Wednesday, 26 March 2014

5 weight loss tips

Weight loss tips

Weight loss
Source: Flickr
Weight loss isn't easy, and it's usual to feel frustrated when you've been working out and dieting without results. There's a couple of simple things that may hold you back, and you might not even be aware what you're potentially missing. So if you've been stringent with your diet and exercise plans but the weight loss just isn't happening, it might be time to give these five easy weight loss tips a try.

Avoid low-fat diets

If you've started your diet out and you're already replacing the contents of your fridge and pantry with fat-free or low-fat alternatives, you may have been too hasty. When you cut out fat from your diet, you cut out something that your body needs to form healthy cell membranes and to function properly in many other ways. The fat you consume in food is just as essential as other nutrients, and when you cut it down in pursuit of weight loss, you cut out a necessary nutrient and reduce your well-being.

Source: Flickr
The biggest problem with this approach when it comes to losing weight however, is that low-fat and fat-free foods usually have more carbohydrates and additives to make up for the lack of fat. Many reduced fat products even have close to the same amount of calories as regular products. When you buy a reduced fat product, it doesn't necessarily mean it's low calorie, and the food industry loves to use marketing wizardry like this to confuse consumers. If you've been buying reduced fat products thinking they're better for weight loss, they're probably not.

When it comes to weight loss, a balanced diet is most beneficial. To effectively lose weight, you need to cut down on carbohydrates rather than simply removing all fat from your diet. Fat intake should be moderate and consist of unsaturated fats like olive oil. 20 - 40 grams of total fat is sufficient to keep you healthy but not impede weight loss. To this, add 1 - 2 grams of protein per each kilogram of lean body weight, and make up the rest of the calories in your diet with whole grain and low GI carbohydrates.

Source: Flickr

Use the glycemic index of food

The glycemic index (GI), of a food is a measure of the time it takes for your body to absorb the energy content of your food. Foods with a higher GI can be said to cause a spike to blood sugar which will affect the way you feel, causing you to feel sluggish and unsatisfied, whereas a low GI food will sustain you for longer and avoid peaks in your blood glucose levels.

Whole food
Source: Flickr
By far the greatest implication of the GI however, is the fact that by consuming foods that are lower on the scale, you give your body more time to actually use the energy that it is absorbing. Energy that isn't used will be stored as fat and lead to weight gain. If you manage your diet by choosing low GI foods, this will help you achieve weight loss. You will also avoid some of the feeling of hunger that occurs when you are dieting and exercising.

To find the GI of different ingredients and common meals, you can use resources like the GI tables that can be found online, such as Harvard's GI table, or the search feature of University of Sydney's Glycemic Index. Glycemic Index's search feature is invaluable because you can use it to find foods based on the GI of the food. You'll notice that foods like white bread have a higher GI than whole grain bread, and this just stresses the point that complex carbohydrates in whole grains are much more valuable to your health, not just for the fact that they contain more vitamins and minerals, but because they are less fattening. 

If you come across the term glycemic load, that is just a way of measuring a specific amount of the food against its carbohydrate content. A lower value is indicative of slower absorption here too, and the glycemic load can be useful to see how the GI measures up against an amount of the food that you would generally eat.

Eat more lean protein

Many people who go on a diet to lose weight make the mistake of cutting down their protein. This is usually be accident rather than intentional, because they will cut out fatty foods like meat and dairy that are high in protein. This is bad because when you expose your body to protein and caloric deficits during weight loss diets, it likes to consume protein from your muscles to use for more important functions, and to form glucose to fuel your brain.

Source: Flickr
Losing muscle is generally the last thing someone wants when they partake on a weight loss diet. Your muscle tone gives you the strength to perform every day tasks, as well as helping you achieve a more aesthetic appearance. When you aim to lose weight, it's likely you hope to reveal some of that hidden muscle tone, but that becomes irrelevant if you let it waste away whilst dieting. You've worked hard for your muscle and fitness, and you need to preserve it. Better yet, is that protein ramps up your metabolism after ingestion, so it preserves muscle and helps you burn more fat, thus allowing you to lose more fat.

To ensure that your muscle tone is protected and to boost your metabolism, you should be consuming at least 1 - 2 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body weight. You can use this calculator to find an estimate of your lean body mass. To get this protein without adding in extra fat or carbohydrates to your diet, look for lean sources of protein like whey protein isolate, chicken breast, turkey, canned tuna in spring water, or skim milk. There's so many more sources of lean protein, and you can make many different recipes with them. For vegetarians, try whey protein isolate or make an omelette out of egg whites. For vegans, eat a variety of lentils, chickpeas, and beans with your meals.

Lean red meat
Source: Flickr

Eat more often

The idea that you would eat more often when following a weight loss diet might sound contradictory, but the idea is to eat more often throughout the day, yet eat smaller meals. This spreads your entire caloric intake and all your nutrients out over a greater period of time and allows your body to absorb it more efficiently. Along with the GI of food, this is another way to avoid peaks in your blood glucose and give you more time to actually use the energy you eat rather than have it stored as fat and slow down your weight loss.

Healthy snack
Source: Flickr
In order to eat smaller meals over the day, instead of eating three large meals as is conventionally done, you can eat six smaller meals, or divide it up in whatever way you see fit. The main point to drive home here is that you'll see better weight loss results if you aren't loading your body up with food all at once, and you'll feel fuller because of this.

A good way to do this is to reduce the size of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and eat three small snacks in between these meals. One snack between breakfast and lunch, one between lunch and dinner, and one after dinner before bed. A low-carb protein shake is an excellent way to end the day and it will provide you with ample protein whilst your body rests. When you sleep, you go into a period of fasting, so taking protein before bed can help maintain muscle and fuel recovery from your workout routines.

Aerobic exercise

It may seem obvious, but aerobic exercises are the best way to burn fat, and a lot of people will go into a reduced calorie diet without placing enough emphasis on exercising. In order to get the most weight loss out of your diet, moderate aerobic exercise is important and should be done for at least 30 - 45 minutes per day. Aim to exercise at least 3 days of the week.

Aerobic exercise
Exercises that can be considered aerobic include anything that gets your heart beating. Walking, jogging, stairclimbing, jumping jacks, cycling, and swimming are all good exercises. To most effectively burn fat, you should be maintaining a heart rate between 50 - 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Exercising at this capacity burns more fat compared to other forms of workouts.

Another way to boost your weight loss with exercise is high intensity interval training. HIIT training a couple of times per week has been found to increase your body's ability to burn fat during exercise and strengthen the heart. The best part is, it only takes 7 - 12 minutes to complete a HIIT training workout and by combining it with regular aerobic exercise you can see even more results in your weight loss quest.

One stipulation here however is to not go overboard. Whilst a good amount of aerobic exercise is beneficial to weight loss and helps you burn fat, exercising for long periods of time or too often can lead to injuries and other problems. The worst case scenario is that in cases of over-exertion, your body will consume protein from your muscles to fuel itself rather than fat and carbohydrates. You want to lose fat and maintain muscle, so it's important to be sensible when exercising.

More information

  • Forskolin is a body composition supplement that can help you shed more fat. Not only does it increase fat burning potential, it boosts muscle gain and has a range of other health benefits.
  • Green tea can boost metabolism and help you reach your desired weight quicker. Discover this and the other benefits that green tea offers.
  • HIIT training helps you lose more weight whilst becoming fitter. You don't need to spend money on exercise equipment because it can be done anywhere and with only your own body weight. Better yet, it takes less than 12 minutes to complete a workout.

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