Weight Loss & Slimming
Incorporating these simple, proven methods and tips in your lifestyle will help in healthy weight loss, slimming and maintenance. A good weight loss program is based on three factors: diet, supplements (and ayurvedic medicine) and exercise. Success in any weight loss and slimming program depends a lot on the ability of the individual to follow it. No weight loss program is really successful without exercise. Here are some points to observe during the weight loss program.
- Set your Goal:
Set a realistic goal of how much weight you want to lose. Most people are unrealistic. They simply calculate how much they are overweight or feel overweight but do not set a real goal of how much weight they would like to lose.
- Cut down on Fats:
It is very important to cut down on the intake of fats to lose weight. The problem with fat is that it is tasty to the body, perhaps because during evolution we geared our bodies to collect fat for difficult times such as starvation and famine, so fat tastes good. Once you eat something with fat in it, it is often difficult to stop and one craves more—cream, butter, deep fried foods, etc. So it is important to stop eating food with high fat content, since one doesn’t stop at a little.
Fat has a high satiety value as well as a high calorific value. One gram of fat contains 9 calories whereas one gram of Protein contains 4.2 calories and one gram of Carbohydrate contains 4.7 calories.
- Cut down on Meats and processed meat foods:
Most meats in the modern world are from animals that have been injected growth hormones and the like. When these find a way into your body they affect your body as well. Usually meat will increase the level of toxins in the body too. So avoid meats as far as possible. Often many meats contain high fats, besides they are often prepared in fat, so cutting on meats means getting rid of all that fat.
- Cut down Sugars:
Avoid sweets as far as possible. Cutting on sugars helps in reducing weight apart from preventing disease. Try to have beverages without sugar, after a few days, one gets used to it. Instead of having something sweet have a fruit instead. At the same time, do not deny yourself your favourite foods completely. Have them in very small portions to avoid strong cravings. The key here is very small portion size not more than once a day.
- Cut down on Salt:
Salt makes you feel thirstier and hungrier. It also affects the blood pressure usually sending it up, hence is bad for people with High Blood Pressure, so cut down on salt. High salt intake will not let you lose weight especially as it is hydrophilic and helps retain water in the body.
- Responsible Snacking:
Avoid unscheduled snacking in between meals as much as possible, especially fried food. Include Snacks in your Schedule and try to snack only during that time. For snacks prefer to have some fruit, an apple, an orange or a pear. Your snack in between a meal should be a scheduled snack, not an impulsive one. Also strictly control the portion size.
- Avoid Tea, Coffee and Colas (Soft Drinks):
Try to lower your intake of tea and coffee as much as possible as these stimulate the body and thereby disturb the natural body rhythm. They also tend to increase toxins in the body along with acidity. An acidic pH is bad for the body and increases the chances of disease. One can drink herbal tea instead of Black/Green tea and Coffee. In the same way soft drinks are loaded with sugar, they disturb the sugar mechanism and the body rhythm. Some soft drinks have caffeine as well. Diet sodas are bad for health due to the artificial sweeteners some of which are considered poisonous by many.
- Avoid Alcohol:
Alcohol has lots of calories but these are fuel calories, so they do not add to your calorie intake as they are not food calories and our bodies cannot use these calories. However, the bad news is that it knocks down the mind’s control over the food intake and a person who has had a few drinks eats a lot without knowing when to stop. So this results in huge extra calories intake. Usually there is tendency to snack along with the alcoholic drinks which also adds numerous calories. Beer has some natural compounds that are similar to the female hormone estrogen which leads to accumulation of fats and the high intake of liquid (Beer) increases belly size leading to a pot belly or a beer belly. So avoid alcohol. Alcohol also causes dehydration which is bad for skin apart from other problems.
- Do not starve yourself:
Do not skip breakfast or any meal. When a person starts to starve themselves the body reacts by saving the fat. It is a mechanism which was developed by the human body during times of famine and starvation. When the body does not get adequate food, this reflex is initiated and as little fat as is very essential is used by the body, so the objective to lose weight & fat is not fulfilled as the body starts to save the fat for difficult times. Also during starvation, some other harmful compounds (Ketones) are released that harm the body especially if the body get very little Carbohydrates. As we well know Carbohydrates break down into Sugars and glucose. When there are insufficient Carbohydrates available to the body, then the body starts to break down fat deposits. Ketones are organic compounds that result when body fat is broken down for energy. Generally, glucose is used by cells for energy. However, during starvation there is no glucose available so the body fat is broken down into Ketones as an alternative fuel source. This is called Ketosis. When Ketone levels become excessively high, this is harmful to the body. In simple words, one can understand Ketones as free radicals or oxidants.
