- 13 Things Experts Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss
- 5 crucial exercise lessons I learned when I cut my body fat nearly in half in 6 months without losing my muscle
- 1. Weight training is essential if you actually want your body to look fit
- 2. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when resting
- 3. You don't need to be breath and dripping in sweat for a workout to be effective
- 4. Setting non-aesthetic goals will keep you motivated
- 5. Exercise in the ways you enjoy, as that's how it'll be sustainable
- Weight Loss: Plateau No More
13 Things Experts Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss
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While too much of the wrong fat (certain saturated fats in highly processed meats and trans fat found in some cookies and crackers) is bad for your health and waistline, a diet rich in the right fat—good unsaturated fats—can help both.
Good fats, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in olive oil, nuts, and avocados have proven to be powerful reducers of belly fat. Other sources of good fat are the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs); found in fish and its oil, and in many nuts and seeds, PUFAs help release fat, too.
A Dutch study found that consumption of PUFAs led to a higher resting metabolic rate (the calories used just to live), as well as a greater DIT, or diet-induced calorie burn. PUFAs are also burned faster than saturated fats in the body. What’s more, fats help you feel full—they have 9 calories per gram compared to 4 for protein or carbs.
So a small nibble of something yummy, a handful of nuts or some peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, can help you feel full for hours. Check out these other 10 myths about fat that keep you from losing weight.
If you’re us, you welcome any new excuse to add more chocolate into your life. To release fat, here’s the trick: Go heavy on the cocoa and light on sugar.
Cocoa contains more antioxidants than most foods and is good for so many things, including—when consumed in moderation—weight loss.
In a June 2011 study from the Journal of Nutrition, researchers looked at the effect that antioxidants found in cocoa had on obese diabetic mice.
Since a diabetic’s lifespan is, on average, seven years shorter, they were looking for any anti-aging promise that increasing dietary intake of this flavonoid might give. Their findings: The mice lived longer. The cocoa reduced degeneration of their aortic arteries, and it blunted fat deposition. To add more cocoa into your diet, buy unsweetened cocoa and add it to shakes, coffee, and other recipes.
Unfortunately some myths persist that dairy sabotages weight loss, but science proves this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that those who have deficiencies in calcium hold a greater fat mass and experience less control of their appetite.
What’s more, studies have found that dairy sources of calcium— yogurt, low- or nonfat cheese, and milk—are markedly more effective in accelerating fat loss than other sources. In one study the University of Tennessee, researchers showed that eating three servings of dairy daily significantly reduced body fat in obese subjects.
If they restricted calories a bit while continuing with the same dairy servings, it accelerated fat and weight loss. Don’t miss these other 15 weight-loss myths doctors wish you’d stop listening to.
Besides giving you a great psychological boost right the gate, losing weight quickly may also help you keep it off longer. To those of us who are used to hearing that slow and steady wins the race, this news is a little shocking and counterintuitive.
In a 2010 University of Florida study, when researchers analyzed data on 262 middle-aged women who were struggling with obesity, they demonstrated that shedding weight fast lead to larger overall weight loss and longer-term success in keeping it off.
I learned this lesson the hard way. From 1998 to 2006, I was the executive editor of Fitness magazine. Studying the fitness research and trying the trends were all part of my job.
For years, I believed that I could eat anything I wanted because I was exercising so much. But the more I exercised, the hungrier I was. And the more I ate, the more I needed to exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
Here’s what happened: I saw a steady increase in my body weight of a pound a year. Thinking you can eat whatever you want as long as you work it off later is actually a pretty dangerous mind-set, particularly if you look at the current research.
Exercise alone leads to a very modest decrease in total body weight: less than 3 percent! In addition to working out, stick with these 50 ways to lose weight without exercising.
Research shows that people who are naturally lean—you know the sort: They seem to eat all day, whatever they want, and never gain a pound or an inch—automatically, even subconsciously, find ways to move to make up for any extra calories they may be ingesting. Believe it or not, spontaneous physical activity (SPA) fidgeting, bending, brushing your hair, and doing dishes can burn 350 or more calories a day, according to Mayo Clinic research.
