At any given moment, millions of people in this country are on a diet. From Weight Watchers to the South Beach Diet to the newest diet pill, folks are trying anything and everything in an effort to write their own weight loss success story. Unfortunately for those seeking fast weight loss, the vast majority of weight loss programs on the market today simply do not work.
Diet plans and diet products that offer quick weight loss without exercise are especially prone to failure. “In fact, nearly 95 percent of those who go on low calorie diets regain their lost weight, plus some, within five years. Not a resounding endorsement for low calorie dieting” (Source: Performance Press; April 2006).
That’s not to say that all the weight loss tips and diet tips are without merit, however. Tips on losing weight can have a powerful effect when they’re combined with regular exercise. That’s why we’ve created this list of the top 10 health tips for easy weight loss.
Is weight loss easy? Not usually, and the reason is that most people try to make huge changes all at once. Pumped up with commitment and willpower, they jump into the latest weight loss product or diet program with both feet. They make too many changes in too short a time period. Drastic lifestyle modifications are rarely sustainable, and all too often lead to failure. If you’ve been living on junk food for years, trying to switch to a healthy diet overnight will only make you feel frustrated and deprived.
A much better approach is to make small changes that you can stick with for life. So check out the sound advice you’ll find in our top ten list, and you’ll get the weight loss information you need for success.
** 1) Our first bit of health advice is to skip the super size option. In this tip we’ve assumed that you visit McDonald’s once per week. That may a low average for some of you, so keep in mind that if you’re eating fast food more than once per week the results you’ll achieve by following this tip will be even greater than the example shows. We’re not asking you to give up fast food completely (small, sustainable changes, remember?). Instead, we’re asking you to say no to the SuperSize portion. Just by ordering a ‘regular’ McDonald’s meal instead of the SuperSize option, you will lose almost 6 pounds of fat this year! Want even more good news? This example only factors in the french fries. Add in the calorie savings you’ll get by drinking a regular soda vs. a SuperSize soda and the results are truly amazing.
** 2) The second recommendation in this fitness advice guide is to eat 5 – 6 smaller meals per day. “Eating small meals causes a lower blood sugar response than large meals. A high blood sugar response provides you with quick energy, but it is associated with a large insulin release that tends to cause a blood sugar ‘crash’ soon thereafter. Many small meals taken throughout the day will normalize blood sugar and insulin levels, providing a sustained and consistent energy supply to the cells. A meal every three hours or so is recommended.” (source: Fitness, The Complete Guide; 2001; page 8.4)
A note of caution here, however: This health tip does not mean that you eat 6 big meals per day. Instead, you should take the amount of food you’d normally consume and spread it out over six meals instead of the usual three. For someone on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that would translate into 333 calories per meal x 6 meals.
** 3) The next tidbit of expert advice is to know the numbers. Everyone on a weight loss plan should know, at a minimum, how many calories they should be consuming every day. This number is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), also commonly referred to as the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) or simply the Burn Rate. Although your doctor can help you calculate your BMR most accurately, there are some resources that can assist you in estimating your number.
Your BMR is your ‘calorie target’, assuming that you wish to maintain your current size and weight. For the best fat loss results, cut calorie consumption moderately…..say, 500 below your caloric target.
If you’re seeking fat loss, then it’s important to also understand that body fat percentage is one of the most important measurements of fitness. All the medical advice agrees that reaching your ideal body weight is best achieved through permanent fat loss (as opposed to muscle loss). With this in mind, this health tip for easy weight loss is to know your BMR and your body fat percentage, along with the corresponding goals.
** 4) It’s good advice to know the difference between cheat food and junk food. Cheat foods are those foods that don’t belong in your everyday diet, but still have some redeeming qualities. Junk foods are those foods that don’t belong in your diet at all, ever.
This tip is really a critical one: Understand the difference between ‘cheat’ foods and ‘junk’ foods. Cheat foods have some nutritional value, so although we shouldn’t eat them every day it’s not the end of the world if we enjoy them from time to time. Junk foods, on the other hand, give us absolutely no benefit whatsoever. Again, we want you to make small changes that you can stick with for life. You don’t have to give up the occasional ‘cheat food’ treat – just try to eliminate all the ‘junk food’.
For example, compare a slice of Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza with a Hershey’s chocolate bar. Neither are what you’d consider healthy, and both have roughly the same number of calories. But with the pizza, at least you’re getting some nutritional value because that delicious slice contains 11 grams of protein compared to just 3 grams in the candy bar. Cheat foods are not health foods, but at least they’re not junk foods. Choose wisely.
** 5) When you’re trying to lose weight fast, some sound advice is to chart your progress. What gets measured gets done, so charting your fat loss progress is a simple step that will help you get motivated and stay motivated. Create a chart for each challenge you face, whether it be working out or dietary habits. The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to chart your progress – what works for you may not work for anyone else. So come up with your own system, create a tracking chart, and post it where you will see it several times each day.
** 6) Do not decrease your caloric intake far below what is required of your BMR, or you risk forcing your body into starvation mode. “Do not under-eat by too much. If you consistently eat way too little, your body will start to think it’s in a starvation state and for the initial period, weight loss and fat loss may become harder than anticipated. After a while of severe underfeeding, instead of preferentially burning fat for energy, your hard-earned muscle will be burned for energy” (source: Fitness Rx; February 2004; page 93). So if healthy weight loss is your goal, and you only want to burn fat while you preserve your valuable muscle, then take great care to not starve yourself.
** 7) Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Shopping when you’re hungry is asking for double-trouble, and eliminating this bad habit will help you lose fat by removing temptation from your home. Shopping while full greatly reduces your chances of impulsively buying sweets and treats. This allows you to shop with your brain and not your stomach. Skipping all the extra fattening foods will make one thing fatter, however…..your wallet.
** 8) Take (at least) 20 minutes to eat. Once you start eating, it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that you’re full. The problem is, many of us eat so quickly that by the time our stomach has had the chance to send that message we’ve already put down more calories than we needed.
Here are a few ways to solve this problem:
a) Drink a large (8 or 12 oz.) glass of water 20 minutes before each meal.
b) Physically put your fork down between each bite.
c) Enjoy your family. Have a discussion that stretches out the length of the meal.
d) Serve the meal in courses, starting with a large salad.
** 9) Have a treat once a week. If you deprive yourself of all treats, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure. “Being too stringent on a diet can beget a downfall. To prevent this, once a week, for one meal, have your favorite foods” (source: Fitness Rx; February 2004; page 96).
One of the major reasons people fail in their fat loss efforts is that they adopt the all-or-none mentality. When the attempts to stay away from all treats fail, it’s easy to think ‘Oh well, I’ve already blown my diet. Might as well eat another slice’. Planning a weekly treat will help curb those cravings, making a binge less likely.
** 10) Be inefficient. Make extra work for yourself. Take two trips to bring in all the groceries from the car, even if you can do it in one. When running errands, park as far away from each business as possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, even if you’re carrying something. In short, be inefficient. “Being inefficient in this way can easily double your activity level and you’ll be burning calories without even trying” (source: Fitness Rx; February 2004; page 96).
Remember that walking burns about 108 calories in 30 minutes. Small walks count too. Even if you don’t have time to walk 30 minutes in one session each day, shorter walks that add up to 30 minutes will still burn that same 108 calories.
If you’re looking for the best weight loss program available, give these health tips a try. With a little effort, you may just put that weight issue to rest once and for all.
Tracie Johanson is the founder of Pick Up The Pace, a 30-minute exercise studio for women focusing on fitness, health and nutrition for maximum weight loss. Please visit http://www.letspickupthepace.com/ for more information.
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