digestive ailments for centuries, and this goes hand in hand with weight loss. Flax seeds are high in fiber, as well as mucilage, which helps lower cholesterol. It has also been proven to lower blood sugar levels. With such a high amount of fiber, flax seeds also act as a natural gentle way to regulate bowel movements and help promote healthy gut bacteria, both which work well to help you manage weight. It is important to eat flaxseed ground, as it tends to pass through the digestive track undigested if eaten whole, thus depriving you of its nutritional benefits.
You will need… -1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
Directions Once a day eat a tablespoon of ground flaxseed-sprinkling it over cereal or oatmeal if my personal preference.
20. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle contains active flavonoid compounds collectively known as simirilyn. Simalrilyn helps to protect the liver which is a vital organ when it comes to managing weight and encouraging weight loss. When your liver is bogged down and sluggish, weight loss can be slowed by up to 30%*. The simarilyn in milk thistle can help reverse this. There are several ways to take milk thistle, however I recommend a capsule form (make sure the source is reliable) or as a tincture, since milk thistle does not impart its benefits when steeped in water (such as when made into a tea.)
You will need… -Milk thistle capsules or tincture
Directions Follow Directions on the packaging for dosage.
21. Go Ahead, Eat That Chocolate
Remember deprivation hardly works? When you get the urge for a sweet treat, turn to dark chocolate. It will help curb your craving thanks to its insulin-resistance lowering flavonoids. The healthy fats in dark chocolate can also slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, preventing “insulin spikes.” Studies have shown that eating some can help put a stop to cravings for sugar, salt, and fat. However, the chocolate must be 70% cocoa, otherwise it has too much milk or sugar added to be beneficial.
You will need… -70% dark chocolate
Directions Directly after a meal, eat a piece of dark chocolate roughly the size of your thumb to glean its benefits.
22. Join the Navy… Beans
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you…lose weight? Apparently, since the protein in navy beans can take a while to digest, therefore reducing appetite and aiding in weight loss management. The fiber in navy beans can also help lower cholesterol.
You will need… -1 cup of dried navy beans -3 cups of water
Directions Prepare the navy beans by adding 3 cups of fresh water to a pot for each cup of dried beans, so that the liquid level is about 1-2 inches about the beans. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. Skim off any foam that develops, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours until tender. Add to a salad or enjoy as a dish on its own.
When you’re trying to figure out how to lose weight, know that there really is no magic thing that works for everyone. Yes, diet and exercise are vital, but people are different, bodies are different, and you have to take into account things such as genetics, health conditions, gender, and age. You might be glaring at your co-worker chowing down on donuts at the office while you pick at a salad and wonder how they manage to stay so fit when they eat whatever they want-but don’t let this drag you down. The journey is different for everyone, but there is always a way to complete it. And when in doubt, simplify the situation-eat good food, get proper exercise. We’ve turned eating and weight loss into a science that delves into such minuscule things we feel like we aren’t capable of eating right or losing weight without professional help. Assuming you have no outstanding condition that complicates the situation, you can reach your goals on your own! It may be difficult, but hey, that’s where things like these remedies can lend a helping hand.
Weight Loss Tips
-Weight isn’t everything. Muscle does weigh more than fat, and being fit and healthy is more important than being incredibly “thin.” Healthy looks good on you, and don’t forget it!
-Never underestimate stress as a cause of weight gain. The body cannot perform any function, including burning fat for energy, optimally when under stress.
-There are no super-foods. Don’t rely on one thing to help you lose weight-always maintain a balanced diet.
-Don’t eat before bed. Your metabolism slams on the brakes when you go to sleep, so eating at night makes weight gain tough to avoid.
-Get a buddy to make goals that the two of you strive towards. When you lose willpower or motivation, a friend can be all that stands between success and setback.
-Read a book called Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us In by New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss. Just do it. It will give you something new and tangible to hold onto when you are trying to avoid junk food. At the risk of sounding corny, it actually changed my life.
-Along the lines of the first tip-manage your weight to be healthy, and ultimately, happy. Ignore images of perfect figures. Forget about the silly things society bombards you with, telling you what you should look like. To say that’s easier said than done is the understatement of the century, but do try to keep it in mind. When you are healthy, and happy, you truly glow from the inside out.
Claire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything 🙂 Meet Claire
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