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I am not an expert in the field of physical and dietary health. However, I am a fairly healthy eater and I keep my weight fairly consistent. Though there are many schools of thought on how to keep weight off, here are some tips the boyfriend and I live by that help us stay in shape in a healthy way.
1.) Be aware of how different foods affect your blood sugar. The higher your blood sugar, the more calories you absorb. So its best to eat proteins and foods high in fiber 30 minutes after you eat fruit or take your vitamins because it helps your body absorb more of what you need.
Example: We make a juice out of kale, cucumber, and celery for the micronutrients. However, the juice of 4 apples is included in this combination because the apple skin is high in fiber AND the sweetness raises our blood sugar and helps absorb more vitamins
Conversely: Eating white flour pancakes with syrup & fruit raises your blood sugar and helps your body absorb more calories from a carb that isn't very useful to you because of its lack of vitamins or fiber.
2.) If it tastes sweet, it raises your blood sugar. The body does not discriminate between honey, sugar, fruits, sweet potatoes and artificial sweeteners in raising your blood sugar. The benefits/disadvantages of each sweet are as follows:
a.) Fruits are low calorie and high in vitamins. This is great to use alongside breakfast, vitamins, and vegetables. Apples are especially excellent with skin because there is a lot of fiber. Same with plantains which often utilize both the inside & the skin.
b.) Sweet potatoes (especially with skin) & carrots are excellent because they are only sweet enough to help you absorb the nutrition. But when you had caramels, sweet peanut butters, syrups, juices, etc. to either, you are increasing your caloric intake for those things which have little to no nutritional value. Likewise, because a carrot is slightly sweet, if you eat it with ranch or other dressings, you're going to absorb a lot of the calories that come along with the dressing.
c.) Ask for dressings on the side and try to stick to Italian dressing or similar dressings with no type of creaminess or sweetness. Dip your fork prongs into it before spearing some salad for a bite. This way, you're regulating how much dressing you're actually getting. Dressings can be fattening depending on which one. If its sweet, be sure you're only using enough to promote absorbing the salad. Don't eat too much dressing to where it interferes and you end up absorbing most calories from that instead. This might be why a lot of people who eat salad are surprised they don't loose weight.
d.) Do not drink sodas or sweet teas or sweet coffees or sweet alcohols along with your meal (or at least only drink one serving). This is especially true if you're eating a calorie dense meal like a McDonald's combo. You'll absorb most of the calories but get little nutritional benefit while still gaining weight.
e.) Artificial sweeteners of any kind are a scam and are carcinogenic. They may advertise no calories but that's not true considering what you're eating or drinking with them. Personally, if I want something sweet, I use real sugar (especially brown sugar instead of refined) and honey.
[Example: If eating at McDonalds, you could order a big mac but skip the mayo, the ketchup, and the soda. Drink water instead, bring your own veggies, don't order the fries, and also don't order a fruit. That way you can enjoy your burger but not take in too many calories that you dont need. If wheat buns are ever an option, the extra fiber in them is always helpful because Fiber will slow down the absorption of calories)
3.) Replace sodas & juices with non-sweetened waters or hot tea flavored only with lemon or just enough honey (you can drink iced tea, but be wary of artificial sweeteners). If you drink caffeinated teas or waters, be sure to also couple it with a glass of water so as not to dehydrate (caffeine is a diuretic and can dehydrate you if used excessively)
4.) Realize that salt makes your body retain water. Salty snacks, like a handful of nuts, are great a couple times a day with water because it helps you retain water. My household doesn't regulate salt as a seasoning in our food (which consist a lot of sauteed veggies, rices, lean meats, no dairy, no sugar, etc.) However, we do not indulge in salty chips or pretzels or salty cheeses. Too much salt and you increase your blood pressure and will gain weight from retaining a lot of water.
5.) Carbs are important but make sure to get the right kind of carbs. Limited quantities of brown rice, rolled oats, potatoes with skin, wheat bread, and wheat pastas are better for you than those things made of white flour.
6.) When done correctly, you should find that you eat more often than not. Its best to start eating within the first hour of waking up and to eat several small meals a day rather than three big ones. Eating frequently also trains your body to burn calories because it can expect to be fed. If you don't feed it regularly, it will hold onto calories because it won't know when its gonna get its next meal or what kind of nutrition that meal will have. Just because something is calorie dense and you're gaining weight doesn't mean its feeding your body.
7.) If losing weight is your goal, measure your success by how your clothes fit, not by how much you weight. By weight my boyfriend is technically obese, but his weight is in muscles and he works our everyday and eats right, so he's obviously not obese. Instead, buy a pair of jeans one size down from what you're wearing now (unless what you're wearing now is a little too snug - then use that). Don't aim to be a size 2 when you're normally a size 10. That might no even be healthy for you.
Also do some form of exercise, walking doesn't count unless you're over 60
At camp, we walked 6 plus milesback and forward (all day) and I lost 15 pound's within a month.
And I'm only 15.
Plus we were on healthy diets and drinking lots of water. ^_^
Walking is great. Especially if you're over weight and you aren't used to running. You build up stamina that way, then begin to run.
Good post, there are a few things I disagree with (and I'll give my input/advice on those in a second ), but all in all very informative .
I actually disagree with Sir about exercise being necessary for weight loss: for the vast majority of individuals it simply isn't. It is advised, of course, for cardiovascular health as well as weight loss, but weight loss is perfectly possible without it. Of course the body is more complicated than this, but weight loss/gain can be explained in a simple fashion using energy in vs. energy out. For most individuals, it is possible to ensure that "energy out" is more than "energy in" simply by eating less: I recently lost 8-9kg (nearly 20lb) over the space of a few months without doing any cardiovascular exercise whatsoever. For those who are already very light, or those with low basal metabolic rates (energy expenditure when "resting"), though, it may be difficult to eat sufficiently little to achieve the desired weight loss. In these cases, exercise can be done to increase the energy out such that energy in need not be so low. Similarly, if you just feel like eating more on your diet, this is perfectly possible if you increase your activity level.
