How to Achieve an Optimal, Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight comes down to eating a healthy diet, getting your body into motion and taking the time to get plenty of sleep! That may sound easy enough, but if you’ve ever tried to lose weight only to hit roadblock after roadblock despite eating the right foods, exercising and catching up on your Zs, finding a “healthy weight” can be frustrating. If that sounds like you, read on. We’re going to address a number of factors associated with a healthy weight, including proper nutrition, sleep, exercise and lifestyle factors. We’ll also discuss the importance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) in weight maintenance and why you should be including health-supporting proteins such as collagen in your diet.
The Right Diet for Weight Loss
When we say “diet,” we don’t mean a quick fix eating program, counting calories or worrying about fat. We mean a long-term lifestyle as it relates to food. The best approach for maintaining a healthy weight include a balanced intake of clean protein, vegetables and healthy fats. It’s also just as important to pay attention to your gut health. If you’re scratching your head and wondering how to make all this work in your life, don’t worry, we’ll explain.
Health Benefits of Protein
First off, protein is absolutely crucial for healthy weight maintenance. Protein fills you up in a way that carbohydrates and fat do not, so getting a good amount of protein may help you avoid experiencing hunger and, later, overeating. Additionally, protein contributes to muscle growth, which is key for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Muscle mass can help you maintain an efficient metabolism.
There are many forms of protein to consider. Collagen is a protein that’s often missing from our modern diets, as it is present primarily in the connective tissues, such as the bones, joints, skin and cartilage. Getting this nourishing protein into your diet can not only help keep you full, but will also promote the health of your hair, skin, nails, bones and joints.
Whole-food proteins can also be found in substantial qualities in animal meats, and in more moderate amounts in eggs, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. It’s a good idea to intersperse all manner of proteins in your diet because different types of proteins have slightly different amino acid profiles… In other worse, other than animal meats, most proteins are not “complete.” Consuming collagen, animal meats and plant proteins will give you the most diverse array of nutritious proteins possible, ensuring you fill up on “the good stuff” and don’t get hungry later.
Health Benefits of Vegetables
Of course, there’s more to maintaining a healthy weight than just eating protein. A balanced diet also includes a colorful array of vegetables. Vegetables tend to be lower in sugar than fruits, and therefore are a better option if you’re trying to clean up your diet.
When it comes to vegetables, feel free to eat the rainbow. Vegetables of different colors contain different phytonutrients, so eating green, red, yellow, orange and purple veggies will ensure you’re supporting your health with all of the nutrients you need. Here are a few vitamins and minerals to make sure you have in your diet:
- Calcium: If you thought the only source of calcium was dairy milk, think again! Calcium is crucial for skeletal health, which you’ll need if you’re going to exercise and be active. Look for calcium in leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is found primarily in animal products, though it can also be obtained in the form of beta carotene in plants. Beta carotene converts to Vitamin A, though some studies debate whether or not this is effective. Vitamin A is important for the health of the eyes and the skin, and also has a strong antioxidant effect.
- B-group Vitamins: B vitamins are fantastic for providing energy, as they are required for the basic functioning of the cells. They help convert glucose into energy (great for workouts) and also help promote the healthy development of the cells. This is why one of the B group vitamins, folate, is so essential for pregnant women. Foods rich in B vitamins include animal meats, fish, eggs and whole grains.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system, but it goes even further than that. Vitamin C aids in collagen synthesis, so it’s crucial for the production of that important protein. Healthy collagen production is important for ensuring the joints, ligaments and tendons stay strong and supple so you can power through your workouts as you look to maintain a healthy weight.
- Fiber: Finally, fiber is an incredibly important part of healthy weight maintenance. In fact, one study found that regardless of the weight loss method used (low-carb or low-fat), the only true predictor of long-term weight loss was increased fiber intake. Why is fiber so important? It helps to promote regular digestion and elimination, helps keep you full and may play an important role in gut health (more on that in a minute).
Health Benefits of Fats
Don’t fall for the outdated idea that dietary fat will make you gain weight. In fact, studies show that a high-fat, lower-carbohydrate diet is more effective than a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet in promoting weight loss. And furthermore, limiting your consumption of fats can result in unwanted consequences, as fats are responsible for the production of hormones as well as satiety (one’s level of satisfaction after eating a meal).
However, there’s more to fats than the question of whether they’re good or bad. Here are the three main types of fats in your diet.