Nod your head if you do the same workout over and over. You just hit that treadmill, elliptical, or jogging path and you put in your time. Unfortunately, this exercise strategy can actually backfire when it comes to weight loss and fat burning.
Aerobic exercise demands that you increase your energy output. Because our body is always trying to stay in balance, this type of movement may actually act as a biological cue to make you eat more, which can sabotage weight-loss efforts.
Besides that, research shows that continuous aerobic exercise isn’t nearly as effective a weight-control strategy as surprising your body with aerobic interval training (short bursts of heart-pounding work, also known as HIIT, or high intensity interval training) or strength training (push-ups, squats, anything that builds muscle and power). Try a mix of these 15 workouts that burn the most calories.
We’re not recommending you ditch your exercise routine and sit on your couch popping handfuls of chips. But TV isn’t the weight loss devil that many experts make it out to be, particularly if you use it to make you smile and laugh.
Here’s why: Stress takes an enormous toll on your health (research shows it can increase belly fat and slow down weight loss), and laughing is the perfect stress-relieving, fat releasing antidote. What’s more, it’s a pretty potent calorie burner in its own right.
When British researchers looked into the number of calories burned by intense laughing and compared it to the calorie burn of other daily activities (strength training, running, even vacuuming), they found that an hour of intense laughter can burn as many calories—up to 120—as a half hour hitting it hard at the gym!
If you’re many office workers, your desk job gives you a double fat increasing whammy: Not only are you sitting, inactive, at a desk for most of the day, but this type of mental, knowledge-based work actually makes it more difficult to control appetite and may make us eat more calories and fat.
Research suggests that because brain neurons rely almost exclusively on glucose as fuel, intense mental work leads to unstable glucose levels. Since the work requires glucose for maximum brainpower—well, we naturally reach for more fuel.
To outsmart this fat increaser, it’s important to fuel up on hunger-fighting foods high in filling fiber, protein and calcium. So the next time you feel that hunger pang, reach for a fat-free Greek yogurt or baby carrots with a tablespoon of peanut butter instead of a bag of chips.
Or try eating more of these 6 foods that actually help you burn fat.
So many people have asked me if it’s OK to have a drink when trying to lose weight. Good news: Many studies clearly show that a small glass of red wine a day is good for your health. Now numerous animal studies are highlighting its great promise as a fat releaser.
In one large study of more than 19,000 middle-aged women of normal weight, those who were light to moderate drinkers had less weight gain and less risk of becoming overweight than those who drank no alcohol.
And in another separate animal study done in 2006, the researchers found that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, improved exercise endurance as well as protected against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Add a glass of wine to this list of 7 things skinny people do after work.
It’s no secret that America has a sugar problem: According to the American Heart Association, we eat 22 teaspoons a day on average. (They recommend six for women and nine for men.) While cutting back on sugar consumption all around is a smart, healthy move, you should also consider swapping some of your sugar for honey.
Honey has also shown great promise in animal studies for reducing weight gain and adiposity (fatness) when substituted for sugar. It’s a nutritious fat releasing alternative that also boasts antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may improve blood sugar control, is a great cough suppressant, and it boosts immunity.
Don’t miss these other 50 things your doctor wants you to know about losing weight.
How long you sleep directly affects your body mass. One study found that dieters who got 8.5 hours of sleep nightly lost 56 percent more body fat than they did when eating the same diet but got just 5.5 hours of sleep a night.
Other Columbia University research revealed that people may eat 300 extra calories a day when they get a few hours less sleep than usual. Sleep deprivation interferes with the hormones leptin and ghrelin that regulate appetite.
That means you’ll feel hungrier and are more ly to indulge in poorer eating behaviors. Also, you may look for more energy in the form of unhealthy snacks!
More and more research reveals that the toxins, chemicals, and compounds riddling our food supply and self-care products are contributing to the nation’s collective fat creep. And air pollution is a particularly bad fat increaser.
A 2011 study from the College of Public Health at Ohio State University found just that: Exposure to fine particulate matter (air pollution) induced insulin resistance, reduced glucose tolerance, and increased inflammation, leading researchers to mark long-term exposure to air pollution as a risk factor for diabetes.