-I generally advise people to AVOID frequent consumption of fruit and focus on vegetables instead when dieting, because fruits are actually very calorific due to their sugar content. A large apple, for example, has just as many calories as a glass of coke - and in each case all the calories come from sugar! I won't deny that apples are better for you, of course, but I think people often make the mistake of assuming they can eat as much fruit as they like because it is "healthy". And then they wonder why they aren't losing weight. Be wary!
-I don't think it's true that artificial sweeteners are carcinogenic. As far as I'm aware, there is no evidence that aspartame and acesulfame potassium (I choose those because they are the most common) are at all unhealthy in the small dosages we consume them as sweeteners. On the other hand, I believe diet drinks in which they are present have been shown to increase cravings, so I'd suggest only drinking them rarely and if you can be sure of your own willpower
-Lots of people don't like eating breakfast and don't feel hungry in the morning. For these people, I think skipping breakfast is actually a very good idea. If I eat breakfast when I wake up, I often find I am hungry a couple of hours later. If I skip breakfast, I don't usually get hungry until early afternoon! I'm fairly certain the "holding onto calories" idea only happens after several days of fasting, and indeed there is a very successful method of dieting known as "intermittent fasting" that encourages consuming your entire day's food in 8 hours or less and spending the remainder of the day fasted. It doesn't work for some people, but for a lot of people it really is very good. I'd say people should eat when they want - whether that's one massive meal at dinner time or six small ones spread throughout the day.
-I think weighing oneself is an excellent way of judging progress if you do it correctly. By "correctly", I mean that you always weigh yourself at the same time of day with your bladder just as full and that you don't weigh yourself until about a week into the diet. This is to reduce the effects of any "random" fluctuations like the amount of water weight, food in the gut, body changes due to different diet etc. etc.. What tends to happen when you switch to a low-calorie diet is that you lose quite a lot of weight very quickly and then it settles out again - this is just because you carry less water weight and less food when you're eating less. You aren't really measuring your fat loss if you count this in your weight loss. The best way to measure your weight loss is to weigh yourself every day (or as often as possible), and look at the general trend and NOT day to day measurements (too much possibility for error). This is a very satisfying way to do it as you can plot a graph in Excel in 2 seconds and actually see how you've lost weight, like in the picture below (my weight loss in kg over a period of about 3 months).
The best advice I can give about losing weight is to count calories. It may be hassle at first, but you soon learn the nutritional values of your staples and it just becomes a short exercise is basic arithmetic. The reason I suggest it is that study after study after study has shown how bad people are at estimating their calorific intake, and counting calories along with proper weight analysis can give you so much motivation as you just feel in complete control of your weight. Losing too much weight? Just increase your intake by a few hundred calories. Not losing enough? Just drop your intake! It's usually wise to start eating calories equal to around 14 times your weight in pounds, so if you weigh 155lb for example, you eat 155*14=2170kcal a day to start. You do this for a few weeks, and then adjust it according to how much weight you're losing/gaining. Simples
Another interesting thing for you to try - and this will probably interest males particularly - is to do all this while eating a high-protein diet and performing weight /resistance training. This will encourage your body to preserve lean body mass (i.e. muscle) and so a higher proportion of weight you lose will be fat and not muscle. On top of this, you'll begin to look leaner quicker because you won't be losing to much of your lean body mass. But hey, that's not for everyone. More info here
"If you must mount the gallows, give a jest to the crowd, a coin to the hangman and make the drop with a smile on your lips."
@Jam - I agree with the fruit. Thanks for clarifying. I think fruit is best in the morning with vitamins, but I agree that eating them excessively through out the day can be an issue depending on what else your'e eating.
I'm also terrible about eating in the morning, its just not my thing. But I do find that when I do it, I'm also hungry shortly there after. Its true that it stimulates your appetite. But being hungry all the time isn't a bad thing depending on what you eat to satiate it. In fact, its arguably more healthy to eat small meals every 2 hours than 3 large meals 5-6 hours. Granted, my boyfriend eats every 2, I don't eat as frequently because I'm just not that way. I usually get two meals a day, I rarely eat breakfast either.
As for artificial sweeteners, I had a friend whose mother died from some serious health complications that the doctors attributed to her heavy use of artificial sweeteners. So, I would use them only in small quantities like when you're eating out and have no other option. But I would not indulge in any regular use of them or in products that are "sugar-free", but that's my personal preference. I prefer Stevia before I use Splenda or Sweet-n-low because its derived from an actual plant and is not purely a substitute chemical. I also refuse to give artificial sweeteners and "sugar-free" treats to children. I just limit their sweets, period.
But there are many schools of thought. This is just what has worked for me. And yes @Sir, exercise is important. However, exercise won't be very useful if you're not eating correctly. As for walking, walking is fine if its a brisk walk (i.e. you're not casually moving along but walking quickly almost to the point of being at a light jog - or at least, that's how my doctor describes it).
Also, there is a difference between Cardio & strength training. Once you stop cardio, you gain the weight back quickly so its something you have to keep at. Its very healthy though if you have hte discipline to maintain it. Strength training with weights and by focusing on the strength of your core has lasting effects, burns more calories, and is overall more healthy because it builds up several parts of your body all at once, like squats (core, arms, legs, back, etc.) You get the same benefit of cardio plus more. But its harder and less glamorous. Both are good, just be aware of how they work so you have realistic expectations.