Have you ever tried to squeeze into the ‘little black dress’ in your wardrobe - without success? Or found yourself trying the latest trendy diet with only temporary results? Almost everyone at some point in their life strives to lose weight for a special occasion. However, the truth of the matter is, not everyone will be able to wear what was once possible to fit into. It’s also important to understand that while losing excess weight is often possible, long term healthy weight loss is more of a lifestyle choice - than a short term dietary fad.
But before we can learn some helpful ways to shift those excess pounds, first lets take a look a what some of the primary factors involved in weight gain are.
Weight Gain Factors
- Diet: processed foods, sugar, fizzy drinks, fried foods etc.
- Exercise: lack of daily exercise, sedentary lifestyle
- Hormone imbalances: menopause, hypothyroidism
- Age: slower metabolism in later years
- Body type: different body types store weight in different places
- Addictions: disordered eating patterns, emotional eating patterns
- Chronic Stress: high cortisol levels leads to weight gain around the middle
As we can see there are multiple factors involved in excess weight gain. So what can be done about it? Most health experts agree that when it comes to losing weight the first and foremost area to address is diet. Even though there are many popular weight loss dietary approaches to choose from (Paleo, 5:2, Dukan…), it’s always important to take potential health issues into consideration too. For example, a diet of no carbs and high animal protein might initially prove to be effective, but it might also lead to greater fat storage and high cholesterol levels in the longer term. Luckily, a successful and healthful weight loss and lifestyle programme may well be within our reach. As long as realistic goals are clear and the desire to achieve them is in place.
Some general dietary and lifestyle tips for successful weight loss:
Embrace Healthy Fats
Recent research has revealed that fat is no longer the culprit when it comes to excess weight. In fact, including healthy fats in the diet can prompt the body to burn stored fat as fuel. They also help stabilise blood sugar, keep us satiated for longer periods, and are critical for healthy cellular function. Some examples of healthy dietary fats to include in the diet are: avocados, olives, fish oil, nuts, coconut oil. On the other hand, unhealthy fats often lead to weight gain and a host of health issues. Unhealthy fats to avoid include: trans fats ( i.e. margarine, commercial cakes and chocolate), fried fats, processed and excess land animal fats ( i.e. bacon, lard).
Ditch the Sugar
Sugar is the major player when it comes to excess fat storage. The body recognises sugar in all forms as energy and stores it into the fat cells for later use. The white stuff is the number one enemy when it comes to weight loss and is virtually found everywhere. Going cold turkey might not be the answer for many sugar addicts so try transitioning with low glycemic fruits (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries etc) to curb daily sugar cravings. Avoid sugary drinks which also pile on the pounds such as fizzy drinks, alcohol and fruit juices.
Mind the Carbs
Carbs are an important part of a healthy diet but can be another culprit when it comes to weight gain. It’s important to understand the difference between the good, or complex, carbs and the bad, or simple carbs. The simple carbs are the ones to avoid and include: white breads, white pasta, pastries and white potatoes (technically a complex carb but acts like a simple carb in the body). Examples of complex carbs to include: wholegrain brown rice, brown pasta and sweet potatoes (best eaten with the skin on).
Get Some Sleep
Many people find themselves burning the candle at both ends. Lack of sleep is a common culprit in weight gain because our sleep patterns have a big impact on our hormone levels. Research has shown that the biggest spike in fat burning hormones occurs during deep sleep. Aim to sleep 7-8 hours a night and go to bed before midnight when possible.
Rev Your Engine
Exercise is key when it comes to losing weight. We’ve all heard the benefits of aerobic exercise to help burn off calories, but strength training also has weight loss benefits. This is because by increasing your muscle mass, you also increase your calorie burning mechanism. This means your body will burn more calories when resting. So it’s a good idea to alternate aerobic activity (power walking, cycling etc) with strength training (light weights, squats, push ups etc). Aim to build up to 3-5 days a week and see the results!
This is a guest blog by Wellness Expert Elizabeth Montgomery. Contact our wellness consultants for more information on weight loss retreats, or call 020 7843 3597.