The act of losing weight is by no means unhealthy.
We know that being overweight can lead to a host of negative health effects, such as an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Subsequently, losing weight can reduce these risks, while often also improving confidence and boosting self-esteem.
Unfortunately, the way in which many actually go about losing weight can be quite unhealthy. This often involves crash diets and extreme amounts of exercise. Neither of these methods are sustainable, and as result, can lead to massive fluctuations in weight, extremely damaged eating patterns, and often a very high level of unhappiness.
Fortunately weight loss doesn’t actually have to be difficult or unhealthy. By making long term lifestyle changes, we can promote, sustainable and healthy weight loss – without extremely restrictive dieting or absurd amounts of exercise.
The following tips can be implemented into your current routine easily and effectively, and will result in a substantial (and healthy) amount of weight loss over time – that won’t be regained immediately!
Perform weight training 2-3 times per week
Now, this may go against conventional wisdom, but that does not make it any less effective.
Our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy we burn at rest – also known as our metabolism) is largely based upon the amount of muscle mass we have. Muscle mass is known as active tissue, ultimately meaning that it uses energy to survive.
By increasing the amount of muscle mass we have on our body, even slightly, we can cause seriously large increases in our basal metabolic rate. This means we will burn more energy each and every day irrespective of exercise.
It is also important to note that lifting weights is a form of exercise, and as such it will also burn additional calories!
Consume protein with each meal
Again, although telling you to eat more of something may sound counterintuitive, just hear me out.
Protein plays an essential role in recovery after exercise, where it is used to build and repair muscle and connective tissue. This can ensure the healthy function of our cells, muscle, and connective tissue.
This means that per calorie, protein makes us ‘feel’ much more full than any other macronutrient. By increasing the satisfaction we feel after a meal while simultaneously reducing hunger cravings, we are going to be less likely to snack throughout the day. This will lower our daily energy intake, leading to a lower calorie consumption without the hassle of strict dieting.
Furthermore, protein also has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF) of the macronutrients. TEF describes the energy required to breakdown and digest food once it enters our gut. Protein can require quite a bit of work to digest, and as a result, a whopping 20% of the energy content of the protein we eat is used to breakdown and digest itself!
These two key factors can lead to substantial weight loss over time. As such, we should try and consume lean sources of protein with every meal.
Drink coffee regularly
While most people drink coffee for its stimulant like properties (and so they should!), it is important to note that coffee (or rather the caffeine in coffee) can also influence our ability to lose fat. This actually happens through two key mechanisms.
Firstly, caffeine increases the mobilization of fats from the fat stores within the body. This increased mobilization moves fat molecules from the body’s tissues and into the blood, where they are more available to be broken down and used for energy
Secondly, caffeine can cause an immediate and lasting increase in our resting metabolic rate. This causes an increase in the amount of energy we are burning at rest, which can promote weight loss without the need for additional exercise.
It is important to mention that while caffeine does indeed have some obvious positive effects when it comes to weight loss, we do need to exercise some caution. As caffeine is a stimulant, we should limit ourselves to 3-4 cups of coffee per day, while also trying to limit coffee intake to before 3pm (to limit the effect of caffeine on sleep quality).
Get a good night’s sleep
While this may sound simple, it cannot go without saying. Sleep is absolutely integral to maintaining a high quality of health. Poor sleep quality has shown strong associations with high blood pressure (among a host of other cardiovascular risk factors), poor mental capacity, and lowered energy levels.
By ensuring that we maintain a high level of sleep quality each and every night, we can limit the feelings of lethargy and fatigue that are associated with a sleep deprived state.
This will ensure we can maintain active throughout the day, which will help us burn calories unintentionally. Additionally, the positive health effects associated are worth their weight in gold.
We should strive for somewhere between 7 and 9 hours each night. This ensures we can maximise recovery and maintain optimal sleep quality.
Avoid periods of inactivity
Now I am well aware that most of us work office based jobs, and as a result end up sitting for extended periods of time.
Unfortunately, when this inactivity is prolonged, it can actually cause some issues. There is a hormone found in the human body that is known as lipoptrotein lipase (LPL). LPL is integral to promote the breakdown and mobilization of fat molecules so that we can them for energy.
But inactivity actually reduces LPL secretion. After approximately 60 minutes of sedentary activity (whether sitting, or lying down), our body stops secreting LPL, which in turn leads to a reduction in our ability to ‘burn fat’.
By standing up and doing a small amount of exercise (a brief walk, a few stretches etc.) in between longer bouts of sitting or lying down we can continue to stimulate LPL secretion.
This will allow us to continue to metabolise fat as a fuel source, in which it will be broken down and used for energy. This can lead to substantial increases in weight loss (with specific emphasis on fat loss) over the course of the day, without the need for additional exercise.
Weight loss does not have to be unhealthy, or painful for that matter.
By implementing these five simple lifestyle tips, you can stimulate weight loss easily and effectively. Moreover, as we are looking to make lasting lifestyle change, you will not see the large fluctuations in weight that are often associated with crash dieting.
As an added bonus, the following tips are also likely to influence overall health and wellbeing in a positive manner, allowing you to become healthier in the process!
Luke Cafferty is a fitness junkie, personal trainer, and blogger. He’s passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a strong and well-rounded physique. Check out more of his work at StrengthAuthority.com or follow him on Facebook & Twitter