Beach season is approaching, and many of us will soon try on a bathing suit or two to quickly realize that we probably didn’t make the best food and activity choices this winter. Besides the fact that the winter season naturally packs on a few extra pounds, the abundant comfort foods and indoor hibernation from the cold can amplify that effect. Before you start calculating your calories in and calories out in a valiant, but misguided attempt to lose weight, follow these 4 effective tips for weight loss to avoid the frustration and heartache that go hand and hand with the outdated method of calorie counting.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Exercise will never make up for poor dietary choices. Let me repeat that, never. At the top of the weight loss most wanted list is sugar. When it comes to weight loss, your sugar intake should not exceed 15-25g per day.
Sugar comes in many forms and can be found on the nutrition label under the following aliases: high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, honey, cane sugar, dextrose, agave nectar, sorbitol, fructose, plus many, many more .
Consuming sugar leads to a decrease in communication to your nervous system from two very important hormones, insulin and leptin. These hormones are integral in controlling your appetite as well as your weight.
Insulin: When insulin levels are constantly elevated due to a high-sugar diet, much of the sugar in the bloodstream is dropped into fat stores. Over time, it becomes more difficult to tap into these fat stores through activity and exercise because insulin tells the body to burn carbs instead of fats, thus resulting in further fat storage. (1)
Leptin: Leptin specifically is responsible for controlling your appetite and fat storage. Leptin tells your brain how much energy is available in the form of fat stores and what to do with it. When that communication erodes because of factors such as high sugar intake, weight gain, diabetes and a host of related conditions may occur. (2)
Don’t be fooled by artificial sweeteners either. Just because they are “calorie free” doesn’t mean they are any better than sugar.
Get Moving- 10,000 steps per day
Exercise accounts for a small portion of your total energy expenditure throughout the week. A larger percentage of your caloric burn comes from daily activities such as walking, taking the stairs and performing laborious chores around the house for example. 10,000 steps is roughly equivalent to 5 miles, or 30-90 minutes of activity each day depending on how fast you’re moving. (3)
One study looked at corporate workers in 55 countries who performed 10,000 steps a day for 8 months. After 4 months the number of participants with high blood pressure was reduced by 34% and the average body fat lost was 2 inches off the waist. After 8 months the average weight lost was 10lbs per participant. (4) A pedometer, such as a FitBit, is a great way to hold yourself accountable to staying active throughout the day and boost your metabolism.
Interval Workouts 3 to 5 days per week
Intervals apply to both your strength training as well as your cardio. Any periods of high intensity work lasting 20-60 seconds followed by one to three times that amount of rest is a great way to increase the amount of energy expended while still allowing your body to utilize fat as a fuel source. In addition, the high intensity work teaches your body to buffer lactic acid build up, which can lead to muscular fatigue, thus allowing you to train harder and longer before having to rest or recover.
I would not recommend strength training the same body parts on consecutive days, although on occasion you can get away with it as long as ample recovery tactics are in place. A good weekly plan would be to alternate days of strength training with days of cardio conditioning. Splitting up your training volume over the course of the week allows your muscles sufficient recovery time to reduce the possibility of injury and burnout, while still allowing you to workout at the high intensities associated with interval training to maximize your results in the shortest amount of time possible.
Sleep 7+ hours per night
Sleep is one of the most important aspects in losing weight and taking care of yourself in daily life which is why we have an article dedicated to just Sleep and Weight Loss.
- Nutrition CPR
- Foods that keep you thin
- Fox News article
- Anaerobic Conditioning: Training the Three Energy systems; NSCA Journal February-March 1982; Kris Berg Ph.D., University of Nebraska at Omaha