Tips for Weight Loss
We live in a Western culture, which is obsessed with food, snacks, and drinks. These are everywhere we look, from our street sides to our vending machines to even our routine stops for gas.
We live in a society of Big Gulps, Super-Sizing it, and Extra Value Meals, always seeking more for less. Health experts have a name for this environment: obesogenic or in plain English: fattening. This happens when food advertising, sedentary lifestyle, and often poverty conspire in a perfect storm. The result? More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
If you are overweight and try cutting back a little on your carbohydrates, you won’t accomplish much. Insulin levels must come down drastically, and only a strict program will accomplish this.
Below are the top eleven common weight loss mistakes you should try to avoid for more success in your efforts.
- Not understanding that carbs, not fats, are the problem. Many of us have fallen for the false media claims that eating fats will make you fat. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Fats are not metabolized completely; some are incorporated into our structures and eliminated in the colon. If you eat too many fats, you may experience nausea, as the body is equipped with mechanisms to prevent you from this overindulgence.
Carbs, on the other hand, are dangerous. Carbs of any name, shape, or form are still carbs. They stimulate insulin and transform into fat in the body. Only one hormone in the body gives a clear signal for fat production, and that hormone is insulin. Thus, insulin levels are raised only when carbs are ingested; this is not the case when we eat fats.
To lose weight, follow a no-carb, no-sugar diet. The best advice is to stay away from anything that tastes sweet or is made from starch or dough.
- Exercising without cutting carbs (dieting). People think weight loss must include diet and exercise in equal proportions, but this is not the case. Rather, losing weight is about 97 percent influenced by what you ingest and only 3 percent or less influenced by your exercise regimen. You may exercise and sweat for hours, only to ruin all your progress with a few extra bites or a soft drink.
Exercise is absolutely essential for great health, but it is not so essential for mediocre health and losing weight. By way of example, think of the poor souls who worked hard at concentration camps; they were not skin and bones for lack of exercise but for lack of proper nutrition. Naturally, those who incorporate exercise into their weight loss regimen will do better than those who diet alone, but diet is by far the most important consideration of the two. You cannot out-exercise a bad diet.
- Drinking your desserts. There are eight to thirteen teaspoons of sugar or sugar equivalent in just one can of soda. Juice, milkshakes, gourmet sweetened and flavored coffee drinks, and other drinkable treats will also pile weight on you. Alcoholic beverages can be another problem; a single serving of Long Island iced tea has over 700 calories! Some people may avoid dessert to lose weight, only to drink something far worse.
Wolfing down your food. Most overweight people do not eat consciously or chew slowly. Instead, they take big bites and gulp down sweet drinks in only a few minutes. In these cases, the feedback mechanism that tells your brain that you’ve eaten enough has no time to kick into gear. Your body requires ten to twenty minutes from the time you start eating to register that you are full. Food particles must be absorbed first, which takes a few minutes or even longer if you don’t chew your food adequately. If you gulp down a few thousand calories during those moments, you will bypass your natural defense mechanisms.
- Snacking. Snacking is unnecessary and overrated, promoted mostly by commercial interests. Snacks usually contain fast-burning carbs that leave you in a hypoglycemic and feeling hungry just one to three hours later. If you feel you need to snack, it is a clear indication that your meals consist of too many carbs that burn too quickly and leave you feeling empty fast. If your meals contain enough good fats and protein, especially in the case of breakfast, you will feel more even and calm all day and will not crave snacks.
While fast-burning carbs are like hay, fats and proteins are like logs in a fire; they burn slowly and evenly, giving you a steady stream of energy for a long time. Even whole-grain snacks are like twigs; they may burn a little more slowly, but it is still not slow enough to make a great difference.
- Letting your stress get out of control. Stress is another culprit that prevents us from losing weight. Cortisol is often dubbed a stress hormone because it is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress to help us cope with it. In times of high stress, we need glucose (sugar) quickly to handle the fight-or-flight stress reaction. These sugars must be at our disposal quickly. Cortisol is that call to action; in response to stress, it commands that stored sugar be thrown into circulation, thus stimulating insulin a little later.Studies have shown that cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain but can also affect where that weight shows up on the body. Higher cortisol levels have been linked to more abdominal fat. Not only is abdominal fat unattractive, but it is also directly linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
7. Eating out. A dieter walking into a restaurant is akin to an alcoholic walking into a bar. We often go out to eat for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations. Perhaps you just do not feel like cooking or are simply craving some variety. All of these are understandable, but be aware that eating out can be dangerous to your weight loss efforts. Portion sizes are getting larger in restaurants, and so are our waistlines. Not only that, but in a restaurant, you have little knowledge or control of what goes into those dishes and how they are prepared. You should avoid buffets at all costs.
8. Eating while distracted. A common habit that prevents us from reaching weight loss goals is eating in front of the TV. While we are distracted this way, we tend to avoid paying any attention to our own hunger cues and eat mindlessly for the duration of whatever program we are watching, paying no attention to just how much we are really eating. Research has shown that people who eat in front of the TV report feeling as if they haven’t really eaten at all. Why? Because when we are not focused enough on our eating and digestion, we do not register how much we have eaten, and we tend to dismissively and mindlessly overeat.
9. Lack of sleep. Failing to get the recommended hours of sleep can also cause weight gain. Studies have shown that people who sleep less tend to weigh more and accumulate more body fat than those who get eight hours of sleep each night. Sleeping regulates the production of two hormones that are responsible for fullness and hunger. When we do not get enough sleep, we feel hungrier and less full, so we end up eating more. Also, when we’re tired, we tend to make less healthy eating choices and opt for carb-laden, calorie-high comfort foods.10. All-or-nothing mentality. Perhaps you fell off the wagon and ate five chocolate chip cookies when you had decided you would only eat one. Don’t beat yourself up about it! However, don’t convince yourself that you might as well eat the rest of the batch, along with a tub of ice cream, then resume your diet tomorrow. Stop while you’re ahead and continue to eat more healthfully. Counteract your cookie binge by eating more veggies or step up your exercise regimen for the day. 11. Giving in to faltering willpower. Be aware of your willpower and how it affects your eating and your weight. Your willpower is important. It will fade as the day goes by, but it can be replenished by eating just a little something or, better yet, getting a full night’s sleep. The problem is that when your willpower is low, you are only doing things you absolutely and really want to, not the ones you know you should do.
Every decision we make costs us various amounts of willpower. Decisions to suppress a pleasant option in favor of a less pleasant one, such as broccoli instead of fries, require a lot of willpower. Also, if you’re hungry, exhausted, or struggling, your willpower will collapse. Don’t allow yourself to get to this point. Take good care of yourself.
When it comes to willpower, it is also important to eliminate distractions. It is essential to know how much to ask of yourself in every moment and every meal. Don’t leave yourself on autopilot, or you will likely not be able to accomplish anything because your willpower will wane too much.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight in any amount, you know that weight loss is not an easy quest; many factors can prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals.
- Carbs, not fats, are the problem; go carb free, not fat free.
- Avoid snacking and don’t drink your carbs.
- Exercising more won’t help; you have to eat less.
- Avoid eating too fast and chew your food well.