10 Easy Tips to Lose That Holiday Bulge
Published in: The Times Colonist - January 2012
Written by: Dr. Marita Schauch BSc. ND
Happy New Year Everyone! It’s that time of the year again thanks to the abundance of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and countless social gatherings; when the majority of us are trying to shed the excess 5-10 pounds put on over the holiday season.
In January, we are often bombarded with TV, magazine, and newspaper articles encouraging us to make and keep weight loss resolutions. The sad fact is that while most people have the best intentions to lose weight, by mid- February, they have returned to their unhealthy habits. Whatever you choose as your weight loss method it is important to set realistic goals and make more of a lifestyle change than something that you will only do for 2 months of the year. Yo-yo dieting or an extreme diet change only puts more stress on the body, which will actually do more damage than good.
The following 10 tips will help you boost your metabolism naturally to help you reach and maintain your ideal body composition:
#1 - Don’t Skip Breakfast!
Most people skip breakfast to try to cut calories or simply because they don’t feel hungry first thing in the morning. Not only will this backfire by having you feel hungrier and eating more throughout the day, this can also lead to an excess secretion of the hormone insulin. Insulin helps drive glucose into the cells so that your body can use it as energy. An increased level of insulin in the body equals excess fat. Choose healthy and easy breakfast options such as a protein smoothie, oatmeal, or eggs.
#2 – Balance your Meals
Often times, our diets are protein light and carbohydrate heavy. The hormone glucagon is released in response to dietary protein. Glucagon signals fat cells to release fat into the blood, thereby promoting its use. In other words, more fat is burned and more weight is lost when you eat more protein. Healthy proteins include free-range eggs, fish and organic or free-range chicken or turkey. Organic beef, lamb or bison should be eaten no more than twice a week. Get into the habit of eating a vegetarian-based meal 1-2 times per week with organic fermented tofu or legumes. It is also important to eat 5 smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 larger ones to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar and energy levels. Eating right before bed is also a no-no because it doesn’t give your body a chance to burn off the calories, instead the food gets stored as fat while you sleep. Plan your dinner at least 3 hours before you hit the sack.
#3 – Manage your Stress!
We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with stress. Supporting your adrenal glands will help your body cope better with day-to-day stressors by balancing fluctuating cortisol levels. This will ensure your metabolism is working at its full potential!
#4 – Increase Water Intake and Keep Away from those Sugary Drinks!
Did you know that most soft drinks have a minimum of 7 teaspoons of sugar in each serving? Fruit juices are also a source of huge amounts of sugar even though they are “natural” fruit sugars. (It takes 4-5 fruits to make one glass of orange or apple juice). Try to dilute juices 50/50 with filtered water or add fresh lemon for flavor to plain water. Adding lemon juice can be a natural metabolic booster.
Toxins such as herbicides, pesticides and other harmful chemicals from our environment accumulate in the fat tissue in our body. When losing weight, these chemicals can cause a temporary toxic environment in your body. To counteract the effect, it is critical to drink as much water as possible. It is recommended to drink at least 1-2 liters of water a day.
#5 – Get Moving!
There’s no way around it; you have to exercise to burn calories and fat. The best way to permanently lose weight is slowly and steadily. Many extreme weight loss diets can cause water and muscle loss, especially when people don’t incorporate resistance training (weight training) into their exercise routine. Aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise is equally important. The combination of both cardio and weight training is the most effective way to change your body composition over time. If you are getting bored with your current workout or have never exercised before, seek out the help of a personal trainer get you on the right path!
#6 - Don’t Obsess about your Weight
When starting a weight loss program, most people will weigh themselves daily if not multiple times a day. But what most people don’t realize is that they will lose inches before they notice any weight loss, so start with that. Many people are surprised that they have lost 2 inches in a matter of a few weeks with the changes they have made, so they are motivated to continue.
#7 – Use Safe and Effective Supplements to BOOST Metabolic Function
Many people were turned off of using supplements when hearing of the harmful side effects from ephedra-containing weight loss pills. However, there are several ephedra-free safe and effective supplements, such as green tea (Maki KC et al. J. Nutr. 2008) and chromium (Broadhurst, CL, et al. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2006) that can be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise to increase your weight loss success.
#8 - Recognize Emotional Eating
Sometimes our most intense cravings for food happen when we are at our weakest point emotionally. Many people turn to food for comfort; consciously or unconsciously, when they're facing a difficult problem or looking to keep themselves occupied. Learn to identify true hunger. It is also important to look elsewhere for comfort. Instead of unwrapping a chocolate bar, take a walk, treat yourself to a movie, listen to music, read a good book or call a friend.
#9 - Include Good Fat in your Diet
Don’t always assume that low fat products are the answer to weight loss. If fat is removed from a product, then sugar is usually added to improve taste. Increasing the sugar content of a food item will increase the insulin response, resulting in more weight gain. There is also a difference between good fats and bad ones. Include good fats in your diet such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, flax and fish oils.
#10 - Seek Guidance from your Health Care Professional
Ensure that you see your health care provider if your weight does not seem to be moving in the right direction. There could be something more going on. Various conditions such as thyroid disease or other hormonal conditions can make weight loss extremely difficult and frustrating.
Good Luck and Happy 2012!