Do you need to lose weight?
Losing weight might be something you don’t want to think about, or
consider important, however we now know that your weight can influence
your fertility very significantly. Overweight women often experience
disturbances to ovulation, and other metabolic effects which affect
Its not just women who are affected .......
Obesity lowers sperm counts by 50% and increases the fragmentation of
DNA in sperm. Men who are overweight are more likely to suffer erectile
The good news is that a very modest weight loss will increase your
chance of conception significantly. In fact, one third of infertile
couples will conceive naturally simply by losing just 5 - 10% of their
body weight. And even if you don’t conceive naturally weight loss will
improve your chance of success with IVF.
Furthermore if you lose weight before you become pregnant your risk of
miscarriage drops, your pregnancy will be easier and your baby will be
No matter how much weight you think you need to lose, or would like to
lose, start with the first 5 kg. You should never attempt to lose more
than this in a month, or the weight will be quickly regained.
Three to six month programme; a diet for steady weight loss
You have all heard that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables,
whole grains, legumes or lean meat, fish or chicken, along with regular
physical activity, can help most people manage and maintain weight loss.
This is a diet for life.
But lets be a little more specific ......
- Choose delicious fresh food, vegetables and fruits in season,
mix colours and make flavours interesting with herbs and spices. Enjoy
your food. Sit down to eat it, away from the work desk, away from the
- Chew slowly, savour each mouthful. When you eat too fast, you don’t give the stomach time to tell the brain
that it’s had enough – so you keep on eating. It takes twenty minutes
for brain-signaling hormones to signal the brain that it no longer needs
- Be a little bit French in your eating patterns - choose
excellent quality food, even if it is a bit more expensive but eat less
of it. Spoil yourself.
- Have 3 meals a day, with healthy snacks in between. Do not skip
meals. Have your meals on smaller plates so you reduce your quantities.
Only one plate per meal. No second helpings.
- Have protein at least once a day; this can be lean meat,
chicken, fish, tofu or eggs and include lentils or legumes combined with
- Use vegetable soups to replace one meal per day (the evening meal is best); these are
nutritious, low calorie and satisfying because they stay in the stomach
longer than solid meals. See recipe below.
- Do not have iced water with your meals. Have a few sips of wine (
but no more than a few sips) or have a digestive tea like Jasmine or Pu
Erh if you want to drink with your meals.
- Stop all drinks that contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. None.
- Stop all processed foods like cakes, biscuits, white breads - yes, all!
- Limit carbohydrates - only one or two small slices of bread a
day, and very modest servings of rice, noodles or pasta rather than
- Cut out fatty and fried foods although small amounts of good oils (eg olive oil, avocado) should be included.
- If you need support, join weight watchers and be weighed regularly.
- Exercise, sleep and acupuncture can all be important aspects of weight control - read on.
Exercise for weight loss
You need to move. And make moving enjoyable.
If you are highly motivated go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week to do
aerobic classes or walk daily and briskly for 30 minutes or some other
strenuous activity you enjoy.
If you are less enthusiastic about exercise get a personal trainer (ask
your local gym to recommend someone close by) who will tailor exercise
to your needs and provide the motivation to keep going. Follow their
instructions. Join a boot camp exercise group which meets several times a
week, or set one up with your friends.
But if this level of activity is not possible for you for physical
reasons, focus on gentle movement like Tai Chi or Yoga. These exercises
benefit your internal energy and your nervous system rather than working
your heart and muscles. However they can still help weight loss - Tai
Chi, for example burns as many calories as down hill skiing!
Acupuncture for weight loss
Use acupuncture once or twice a week to help reduce your appetite. This will make cutting your portions down easier and provide you with regular support both physically and mentally.
Many studies have been conducted on the effect of acupuncture on weight loss, generally with positive outcome. (1) Additionally acupuncture appears to increase insulin sensitivity which makes weight loss easier in those patients who have insulin resistance. (2) Acupuncture points in
the ear stimulate the auricular branch of the vagal nerve; this is
thought to suppress appetite by increasing tone in the smooth muscle of
the stomach so that you feel full sooner. Other points on the body are
used to stimulate the body’s metabolism and encourage more efficient
break down of stored energy (fat, in other words), reduce food cravings,
and improve circulation. Other points are used to help you sleep well and to improve mood.
It is well documented that tired sleep-deprived people don’t lose weight
so easily and that depression and anxiety don't encourage good food choices or diet control (3)
In addition your Chinese medicine practitioner can give you more
specific dietary advice according to your constitution. For example,
some people lose weight easily eating more raw foods but for others that will
exacerbate fluid retention, and inhibit burning off stored calories.
Chinese herbs are often prescribed to help weight loss. They regulate bowel transit time, reduce fluid retention, encourage efficient metabolism, and increase energy levels.
It is important you keep taking any preconception vitamins and minerals you have been recommended. Some preconception supplements contain chromium, an insulin co-factor. This is important since it helps calories to be burned for energy rather than stored as fat.
1 Rerksuppaphol L, Jnl Med and Health Sci (Thai) 2010,
2 Liang F, Koya D. Diabetes Obes Metab 2010;12:555-69
3 Cabioglu MT et al Int J Neurosci 2007;117:579-90
One month programme
If your next IVF cycle is scheduled for one month's time and your BMI puts you at a disadvantage, then you can dedicate the next month to an intense but sensible weight loss programme. This is a more drastic approach and one you will adopt for the short term only. You will need to free up some time to allow you to follow this programme (but you can't skimp on sleep - 8 hours minimum per night!).
Diet for quick weight loss
Follow the same guidelines as for the 3 - 6 month programme except 2 meals per day are replaced by the soup. Since this will be your main source of nourishment you will need to add some protein - use a good jelly chicken stock or whisk an egg into it.
You can have as much soup as you like.
Cut out bread, crackers, pasta, and grains ........ your carbohydrates should come from fruits and vegetables only (but not potato).
Exercise for quick weight loss
As for 3 month programme. Think about getting a personal trainer to tailor a programme specific for your needs. You must do some exercise every day for 30 mins - vigorously at least 3 times a week and brisk walking or other movement on other days.
Acupuncture for quick weight loss
To kick start metabolism and weight loss you should have 3 acupuncture treatments in the first week, and two or three in each of the following weeks. Herbs to increase metabolism and bowel transit time may be added.
RECIPE FOR WEIGHT LOSS SOUP
Choose vegetables you enjoy and which are in season such as
Use proportions according to your individual preference.
You need to use good stock, preferably one you have made yourself. A good chicken stock (which forms a firm jelly when chilled) is ideal and is the secret to making a delicious and satisfying soup. Use organic chicken (or other) bones and boil for a long time in water with herbs such as bay leaves or celery leaves. If there are days you don't have time to make this (or if you are vegetarian) use good quality ready made stock or cubes or powdered soup and whisk an egg through the soup to add some protein.
Cut the vegetables into small pieces, cover with plenty of stock and cook until the vegetables are soft.
Season with plenty of parsely or other fresh herbs and freshly ground pepper.
Eat this soup when you feel hungry. Eat as much as you want when you want. It has very few calories and will keep your stomach full for longer than regular meals.