As 2017 comes to a close and we welcome the new year, many of us will begin to set goals for the 2018. One of the most common goals we’ll set is weight loss because who doesn’t want to look good for that beach party next year? But with a sea of information out on google, how do we know what actually works?
Assuming that you’re a completely healthy individual with no medical condition whatsoever, this article serves to shed some light on what really works apart from your usual exercise and diet advise, according to personal experience, experiences of my clients and the research world. The best part of it all? The strategies shared on this article can be used immediately, with some of them showing you immediate effects!
1.Go for a morning run before breakfast
Exercising in a fasted condition allows your body to use fat better compared to after having carbohydrates for breakfast. When you consume carbohydrates, biochemically speaking, fat oxidation pathways (simply said: the use of fats) are reduced, or sometimes even blocked, thus allowing the body to exclusively use carbohydrates for your exercise. However, if you are one who really really needs his breakfast, consuming proteins does not seem to affect fat oxidation pathways.
2. If you lack time, go for a high intensity work out
For the really busy who cannot afford the luxury of time to move around, hitting a high intensity exercise might be more beneficial to you. I personally like to do a few (5-10) sets of maximal effort sprints mediated by short rest time (10-30 seconds) to get my heart rate really high.
You probably have heard of high intensity interval training (HIIT), and the principle of these exercises works on the theory where you exercise really hard to force your heart to it’s near-maximum limits, thus making the body work hard during recovery by consuming more oxygen, forcing the body to use more energy to help itself recover. We call this theory Exercise Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
3. If you have the time, go for a longer duration, moderate intensity exercise
Your body tends to utilize more fats when you’re working out on a low to moderate intensity and more carbohydrates on a high intensity exercise. Thus, going on a moderate intensity, steady pace activity like jogging, cycling or swimming can be beneficial to your body’s overall composition. Of course, you can consider ending your activity on a blast with a hard sprint so that your body can take advantage of EPOC to expand more energy.
4. If you love sweet treats, have it post exercise
Carbohydrates (Sugar, pasta, rice, starch, bread, cakes, candies) are stored in the body in a form of glycogen. However, our glycogen storage are limited to a total of 500g around the body’s muscle tissue and liver and once these storage are saturated, the rest of our carbohydrates will be stored as fats.
After performing a hard exercise, your body glycogen storage are reduced as it uses carbohydrates and glycogen to move hard and fast. Consuming your sweet treats post exercise will then help restore these glycogen storage.
Of course, with that said, high GI carbohydrates should still be reduced as moderated if your goal is a weight loss.
5. Move around on purpose
If you lead the life of a typical office worker who usually sits on his chair to work on his computer for a good 8-9 hours, you probably want to add in purposeful movements to increase the amount of energy you use throughout the day. Take a walk during lunch time, climb the stairs as you return to office, or stroll to the nearest bus stop on your way to work. These small but meaningful activities will help to add up on the amount of energy you use for the day.
Sure, hitting the gym for an hour will help you lose weight and grow some muscles, but your activity level throughout the rest of the day is just as important to make an impact on the total amount of energy you burn for the day. The small amount of energy expanded daily will then add up to a large amount, creating that weight loss you hope for.
6. Eat Slowly
Possibly one of the simpler yet more effective manner of reducing your calorie intake is to just eat slowly. Your body typically takes about 20 minutes to understand that you are full, so taking your time to eat will give the body time to understand that it’s being fed. You also get the added benefits of tasting your food, enjoying it for a longer period of time, and better digestion after your meal.
Precision Nutrition has done a very awesome article on eating slowly. For more information, click here
7. Eat Regularly
Eating regularly (4-6 meals/day) regulates your metabolism, reduces your appetite and gives your body the nutrients it needs on a regular basis. This correlates to lower tendency to snack and my personal favorite of this method’s benefit: You can eat all day!
8. Drink some water before you eat
Think of your stomach as a jar. By drinking water before you eat, not only do you hydrate yourself, but you also take some “food space” away from the stomach, reducing the space left for you to consume food.
9. Have a lower calorie diet
Probably the most important rule of all when it comes to weight loss is to make sure that your total energy consumed must be lower than your total energy expanded. Reducing portion sizes by even 10% can become very meaningful to your weight loss journey in the long run.
10. Consume only the carbohydrates you need
As mentioned in point 4, carbohydrates are stored in the body in a form of glycogen. However, our glycogen storage are limited to a total of 500g around the body’s muscle tissue and liver and once these storage are saturated, the rest of our carbohydrates will be stored as fats. Furthermore, the consumption of carbohydrates as stated in point 1, may block the fat oxidation pathways that’s so useful to you in the area of weight loss.
While you don’t have to go to the extreme and completely take carbohydrates out of the equation, understanding your activity level and consuming carbohydrates according to your needs can be very helpful. In general, 1-2g/kg bodyweight of low GI carbohydrates (whole grains, brown rice, etc) is a relatively good amount to work with on a daily basis if you are not having a long exercise session.
11. Treat protein like your bro
The immense amount of benefits related to protein is endless, and when it comes to weight loss, protein holds a tremendous amount of reasons to be loved.
- Your body uses more energy to break down proteins
- Consuming protein keeps you full for a longer period
- Proteins consumed on a regular basis (20-40g/3 hour) helps to keep a positive protein synthesis, translating to better maintained lean muscle mass
- Protein helps to rebuild and recovery your muscle tissues post exercise
Implementing the action
But as stated on the introduction, many of us know how to lose weight. Implementing it seems to be a bit harder. It’s as thought losing weight is so easy, it’s so tough. One of the most successful methods used in providing intervention today is the One-Habit Method used by Precision Nutrition, and I’m going to share with you how it works.
On the 1st of January as you set your mind to successfully lose weight, choose ONE habit and stick to it for the next 2 weeks. It can be any of the above 11 methods (I really recommend starting with eat slowly), or another method you feel could better help you. 2 weeks later, check in with yourself and decide if you’re ready to add on to another habit.
Why this works
When you focus solely on one habit at a time, you place ALL your attention on that particular habit. This gives you ample time to focus on getting used to this new change to your lifestyle, learn how adapt to it and troubleshoot why it may or may not work. Can you do more than one habit at a time? Sure. now you’ll have two things bugging for your attention. In the world of fitness and nutrition, you have many (and I mean MANY) things seeking for you attention, and before you know it, you might end up trying too many things at the same time.
Assessing the habit
Anything not measured cannot be managed. Thus, it is important you know how you would want to make sure your habit is working. Some considerations in this case would be to look at the types of self-assessment and how often they should be performed? What questions can you ask? Here are some examples:
Scenario 1: John wants to eat slowly for a week
Questions he can ask himself:
- Am I chewing my food at least 5 times before I swallow?
- How long (minutes) did I take to finish this meal?
Scenario 2: John wants to begin exercising 20 mins, once a week on monday
Questions he can ask himself:
- Did I exercise this week on Monday?
- What did I do? How did I feel after exercising?
I would suggest to keep your assessments short and simple. Preferably if you’re doing a daily assessment, you should be able to finish it within 5 mins or less.
Things to Consider before start performing your habit
Before starting the habit, ask yourself: On a scale of 1-10, how well do I think I can do this habit? If you find yourself not getting a score of 9-10, try to further break down the habit. Ultimately, you want the habit to be so simple it’s almost ridiculously easy. And then, you just stick to doing what you’re supposed to do.
Let me know in the comments section below if you’re going to try it, and share with me your success stories 2 weeks later!
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