Whether or not you believe in Santa Claus, most of us will still be (secretly) wishing for a miraculous weight-reduction for Christmas this year!
Packing on the pounds during the holidays is common. The festive season brings with it plenty of parties and potlucks that put your diet efforts on the backburner.
Sometimes, even with a rigorous adherence to a weight-loss plan, the results you seek take their own sweet time to show. This can be frustrating, and often, highly demotivating.
While expecting rapid results is unrealistic, it just so happens that people often do not pay attention to the little things that might aid their weight-loss efforts in major ways.
Following a few simple tips can make a world of difference.
Adopting some new habits can head off the weight-loss inhibiting activities you might be unknowingly engaging in, boost the calorie-burning process and keep the nutrients flowing into your body.
Here are 10 weight-loss tips that work.
1. Keep Yourself Hydrated
You won’t lose weight just by drinking water. However, if you follow a strict diet but deprive yourself of adequate water, you are likely to lose less weight and take longer to lose it, too.
Water induces body thermogenesis – a process that revs up the metabolism and aids the calorie-burning process.
Drinking 500 ml (a little more than 2 cups) of warm water (22 to 37 degrees C) boosted the metabolic rate in study subjects by 30 percent, according to a 2003 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Furthermore, drinking water before meals suppresses hunger and significantly reduces food intake during meals.
Drinking 2 cups water/day 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner for 8 weeks significantly reduced the body mass index (BMI), body weight and body composition of 50 overweight girls, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.
2. Never Miss Breakfast
If you regularly skip breakfast, your metabolism has less work to do. Overtime, this slows down your body’s overall fat-burning capability.
Furthermore, when you go without food for too long, your body releases ghrelin (the hunger hormone) into your blood. This explains the hunger pangs you get by lunchtime when you skip breakfast. It also exacerbates cravings for fatty foods.
Study subjects who skipped breakfast, when showed pictures of high-fat foods like pizza, cake and chocolate, reported a significantly increased craving for these high-calorie foods, according to a 2010 study published in The Endocrine Society.
Even if you consider yourself to have strong will power, capable of warding off starvation-induced cravings, a healthy breakfast is still a critical part of a well-balanced diet.
Compromising your nutritional intake is bound to slow down, if not completely hamper, your weight loss.
3. Eat More Fruits
If you are struggling to keep yourself from snacking on a high-calorie treat or two, try replacing them with fruits.
Getting yourself in the habit of snacking on fruits instead of cookies, candy and chocolate bars will give your weight-loss effort the boost it needs.
Even if you are not struggling with sweets, increasing your daily fruit consumption will significantly help you lose weight.
An increase in fruit intake significantly reduced BMI and induced weight loss in overweight and obese subjects, according to a 2010 study published in Nutrition.
Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, avocados, grapefruits, bananas, watermelons and kiwis promote weight loss due to their nutritional profiles and their ability to keep you feeling full longer.
4. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is a high calorie beverage.
While drinking alcohol may not bloat you up, and giving it up alone may not transform your body, studies indicate that alcohol intake may hamper the weight-loss process in a number of ways.
Moderate alcohol consumption increases caloric intake and the appetite, according to a 2005 study published in Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
We often hear the term “beer belly”. It is self-explanatory – drinking beer results in abdominal fat accumulation. Not only is this counterproductive to weight-loss efforts, abdominal fat is a high-risk factor for heart disease. It is also the hardest kind of fat to get rid of.
Out of 148 subjects who regularly drank alcohol (especially beer), 50 percent were either obese or overweight, according to a 2009 study published in The International Journal of Nutrition and Wellness.
5. Turn off the TV
Many of you may have noticed you tend to overeat when you eat dinner sitting in front of the TV or binge-watching a new sitcom on your laptop. This happens because you are engrossed in the show and distracted from paying attention to what you are putting in your mouth.
Furthermore, it might hamper your post-meal workout plan if you become too engrossed and decide to skip the day’s session, as often happens.
Therefore, mindful eating and avoiding watching TV during meals could reduce your calorie intake and protect your diet efforts.
6. Get on the Scale
Getting on the scale and keeping a check on your weight every day is likely to help aid your weight-loss efforts and enable you to reach your target weight sooner.
Weighing yourself every day is a personal feedback mechanism that can keep you informed about which behaviors (lifestyle and dietary) are helping you lose weight, making you gain weight or keeping your weight stagnant.
In fact, a 2013 study published in Obesity notes that daily self-weighing for self-monitoring can help with clinically significant weight loss.
The daily-weighing subjects also cut back on eating at restaurants, mid-meal snacking and watching TV, as well as increased their physical exercise, the study further notes.
Another study published in 2008 in Contemporary Clinical Trials found that regularly recording dietary patterns and self-reporting eating tendencies result in improved weight loss.
7. Get Enough Sleep
It doesn’t matter if you are following the perfect diet and working out intensely. If you are not getting adequate sleep, you are depriving your body of the recuperation time it needs to stay healthy and fit.
Loss of sleep suppresses the production of leptin (the hunger-controlling hormone), promotes the production of ghrelin and increases food intake, according to a 2010 study published in Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
In addition, leptin increases energy. Lack of sleep, and the consequent suppression of the hormone, directly contributes to the fatigue and inactivity that follows a poor night’s sleep.
This could drastically affect your weight loss by keeping you from physically exercising.
8. Beware of “Diet”and “Sugar-free” Foods
Just because a certain food at your local grocery store screams “diet” does not mean it is a magic formula that will make you lean overnight. Be smarter than these marketing ploys, and check the ingredient label to see what you are really consuming.
Diet foods and beverages, such as refined-grain breakfast cereals, gluten-free foods, agave nectar, salad dressings, low-fat yogurt and diet sodas, contain fructose and added sugar.
Added sugar and fructose are extremely harmful, as they flush the body with excess sugar that is ultimately stored as fat.
Many of you might be making the mistake of drinking a diet soda with your lunch. The artificial sweetener in diet sodas is not digested by the body the way normal sugar is.
Instead, it is channeled into the intestine where it changes the behavior of bacteria, triggering a glucose tolerance. This, too, raises the blood sugar to abnormal levels, which is then converted to body fat.
9. Beware of “Quick-Fix” Products
Do NOT fall for the clever advertising of “quick-fix” products. Some popular “quick-fix” products include diet pills, prepackaged “fitness” and “diet” meals, as well as fitness equipment like sauna belts.
There is no shortcut to health and fitness.
In fact, if you scrutinize these products’ packaging, you will see that a lot of them state (in fine print, of course) that they do not guarantee results, and a healthy diet and exercise are still important to losing weight.
Realize that the perfectly shaped celebrities endorsing these products have a whole fitness and health team working with them to keep them fit, and they probably didn’t end up looking like they do by swallowing a miracle pill every day.
Instead of spending your hard-earned money on these products, spend it on whole, natural foods that will actually help you shed pounds.
10. Consult Your Doctor
Some prescription medications for diabetes, migraines and depression, among other disorders, can hamper weight-loss efforts by slowing down your metabolism.
Diabetes medicines like rosiglitazone, glyburide, glipizide and glimepiride may pose a significant risk of weight gain.
Rosiglitazone was positively associated with significant weight gain in Type 2 diabetes patients, according to a 2006 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Others may induce weight gain by interfering with your pituitary gland, which regulates the production of hormones including ghrelin, and exacerbating hunger.
As a side effect, some prescription medications make you lethargic and inactive.
If you are on prescription drugs and think they might be inhibiting weight loss, ask your doctor to prescribe an alternate medication for your condition, or a lower dose of the same medicine, if possible.