So You Want to Lose Weight?
To understand how to lose weight, it has to be remembered that human beings have evolved over thousands of years to survive under harsh conditions, one of these being famine. Our bodies are designed to be on the lookout for famine conditions and when they are detected, i.e. when you diet, two things automatically happen. Firstly, your metabolism slows down. This means that you become less energetic and your calorie burn rate decreases. Secondly, every bit of food that you eat is either used carefully by your body or is stored as fat. This means that dieting is automatically self- limiting. Worse than this, if you eat poor quality processed food which is low in nutrition your body will also detect famine conditions and store all of the rubbish that you are eating. The trick is to eat food that is highly nutritious so that you can reduce the quantity a little without your body going into famine mode. Highly nutritious doesn’t mean expensive; for example porridge is cheaper and better for you than processed cereals and homemade vegetable soup costs a tenth of the price of ‘slimmer’s’ soup and is really good for you.
Processed sugar is human rocket fuel. In food it can be labelled as glucose, sucrose or fructose. Look for it on food labels. ‘Low fat’ foods, energy drinks and snacks are full of it. Cereals are coated in the stuff. If you are seriously trying to lose weight avoid processed sugar completely. If you crave something sweet, eat a few raisins. They contain natural sugars, as do all fruits, but at least you get some nutrition and fibre with the sugar.
Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper, is a very old saying. Recent research by Oxford University has shown it to be very good advice for those wishing to lose weight. Researchers found that if the food you ate wasn’t being used by some form of activity within 2-3 hours then it would begin to be stored as fat. So, if you eat your biggest meal of the day in the evening and then watch TV before going to bed you will store most of your dinner around your middle! Much better to follow the old advice, eat a reasonably big breakfast and lunch that you then use up during your working day and just eat enough later on to stop you getting hungry.
Carbohydrates provide us with energy. Bread, pasta, potatoes, wheat, oats, flour, pastry and pizza base, all break down into carbohydrates. Without some carbs in your system you cannot burn fat. If you go on a carbs free diet you will lose weight, but it will be muscle that you will be shedding, not fat. You will also become very lethargic and eventually unwell. The more active you are going to be the more carbs you need to eat, but if you eat too much carbohydrate you will quickly pile the weight on. If you are not highly active try not eating carbs after about 3 `o` clock in the afternoon.
As well as being very efficient at storing excess energy as fat, we are also extremely frugal when it comes to burning calories. You need to walk a mile or so to use up the energy from one chocolate biscuit. Two and a half miles walking will use up the energy in a small glass of red wine. Think about that when you fancy a treat!
Watching what you eat isn’t enough to lose weight. You do have to exercise. Activities such as housework and shopping don’t use up enough calories to make a difference. Here are a few exercise ideas to help you burn off that fat a bit quicker:
Keep your body guessing by varying the type of exercise you do, as much as possible. Walk a short distance at speed one day, swim the next, cycle, dance, jog, walk long distance, on other days. Lifting weights a couple of times a week is especially useful as the benefits last for up to 36 hours after the session whilst your body repairs the muscles. Light weights are fine just do plenty of repetitions with different muscle groups. Interval training is also a must. This means some of your exercising should be at a level where your body works hard enough to make you puff for about 15 minutes. Walking uphill or walking fast whilst swinging your arms could be enough. Dancing at home to `70s disco hits is perfect. If you like swimming, don’t do 20 slow lengths, do one flat out followed by one slower recovery length, 10 times. If you jog, introduce a sprint session. If you are really unfit jog slowly on the spot at home whilst watching the TV. The effect of puffing hard is to raise your metabolism for several hours which will burn off calories quickly. It will also get you fitter!
To summarise, eat healthily but just enough to stop you feeling hungry. Eat most of your food early in the day. No sugar and go easy on the carbs and the alcohol. Do some exercise daily, mix it up and make yourself puff several times a week. Good luck.
As a personal trainer, Harry is offering 4 fitness sessions for the price of three to the first 5 By The Dart readers that call him and quote “Fit For Free”.
Tel: 01803 770752 or 07702 811444
First Published July 2012 By The Dart