If you want to lose weight or get fit, crash dieting is not the way to go. If you’ve ever succumbed to the fad diets of cabbage soup, juicing, or anything similar, this might be a familiar story. The effects of crash dieting on the body not only see a weakened immune system, increased risk of heart disease, and a drop in blood pressure, but they can also cause people to gain weight at a significant rate after the diet is over. That’s right; crash dieting can actually cause people to put on more weight. So how are people supposed to lose weight safely and quickly? Unfortunately there isn’t an easy switch – people are still looking for the magical pill to guarantee weight loss with minimal effort – it would retail for millions of dollars probably. It’s all about patience and making lifestyle changes that will stick. After all, if you’re going to go to all that effort of losing weight, you don’t want it to all pile back on, and more, afterwards.
Drinking water is key
Everyone knows that we’re 70% water and so staying hydrated is important – eight glasses of water a day is recommended, although some of that can be replaced by fruit juice or herbal tea. The benefit of staying at optimal hydration is that the weight falls off you. Water is needed for every chemical reaction that occurs in the human body, and that includes the burning of energy stored as fat. Without enough water, the fat is burned slower, and weight is lost at a lower rate. It can’t replace food though – you still need just as many vitamins and minerals in your diet – but used properly alongside a healthy diet, water can really aid weight loss.
Never skip breakfast
It can be tempting to skip seemingly unnecessary calories in order to lose weight, but be careful which calories you think are unnecessary. Breakfast is a meal which deserves a whole lot more love. Many people skip it because they don’t have the time, or they can’t necessarily face food first thing in the morning, but they could be doing their fitness regime a huge disservice. Breakfast kicks your metabolism off for the day, meaning fat is burned more easily and effectively. Skipping breakfast is more likely to make you feel sluggish, and you’re even more likely to snack on unhealthy food later in the day. If you make one small change to your lifestyle to lose weight, include a low-fat breakfast and see how much it helps.
Exercise like you mean it
Dieting isn’t the only way to lose weight – combined with a great exercise regime – the weight will fall off. This is because your body burns the fat that your body has stored as energy for the exercise. It isn’t just working out that counts – shopping, washing the car, cleaning the house, walking, and taking the stairs are all totally valid methods of burning fat. High-intensity workouts are a preferred way for many to lose weight – yes it’s absolutely exhausting, but it’s quick and efficient, and it really works. You don’t have to go to the gym to do it either; there are plenty of workouts that can be done from home, just make sure you shop around and read other women’s experiences such as the ones here before you commit. Working out is very personal, and each woman will have different preferences, so don’t worry about spending some time which forms of exercise you prefer. It’s far better to choose one that you enjoy and want to stick at, than one you’ll be sick of within a month.
Become an amazing cook
Cooking your own healthy meals gives you so much more freedom than relying on pre-packed foods, and it’s obviously way better than the huge portions and high-calorie foods from most restaurants and takeouts. Growing your repertoire of delicious, healthy meals means you’ll never be stuck for ideas. Here’s a top tip, though: use your slow cooker to make hearty winter stews and soups in bulk, and then freeze the extra portions. You’ll be far less likely to reach for the takeout menu when you’re tired and hungry if you can just defrost something scrumptious from the freezer. Keep a diary of the foods that really worked for you and their recipes, including their calorie and nutritional information if this is something that interests you – it means you can look back at what you’ve eaten, spot patterns in your weight loss, and come back to recipes which you loved.
Get enough rest
Sleep is an underrated tool for weight loss. If you’re not getting enough sleep your metabolism isn’t able to work to its potential, but also your body will release a stress hormone. This hormone, known as cortisol, is produced whenever you’re under stress, including a lack of sleep, and it encourages your body to preserve fat as a life-saving mechanism left over from when humans still lived in caves. Tiredness also means more hunger, and it makes it more difficult for you to rationalize healthy decisions, meaning you’re more likely to cave to snack food, or go for a huge portion of pizza to try to substitute the energy you should have made by sleeping. Create yourself a bedtime routine and a lovely sleeping environment, and as if by magic, weight loss will become easier.
Stop the snacking
There are two sneaky ways that excess calories make it into our diets: large portions and junk food. We are all guilty of it – sneaking a few extra fries onto our plate or taking a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate up to bed with us. It’s just too easy. But we don’t need those calories, and in fact, they’re slowing our weight loss progress down. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, reach for a glass of water instead. Weirdly, our bodies sometimes mistake thirst for hunger, making us more likely to snack when we don’t need to. If you’re still hungry after that, go for a handful of nuts or seeds. They’re packed full of energy, so you don’t need much, but they’re a healthy way to take the edge off the hunger until your next meal.
There is no magical elixir for weight loss, but there are lots of little things you can do which will all have a significant impact.