- Avoid Genetically Modified Foods:
Research indicates that with the proliferation of Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s) there has been an epidemic of obesity and allergies in United States. Due to the modification many of the foods are not recognized by the body as they are not natural. This confuses the body and results in an allergy to the food which remains even when one switches to eating the same natural food as the body has already developed an allergy to it.
- Keep a food and calorie record:
Research indicates that people who keep a record of the food they eat as well as count the calories are more likely to lose weight. Keeping a record helps one to check one’s urges and realize where they are going wrong. It forces one to account for excesses and ensures that the dieter sticks to the diet plan. Also it allows one to more accurately compensate for any extra calories that one may have taken.
- Meal Timings:
Have your meals at regular times. One tends to eat snacks to compensate for a late meal and one ends up eating more during a late meal. Take your meal on time when you are hungry, it will do away with the urge to snack thereby avoiding those extra snack calories that you would accumulate otherwise. Also strictly avoid eating late at night or in the night, however, do not skip the meal. If you do have to eat late ensure that the meal is not a heavy one. Practice moderation and give yourself at least 90 minutes to sleep after a late meal. If possible, try to have a walk after a late meal.
- Chew your food slowly and eat you food while sitting comfortably:
It has been observed that people who eat fast are on the heavier side. It takes the stomach 20 minutes to send a signal to the brain that you have eaten enough and that it is satisfied. Food that is not chewed properly is also not absorbed properly so one does not receive proper nutrients. Your stomach does not have teeth, so chew slowly.
Try not to eat food on the go, sit down comfortably and have your meal. Eating food on the move often causes indigestion and leads to hyperacidity as well as Gastrointestinal Reflux Syndrome (GERD).
- The importance of Breakfast:
Never skip breakfast and if you start feeling hungry soon, it means that your breakfast was inadequate. Those people who have a good balanced breakfast with adequate proteins, carbohydrates and fats tend to eat lighter lunches. They have more energy through the day and perform better during the course of the day. If you feel really hungry before lunchtime that means that you had a poor breakfast. One can compensate for pre-lunch time hunger by scheduling a snack midway between Breakfast and Lunch, preferably a fruit.
- Have numerous small meals instead of one or two large meals:
Control your portion size by eating smaller portions of low fat foods every 2-3 hours to trick your body into feeling that there is adequate food, which makes the body use the fat reserves thereby making you lose fat. It also helps maintain a regular and steady level of energy and prevents you from binging later. Practice moderation; do not have a pig-out (a very large meal).
- Learn to control your Hunger pangs:
Once a dieter gets Hunger pangs, even a very controlled and focussed slimmer finds it very difficult to control their urge to eat. Science tells us that the best way to control hunger pangs is to eat small portions every 2-3 hours which breaks the hunger & helps in maintaining a steady level of energy as well. The Human body secretes a hormone called Ghrelin which is commonly called the ‘Hunger Hormone’ and is produced by Ghrelin cells in the gastrointestinal tract. It is responsible for the hunger pangs and for the distribution and rate of use of energy. Data suggests that Ghrelin acts as an adiposity signal, a messenger between the body’s energy stores and the brain. When a person loses weight, their Ghrelin levels spikes up, causing them to eat more and vice-versa when a person gains weight, the Ghrelin levels become lower causing them to eat less. But in the daily routine 3-4 hours of fasting sends the Ghrelin levels up causing hunger pangs and after a meal they come down. So small meals every 2-3 hours ensures regulated levels of Ghrelin thus avoiding Hunger pangs.
- Eat adequate Carbohydrates:
Research shows that Ghrelin will also spike if we do not get Carbohydrates. As we well know carbohydrates break down into sugars & glucose. If we eat every 2-3 hours, we keep the hunger pangs under control. If one denies the body carbohydrates, the Ghrelin level increases, making us very hungry; sometimes forcing even a much disciplined dieter to lose control over the diet regimen, making one crave for sugar. About thirty percent of the diet should be Carbohydrates.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack.
Eat a large salad with every meal or even before a meal. Use very little oil on the salad. Often people will eat a salad but with lots of oil thus the entire benefit of a low calorie meal is lost. Eating Salads, Vegetables and Fruits ensures healthier sources of long lasting daily energy, fibre and nutrients with less fat and sugar. Eating fruits and vegetables as snacks also helps decrease hunger cravings.
Fruits that build the body weight such as Mangoes, Bananas, Sweet potatoes, and very sweet fruits such as Grapes should be avoided.
- Have as much Fruits as possible:
Try to have lots of fruits during the day. It may be a good idea to replace one meal with fruits entirely, preferably dinner. This helps in weight loss. Having some fruits daily also helps in the peristaltic movement and ensures that the stomach gets cleared properly.
