Weight Loss Tips

Losing weight is not easy and millions of people all over the world struggle to do it. We all know how to do it – dieting or exercise (both ideally). What many of us may not be aware of though, is that there are ways of making the process just a bit easier as we see below.

To be clear, we aren’t claiming that these tips can make the difference between success and failure. They will, however, definitely help.

Eat Slowly
Studies show that if we eat our food slowly, we ingest fewer calories, i.e. we eat less. At the same time, there is an increase in our production of hormones linked to weight loss. According to these studies, people who eat at a normal speed are 30 percent less likely to be obese than people who eat quickly, while people who eat slowly are 45 percent less likely..

The message here is that by wolfing your food down, you increase the likelihood of being overweight by a considerable degree.

Chew Your Food Well
People who are overweight are more likely to chew their food less than people of normal weight do, even when they are eating the same food and in the same amounts. In a study done for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people were asked to chew each mouthful 50 times. This resulted in them eating less. Furthermore, they felt less hungry and thus were more easily satiated.

It’s also a known fact that people who chew their food well, eat more slowly. This  reduces calorie intake as well.

Don’t Have it in the House
If it isn’t there, you can’t eat it. This is probably the most simple strategy of all for watching what you eat. Sure, when you get those hunger pangs you can nip out to the nearest store, but the very fact that you have to do so may well be enough to stop you actually doing it.

Keep Hunger at Bay
Carrying on from the previous tip, when you get hungry eat something rich in fiber –  this is a natural and powerful appetite suppressant.

Good examples of fibrous food that also happen to be very low in calories are carrots and celery. Keep some in the fridge and whenever you get the urge to eat, nibble a stalk or two of celery or a carrot. It may not be as tasty and enticing as a piece of cake but it will fill you up quickly with virtually no calorie intake.

Sleep More, Stress Less
The amount of sleep we get directly affects our body’s desire for food. When we don’t get enough, it over-produces two hunger causing hormones known as leptin and ghrelin. This makes a person more likely to overeat, while at the same time being less satiated by it. Accordingly, people who are sleep deprived tend to weigh more, and have more trouble losing that weight, than those who get adequate rest, even when they follow the same diet.

People who habitually sleep for less than six hours a night also tend to have higher levels of glucose and insulin. This applies even if they are otherwise in good shape. The reason is that consistent lack of sleep prevents the fat cells in our body from utilizing insulin properly. As a result, the body produces increasing amounts of it, which leads to the build-up of fat. Eventually this can cause diseases like such as diabetes.

Lack of sleep also increases our stress levels. One side effect of this is that we are then less able to control our appetites. A body deprived of sleep will produce more of a hormone called cortisol (known as the stress hormone). This activates the reward center in the brain thus creating a sudden desire to eat. When combined, excess levels of ghrelin and cortisol makes people need to eat greater amounts of food than they normally would in order to feel satiated.

Yet another effect of sleep deprivation is that it can increase cravings for foods high in sugar and salt. People affected in this way are more likely to eat unhealthy foods, such as candy, chocolate, salted snacks, etc. One of the main benefits of sleep is that it refreshes the mind and improves our ability to make decisions. Lack of sleep has the opposite effect by reducing mental clarity and judgment. As a result, it is far more likely that someone will not just eat unhealthy food, but also too much of it.

Drink Plenty of Water
Having a sufficient quantity of water in the body is an extremely important factor with regard to keeping fat levels under control. Not only does it aid in burning fat that’s in the bloodstream, it also helps to burn the body’s stores of fat. This is because without an adequate amount of water, the body’s metabolism slows down thus reducing its ability to burn fat.

Furthermore, water is an excellent appetite suppressant. Drinking a glass before a meal helps fill you up before you start eating. Drinking it ice cold  is even better, as doing so gives the metabolism a further boost. This is because the body has to work in order to warm the water to the optimum temperature, thereby burning calories.

Lose The Love Handles

By ‘love handle’ (also known as a spare tire), we mean the fat around the waist and hips. It tends to accumulate in this part of the body due to the close proximity of the liver, which is of course an organ that plays a major role in the processing of body fat.

Unfortunately, once a love handle has developed it can be extremely difficult to get rid of. In fact, it’s quite common for people to diet right down to their correct weight and still be left with a love handle, albeit a smaller one.

So, on to the million dollar question; the one we get asked more than any other. Is it possible to lose a love handle and, if so, how? The answer to the first part of the question is a straightforward yes; the answer to the second part is less so.

