Want to quick weight loss? Forget the fad diets. Losing weight and keeping it off is all about a healthy lifestyle. Here are six weight loss secrets you need to try.
Summer is here and temperatures are rising. With warmer weather comes the often-dreaded bathing suit season, a time that spurs many to shed the extra weight for good. Unfortunately, the summer slim down can seem easier said than done thanks to the never-ending parade of dietary advice, celebrity endorsements and fad cleanses at every turn. Though this slew of advice might have you throwing up your hands in frustration, don’t let the info overload keep you from taking action.
We’ve done the work for you, and cut through the fluff to give you the proven, hard-hitting tips to get you to your goal weight. Consider the following list of often-overlooked tips your no-nonsense guide to shedding the weight for good.
Soon you’ll be feeling at your best not just on the beach this summer, but all year round.
#1 Up Your H2O Intake
We know you’ve heard it before, but it’s impossible to overstate the key role that water plays in our overall health. When it comes to weight loss, a healthy hydration habit is one strategy that should not be overlooked.
Old-school wisdom tells us to consume at least 8 cups a day. But, depending on your stats, you may want to aim for more. Ideally, the average adult needs to be downing half their body weight in ounces of water per day. This means that if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 fluid ounces a day—around 9.5 cups!
Be sure to space this out and sip throughout the day, not only when you realize you’re thirsty.
If you’re only drinking once you’re parched, it’s already too late, since thirst registers in our brains only once cells are already dehydrated.
For weight loss help, try drinking a full glass slowly before a meal to partially fill up your stomach, rather than sitting down to eat on empty. This tip alone can curb appetite and reduce caloric intake.
Drinking water also revs up metabolic function. Many studies have shown that those who increased their daily water intake ramped up their body’s resting energy expenditure. In fact, metabolic rates can soar as much as 30% after drinking 17 ounces of water. This rise in rate can take affect within 10 minutes of drinking, and peaks 30 to 40 minutes later, when the thermogenic response is at its highest.
Lastly, keep it cool. Cool water requires more energy to metabolize in the body than room temp or warm so you’ll burn more calories as you sip.
#2 Don’t Curse The Carb
Carbs have endured a bad rap for decades in the dietary community. The truth is though, more and more research suggests that eating carbs is vital. If you’ve been viewing them as your enemy, you can put that notion to rest. They’re one of the three major macronutrients for a reason! While, of course, that doesn’t give you permission to run to the nearest bakery or to load up on pasta, healthy carbs most certainly deserve their place on your plate.
Consider the type of carb you’re loading up on: Carbs rated low on the glycemic index are your best options, as they are slowly turned into glucose in the bloodstream. This holds blood sugar levels far better than a high glycemic carb choice, which sends levels spiking and later crashing.
Reach for complex carb options like brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat bread. These are all ideal for holding blood sugar levels. As our bodies digest carbs and glucose enters the bloodstream, this process triggers the release of the anabolic hormone, insulin. Since insulin converts carbs into stores of adipose tissue, it’s the literal enemy of weight loss and the less of it you have entering your bloodstream, the better.
If you didn’t already have enough reasons to eat them, carbs can help with this too. We need the slow-digesting carbs to trigger feelings of fullness, stave off hunger, keep us mentally alert and halt the dreaded mindless noshing.
Studies have shown that people who cut their carbs to low levels snacked and binged more not only during that day, but also into the next. So welcome healthy carbs back into your diet. You’ll be better able to make smart eating choices both today and tomorrow.
#3 Sleep Your Way To Thin
If you look at the sleep habits of most Americans, the stats are grim. Many of us are scraping by with far less than the seven to nine hours recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. The truth is, whether we realize it or not, our poor sleep habits are doing a number on our waistlines. If you’re trying to ditch the bulge, your sleep habits simply have to be up to par.
Maybe you’re thinking waking up earlier is the only way to get your workout in?
Here’s why you might be doing more harm than good by skimping on the shut-eye: Feeling tired makes us crave that mid-day latte and break room sweets, for a short term energy boost. If we’re waking up groggy, it’s also that much harder to hammer out tomorrow’s a.m. workout and the cycle continues.
It’s common knowledge that sleep is the crucial window of time our bodies use to repair and rebuild tiny tears resulting from weight training. Without rest, we can’t make the muscle gains we’re hitting the gym to achieve. Just ask Lebron James or Roger Federer, who each reportedly clock in 12 hours a night to perform at their top abilities.
