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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Lose Weight, Improve Body Composition, and Regain Health

Nov 25, 2013 02:48AM

Whether you are overweight or of normal weight, you should be aware of the impact body composition has on your health. An unhealthy body composition refers to carrying too much fat in comparison to lean (muscle) tissue. As this ratio increases, so do the health risks, and this often leads to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, hormone-related problems, back pain, osteoarthritis, sleep problems, fatigue, depression and more.

Many factors can contribute to an unhealthy body composition: a diet consisting of  high-fat, high-sugar processed foods, overeating, nutritional deficiencies, inability to control cravings, lack of exercise, excess alcohol, hormonal imbalances, certain medications such as steroids and antidepressants, certain metabolic conditions such as hypothyroidism and prolonged stress.

There is a lot more to healthy weight management than what the scale shows. Many popular weight loss programs available today focus only on weight loss and don’t place much attention on maintaining lean muscle mass. This results in the weight that is lost coming primarily from muscle and not from fat. Losing fat while preserving or improving lean muscle leads to optimal health and increases the chances of keeping the weight off.

In addition to a variety of health assessments, the bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) machine is a quick, non-invasive objective measurement of body fat and lean muscle mass. It also provides other indicators of health and vitality including basal metabolic rate, cellular health, nutritional/toxicity status and hydration level. BIA allows for the development of a personalized nutrition and eating plan. It also serves as a great tool to monitor weight loss progress and observe what changes occurred in the body.

Healthy weight loss through a personalized, nutrition-based body composition program can be achieved by incorporating a sensible eating plan, regular exercise, targeted nutritional supplementation and stress management. A diet consisting of nutrient-dense foods, obtained from a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, fiber-rich whole grains and healthy proteins and fats, will ensure adequate nutrition and a feeling of fullness.

If you are interested in achieving weight loss with a healthy body composition, increasing energy, improving mood, relieving pain and reducing your risk of chronic disease, have a body composition assessment done with a licensed health care provider and start on a personalized program today.

Eight Healthy Eating Tips to Get You Started on the Path to Healthy Body Composition: 

 1. Do not skip breakfast, meals or snacks. Control your portion sizes and eat smaller meals more frequently–every three to four hours.

Eating regular meals helps to reduce hunger later in the day, decreases chances of overeating and can improve your metabolic rate. It also keeps you energized and satisfied through the day making you less likely to reach for caffeine or carbs.

2. Focus on low glycemic index (GI) foods. Berries and apples instead of dates and raisins, oatmeal instead of most breakfast cereals.

Low GI foods are more important for healthy body composition, than low-fat foods, because they balance insulin and glucose levels ,therefore leading to less storage of fat and the ability to burn fat more efficiently.

3. Eat good sources of fiber such as beans, brown rice, green vegetables, nuts and ground flaxseeds.

Fiber promotes a healthy insulin and blood sugar response. It helps you feel full longer and moves fat through the digestive tract faster, so there is less of it absorbed.

4. Drink plenty of water for adequate hydration.

This helps to curb cravings and it actually decreases water retention, as well as the bloating and added weight that comes with it.

5. Have a protein food with every meal and snack.

Most healthy protein sources are also low GI foods. They help to control appetite and reduce cravings for carbs and sweets

6Reduce intake of saturated fats and include health-promoting fats. Avocados, nuts (almonds are best) and olive oil instead of potato chips, hard cheeses and deep-fried foods.

Healthy fats are considered low GI foods, however this does not mean that you should eat as much fat as you like–the point is not to be “fat-phobic”.  Nuts are nutritious foods that are high in good fats, so you need to be mindful not to over consume.

7. Eat plenty of leafy greens and other fresh vegetables–minimum of four to six servings per day.

Leafy greens are packed with important nutrients, but they also come with thylakoids or built-in appetite regulators, which can help regulate food intake, prevent weight gain and promote weight loss.

8. Include bitter foods in your diet. Green tea, fenugreek.

Bitter foods are associated with improved insulin signaling. Individuals that have a taste for bitter foods tend to have lower body mass index.


For more information, call 202-833-5055 or visit


Dr. Marianna Ledenac is a licensed naturopathic physician at GW Center for Integrative Medicine in Washington, D.C. She provides comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages. 


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