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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

Do Vitamins for Weight Loss Work And How?

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Do Vitamins for Weight Loss Work And How?

Have you ever had a friend that told you they lost weight by taking vitamins? I did! Let’s just say it didn’t workout for me as well as it did for him.

Everyone has been a culprit of trying a quick-fix solution to reverse years of bad habits, if only losing weight was as easy as popping some vitamin supplements in your mouth every morning. Unfortunately, it’s not.

However, don’t misunderstand. Vitamins can be useful in your journey towards losing weight, and that’s what we’re going to talk about.

Can Vitamins Help You Lose Weight?

Vitamins alone can’t do any wonders when it comes to losing weight. However, paired with the right kind of health practices, vitamins can be an invaluable partner in your fight against those few extra pounds.

Your body has a whole array of chemical reactions going on at any time, and a lot of these reactions use vitamins to regulate certain steps. Without an adequate supply of the proper vitamins, some of these chemical processes are bound to suffer, and your body won’t be running at its optimum functionality. When your body isn’t working as efficiently as it should be, some of your weight loss efforts will be futile.

When you supply your body with these essential vitamins in the form of supplements, you’re allowing your body to work at its top capacity, and preventing any sub-optimal processes from holding back any weight loss efforts.

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Which Vitamins Can Help with Weight Loss?

Vitamin D

A study done at the University of Minnesota found that overweight individuals with more vitamin D in their systems lost more weight after they started a weight loss regimen.[1]

Lucky enough for you, vitamin D is one of the cheapest vitamins you can get, it’s completely free. Your body can produce enough vitamin D simply by bathing in the sweet sunlight. But a lot of people are spending more and more time indoors and the sunlight isn’t an option. So there are numerous supplements on the market to help make up that deficit.

A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with weight gain and obesity, and a large percentage of Americans actually have sub-optimal levels of vitamin D.

In addition. Vitamin D can be found in foods such as tuna, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, cereals and milk.

You can learn more about vitamin D here:

Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin D

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Vitamin C

We all know a little bit about vitamin C. We know that you can get it from a glass of orange juice, or that it’s great for keeping away a cold.

Did you know that it is beneficial for losing weight though? Research has shown that individuals with higher levels of vitamin C in their systems lost more weight than those with lower levels of vitamin C.[2] Supplements can be a great way to keep your vitamin C levels high, but increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get that vitamin C and go on a healthy diet at the same time.

Vitamin C can aid with a significant improvement on the absorption of iron in your body. It can be found in fruits such as kiwi, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries.

Vitamin B12

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin for maintaining a lot of bodily functions.[3] Vitamin B12 is important in the production and maintenance of red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA. Apart from those functions, however, vitamin B12 is very important in regulating how your body processes certain nutrients.

When deficient in vitamin B12, your body opts to convert these nutrients into adipose tissue – that is, fat – instead of burning them off for energy. Keeping your body well stocked with vitamin B12 can help your weight loss efforts and keep you in top shape.

You can get vitamin B12 in supplements and animal products. It is very important to note, particularly for vegans and people going on vegetarian diets to lose weight, that vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods! Vitamin B12 can be found in sardines, beef, milk, fish, poultry, and eggs.

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Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is related to vitamin B12 as they’re all part of the vitamin B complex. Just like its compatriot, vitamin B1 is benefitical in the fight against those extra pounds.

Vitamin B1 plays a very important role in regulating appetite.[4] Individuals deficient in vitamin B1 may find themselves eating a bit more regularly than they might like, which usually isn’t ideal especially when trying to lose weight.

Apart from that, vitamin B1 is important in processing your carbohydrates to energy. A vitamin B1 deficit could mean that your metabolism isn’t quite optimal and your body is storing those carbs as fat instead of burning them off.

Vitamin B1 can be found in all sorts of foods like milk, eggs, and grains. If you’re not a fan of those, vitamin B supplements are readily available, and they usually contain all the vitamins in the vitamin B complex. Vitamin B1 can be found in these foods oranges, pork, nuts, pasta, breads, and rice.

Minerals

These aren’t technically vitamins, but in colloquial speak, they are sometimes included.

There are quite a few minerals which can be bought as supplements which can be very helpful in weight loss regimens:

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Calcium has been linked to maintaining an optimal metabolic rate[5] and keeping blood glucose well controlled. Paired with vitamin D, calcium does a lot more than just keeping your bones healthy, but assist with weight loss. While supplements are also available, dairy products are rich in calcium as well as vitamin D.

Iron is integral in the structure of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the cells of the body. Low levels of iron can cause deficient production of red blood cells or anaemia.[6] A lower number of red blood cells means a poorer oxygen supply to the cells which can affect exercise and athletic performance when trying to shed some fat.

Magnesium is very important in the function of many enzymes, and also in the action of ATP, which is the main source of energy for cells.[7] A magnesium deficiency adversely affects metabolism, so its intake should be kept optimal through the consumption of foods like nuts, seeds, and grains.

Where to Go from Here?

While vitamins (and minerals) don’t do any of the heavy liftings when it comes to watching your weight, they keep your body in top shape and aid in optimum function, which streamlines the weight loss process and can prove very synergistic with other elements of the regimen, such as dieting and exercise.

Keep your diet healthy and balanced, and supplement as necessary to make your weight loss journey as smooth as possible. If you’re considering taking any of these vitamin supplements, make an appointment with your family doctor to look into recommended dosages for optimal health.

Last thing to mention, in combination with consuming these supplements remember to switch up your exercise programs. Do a spinning class, then the next day go lift some heavy weights. Every little bit counts!

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More Resources About Weight Loss

Featured photo credit: Kimberly Nanney via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sergio Pedemonte

CEO and Certified Personal Trainer of Your House Fitness

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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