It's been the age-old question for many of us for years - "How do I lose weight, and more importantly, how do I keep it off?" With all the advice out there regarding weight loss and weight control, it's hard to know what works. If only there was a plan - customized just for you - that would end in successful weight loss. A strategy which you could follow and immediately begin to see results. Well, maybe there is.
After years of research, tests and trials, the experts have come up with proven, sure-fire steps you can take to lose weight and maintain a youthful, healthy body. No, this plan is not magic and it may demand a change in lifestyle and/or eating habits. But it works.Step 1: Follow a balanced, low-glycemic food plan.
In order to program your body to let go of that extra fat you’re carrying, you need to eat every 4-5 hours throughout the day. Why so often? Five to six hours after your last meal, a variety of hormonal mechanisms “wake up” and start to sabotage fat loss, blood sugar balance and appetite. Prevention is the key here – it’s much easier to ward off a ravenous appetite and low blood sugar than to deal with those factors once they’ve arisen.
Ideally all your meals and snacks should consist of some protein, low-glycemic index carbohydrates and a little fat. Meals should contain about 500 calories and snacks 100-300 calories.
But wait – to lose weight you should eat fat? Is that right? Most dieters mistakenly believe that snacks without fat will help them lose weight faster. That’s not the case. Monosaturated fats are essential to weight loss because they slow the rate of entry into the bloodstream for carbohydrates. Dietary fat also is responsible for releasing the hormone CCK, which tells your body that you are full and it’s time to stop eating.Step 2: Get Moving!
Regular physical exercise has been proven again and again to result in weight loss and weight control. Thirty to 60 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is enough to get results. So why do so many of us avoid it? Perhaps the thought of running for 30 minutes seems insurmountable, or you’re just too busy to get to the gym.
But you know what? Fortunately, “physical exercise” isn’t limited to running on the treadmill or a spinning class. You can rack up minutes of exercise without even thinking twice about it! Normal everyday activities such as gardening, house-cleaning, laundry or other chores burn calories too. Opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator or park at the farthest end of the parking lot and you’re already closer to your goal. Have a half-hour lunch break? Instead of heading to your favorite café or restaurant, pack a cooler and walk to the park to eat your lunch.
These are just a few suggestions, but any activity that gets your heart-rate elevated burns calories. So get moving!
Step 3: Build Muscle
Study after study has shown that adding muscle to your frame boosts your metabolism. As little as three pounds of added muscle will increase metabolic rate by 7 percent and burn an additional 100 calories per day.
Many women avoid strength training because they fear they will “bulk up.” Others try it for a few weeks and stop because they see pounds adding up on the scale. But guess what? Muscle weighs more than fat and unfortunately your scale can’t tell the difference! Instead of focusing on the numbers, pay attention to how your clothes start to fit. Are your pants looser in the hips and the waist? Do you suddenly need to wear a belt? Those are results you can see – and others can too! To get these results, try to strength train a minimum of 20 minutes, three times a week.
Step 4: Banish Abdominal Fat
One of the top areas most women wish they could improve on their bodies is the abdominal region. Of course we’d all love to have the elusive six-pack and look great in a bikini! But did you know that carrying extra weight around your middle can actually be harmful to your overall health? Belly fat, or visceral fat, is much more dangerous than the fat that lands on your hips, thighs and buttocks, and has recently been linked to a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer.
Earlier we talked about adding fat to your daily food intake. But it’s important to get the right kind of fat, and stay away from the wrong kind – trans fat. Trans fat is found in things like vegetable shortening, margarine, cookies and other snack foods. And guess what? It goes right to your tummy.
Another way to reduce abdominal fat and tighten your tummy is to do abdominal exercises. As little as 5-10 minutes of abdominal exercise will help in trimming your middle. And you don’t need expensive equipment to get results! A recent study showed that crunches using an exercise ball proved to be the most effective at toning abdominal muscles – even more so than advertised products costing hundreds of dollars.
Step 5: Sleep Tight and Chill Out
How many hours of sleep do you get each night? Studies have shown that people who sleep less than four hours a night are a whopping 70 percent more likely to be overweight than those who get seven to nine hours of sleep.
You may be wondering – what does sleep have to do with weight? Lack of sleep lowers the protein leptin, which helps to suppress appetite, and inhibits the production of insulin which regulates blood sugar. Try to adjust your schedule to ensure you get a minimum of seven solid hours of sleep each night.
If you’re not getting enough sleep there’s a good chance you’re also a bit stressed. These days most of us carry way too much on our plates to maintain a healthy stress level. But having too much stress in your life can also cause you to carry too much on your middle as well. When you’re anxious your body releases adrenaline, cortisol and insulin – a combination which has been associated with increase appetite and additional fat landing on your waistline.
Try to take time to relax throughout the day even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time and you’ll be one step closer to getting a handle on your love handles.
Step 6: Drink up!
Water, that is! Water helps flush fat out of your fat cells and also keeps “water bloat” or edema, under control. If you aren’t drinking enough water, you’re most likely retaining it – adding as much as 10 pounds to your weight! By drinking eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water per day you’ll reduce your water weight significantly. If drinking that amount of water sounds like an impossible feat, start slow and eventually work your way up to that goal.
Step 7: Beware of Low-Fat Diets
For years we’ve been told that “low-fat” is the key to weight loss. But it low-fat diets can actually cause you to gain weight! Not getting enough healthy fats (such as those found in fish, nuts, seeds, natural soy foods and flax, to name just a few) causes deficiencies in essential fatty acids (EFA’s) which in turn slows down metabolism. EFA’s are definitely a friend to weight loss – they suppress appetite, help burn fat, prevent bloating and boost metabolism. Adding as little as one serving per day of EFA-rich foods can significantly aid in weight loss.
So now you know! Like we said, it’s not magic – but it’s not a secret either. By following these simple seven steps you’ll be seven steps closer to reaching your ideal weight – and maintaining it.