For those of you that live in warmer climates and are lucky enough to celebrate summer weather year-round, the timing of this article may be less significant to you. Oh, and boo you...so jealous. ;) For the rest of us, summer is just around the corner and heading to the beach in our favorite new swimsuit is something we keep thinking about.
I can honestly say that I am not ready...are you? Wether you are or not, we've compiled a list of tips you can use to help you lean out.
Disclaimer: we are not nutritionists, dieticians, medical doctors or scientists. Please speak with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or making drastic changes to your diet.
Ok, here we go...in no particular order:
This may go without saying, but an easy way to lose weight is to just consume fewer calories. Sounds easy enough? Well for some of you it could be, but understandably this is quite a challenge for others. No one likes dieting. In fact, that's not what we're suggesting at all. Dieting implies that at some point you'll go back to eating the way you were before you started. We would rather you make a lifestyle change. Unless you're already consuming fewer calories than required to maintain your weight, decreasing your calorie intake may help you shed a few pounds.
Please DO NOT starve yourself skinny! This could actually cause metabolic damage and sabotage your long term weight management goals.
Here is a calculator you can use to determine how many calories your body needs each day: http://www.calorieking.com/interactive-tools/how-many-calories-should-you-eat/
Our recommendation is to start by eating at maintenance level for one week. As long as you are active most days of the week you should slowly start to lose weight. If you find you are not losing weight (or gaining), just lower your calorie intake the next week and then reassess.
Eat real food. Such a simple yet misunderstood statement. What does it really mean? The phrase was actually coined by author Michael Pollan, and he explains that humans should consume whole foods in its most natural state - not the food-like substances you'll find lining the inner aisles of your local grocery store.
What constitutes 'real' food? Vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, legumes, whole grains (whole wheat, brown or wild rice, oats, quinoa, etc), nuts and seeds. Some would argue that meats, eggs and dairy products should be included in this list, but we don't feel they are necessary, and may actually be detrimental to our health.
Intermittent fasting (IF) seems to be all the rage these days among YouTube fitness personalities, but there is quite a bit of science that shows it can actually help you lose weight. Humans have actually been fasting throughout evolution, sometimes because food was not available, but also for religious reasons.
There are several ways to do an intermittent fast, but they all follow the same protocols - split the day or week into periods of eating and periods of fasting, where you eat very little or nothing at all.
The most popular methods are:
All 3 methods have been shown to help people lose weight, however the primary reason is due to the consumption of fewer calories. You don't necessarily need to fast if you can easily reduce your daily calorie consumption, however IF can be helfpul since you have a shorter eating window, and will most likely eat less during that time.
Fasting has been shown to offer other health benefits as well, such as reducing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, improved heart health, helping to prevent cancer, improved brain health and extended lifespan.
So, why not give it a go - you've really got nothing to lose, other than weight. ;) Most people find the 16/8 method the easiest to stick to, but you can try each method for a few weeks and see what works best for you.
Carbs (carbohydrates) have a reputation for contributing to various diseases including diabetes, heart disease and obesity, however not all carbohydrates should be demonized. In fact, simple and complex carbohydrates should be praised and are the building blocks of a healthy diet.
What is a carb? A carbohydrate is a macronutrient in food that is the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system converts carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar), which will be used as fuel for your cells, tissues and organs.
But will I gain weight and possibly get diabetes if I eat too many carbs? No, not if you are eating the right carbs. If you are eating refined carbohydrates such as white bread, cookies and donuts (which usually have just as many calories from fat as carbs), then yes, you may gain weight and will be increasing your risk for various diseases including diabetes. Whole foods such as fruits, veggies and whole grains do contain higher amounts of natural sugars, however they are simple and complex carbohydrates that also come packaged with fibre and an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that not only do whole plant foods (high in carbohydrates) lower disease risk, but the progression of some diseases can actually be halted, and in some cases, even reversed.
So go ahead and eat plenty whole veggies and fruits...the chances of overeating on these foods is pretty slim. Pun intended. :)
Yes, this colorless, oderless chemical compound can help you lose weight. We could tell you that athletes around the world have been consuming dihydrogen monoxide to enhance performance, and that it could actually be harmful in the wrong doses...but that just seems like a cruel joke.
Dihydrogen Monoxide (H₂O) is, yes...water.
Ok, so you've probably been told time and time again to drink 8 glasses of water a day. It's necessary for good health, but can it actually help you lose weight? Yes...here's why:
Is 8 glasses really necessary? Yes, most nutritionists agree that we should all follow the "8x8" rule (eight 8-ounce glasses per day) - if you exercise a lot or sweat heavily you may need more.
How do I know if I'm getting enough? When you go to the bathroom your urine should be clear or very light yellow in color - the darker your urine, the more water you need.
Green tea literally blasts away flab! Researchers attribute the fat-burning properties of green tea to catechins, specifically EGCG — the name of a group of antioxidative compounds that blast adipose tissue by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver’s fat burning capacity.
