Weight Loss Secrets
By Martin Harshberger
The "Secrets" of Weight Loss
The first and most closely guarded secret is there is no secret formula for effective weight loss.
If a safe and effective diet pill is what you're waiting for, I've got some bad news for you. It doesn't exist, and probably never will. If you're overweight, you have just two options - either learn to accept the way you are or learn how to lose weight.
"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary." Vince Lombardi
Yes, weight loss can be a lot of work. But the more you know about nutrition, foods and exercise and how your body reacts to them in the form of fat loss,and the easier your task becomes.
The 2 Most Important Facts about Successful Weight Loss
Before beginning any diet plan, it's important that you understand these two important facts:
1. *Weightloss depends on energy balance*. To lose weight, your energy intake must be less than your energy expenditure. This will always be true. There are no foods, pills, or potions that will magically melt the pounds off. The only approach that works is eating less and/or exercising more.
2. *Permanent weight loss requires permanent change*. Don't assume that you can spend six weeks on a diet and then return to your old eating habits. Short term diet plans only produce short term results. The only successful way to keep the weight off is to make small but permanent changes in your lifestyle. Coincidentally, this is also the best way to improve your health.
The 6 Most Important Principles for Enabling Weight Loss
Although many different weight loss techniques exist, nearly all are variations of just six basic principles. Study these principles, and make them part of your action plan:
1. *Maintain or improve your health*. If you don't take care of your body, it won't take care of you. So, as a first step, make sure that your diet supplies adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, that you're drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep and fresh air, and aren't under too much unhealthy stress. Everything that you do to improve your overall health will help make weight loss more likely to occur.
2. *Reduce your Caloric intake*. To achieve fat loss, you have to change your energy balance. (See Fact #1 above.) There are just two ways to do this - either consume less energy (Calories) or expend more energy (via exercise). The easiest way to reduce your consumption is simply to cut back on the size of your meals and/or the amount of high-Calorie foods that you consume. This doesn't mean that you have to give up any particular food. In fact, completely avoiding a food can lead to strong cravings that derail your diet. A smarter approach is to just eat less of those high-Calorie foods.
Also beware of foods containing "hidden" Calories. For example: *Watch what you drink*. What you drink during the day can have a major impact on the number of Calories that you consume. There is very little difference between the satiating effects of different drinks, so this is one of the easiest places to improve your diet. Water is always your best choice, but coffee, tea, and diet drinks can also help cut Calories.
*Be smart about condiments and toppings*. Butter, mayonnaise, and a lot of the "special sauces" used by restaurants are very concentrated sources of Calories. If you want to add flavor to your food, try using lemon juice, soy sauce, salsa or different spices instead.
3. *Maintain or increase your metabolism.* One of the most common mistakes that dieters make is to get excited or impatient with their diet, and reduce their Caloric intake /too far/. If you do that, your body will respond by lowering your metabolism and slowing your weight loss. To prevent this downward adjustment of your metabolism, make smaller changes to your eating habits. Your patience will pay off in terms of more consistent weight loss, more energy, and fewer cravings.
For the best results, add exercise to your plan. Regular exercise not only expends energy as you're doing it, but can also lead to increases in your basic metabolic rate, so you'll burn more calories even at rest. High-intensity exercises burn the most calories, but don't select exercises solely on their fat-burning potential. Instead, pick exercises (i.e. sports activities) that you enjoy, and want to incorporate into your daily routine.
4.*Avoid hunger*.Hunger is one of your body's strongest stimuli, and can be an evil challenger to your will power. Hunger is also relatively slow to subside, and can cause you to eat more than you intended. To break this unproductive hunger-overeating habit, always try to eat before you get hungry. This may seem counter intuitive to someone who's trying to limit their Calories, but it's a very effective concept. Two different techniques can help make this easier to accomplish:
*Eat smaller, more frequent meals*. Instead of three meals per day, try eating five or six smaller meals. By eating more frequently, there will be less time between your meals, and less chance of you experiencing such intense hunger. As an extra benefit, there is some evidence that suggests that eating more frequently can also help raise your metabolism.
*Include more slow-to-digest foods in your meals*. When it's not possible to eat more frequently, make sure that your meals contain a mix of nutrients. In particular, fats and protein are much slower to digest than carbohydrates. While most carbohydrates leave your stomach within about two hours, protein takes approximately four hours to digest, and fat takes as long as six hours. But remember fat has four times the calories of other energy sources.
*Note*: The slower digestion of fat is one of the primary reasons that people on low-carb diets (like Atkins and South Beach")experience less hunger than those on low-fat diets. It's not necessary to completely eliminate carbohydrates from your meals, though. Most people on balanced-nutrient plans (like the Zone Diet) also experience better hunger control.
5. *Correct bad eating habits.* We eat not only for nourishment, but also as part of our social interactions. However, many people develop unhealthy habits that encourage overeating. Here are a few examples of bad eating habits that you should try to avoid:
*Mixing food and entertainment. *It's easy to mindlessly eat a tub of popcorn, a whole bag of chips, or a carton of ice cream while you're watching TV. Make eating a separate activity, and you'll consume less.
*Eating to relieve stress.* There's nothing wrong with taking pleasure from eating, but try not to use food as your primary stress reliever. Find other ways to dissipate stress (such as exercising, listening to music, or meditating) before eating.
*Eating on the run*. With the abundant availability of convenience foods, it's easy to grab something from a vending machine and eat your meals in your car. But try not to make this a regular daily habit. Plan your schedule to include enough time to prepare and eat your meals in a quiet place, without the rush.
No one eats perfectly. However, if you continuously have trouble controlling what you eat, realize that correction of your eating problems may be beyond your own abilities. Please consult a psychologist or weight loss professional for additional help.
6. *Make a record of everything you eat* When making changes to your diet, it's very easy to lapse back into your old eating habits. Keeping a food diary is a great way to help prevent that from happening. Buy an inexpensive spiral notebook, and simply write down everything that you eat during the day. If possible, keep your food diary with you, and make your entries soon after you've eaten. For maximum benefit, keep making entries for at least three weeks.
Keeping a food diary forces you to give conscious thought to everything that you eat. It may be a tedious task at first, but it will help you more quickly develop better eating habits. Your food diary will also be a tremendous asset if you later consult a dietician or health care provider for assistance with your diet.
When keeping a food diary, it's also a good idea to take the time to add up the total Calories and nutrients that you consume eachn day. For your diet to be successful, your total Calories will need to decrease from their original level, but your nutrient intake must at least meet your minimum needs.
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