And as we know, diabetes and obesity are close cousins (80 to 85 percent of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are obese). Next up, learn the 50 daily habits of naturally thin people that you can steal.
Originally Published on sitename.comOriginally Published: November 14, 2018
5 crucial exercise lessons I learned when I cut my body fat nearly in half in 6 months without losing my muscle
Weight loss: It's a phrase we hear a lot, as many people devote their lives to finding the holy grail, the silver bullet, the magic pill to help them lose weight.
But really, we shouldn't be talking about weight loss at all — we should be focusing on fat loss.
If we're looking to be our healthiest selves, many (albeit not all) of us could do with losing a bit of fat. It's all about changing your body composition, losing fat while maintaining muscle.
Me in November 2018 and May 2019. Rachel Hosie
Luke Worthington, a movement and elite performance specialist, told me this isn't the same as simply losing weight though.
“Losing 'weight' is as simple as being in a calorie deficit — this means expending more energy than you're consuming,” said Worthington, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and an integrative corrective exercise specialist who has a Master of Science in biomechanics.
“It works a little bit your bank balance: Spend more than you earn, and the balance goes down,” he said.
“However, what most people really want to do is not just lose weight, but rather lower the proportion of body fat to lean tissue, therefore improving their overall body composition.”
This is a little more challenging. However, it's not impossible, as I've learned this year.
Read more: I lost 35 pounds in 6 months without going on a diet, and it taught me 7 lessons about eating for healthy fat loss
Over the past six months, I have cut my body fat nearly in half and maintained almost all of my muscle mass — it's dropped ever so slightly, to 31.3 kilograms (69 pounds) from 31.8 kilograms (70.1 pounds).
Indeed, the results of my InBody scans with Worthington revealed that my body-fat mass dropped to 13.5 kilograms in June from 25.4 kilograms at the end of November. My overall weight at the time of the second scan was 69.5 kilograms, down from 82.6 kilograms.
In my first scan, my results for pretty much every measurement were in the “over” range, which essentially meant I was carrying an unhealthily high amount of fat.
I had already been lifting weights consistently for 18 months, so I knew I was strong, and the scan proved this too: My muscle mass was high.
However, because my muscles were shrouded in a decent layer of, well, insulation, I didn't look particularly strong or fit.
Me in June performing a sumo deadlift. Luke Worthington
I wanted to lose some of the fat for various reasons (one of which, of course, was vanity, because I'm only human), but I was scared I'd lose my muscle too. Anyone who has actively tried to get stronger and achieve those elusive #gains will tell you that putting on muscle is a slow process, especially for women.
But Worthington told me it was totally doable, provided I didn't drop my calories too low and that I trained wisely.
If you've decided you want to get leaner, you probably feel as if you want to go hell for leather and slim down fast. But if you want to hold on to your muscle mass, you need to take your time.
A drastic calorie deficit is not only unsustainable but unwise if you actually want to achieve the toned, sculpted physique many of us crave.
Keeping your protein levels up is also crucial for maintaining muscle — studies have found that following a high-protein diet can help maintain muscle and boost metabolism, keep you feeling full when you're trying to lose weight, and reduce hunger.
I've already written about how I changed my diet to lose fat healthily and sustainably, but there are also important lessons I've learned about how to exercise if you want to hold on to your muscle while doing so.
1. Weight training is essential if you actually want your body to look fit
Squats are a great example of a compound move. Luke Worthington
Simply losing weight probably isn't going to result in the taught, toned physique many people desire.
People I speak to often think “toned” arms and legs come from doing a lot of reps with low weights, whereas heavy lifting is thought to create a “bulky” look many women dread.
But this couldn't be further from the truth. “Toning” isn't really a thing — it's muscle building. My training mainly involves heavy lifting and low reps, but my arms aren't “bulky,” because building big muscles is incredibly difficult as a woman. What you will get from this style of training, however, is the “toned” look.
As a general rule, to build muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus, and to lose fat you need to be in a deficit. So if you want to hold on to your muscle while taking in less energy than you're burning, you need to work your muscles.
Read more: You're probably squatting wrong, according to Ellie Goulding's personal trainer
“Retaining lean tissue whilst in the calorie deficit needed to reduce body fat will require regular strength (resistance) training,” Worthington said. “Lean tissue is very much a 'use it or lose it' commodity.