Sleep is a crucial factor in shedding the pounds too though, not just for putting on muscle mass. Sleep controls two key hormones involved in our metabolism and weight loss: Leptin and ghrelin. These cue our brains when we need to eat more, and when we should stop. Missing sleep throws off the balance of these hunger-regulating hormones. That’s why you should make it a priority to start shutting down earlier and caring just as much about time spent sleeping as you do time in the gym.
#4 Say No To Processed Options
It should come as no surprise that for lasting, long-term weight loss and a sustainable healthy lifestyle, you can’t outwork a bad diet. There are simply no shortcuts around choosing a diet of whole minimally processed foods.
Your options start at the grocery store. This floods the typical shopper with countless, often confusing front-of-package claims, promising to whittle your waistline and help you achieve optimal health.
To truly lose the weight once and for all, your best bet is to fill your cart with foods that don’t come with a novel-length label. We’re talking whole fruits, veggies, grains and proteins. If you find yourself in need of a degree to read a list of ingredients, you’re best off reaching for something simpler.
Look for recognizable ingredients, or better yet, only one, such as apples or spinach!
Highly processed options like cereals, granola bars, frozen meals and even yogurts, are typically chock full of sugars, corn syrups, sodium, food dyes and preservatives. When we eat these ingredients, artificial additives and sugars that our bodies don’t recognize as a food source, our brains still clamor for real food and trigger us to reach for that next snack soon after.
Instead of reaching for frozen entrees, or relying on fast food options, which make a healthy, balanced macronutrient intake almost impossible, take matters into your own hands. Prepare fresh, home-cooked meals like steamed veggies and a protein, soups and stews, or a grain and veggie salad at the start of each week and brown-bag it at work. Cutting out the temptation to eat out or grab what’s quick will keep your blood sugars stable and give you complete control over the ingredients entering your body.
#5 Switch Up Your Gym Routine
One of the best things you can do if you find your weight loss hitting a plateau is to switch things up in the gym.
Your body might simply need a jolt in order to kick your results into high gear.
If you’ve been doing the same routine for months on end and aren’t noticing improvements in your fat loss, muscle gain or overall body composition, then try throwing your body for a loop and see how it responds to the switch. After time, our bodies become used to anything we do with regularity, so it’s advised to shock your body out of its usual routine every four to six weeks. This will ensure you’re torching the maximum amount of calories during your workouts.
You don’t need to ditch your entire split or routine. Simply tweak how many reps of a certain exercise you do, or up the amount of weight you lift by 5 pounds when doing squats, for example. It can be as simple as throwing in a new-to-you exercise at the end of a superset.
Bear in mind the acronym F.I.I.T. It stands for frequency, intensity, timing and type. Strive for small modifications in one or two of these areas, and by making these minor changes, you’ll start to see and feel amped-up results.
#6 Eat Often To Rev Your Metabolism
Is it already lunchtime but you still haven’t had breakfast?
If you’re going hours without blocking out some time to eat, you might want to consider fueling up more often. Tucking into three solid meals and two snacks per day stabilizes blood sugar levels, which is optimal. It also keeps our digestion and metabolism revving, turning our bodies into fat burning machines.
If you’ve heard that six or more tiny meals per day is the trick, really this only leaves us hungry and reaching for more. Regular hearty meals and snacks are a smarter bet than constant grazing. Giving your body a few hours of down time in between allows it the chance to dip into energy reserves for fuel—something you want to allow in order to start chipping away at the extra pounds.
When we’re eating throughout the day, this energy spent on digestion raises your rate of energy expenditure. That means you’ll be able to burn more calories than someone who only consumes two or three monster meals.
Lastly, depriving yourself of calories only sends your body into starvation mode. In this state, our body’s natural reaction is to hold onto every last calorie we consume and stash them away as energy deposits, typically adipose tissue.
The good news is that when we eat often, our bodies know that more food will soon be coming, so it doesn’t feel the need to hang onto what we feed it for future periods of deprivation. If you want to trim down, fuel your body right with healthy, balanced, regular meals.
Losing weight and maintaining it is not a battle that can be won overnight, but rest assured it could be won. It just requires a blend of common sense, science, and dedication over time.
Resist the urge to cut corners or reach for quick fixes. They might deliver initial results, but when we deprive our bodies of the nutrients, rest and proper exercise they need, more often than not the immediate gratification is short lived and we gain the weight right back.
For long-term progress and health, put on the blinders to the next fad diet advice and instead stick to tried-and-true advice like these tips. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces risks of all chronic diseases from heart attack, hypertension, stroke, and diabetes. It should really be viewed as a non-negotiable priority to ensure a healthy life. Your body will reward you when you treat it with the proper care and respect it deserves, and you can expect to see continued results and an increased quality of life.
By Emmy Schneider-Green