- Try Juicing:
It is very difficult for people to eat lots of fruit and vegetables in a day. The amount required to have a good intake of nutrients is quite large. One of the easy ways out is to prepare fresh juices from fruits and vegetables. Juicing is perhaps one of the only ways that ensure that one has adequate energy as well as loses weight quickly. Juicing is highly recommended for weight loss and good health especially for people who have very large weights.
- Have a low calorie Vegetable soup before your meal:
A low calorie vegetable soup before your meal fills your stomach leaving less space for your main course. This will help in losing weight. Vegetables are also good for the body as they provide numerous nutrients and fibre to the body.
- Prefer home cooked meals:
When you cook yourself, you have control over the quality of ingredients and the quantity of fat used in them. Home cooked food is almost always healthier. The important thing is to devote and schedule some time for cooking. One can pre-prepare certain foods on the weekend to save time during the working week. Use fresh, unprocessed ingredients as far as possible.
- Choose unprocessed and fresh, whole foods as much as possible:
Some examples of what to eat are: Rice, Buckwheat instead of pasta, oatmeal instead of toast, fresh whole fruit with skin instead of juice or canned fruit. Reduce starchy foods to whatever extent possible. Usually potatoes are not as bad for the body as the reputation that they have been given. The real culprit is usually the way they are made like potatoes with cream, or French fries and so on. This approach helps to maximize the consumption of healthy fibres and foods that typically have a low sugar index, resulting in improved appetite control.
- Eating Out:
If you plan to eat out especially if you are going to a party, try to eat something before going, so that you do not overeat there. Usually people who have not eaten anything before a food event end up over eating, than they would if they have eaten beforehand. They especially tend to over eat fried foods, fatty-creamy foods and high carbohydrate-sweet foods.
- Wear fitting clothes:
So while you are eating, you feel the need to loosen your clothing; this should be a reminder to you that you are overeating. Avoid wearing loose clothes or with elastics. Regular fit clothes will tell you when you are full and force you to stop from overeating.
- Remember to drink lots of Water:
Water helps to flush out the toxins as well as fills the stomach thereby reducing hunger pangs. When one wakes up in the morning, one should drink upto one litre to one and a half litre of water on an empty stomach everyday. This helps the body, activates the internal organs, helps in clearing the stomach and flushes out toxins. The water should not be cold or hot but at room temperature. One can however drink lukewarm water during the winters.
The usual habit of drinking hot tea or coffee first thing in the morning is a terrible one. According to Ayurved, the toxins (known as Ama) are dissolved back into the body instead of being excreted by drinking warm beverages in the early morning.
- Regular exercise
Without a regular exercise program there is very little chance that a slimming plan will work. It is the best option to reach desired goals. A brisk daily walk routine of 30-45 minutes will utilize calories; stimulate fat loss metabolism and create fat loss. The other important thing to note about exercise is to do it at one go. Calories start burning when the exercise is continuous, if the exercise is slow but continuous more calories are burnt with less stress on the body & heart, on the other hand if you walk 15 minutes 2-3 times a day, it will not give the same results.
It is always a good idea to do some stretching exercises before a walk or a small run. Also one does not essentially need to run a mile, one can run 50-100 metres, two –three times with breaks to not stress one’s body and then go for a walk. One of the best exercises especially for younger people is frog jumps (hops). Sit on your feet, keep your arms behind your head and start hopping. Anywhere between 20-40 hops is not bad. Hopping for say 100 metres is very challenging but something some young people can easily do. This is one of the best and quickest exercises to tone the body. It is also not very stressful on the heart.
- Have a positive attitude about your diet:
Learn to use positive terms like ‘Can do’ instead of ‘Can’t’; ‘healthy’ instead of ‘unhealthy’; ‘fit’ instead of ‘fat’; ‘Strong’ instead of weak’; ‘Energetic’ instead of ‘Tired’. Many surveys have found that people who use positive terms are more likely to lose weight or maintain it than those who think and talk negatively. A positive attitude helps in all spheres of life including Weight Management.
- Importance of sleep:
It is very important to sleep properly. Inadequate sleep leads people to eat more to compensate for lack of sleep thereby gaining weight. There are numerous studies to this effect. Try to sleep atleast 7 hours each day.
- Avoid constantly checking the bathroom scale:
Since the scale measures only total body weight, it cannot measure body changes or fat to lean muscle ratio. The mirror and how your clothes fit are the best indicators of firmer, leaner muscles. If you have a high protein diet it may not reduce body weight as the muscle mass can go up.
- Be real:
There is no magic pill or food for successful long-term weight loss. Being fit and in shape is almost like a religion, one has to keep at it. Consistent healthy choices over time with regular exercise enhanced with dietary supplements will help you meet your goals. There is no short cut to success, only being persistent in your efforts will help you reach your goal.