“Weight training has the added advantage of being targeted and specific to loading (and overloading) specific movement patterns or body parts. Simply put: You get stronger quicker!”
He added that “additional benefits of weight training include improved mobility, sports performance, reduced injury risk, improved hormonal health, improved mental health, and increased bone density,” which he said was especially important for women.
If you truly hate lifting weights, however, you needn't force yourself. Although weight training is by far the most effective form of strength training, according to Worthington, it's not the only one.
He recommends gymnastics, swimming, some forms of yoga, and martial arts as other ways to work out that use some form of resistance to improve strength.
2. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when resting
Feeling strong feels awesome. Rachel Hosie
“Having more lean muscle can speed up the fat-loss process, as increased lean muscle increases your resting metabolic rate — so simply put, you are burning more calories in a resting state,” Worthington said.
Increasing your muscle mass is one of the best ways to boost your metabolism, and because I already had a decent amount of muscle, I found that my progress wasn't slowed as much as it might have been by, say, a weekend of sheer indulgence and overeating.
On the flip side, studies have found that a loss of muscle can lead to a drop in your basal metabolic rate, which makes it harder to keep the weight off.
The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, meaning the easier it is to keep the weight off once you've decided to move into maintenance. Many people find that with very little muscle, you have to keep cutting calories lower and lower to keep off the weight you've lost.
3. You don't need to be breath and dripping in sweat for a workout to be effective
Improving your mobility is important too. Luke Worthington
If you think you won't burn as many calories during your weight training workouts as during more fast-paced cardio, think again. According to my Fitbit, I tend to burn more calories from an hour of weightlifting than a spin class.
“Not all workouts have to be in fifth gear,” Worthington said. “Your body can operate with many different energy systems, and we should train them all.
“There are times to finish in a sweaty mess in the corner, and there are also times to focus on movement quality and control.”
Read more: An Instagram fitness trainer with 2.2 million followers says you're approaching exercise the wrong way
Just because you're not gasping for air after a set of squats doesn't mean you haven't raised your heart rate, and you don't need to annihilate yourself for a workout to be effective.
A study conducted last year and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that you can reap the same rewards from exercise regardless of whether you're doing high-intensity cardio or simply walking lots throughout the day.
“Many people see HIIT classes as their introduction to exercise, saying they will see a PT 'when they're fit enough,'” Worthington said, referring to high-intensity interval training.
“It's a little saying you'll go see your doctor once you've gotten over your illness. The process should be the other way around.
“Start your exercise journey with a suitably qualified and experienced trainer (judge them on their clients' journeys and outcomes, not on their ab selfies), then when you are competent and confident in your movement abilities, work with the trainer on selecting group exercise classes that are most suitable for you.”
4. Setting non-aesthetic goals will keep you motivated
Lateral lunges are a useful exercise to improve side-to-side movement skills for sport. Luke Worthington
If you're working out only because you want to change how your body looks, you're ly to quit before you see results.
Losing fat or building muscle takes a long time, especially if you're doing it healthily. That's why it's a good idea to set training goals that aren't related to aesthetics.
For example, at the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to do an unassisted pull-up. I managed that a few months later (which felt awesome), and I'm now trying to do five consecutively. Having a goal this has kept me motivated.
5. Exercise in the ways you enjoy, as that's how it'll be sustainable
Playing netball is one of my favorite ways to exercise. Rachel Hosie
Do you know what you don't have to find the motivation to make yourself do? The things you enjoy. And that simple fact is the key to exercising consistently.
For me, it's weightlifting, playing netball, and dancing. I adore all three of these types of exercise, so I actively look forward to doing them, not just how good I know I'll feel afterward.
You might think you don't enjoy exercise, period. But that's probably not the case. Persevere, and find what suits you.
When exercise is fun, you'll stick to it. Training will no longer feel a chore, punishment, or necessary evil to “offset” a packet of cookies or boozy weekend. It will become a joy.
Put simply: Start exercising because you love, not hate, your body.
