Want some good news?
Reducing your body fat percentage and keeping off the pounds does not require you to follow a strict diet where you constantly feel hungry and have to eliminate the foods you love.
In fact following a diet can dramatically hinder your chances of long term fat loss.
- You may loose the ‘weight’ you want, and lose it rapidly, but as soon as you go back to eating your normal foods (and all 3 food groups which ARE required by the body) you will regain all the weight that you have lost.
- If you’re hungry all the time and have no energy, the chances of you maintaining your diet are minuscule.
- By restricting or eliminating certain food groups, cravings and binging as well as yo-yo dieting is inevitable.
- Eventually you will hit a weight loss wall, and the only solution to this is to cut calories further until you are eating practically nothing.
The first step towards long term fat loss is to ditch the diet and the diet mentality.
The first step towards long term fat loss is to ditch the diet and the diet mentality. Instead focus on gradually installing these 11 habits into your daily routine to boost your metabolism. A faster metabolism helps you with digestion, and helps burn off the fat even while you’re sleeping. Before you know it, these small changes will result in some serious fat loss without you feeling like you’re losing your mind or energy deprived. So let’s take action:
1. Drink 2 to 3 litres of water each day – Do Not Wait Until You Are Thirsty!
- Water is the basis for every chemical process that takes place in the body, including your metabolism.
- When your body does not have sufficient amounts of water your calorie burning powerhouses, your muscles, slow down.
- Surprisingly lean muscle tissue is predominantly water, so when muscles are dehydrated they can no longer function properly and their ability to produce energy (and burn calories) is reduced dramatically.
- In addition your body’s ability to burn stored fat is also effected when you are dehydrated. Your kidneys cannot function effectively in a dehydrated state and pass on most of their work to the liver. This then effects the functioning of the liver and its ability to use and burn stored body fat for energy.
- Lastly yourbody may even confuse dehydration with hunger.
2. Get 6-8 hours of regular sleep every night
- Only when you are in deep sleep (stage 4) is the human growth hormone produced. Among its many functions, human growth hormone promotes the break down of stored fat (fat metabolism) and contributes to muscle synthesis and repair.
- In other words a lack of sleep means your body will be less efficient at burning fat and your muscle mass can deteriorate, further reducing your metabolic rate.
- When an individual is sleep deprived they have increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreased levels of the fullness hormone leptin; this is likely to lead to increased appetite and cravings and subsequent overeating.
- Too little sleep can also lead to reduced insulin sensitivity, where your body can no longer use insulin properly causing insulin levels to rise. Increased insulin levels inhibit your body’s ability to burn fat and increase the storage of fat in your body.
- Individuals who do not get enough sleep tend to eat in excess in an effort to gain the extra energy to stay up longer and to reduce their fatigue.
3. Whole foods should make up the majority of your diet
The majority of your diet (around 85% of it) should come from whole foods; lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits.
- The majority of your diet (around 85% of it) should come from whole foods; lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits. These foods are packed full of vitamins and nutrients which will benefit and strengthen your body and release energy slowly keeping you fuller for longer.
- Most of these foods will have 4 or less ingredients on the label and are closes to their natural state.
- The rest of your diet (the remaining 15%) can come from your well deserved treats (white carbohydrates and processed foods). In moderation, eating these foods on occasion, will not do any harm to your health (and as you will read below can actually be beneficial to boosting your metabolism and reducing body fat).
- However it is good to be aware that they are very high in calories and contain chemicals that when eaten in in excess can lead to diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
4. Always eat complex carbohydrates (and simple carbohydrates) with a portion of lean protein.
- Around mid morning or mid afternoon you may experience a sudden drop in energy levels, feel fatigued and crave something to eat. This ‘hit the wall’ feeling is due to falling blood sugar levels and unstable insulin levels.
- When complex carbohydrates are eaten with protein, the protein counterbalances the unstable insulin levels by slowing down the rate of digestion.
- Hence the presence of protein reduces the rate of the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar. As a result sugar is released into the blood stream at a slower rate keeping blood sugar levels stable and cravings at bay.
- By eating protein with your complex carbs you will slow the carbohydrate to fat conversion process even more. The slower release of sugar into the blood steam means that you have more time to use this sugar to fuel activities (walking, box and burn, etc) before it is stored as fat.
- Secondly the increased insulin levels that arise when eating carbohydrates on their own cause more fat to be stored.
- Have you ever opened a pack of Pringle’s and finished the whole pack in one go? Next time you are eating simple carbohydrates (like crisps, white rice and pasta etc) make a point to also have a portion of lean protein at the same time. Unlike simple carbohydrates protein sends a signal to the brain telling it you are full and to stop seeking food.
- Lastly your body spends more energy or calories on the digestion, absorption and transport of proteins than it does to digest and process carbohydrates and fats. Through this Thermic Effect eating protein can increase your metabolism by 15-30%.
- 3 servings of starchy complex carbohydrates, 4-6 servings of greens and 2 -3 servings of fruit daily.
- Not only are these foods packed full of vitamins, fibre and nutrients but they will keep your metabolism revved up and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
**Starchy Complex carbohydrates: Brown rice, Oats, Whole grain pasta, Quinoa, Whole grain bread, Sweet potatoes, Lentils, Carrots, Chickpeas, Beans
** Greens: Brocolli, Artichoke, Asparagus, Cabbage, Celery, Cucumber, Kale, Onions, Lettuce, Spinach, Onions, Courgettes
6. Eat 3-4 servings of ‘healthy’ fats every day
- Studies show that when people eat an adequate amount of healthy fat they feel satisfied quicker, fuller for longer and eat less sugar.