Research also suggests that combining regular green-tea drinking with exercise may maximize the weight loss benefits. In one study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea with a 25-minute workout lost 2 more pounds than the non-tea-drinking exercisers.
But wait...other teas can help you lose weight as well! White tea has been shown to help prevent new fat cells from forming; black tea has been shown to improve cardiovascular function; oolong tea contains high levels of antioxidants that inhibit the body's ability to absorb fat by up to 20%; pu-erh tea can literally shrink the size of your fat cells; studies show that the compounds in matcha green tea can simultaneously boost the breakdown of fat, and block the formation of fat cells.
So the takeaway here is...drink your tea! Every. Day. :)
No need to buy all those different teas (though we won't stop you!) - we've developed a detox blend that will give you the benefits mentioned above and it tastes great!
Or don't. This is somewhat of a controversial topic, so we'll outline what we believe are the pros and cons to stepping on that scale every day, and let you take it from there.
Research has actually shown that those who weighed themselves daily lost more weight versus those who weighed themselves less often.
Whatever you decide, be sure to use the same scale and try to weigh yourself at the same time of day. Just remember that it's only one piece of the weight loss puzzle - a compass to help keep you on the right track.
Not right now...read this first. ;)
Exercise is an important part of any weight loss program, but the type of exercise may not be as critical as some experts would have you believe. Why? Just the act of moving for a period of time is the most important factor. If you look at various cultures around the world that live the longest, healthiest lives you'll see that they're not running marathons, competing in powerlifting competitions or doing weekly bootcamps. You certainly won't see them in a Crossfit box!
Now, we have nothing against runners, powerlifters, bootcamp trainers or crossfit athletes. The point we're trying to make is that these cultures maintain very active lives, without a treadmill or gym membership. They walk everywhere, raise their own livestock, plant/maintain gardens, use hand tools - basically avoiding many of the conveniences most of us are accustomed to. And they're definitely not overweight.
So, should you cancel your gym membership? No, keep it...if you enjoy lifting weights. In fact, strength training can help boost your metabolism and the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn. But if you don't like lifting weights, just stop. Go for a run. Hop on your bike. Walk to the store. Toss a ball around with some friends. Like Nike says...just do it.
Try to incorporate some physical activity into your routine every day. If 'inconveniencing' yourself is not sustainable for you, then just find some activity you really enjoy and you'll be more apt to stick with it.
Yes, it's a thing. You've probably heard that too much stress in your life is not healthy and can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure and chest pain. Did you know that chronic high stress has also been shown to inhibit weight loss and even contribute to weight gain?
Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires a response, and can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. However too much stress without relief or relaxation between challenges can be detrimental to our overall well-being.
Your body will release hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) in response to the stress, which can make you very hungry. Unfortunately we don't always turn to healthy foods - instead we reach for sweet, salty and high-fat foods that stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension. Additionally, the production of cortisol slows down testosterone production, which can cause a decrease in muscle mass over time, and therefore reduce the amount of calories you burn each day.
So, chill out. Make some tea. Read a book. Put on a movie. Take a nap. Whatever you can do to destress, it's important to your overall health and well-being.
Sleep?! I can lose weight just by sleeping more?! Well, not really, but yes. Possibly. Confused yet?
Sleep can affect weight gain or weight loss both directly via hormone production and indirectly via eating habits.
After a night of insufficient restorative sleep patterns, you may find yourself reaching for artificial stimulants throughout the day, such as coffee, energy drinks, sugary and comfort foods. Starting the day off on the wrong foot may also increase the likelihood that you'll skip (or shorten) physical activity. When you're young you'll find you can get away with a lack of sleep, but as you age the sleep 'debt' will creep up on you and you may eventually crash.
Researches have discovered a sleep-diet connection whereby a lack of sleep can negatively affect your metabolism.
The consensus seems to be that 7.5 hours of quality sleep is required each night. That is not to suggest that adding a half hour of sleep each night will help you lose 10 pounds, however if you typically only get 5 hours of sleep, increasing that to 7 or 7.5 may help you lose weight.
Our body produces two hormones during sleep that directly affect our metabolism: ghrelin, a hormone that tells you when to eat, production is increased when you are sleep-deprived; and leptin, a hormone that tells you to stop eating, production is decreased when you are sleep-deprived. Not a good combination.
What can I do about sleep deprivation?
If you struggle to get a good night's sleep even after trying the above, you may want to contact a sleep specialist for professional advice.
Let's be real for a moment. The process of getting ready for bikini season comes with some sacrifices. I mean, if we could eat pizza and ice cream at all 3 meals and still keep the weight off, wouldn't we all be doing it?! I know I would. ;) It doesn't have to be torturous, but it's not all fun and games either. If you make small lifestyle changes, as time goes on it will get easier to maintain that summer physique all year long.
In the meantime, have faith in the process. Be patient, and don't give up. Finally, don't be afraid to treat yourself occasionally. Wether it's a cookie, a bowl of ice cream or a new pair of shoes...reward yourself. If it feels too much like prison you'll just want to get out every chance you get.
Remember...it's not about being better than anyone else, it's about being better than you were the day before.
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