The first thing people need to be aware of is that it is simply not possible to target any specific part of the body with regard to losing fat. Basically, it’s all or nothing. If you take in less calories than your body needs, you will lose weight all over, including around the hips and waist. The same basic rule applies to exercise; despite what you will read on dozens of websites, there is no exercise that will get rid of fat anywhere on the body. Exercising will build muscle but it cannot remove fat.

What we are saying therefore, is that there is no magic panacea with regard to getting rid of a love handle. The only way to do it is to knuckle down and go on a weight-loss diet. As your body sheds the fat, your love handle will diminish – it’s as simple as that.

However, there are steps you can take that will help the process. These are as follows:

  • Stop eating junk food – junk food is basically the majority of what the processed food industry churns out. High in sugar and unhealthy fats, and low in nutrients, it is the major cause of the obesity crisis currently sweeping around the western world
  • Exercise more – simply going for a long walk and doing weight bearing exercises such as pull-ups, press-ups, planks and squats will help enormously. You don’t need a gym
  • Cut out alcohol – studies show that alcohol is one of the main offenders with regard to stomach fat. It contains a high amount of ’empty’ calories which don’t have any nutritional value. Women are more likely to store the fat created by surplus calories on their hips, thighs and arms, while men store it on their tummy, i.e. the ‘beer belly’
  • Get plenty of sleep – sleep is one of the most important aspects of overall health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to managing weight. In one study, it was shown that women who slept for less than five hours a night were significantly more likely to gain weight around their stomach than those who slept seven hours or more
  • Eat plenty of protein – there is evidence that suggests protein is a very important factor when it comes to losing stomach fat. Firstly, it releases the hormone PYY which sends a message to your brain that you’re full. Secondly, studies have been done that prove people with a high protein intake have lower levels of stomach fat
  • Stop counting calories – quit calorie counting and, instead, start eating a healthy diet comprised of unprocessed fresh foods, such as fish, eggs, meat and vegetables. Don’t be afraid of eating good fats, such as avocados, nuts and oily fish

We said at the beginning of this article that it’s quite common for people to diet right down to their correct weight and still be left with a love handle. So the only option for these people is to continue the diet until the love handle has gone completely. By the time they have achieved this, of course, they will be well under weight and probably looking somewhat skeletal.

It’s at this point that they have to start putting weight back on. However, it’s absolutely essential that they do so by only eating foods that contain healthy fats. Processed food will be a no-no. By eating healthy foods that are free of refined sugar and starches – in other words, eating as they should have done right from the start – they will be able to put on weight without developing another love handle.

Boost Metabolism – Part 1

Basically, a person’s metabolism is their internal power plant – it keeps them alive and kicking. It operates at a speed that varies from individual to individual. People who have a slow metabolism usually eat more calories than they need and which their body stores as fat for when times are hard. Those with a fast metabolism, on the other hand, burn all the calories they consume and so are less likely to have a fatty body. This explains why some lucky people can eat whatever they like without gaining weight while others pile it on.

Let’s take a closer look at this issue of metabolism, explain why it varies between people, and see ways that you can speed up your own metabolism so as to burn more calories.

What Is Metabolism Precisely?
Metabolism is a term used to describe the combination of biochemical processes that our bodies employ to convert food into energy. The faster it runs, the more calories needed to maintain it at that speed and vice versa.  

The speed at which a person’s metabolism operates is known as their metabolic rate. Basically, it’s the amount of calories they burn in a set period of time.

Factors That Affect Metabolic Rate
There are a number of factors that affect our metabolic rate. These include how old we are, how much muscle we have, the size of our body, our environment, the amount of physical activity we do, and how much fat we carry on our body.
The older a person is, the slower their metabolic rate will be – this is the main reason that most people put on weight as they get older.

The more muscle this person has, i.e. their muscle mass, the higher their metabolic rate and so the more calories they burn. Similarly, the bigger their body, the more calories they need to fuel it. Everytime this person engages in physical activity of any type, their metabolic rate rises and they will burn more calories. If the person is exposed to cold, he/she has to burn more calories to stay warm – again, their metabolic rate is affected. 

Another factor, and a very important one, is the amount of body fat a person carries. Research shows that overweight people have faster metabolisms than people of normal weight. This is because the larger the body (whatever the reason), the more energy it needs to carry out basic bodily functions. 

