In a way, moderate-intensity physical activity is that "magic pill" a lot of people are looking for, because the health benefits go beyond keeping your waistline trim: Not only can it reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart attacks, but studies have shown that physical activity can significantly improve the moods of patients with major depressive disorders.
“Stepping on the scale frequently makes you aware of small changes and helps you quickly react to those changes. The National Weight Control Registry, a large group of people who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for 5 years, found that successful ‘losers’ weigh themselves often and make adjustments accordingly. When you begin to understand that sodium, carb intake, hormones and alcohol intake can impact weight and that it isn’t possible to gain 2 pounds of fat overnight, you will begin to better understand your body. The key is to pay attention to overall trends; don’t obsess over day-to-day numbers! — Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, food and nutrition expert
A deload is needed more when volume is higher and you’re pushing for progress every workout. When fat loss is the goal, volume should purposely be reduced a little and you’re shooting more for maintenance (maybe with the occassional progress) rather than constant progress. Now if you’re going to be in a deficit for a while, sure… I can see taking a diet break when needed and possibly using that time to deload as well if it felt needed.
You see, when you eat food, your body’s insulin levels rise, and it begins breaking down, absorbing, and using and storing the nutrients you’ve just fed it. This is known as the “postprandial” (prandial means “having to do with a meal”) or “fed” state, and it can last anywhere from two to six or more hours, depending on how much and what types of food you eat in a meal.
I’ve been so frustrated for the past few years with my weight that and have worked out and there has been progress but not the amount that I wanted. Now I’ve been working out a lot and eating healthier and there has been progress, but finding all this information definitely makes it all much better and puts me in a position where I can decide for myself what works best for me and how I can go on about it.
Attempting to reduce fat in just one part of your body at a time is likely to be disappointing. Fat reduction works like this: When you try to lose fat, the reduction occurs all throughout your body. Unlike muscle-building, it cannot be specifically targeted to one region. Also, the reduction in fat will not be quickly apparent because it will not be focused on only one spot on your body. So it's helpful to have a "slowly but surely" attitude. Note that exercises mostly serve to tone the muscle underneath the fat. But if you want to slim down, the fat has to be burned off. For that, the main thing is to ditch the junk food and the sweetened drinks. Exercise alone might not be sufficient. Here's a program for the period in which you want to lose weight: Plenty of moderate aerobic exercise, no sweetened liquids at all, and no junk food at all. Preferably no sugar, and as little added salt and processed foods as possible. Eat 3 not-large meals/day; do not skip breakfast; and avoid snacks. Limit your calories (better to consult a doctor or nutritionist concerning the amount), and weigh yourself 2-3 times/week. Ignore the sensation of hunger. If you see your weight diminishing at a safe, reasonable rate (1-2 pounds/week), keep it up. Once you've reached your target weight, increase your calorie intake somewhat. And you can then have small amounts of sweetened foods or junk food on occasion (if at all), along with your regular foods (not instead of them). But keep checking your weight 2-3 times/week. Avoid crash diets, diet pills etc. Avoid fatty cuts of meat. Walk as much as possible. Bicycling and swimming are good too. More guidelines: Don't concentrate on specific foods so much as on a balanced, healthy diet plus exercise. Plenty of moderate exercise rather than intense exercise, which can damage your joints. Good nutrition means eating what your body needs, while ingesting as few harmful things as possible. It has also been described as getting enough of each of the major food categories (grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, etc.; plus plenty of water). This will vary somewhat from one person to another; and I don't believe that there's any universal diet that can be prescribed for everyone. Avoid best-sellers with their perennial fad diets. And think twice before using any dietary supplements or weight-loss pills. In general, one's starting point can be a menu of whole grains, whole-wheat bread, a good amount of vegetables, some fruits and nuts, fish, lean meats (in not-large amounts), and some dairy. However, this must be tweaked according to one's health, weight and other factors at the outset; and also adjusted over time, as one sees what works for him/her in particular.
Food should not be your main source of happiness in life. There are plenty of other ways to be happy. Plus, eating poorly will make you less happy in the long run, as you will have more health problems, your mind won't function as well, and your moods will become worse. While eating junk food can make you happy for the moment while you're eating it (and it's okay to let yourself indulge a little once in a while), eating healthy will make your life better and make you happier in the long term.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
Early-morning exercise stokes your metabolism and helps you burn more calories for the rest of the day. In fact, if you can get in 45 minutes, then Appalachian State University research shows you could experience a metabolic spike that torches an additional 190 calories over the rest of the day. Try a circuit of the basics like jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups. And for mornings you really don't have any time, try this 2-minute fat-burner.
Conversely, the more food in front of you, the more you’ll eat—regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using regular dinner plates that range these days from 10 to 14 inches (making them look empty if they’re not heaped with food), serve your main course on salad plates (about 7 to 9 inches wide). Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the old days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups. Try these other tricks for eating in moderation.