Weight Loss: Plateau No More
From the WebMD Archives
It happens to runners and endurance athletes, and it happens to dieters, too: You’re working hard to meet your weight-loss goal when suddenly, the needle on the scale refuses to budge.
This roadblock often occurs just after your initial weight loss, and again when you can’t seem to lose those last few pounds. It’s very discouraging to keep working hard when you can’t see the fruits of your labor.
To make things worse, these weight-loss plateaus can last from several days to months.
If your weight loss has come to an abrupt halt, you must be wondering: Am I doing something wrong?
According to the experts, hitting these plateaus is nothing unusual. As your weight drops and your body composition changes, so do your nutritional needs. There are several reasons why your weight can hit a plateau:
- As your weight goes down, you not only lose fat but also a small amount of muscle. It’s estimated that up to 25% of the body tissue lost during weight loss comes from muscle. Since muscle is critical to keeping your metabolism perking, losing it can reduce your metabolic rate and hinder weight loss. Strength training can help preserve and build muscle to get your metabolism humming again.
- The set point theory alleges that your body naturally tries to maintain a certain weight where it is most comfortable. If you find yourself stuck at the same weight time and again, you may have reached the comfort zone. Reducing much further typically results in regaining weight.
- You may need fewer calories or more physical activity to sustain your lower weight. This is the most ly cause of a weight-loss plateau. Further, it’s almost impossible to lose much weight without exercising. Many scientists agree that whether you exercise is the best way to predict whether you’ll successfully maintain your weight.
- Other factors that can influence weight loss include thyroid or adrenal gland problems, medications you’re taking, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and quitting smoking.
But more than ly, your weight is at a plateau because your portion sizes have crept up, and/or your workouts have decreased in intensity or frequency. You also may be indulging in high-calorie foods more often.
The truth of the matter is that most people let down their guard a little after their initial weight loss. It’s perfectly natural to get more comfortable with the eating plan, and possibly overlook the prescribed portion sizes or quantities. The result is weight maintenance instead of further weight loss.
Some dieters expect their rate of weight loss to be constant. But most people drop weight more quickly when they first begin a reducing program. This initial loss, unfortunately, is half fluid and does not reflect how much actual fat tissue you’ve burned. It’s only later that each pound lost reflects the burning of real fat, roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories.
So don’t be fooled into thinking that your initial rate of weight loss will continue. It’s hard work to burn off 3,500 calories a week!
How can you get off the plateau and lose those last few pounds? According to the successful losers of the National Weight Control Registry, the secret is persistence. Here are nine ways to get back on track:
- Exercise: it builds muscle and revs up your metabolism. This is the single most important step you can take to lose more weight. Look for ways to work more activity into your life instead of trying to fit in unrealistically long workouts.
- Start strength training a few times a week. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat and helps burn more calories.
- Check your portion sizes. Maybe it’s time to get out your measuring cups and scale again. Most dieters routinely underestimate portion sizes.
- Are you journaling your food? Keeping up with your journal is a great motivator and helps you be aware of exactly what and how much you are eating.
- Weigh yourself once a week. Doing it more often can be counterproductive.
- Make sure your weight-loss goals are realistic. It may be time to shift into weight maintenance instead of striving for more weight loss.
- Curb-late night munching, which can sabotage your calorie intake.
- Focus on the health benefits of the weight you have already lost. Put a picture of your old self in a spot where you’ll see it often, to help you stay motivated. Delight in how far you’ve come, and how good you look and feel.
- Shake things up in your diet. Treat yourself to a new cookbook, or a subscription to a healthy cooking magazine, to keep novelty and variety in your meals.
Visit our community message boards for support and help from our moderators and WebMD community members.
Learn from the lessons of our successful dieters. They will be the first to tell you to give up the guilt — it does nothing more than lead to bingeing. Accept the fact that plateaus are perfectly normal, and, perhaps with a tweaking of your diet and exercise routine, you will start moving again toward meeting your weight-loss goals.
Reaffirm your commitment to the program and regain the determination you had when you began. Can you remember what motivated you to start our program? Call upon your reserves - you have come this far, so don’t give up now.
One more thing: It may be time for a well-deserved reward for all your hard work. How about a shopping spree for fall clothing in that new smaller size?
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.
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