Then there is genetics. This is not a factor in metabolic rate as such – it’s actually more of a base starting point – nature dictates our metabolic rate at birth. And, being genetically generated, it’s completely beyond our control. 

Metabolic adaptation
Metabolic adaptation (also known as starvation mode) is a crucial factor in the gaining and losing of weight. Put simply, it is the body’s response to lack of calories. When we don’t take in enough calories, our body compensates by reducing its metabolic rate and thus the amount of calories it needs for its basic functions.

The extent to which it does this varies considerably from individual to individual but is greater in people who are overweight. 

Methods of Increasing Metabolic Rate
As we have seen, losing weight involves more than simply reducing calorie intake. To do it with the maximum possible effectiveness requires a strategy, or strategies, that will boost the metabolism. 

Here are several ways of doing this:

  • Get eight hours of sleep – eight hours of deep, unbroken sleep is absolutely critical for good health. It gives the body a breathing space in which to recover from the travails of the day. Lack of it limits the body’s ability to repair and maintain itself. Part and parcel of this is metabolic rate – lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, causes it to drop. Quite apart from the negative effect this has on the body’s ability to renew itself overnight, it also results in less calories being burned which, of course, can lead to weight being put on

  • Activity – any body movement, no matter how slight, directly increases metabolic rate and thus the amount of calories burnt. The greater that activity, the greater the rise in the metabolic rate. Note that this doesn’t mean we have to be running marathons and working out in the gym every day. Just very basic activity, such as standing up regularly, walking, and doing things around the house makes a major difference in the long term. For example, just sitting rather than lying down can increase metabolic rate by 5 percent. If you fidget while you sit, your metabolic rate can increase by up to 50 percent

  • Aerobics – taking the above a step further leads us to aerobic exercise. This is a type of cardiovascular conditioning that is an extremely effective way of raising metabolic rate. Activities such as cycling, swimming, running, and even just a brisk daily walk are all ideal ways of raising metabolic rate significantly. A good target to aim for is three hours of aerobic activity every week

  • High-intensity workouts – one of the most effective types of exercise is high intensity interval training. This is a form of exercising that involves vigorous bursts of activity followed by periods of lesser activity. It gives our metabolism a significant boost – one that is still present for a considerable time after the exercise has ended

  • Weight exercises – there are any number of weight exercises that can be employed as a means of raising metabolic rate. Weight bearing exercises like push-ups and pull-ups are ideal, as is weight lifting with barbells and dumbbells. They both have the added bonus of increasing muscle mass which, in turn, leads to more calories being burned. Studies have shown that just 10 minutes a day doing weight exercises can raise a person’s resting metabolic rate by up to 10 percent. This results in approximately 150 extra calories being burned every day

  • Avoid crash dieting – many people attempt to lose weight as quickly as they can reasoning that the quicker they do it, they sooner they can get back to eating normally. However, this rarely works and the reason is that limiting calorie intake too much results in a significant drop in metabolic rate. As explained above, this is known as metabolic adaptation, or starvation mode, and is the way our bodies prevent starvation. A daily calorie intake of less than 1000 is known to cause a serious reduction in metabolic rate. Furthermore, this low rate can persist for a considerable period after the diet has been stopped. Not only is it not good for general health, it also makes regaining any weight lost as a result of the diet much more likely

  • Hydrate yourself – studies have shown conclusively that the simple act of drinking water gives a temporary boost to our metabolic rate. The medical term for it is ‘water-induced thermogenesis’. The effect is more pronounced when drinking cold water because in order to bring it up to body temperature, calories have to be burned. It is thought that around 15 ounces of cold water can raise metabolic rate by about 20 percent for a period of about an hour. So, if done on a daily basis, drinking cold water can result in a significant loss of weight in the long-term

  • Eat plenty of protein – protein is a macronutrient essential to the building of muscle mass. And, as we have already seen, the more muscle mass a person has, the higher their metabolic rate. It’s also a fact that while the consumption of all types of food raises metabolic rate, protein raises it far more – typically three times as much. Another effect of high protein consumption is that loss of muscle is minimized, as is the reduced metabolic rate commonly experienced when dieting

The Bottom Line
All human beings are born with a base metabolic rate that is determined by genetic factors. This puts it beyond our control. However, as we have shown in this article, there are a number of ways in which we can boost our metabolic rate. Just one reason for doing so, of course, is to help our bodies shed those unwanted stores of fat.