Stavrou, S., Nicolaides, N. C., Papageorgiou, I., Papadopoulou, P., Terzioglou, E., Chrousos, G. P., … Charmandari, E. (2016, July 31). The effectiveness of a stress-management intervention program in the management of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Molecular Biochemistry, 5(2), 63–70. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4996635/
“The one trick I use now, which I should have been using all along, is the make dinner a no-carb meal. I’ll do a vegan protein and vegetables, and no bread. I think carbs are important and good energy, but when I don’t eat them at night, I wake up and I feel like my belly’s flat first thing in the morning.” — Carrie Underwood, who lost 30 pounds of baby weight in less than a year
Apples, bananas, strawberries—they're all good for your body and your waistline. But to take this snack from good to great, pair it with a bit of protein to make it more satisfying. An apple and cup of skim milk is one easy option that provides 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber for 200 calories. Half an avocado filled with 2 ounces of cottage cheese is another 200-calorie fruit-and-dairy combo that fills you up with 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.
We also love yoga, hula-hooping (yep, great for the abs) and the good standby “Abs of Steel” videos, and trust me the outfits in the 1990’s video will increase the cardio aspect just from laughter alone! There are also a slew of videos online, find one you love and can stick to every few days and you’ll be toning as you shed the unwanted belly fat.
Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment -- everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants. And when it comes to parties, "eat a healthy snack before so you won't be starving, and be selective when you fill your plate at the buffet," suggests Ward. Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.
OK, so you’re not dieting. That means that, yes, you can actually have those French fries. Just probably not every day. Consider quantity as a sliding scale, from limited fries and candy to unlimited veggies, and fill in from there with moderate portions of meat and beans (for protein), whole grains, and low-fat dairy. (The government is onto something with that whole MyPlate thing.) “An extreme example: If someone ate only 600 calories of jelly beans a day, yes, they’d lose weight, but not support their health,” says Hensrud. But they’d be pretty hungry and unsatisfied once the 60 or so jelly beans (or 150 smaller Jelly Bellys) were gone. (Note: We’re also not suggesting 600 as your target calorie count, but you get what we’re saying.)
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don't reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
Gabel, K., Hoddy, K. K., Haggerty, N., Song, J., Kroeger, C. M., Trepanowski, J. F., … Varady, K. A. (2018, June 15). Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. Nutrition and Healthy Aging, 4(4), 345–353. Retrieved from https://content.iospress.com/articles/nutrition-and-healthy-aging/nha170036
The truth is there is no “one size fits all” solution to permanent healthy weight loss. What works for one person may not work for you, since our bodies respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To find the method of weight loss that’s right for you will likely take time and require patience, commitment, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.
Denny Hemingson, a 61-year-old Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner explains, “Insulin signals the liver, muscle, and fat cells to take up glucose out of the blood stream. When those cells become resistant to insulin, glucose doesn't get used and ends up staying in the blood creating high blood sugar. Eventually, this leads to pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes. In this state, it's much harder for the body to release extra pounds.”
You’ll be less likely to overeat the next day. Eating right and exercising regularly help ward off both stress and belly fat, but only if you’re getting enough sleep. Skimping on sleep causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise, along with levels of deep abdominal fat. "There’s a definite association between lack of sleep, increased stress hormones, and weight gain," says Auburn University exercise researcher Michele Olson, PhD. In a 6-year study, Canadian researchers found that adults who averaged just 5 or 6 hours of shut-eye a night were 35% more likely to gain 10-plus pounds and were nearly 60% heavier around the middle than those who slept 7 to 8 hours. Now that’s a reason to skip Leno.
Tight deadlines, bills, your kids—whatever your source of stress, having too much of it may make it harder for you to drop unwanted pounds, especially from your middle. And it's not just because you tend to reach for high-fat, high-calorie fare when you're stressed, though that's part of it. It's also due to the stress hormone cortisol, which may increase the amount of fat your body clings to and enlarge your fat cells. Higher levels of cortisol have been linked to more visceral fat.
If you're among the 30% of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night, here's one simple way to whittle your waistline: catch more Zs. A 16-year study of almost 70,000 women found that those who slept five hours or less a night were 30% more likely to gain 30 or more pounds than those who slept 7 hours. The National Institutes of Health suggest adults sleep seven to eight hours a night.
When Johns Hopkins researchers compared the effects on the heart of losing weight through a low-carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet for six months—each containing the same amount of calories—those on a low-carb diet lost an average of 10 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet—28.9 pounds versus 18.7 pounds. An extra benefit of the low-carb diet is that it produced a higher quality of weight loss, Stewart says. With weight loss, fat is reduced, but there is also often a loss of lean tissue (muscle), which is not desirable. On both diets, there was a loss of about 2 to 3 pounds of good lean tissue along with the fat, which means that the fat loss percentage was much higher on the low-carb diet.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.