- In addition eating fat enhances your body’s ability to burn fat. Your body requires a supply of fat to initiate fat burning pathways through the liver.
- Fat burning hormones that function to enhance your metabolism and increase the rate at which fats are broken down depend on the presence of adequate amounts of fats from your diet to function.
Eg. ½ an avocado,
a handful of nuts,
a thumb sized slab of peanut butter,
a fillet of salmon,
1 -2 tablespoons of oil, or 2 teaspoons of seeds
Equates to one serving.
7. Do not go past the point of hunger – Eat 3- 5 small meals each day
- Skipping a meal leads to unstable blood sugar and insulin levels and triggers a starvation response in the metabolism making it slow down.
- When you’re hungry you’re more likely to make poor diet choices or eat more than your body needs.
- Meanwhile eating regularly stimulates a highly charged metabolic rate
- Think about it how often would you feed a baby. The recommended feeding time for a baby is every 3 hours. This not only keeps the baby properly nourished and content, but ensures that all metabolic processes are functioning efficiently.
8. Limit Alcohol
- What people seem to forget is that alcohol is a form of sugar, that is relatively high in calories. A glass of wine, for example, contains roughly the same amount of calories as a slice of cake while a frozen margarita contains similar calories to a cheeseburger.
- Your metabolism is also affected by alcohol. Your body cannot store alcohol, so it is immediately metabolized. As the alcohol becomes priority in the metabolic process, the metabolism of other sugars and fats in the body will slow down.
- Moreover drinking alcohol makes it more likely to forget about your intentions to eat correctly by making you loose your inhibitions
9. Incorporate strength training as well as HIIT into your weekly workout regime.
- The importance of strength training and building muscle to aid fat loss is often overlooked.
- While aerobic cardiovascular training burns more calories and fat whilst you are performing it, strength and HIIT training creates an oxygen debt that results in the EPOC effect (“Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption”) where your resting metabolic rate is increased for up to 38 hours after the work out.
- In other words you will continue to burn calories long after the session is over. This is because after such intense exercise your body must work to repair muscle damage and to restore cellular function to their pre-exercise levels.
- In addition to the extra calories burned from the EPOC effect, strength training builds more lean muscle which means you will be burning even more calories on a daily basis without having to do anything.It has been estimated that for each additional pound of muscle you can burn an extra 10-15 calories per day.
10. Treat Yourself
- Treating yourself every once in a while can not only help you achieve increased fat loss, but will also increase motivation, prevent decreases in metabolic rate, and eliminate binging.
- Foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value (such as pre-made microwave meals, pizza, doughnuts dressings, cakes, fried foods) are referred to as ‘unhealthy’ and we often become overwhelmed with guilt and failure when we eat them. These circumstances can even take over your psyche, leading you into a downward spiral and potentially binge eating.
- I think it is important to see these foods that you enjoy as well deserved treats rather than the enemy or something to feel guilty over.
- Treats are simply empty calorie foods you may choose to eat every once in a while but they will not hinder your success in the long run because you will pick up right where you left off once you’ve eaten them.
- Another reason why treating yourself on occasion is important is because it may actually help prevent a decrease in your metabolic rate.
- When your body becomes used to certain foods (even highly nutritious foods) your metabolism starts to recognize which foods you are eating.
- This reduces the amount of work that your metabolism has to do, and can result in an increase in body fat.
11. Spend at least 20 minutes every day to do something relaxing for your mind and soul
- Stress can prevent you from loosing body fat and even contribute to increases in body fat.
- When you are stressed in order to deal with the threat and for protection, your brain instructs your body to produce a number of hormones, including adrenaline, and cortisol.
- Adrenaline helps tap in to stored energy so your body is prepared for a ‘fight or flight’ response. Meanwhile cortisol (“stress hormone”), signals your body to replace this energy even though you haven’t used many calories. This can make you very hungry and will continue to do so until the stress stops.
- In the times of our ancestors this would be beneficial as their stress would be associated with things like fighting off wild animals, which required a lot of energy.
- In today’s modern society stresses to meet work deadlines, or from relationships for example do not require that much extra energy, yet our brain still signals that we are hungry.
- In these situations very few people reach for celery sticks and hummus to satisfy their hunger. Instead we tend to crave sweet, salty and processed fatty foods as they stimulate the brain to produce pleasure chemicals that soothe the stress and anxiety. In this way the extra hunger and consequential extra eating can contribute to an increase in body fat.
- Cortisol the stress hormone also has another effect; it binds to receptors on the stomach and triggers your body to store fat especially visceral fat deep within your stomach area. Not only is this fat very difficult to burn but it puts the surrounding organs in danger and can interfere with their proper functioning.
- Cortisol can also increase insulin resistance, inhibiting insulin( the hormone that allows your cells to take up sugar from the food we eat) so that there is energy/sugar available to be used by our muscles. The inhibition of insulin means that cells are not receiving the required sugar to fuel them and as a result your brain is signalled to eat even more food.
12. Eat the right portion sizes
13. Be positive /Final thoughts.
- By far, the most important part of losing fat and implementing these healthier habits into your lifestyle is improving your self-image and happiness. Do not be hard on yourself and remain positive.
- It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year to slowly incorporate all of these habits into your daily routine.
- Every change counts, and every little bit adds up.
Take Home Message…
Instead of dieting, deprivation are focusing on how much weight you have lost on the scales, gradually implement these 13 steps into your daily routine and you will soon see that by being mindful of what you eat and by eating a well balanced whole food diet with good quality ingredients, and moderate exercise you will feel and be healthier and as a secondary consequence will loose the ‘weight’ you want.
How you look is not nearly as important as how you feel. Maintain positivity and you’ll see the changes you want to see!