Anyone who has ever dieted knows how hard it is to lose excess body fat and keep it off. One reason for the difficulty is how obesity drives inflammation, wreaking havoc on your metabolism. Body fat, especially the dangerous kind that lurks inside the abdominal cavity, is metabolically active, releasing hormone-like compounds that impair insulin function and stimulate food intake, setting you up for a vicious obesity—inflammation cycle. High levels of inflammation put your health in risk, raising rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
How To Stop The Obesity—Inflammation Cycle
Since your life depends on breaking the obesity—inflammation cycle, it’s worthwhile taking a radical approach. We’re going to go step-by-step through the process of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet that incorporates lifestyle habits and exercise to help you make it happen:
1. Create an energy deficit: Adopt a nutrition plan designed around whole foods that favors high-quality protein, healthy fats, and lower glycemic complex carbs.
2. Plan every meal around protein and a leafy green vegetables: Pair salmon with sautéed kale, chicken breast on a salad, or steak and cauliflower.
3. Eat healthy fats: Nuts, avocado, olive oil, or olives can increase your healthy fat intake depending on needs and preferences.
4. Avoid energy-dense foods that are easy to overeat: Eliminate refined carbs, other processed foods, and junk food, which drive up insulin, triggering inflammation.
5. Eat the rainbow: Get as many colorful fruits and vegetables to neutralize inflammation-causing adipokines and sensitize cells to insulin, helping to regulate blood sugar: Leafy greens, red and purple fruits and vegetables, berries, peppers, cruciferous veggies, kiwis, cherries, beets, radishes, citrus, and plums and other stone fruit, etc.
6. Avoid added sugar: Sugar consumption stimulates pleasure centers in the brain, while spiking blood sugar and leading to the release of free radicals that drive inflammation.
7. Cook with spices: Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and chilies can help you re-train your taste buds if you need help shifting away from processed foods, and they contain antioxidants that sensitize cells to insulin and help the body eradicate inflammation.
8. Avoid excessive alcohol: The process of metabolizing excess alcohol causes significant damage to the liver, which often leads to an increase in visceral fat in the belly.
9. Eat more omega-3 fats: The essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from fish are associated with better body composition, less inflammation, and lower cortisol.
10. Replace omega-6 fats: In large quantities, corn, soybean oil, etc., stimulate food intake and lead to an increase in compounds called eicosanoids that mediate inflammatory responses. Instead, favor healthy fats from fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, and butter.
11. Train with weights: Strength training maintains muscle during fat loss, while also lowering inflammation and resetting the HPA axis that regulates hormone release in the body.
12. Reduce stress: Create a schedule, do yoga, try a martial art, perform mental imagery, get a counselor or coach, seek out pleasurable, relaxing experiences, etc.
13. Meditate: A great tool for coping with stress, mindfulness activities like meditation or deep breathing improve the HPA axis and balance hormone release for lower systemic inflammation.
14. Take care of your gut: Compromised gastrointestinal health directly leads to elevated cortisol and visceral fat gain. Eat a probiotic food like sauerkraut, kim chi, and fermented milk or yogurt every day.
15. Get adequate sleep: If rest is a problem, opt for an early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep schedule because this has been linked to less visceral fat and lower inflammation.
16. Eat foods that improve insulin sensitivity with higher carb foods: Vinegars, citrus, spices, and antioxidant-rich plants (blueberries and kale) all help store carbs as muscle glycogen instead of as fat.
17. Do sprint intervals for cardio. Intervals raise metabolic rate and help sustain muscle during fat loss. For example, try cycle sprints of 8 seconds each interspersed with 12 seconds rest for a total of 20 minutes.
18. Supplement with depleted nutrients: Lack of certain nutrients can fuel inflammation and lead to overeating: Vitamin D, magnesium, melatonin, fish oil, vitamin C, and alpha lipoic acid have all been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in research.
19. Use curcumin: Found in the spice turmeric, curcumin can counter the inflammatory response associated with diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
20. Be active in daily life: A sedentary lifestyle is linked to obesity and inflammation even in people who exercise regularly. Get your body moving throughout the day with frequent walks, stretching, stair climbing, and active transportation.