Monounsaturated fats are probably what you think of when you hear “healthy” fats. Some examples include nuts, olive oil and avocados. And in fact, these are extremely healthy additions to your diet, as they have been shown in studies to promote cardiovascular health: A Mediterranean-style diet, which tends to be high in monounsaturated fats from nuts and olive oils as well as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, has been proven in studies to have a major positive impact on cardiovascular health.
Next up are polyunsaturated fats. Probably the trickiest of all fats, polyunsaturated fats can be of the most or least healthy. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, when chosen wisely, can be beneficial for good health and optimal weight. Polyunsaturated fats are very fragile and break down when exposed to too much heat, air or light. A few examples of less-than-healthy polyunsaturated fats that are almost always broken down by the time they hit the store shelf are corn, canola and soybean oils. Be careful of those as you’ll want to minimize consuming these oils. On the flip side, walnuts, fish oil and flaxseed oil are very good sources of this polyunsaturated fat, and provided they’re not heated, can aid our body in supporting a healthy inflammatory response and improving memory.
Finally, saturated fat is another whole and healthy component to include in your diet. New science shows that the fear we used to experience over saturated fats may not be warranted: One study found that increased fat intake had no impact on longevity, regardless of the type of fat consumed. Saturated fats are a great option for cooking, because they’re stable at high temperatures. Cooking with coconut oil or organic butter, therefore, can be an ideal way to saute your veggies. And don’t be afraid to eat eggs - yolk and all!
Finally, as you embark on your healthy eating journey, you may want to consider some additional supplements:
- Probiotics: The term “gut health” refers to the colony of healthy bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract. We need a healthy population of bacteria to thrive, which has led many to supplement with probiotics. Our Dark Chocolate & Blackberry and Mixed Berry Collagen Peptides contain probiotics alongside collagen protein.
- Hyaluronic acid: Looking to retain moisture in your body? Hyaluronic acid is a great supplement. You may have heard of this remarkable ingredient in beauty products, but as it turns out, it may be even more effective when ingested. Our Collagen Beauty Waters contain hyaluronic acid as well as nourishing collagen.
- Vitamin C: Like we’ve mentioned, Vitamin C plays an important role in immunity and collagen formation. It’s a commonly taken supplement that can help promote health and vitality (not to mention beautiful skin!).
- Glutathione: This nutrient is an antioxidant, but it also does more: Just like Vitamin C, Glutathione can helps to recycle collagen.
How Sleep Affects Weight
Sleep is another important component of health. If you don’t get adequate amounts of sleep, your energy levels will suffer, which can lead to overeating and a decreased resolve to stick with your workout plan.
Furthermore, it appears that sleep can have physiological impacts on your weight. One study even found an association between sleep deprivation and weight gain. One possible reason for this is the less sleep we get, the fewer sleep cycles we go through. A full eight-hour night of sleep should give us five sleep cycles (about one every 90 minutes). At the beginning of each of those sleep cycles, our brain’s pituitary gland releases copious amounts of a hormone called human growth hormone, or HGH. HGH helps us regulate metabolism, repair muscle and improve many of our body’s hormonal functions that are affected throughout the day. A lack of sleep also causes an imbalance in levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can cause you to gain weight if produced in excess.
To help support restful sleep, glycine is a fantastic supplement option. Glycine is an amino acid that’s found in collagen and gelatin, and has been shown in studies to improve sleep in humans. A product like Beef Gelatin is a fantastic ingredient to include about a half hour before bed.
Exercises for Weight Loss
Last but certainly not least, getting regular physical activity is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight long term. Humans weren’t meant to sit in desks all day! Whatever workout you enjoy — whether it’s yoga, running, going for a walk with a friend, taking a spin class or practicing interval training — do it with regularity.
To support that activity, though, a collagen supplement can be helpful. Because collagen is a major component of the connective tissues, it’s important for supporting the health of the bones, joints, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. All of these skeletal components are crucial for allowing flexibility, range of motion, mobility and strength. In fact, in one study, athletes who supplemented with collagen were less likely to become injured than those who didn’t add collagen into their diet.
Collagen Peptides: As we’ve explained, collagen is a great way to get extra protein into your diet, as well as to support the health of your bones, joints, skin and other connective tissues.
Beef Gelatin: Glycine (which is also present in Collagen Peptides) is great for promoting restful sleep.
Beef Liver: Beef Liver is packed with nutrients that help provide energy to the body, helping you to power through your workouts.
Beauty Boost: The Vitamin C in Beauty Boost helps to support the immune system as well as the production of collagen.