One in five Norwegians is carrying excess weight, according to the public health report from 2014. The report blames changes in environmental conditions: “At population level, changes in environmental conditions, rather than changes in genes, explain the significant changes we have seen in weight in the Norwegian population during the last decades. We live in a society that encourages physical inactivity, and where food offerings are both substancial and tempting. “
Berit Nordstrand is a doctor at St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, cognitive therapist, author and popular speaker. She is passionate about diet and exercise. She believes that people should love the food they eat and the life they live – and that everyone should enjoy themselves more. Earlier this year she published the book “12 weeks to a healthier life and a narrower waist”, and she believes that many people bite over more than they can chew when they try to lose weight.
“It is important to focus on small steps, not major changes. Many small steps lead to a big change,” she says.
Nordstrand has devised a 12-week programme which the book guides you through. Step by step and week by week.
“It is about changing a pattern and creating new and better habits. You should make a permanent change,” she says.
She continues to say that you will lose five to ten kilos over the twelve weeks if you follow her advice.
“Klaus Sonstad (a Norwegian television celebrity) followed the programme while I was writing the book, and he lost eighteen kilograms during the twelve weeks,” she says.
The doctor and mother of six says that you do not have to eat less, nor eat tasteless food, in order to lose weight.
“In my house we eat cakes, cookies or desserts every day,” she says.
“However, we make these treats ourselves, and by replacing the unhealthy calories with more nutritional ingredients, we get smarter building blocks per bite,” she adds.
Nordstrand explains that diet is 90 percent of your weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you have to replace food that switches off the metabolism to food that turns up your metabolism, and gives you more energy and motivation.
“The first food I advise anyone to replace is sugar. Replace it with other sweeteners, such as honey. Honey is a natural sweetener, which additionally contains a carbohydrate called palatinose. Palatinose is a low-glycaemic carbohydrate that provides long-term and stable blood sugar,” she says.
“Slow sugars can also produce results such as improved memory and concentration, a better mood and prevention from lifestyle diseases. You can get a far better quality of life with more useful building blocks without removing a single calorie,” she continues.
Nordstrand points out that it is important to replace all foods containing sugar, but there are many good alternatives.
“Replace soft drinks with carbonated water flavoured with lime or lemon, mix frozen berries with a small amount of overripe apples in a blender to replace sugary jam, use sweet dates or organic maple syrup as a substitute for sugar on for example porridge. There are plenty of good options,” she says.
Nordstrand explains further that people often misinterpret their own body and the signals it sends.
“A craving for sugar is the body’s way of saying that it needs proteins, not that it needs sugar. You have to learn to interpret your cravings,” she explains.
“Eat a small handful of nuts and a little dark chocolate if you fancy something sweet. It is enough to take away the craving, and it will also provide some sensible nourishment,” she adds.
Next Nordstrand recommends replacing baked goods containing wheat flour, but not to worry, there are many good alternatives.
“Modern flour slows down metabolism and makes you put on weight. The modern flour also promotes allergies and weakens the bacterial flora in the intestine. This allows the creation of more inflammatory substances in the blood, which has a correlation with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. If you choose whole grains and seeds, like bran and germ, you will gain more stable blood sugar levels,” she explains.
There are many recipes for both breads and crackers that contain no wheat flour. The diet enthusiast also suggests mixing nuts and seeds in a blender and stirring this mixture into porridge for a little extra nourishment.
“Also, if you replace rice and pasta with hearty options such as lenses, barley or baked vegetables, you will quickly see a change in weight,” Nordstrand says and points out that all you have to do is to think outside the box a little.
“Who said that pasta sauce absolutely must be used on pasta? It works equally well over vegetables,” she tips.
By following Nordstrand´s program, you do not eat less, you lose weight by replacing the unhealthy ingredients with more reasonable food. At the same time, you reduce diffuse health problems, improve your mood and your memory.
“The programme is as important as the tips. To complete this programme successfully, you have to change your focus. Instead of focusing on what you should stop eating you should focus on what to begin with, instead. Your brain wants more of what you are about to stop eating, so do not go around thinking that you are quitting sugar! You are not suppose to quit the sweets – you can actually have desserts every single day during the twelve weeks.”
“It is more about pleasure, not about holding your breath until you have lost ten kilograms. This should be a lifestyle change that lasts,” the doctor says.
Visit Nordstrand´s website for more tips and recipes, or buy her book 12 weeks to a healthier life and a narrower waist for the complete diet programme.
Professor of Medicine at NTNU, Jan Hoff, says it is important to be active to get the best results from a diet. He has, through years of research, found the most effective training method for those who want to lose a few kilos, and have a healthier and longer life.
“Four times four-minute intervals is the smartest training we know for dieting and burning fat,” he says.
With four minutes intervals, Hoff means a four-minute walk, jog or run uphill. You should do this four times with a three-minute active rest between each four-minute interval.
“You burn more fat instantly by jogging at a “long distance pace”, which means to jog for about 50 minutes on medium intensity. However, that does not increase your work capacity. With interval training, you will increase your work capacity, which will allow you to be more active throughout the day and burn more fat during the hours you are not exercising. It is far smarter,” he explains.
“You can increase your work capacity by half a percent each time you complete a four times four-minute interval session. If you train like this twice or more per week, you will burn more fat in the end,” Hoff continues.
Furthermore, Hoff explains that your body’s oxygen uptake is crucial when it comes to how quickly you lose weight.
“With increased maximal oxygen uptake, your metabolism will be burning fat for the rest of the day to a greater degree. Increased oxygen uptake also leads to greater activity level the rest of the day, and thereafter increases the total metabolism and reduces weight.”
Hoff is also of the same opinion as Nordstrand, and says it is the long-term plan that is most effective. He recommends two interval sessions a week, in addition to the Saturday or Sunday walk. In the long term, this will be beneficial for weight reduction, health and quality of life.
“In order to lose weight, it is important to include both training and eating habits in a long-term plan. Exercise is perishable and accumulated capacity disappears in half the time.”
“You must make room for rest though, if you feel tired and have trouble reaching the correct heart rate,” he concludes.