There is a physiological principle called ‘reversibility’; the fact that fitness is incredibly easy to lose, and incredibly difficult to regain. It breaks your heart when you think about it. Can you imagine a world where you lost weight as easily as you put it on? I could walk to a cafe, eat a croissant, walk home, and pretty much break even. If only. The reality is, losing weight is really hard. Here are some things you can do to not make it any harder.
Increase your protein
This is an incredibly important part of your weight loss journey. If you can get 25% of your calories through protein, it can boost your metabolism. This means you eat far less over the course of the day, and you don’t feel the need to snack or satisfy that craving for a doughnut. This is especially true of breakfast! The effect can be felt all day. Consider getting some chicken, eggs and broccoli in early and see what it does to your meals for the rest of the day
I often feel uncomfortable with this. It conjures the image of someone meticulously working out the weight of their apple to see if they should only eat three quarters. This might be taking it to the enth degree, but there is merit in keeping an eye on your kilojoules in a more broad sense. The average person needs about 8700 to maintain a healthy weight, and you might want to reduce that ever so slightly if you are trying to lose weight. It is more important what you are eating though. Starving yourself doesn’t help as much as you think. So keep an eye on roughly how many you have at breakfast and factor that in when you think about your meals for the rest of the day. There are some very helpful apps that will help you work out the approximate kilojoules in a given meal.
Eat whole foods.
No, that doesn’t mean you need to finish the whole cake (hold for laughter), it refers to the kinds of foods that aren’t processed to oblivion. We are talking grains, quinoa, lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, and of course all your fruits and vegetables. Remember how I said what you eat matters as much as your quantity size? You could eat platefuls of vegetables and grains and still be ok (within reason, obviously). If you really struggle to feel full, you should ensure that you are getting enough protein in your diet. This will stop the hankering for chocolate at 3pm every day. Alternatively, you could try something like Optifast, which has a low GI energy release so you feel more full for longer. Optifast is safe, tested and can be that crutch you need to begin your weight loss journey. We have always got Optifast in stock, given its popularity in Australia at the moment.
Now, this is often met with a raised eyebrow. I’m trying to lose weight, not become a bodybuilder. Well, a lot of research has come out in the last ten years that shows that resistance training (like lifting weights) is actually far more effective at shedding the kilos than if you only did cardio. It burns fat at a much faster rate, and it prevents metabolic slown to ensure that you stay lean and muscular for longer. In the most simple sense, this kind of exercise makes your muscles metabolically efficient which means they burn kilojoules even afterwards when you are resting. This is called your resting metabolism. One study shows that men who lifted weights increased their resting metabolism by 9%. In women, the effect was present, but less significant, coming in at 4%.
I know, I just told you to get in the gym. But a balance between the two is the perfect sweet spot. Getting some kilometres under your belt will help reduce belly fat which is a pretty good feeling. Aside from looking more trim, this also gets rid of the dangerous visceral fat that builds up around your organs and causes a whole host of diseases. The advice at present is that you need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week (a brisk walk), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (soccer, netball, running, swimming) The general principle is that regular shorter bursts are more effective than trying to do it all in one big hit.
Woe be to you, parents of newborn children. But for the rest of us, we could probably get more sleep if we really wanted to. Here is one more good reason. Studies have revealed that a poor sleeping habit is the single largest risk factor for becoming obese. Sleep is for the weak doesn’t sound so cool anymore. In fact, adults with bad sleeping patterns were 55% more likely to become obese. And children? 89%. It really isn’t the kind of thing you can afford to skimp out on.
Don’t Eat Often
There was that old myth that regular snacking of small meals was the best way to maintain a healthy body weight. Turns out to be false. I was perpetually confused when clients told me this, because it contradicted all known medical advice. It actually has zero effect. The only thing it will affect is your productivity in preparing hundreds of tiny meals each month. Nobody has time for that! In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting might be a more effective way of losing weight. This is where you intentionally don’t eat anything for an extended period of time, depending on how hardcore you are, it can be anything from 12-24 hours.
As I said, weight loss is hard. Don’t make it any harder. If you follow these steps, you will be removing unnecessary road blocks which stand between you and your ideal weight - just as long as your ideal weight isn’t actually dangerously underweight.
Floyd - Senior Pharmacist
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