Scary news: A new report from the World Health Organization shows that being obese is associated with a significantly increased risk of the following 13 different types of cancer:
Colon, esophageal, breast, uterine, thyroid, kidney, pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, gastric, ovarian, multiple myeloma (blood cancer), an meningioma (brain cancer).
These cancers account for 42 percent of all cancer diagnoses and studies show they impact women to a greater degree than men. The strongest association was found between women who were obese and an increased risk of both uterine and breast cancer.
Another key finding was that in many cases, results showed that the more body fat a person had, the greater the cancer risk. For example, overweight women (BMI of 25 to 29) had a 50 percent greater risk of endometrial cancer than normal weight women with a BMI below 25. Cancer risk more than doubled at BMIs between 30 and 34.9 and more than quadrupled at BMIs of 35 to 39.9.
Having excess body fat is linked to significant metabolic and hormone abnormalities, as well as an increased risk of chronic inflammation, which may help explain the link between obesity and cancer.
The take away is if you are obese or overweight, you need to take action TODAY to reduce your body fat percentage. It’s important to avoid the extremely common pitfall of weight cycling in which you lose fat with a short-term diet and then gain the weight back because this has been found to increase inflammation while also significantly compromising cardiovascular and metabolic health, which may further increase cancer risk. Weight cycling makes you less healthy than if you just stayed at the same weight and never bothered to diet at all.
Therefore, instead of relying on crash diets or other unhealthy actions that lead to short-term weight loss but aren’t sustainable, you need actions that will improve health and optimize body composition at the same time.
Choose actions that:
1) Reduce body fat,
2) Increase lean mass for a better metabolic rate,
3) Improve metabolic health (insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance), and
4) Reduce inflammation.
What follows are 13 actions that have been shown to improve all four areas.
#1: Use A Low Carb Whole Foods Diet
Well-designed low-carb diets are a godsend because they preserve lean mass, produce considerable fat loss, lower inflammation, and restore insulin sensitivity.
The key is to plan your diet around whole foods instead of processed meal replacements and make sure you are eating sufficient vegetables and fiber. Every meal should be designed around a whole protein source (meat, fish, or eggs), include a low-carb vegetable (leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), and a healthy fat (most protein will include some fat, but adding a little extra in the form of olive oil, nuts, or seeds improves flavor and boosts satiety).
#2: Increase Protein Intake
Protein foods lead to the release of gut hormones that reduce hunger and lower appetite, which allows people to lower calorie intake without counting calories. Protein is also beneficial because it helps to sustain metabolic rate because protein is very costly for the body to digest. Although, whole protein sources should make up the majority of your meals, whey protein can be beneficial because consuming it regularly can improve insulin sensitivity and lower inflammation.
#3: Individualize Your Diet
As effective as low-carb diets are for reducing body fat, they aren’t for everyone. Some people just can’t feel satisfied without a wide range of carbs in their diets. Also, genetic differences mean some people have better outcomes when a higher percentage of calories come from carbs. Another option is to try cycling carbs so that on certain days, such as hard workout days, you have a higher carb intake but on off days you eat low carb.
#4: Do Strength Training
Strength training increases lean mass and improves the body’s ability to burn fat, which can lead to greater fat loss when combined with a dietary intervention. Use multi-joint exercises that train the whole body, selecting moderately heavy weights, with reps in the 8 to 15-rep range for multiple sets.
#5: Do Sprint Intervals
Interval training is one of the best forms of cardio for producing fat loss because it raises energy expenditure and improves the body’s ability to burn fat. Sprints also increase insulin sensitivity and reset the hypothalamic pituitary axis, for better hormone balance and less inflammation. Try 20 minutes of intervals in which you alternate 8 seconds of intense effort interspersed with 12 seconds active rest on a stationary bike.
#6: Take A Probiotic
Probiotics are live active bacteria cultures that improve gut health and lower inflammation in the body. They also can increase insulin sensitivity for greater blood sugar management. You can get them from a supplement that contains at least 15 billion live bacteria that are guaranteed through the date of expiration.
#7: Take Fish Oil
Fish oil stimulates metabolic rate by raising body temperature, which lead to excess calories being burned. In one study, increasing daily fish oil intake to 3 grams a day increased the thermic effect (the amount of calories burned in the 6 hour period after eating) by 51 percent. Other benefits of fish oil include increased insulin sensitivity, less inflammation, and better hormone balance.
#8: Drink More Water
Don’t roll your eyes! Drinking water before meals can lead you to eat less, significantly reducing calorie intake. Increasing cold water intake can also increase the calories you burn by up to 30 percent in the hour afterward.
#9: Try Alternate Day Fasting
The good news is that alternate day fasting (ADF) doesn’t require you to avoid food completely on fasting days. Rather, it has you eat normally on 4 or 5 days of the week, but only eat one moderate sized meal (usually about 500 calories) on the 2 or 3 days that you’re “fasting” each week. For example, you could “fast” on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and eat normally on the other four days. Studies suggest ADF yields greater fat loss than calorie restricted diets and people find it easier to handle due to the “relief” from dieting they get on normal eating days.
#10: Eat More Fiber—Especially Resistant Starch
Most Americans get a fraction of the 25 grams of fiber recommended by the USDA due to the high intake of processed foods and low intake of plants. Increasing your fiber intake can promote fullness and slow digestion, while also providing food for healthy bacteria in the gut.
One type of fiber called resistant starch is particularly effective for improving GI health and reducing body fat. It also improves insulin sensitivity and increases lean mass when supplemented daily. Resistant starch is present in bananas, oats, potatoes, and other plant-based foods. The easiest way to increase your resistant starch intake is by supplementing with unmodified potato starch.
#11: Eat At A Table, Not In Front Of A Screen
Being exposed to the blue light emitted from screens, whether it’s your phone or a TV, leads people to eat significantly more calories than if they ate at a table without distractions. Plus, people often ignore the “stop eating” cues from the brain in favor of outside cues such as the end of a TV show or once they finish scrolling through social media.
#12: Avoid Chemical Exposure, Especially BPA
Having a high exposure to chemicals from plastic, cleaning products, and personal care items is associated with a higher body fat and greater waist circumference. Chemical exposure also leads to inflammation and induces insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in animal studies. Lower your exposure by using natural personal care and cleaning products, choosing glass over plastic, and avoiding scented candles and air fresheners.
#13: Drink Coffee & Tea
Instead of relying on sweetened beverages, which are strongly associated with a high body fat and poor metabolic health, drink unsweetened coffee and tea. Both are jam-packed with antioxidants that lower inflammation and they are associated with lower diabetes risk, suggesting they have a beneficial effect on metabolic health.
Plus, the caffeine they contain may boost your metabolism and increase the amount of energy you burn. Best of all, the caffeine can increase athletic performance so that you get a better quality workout.