You probably already know that the most important element in your weight loss battle is diet. We’re all told that exercise is critical for losing weight, but if you’ve ever stepped onto a calorie-counting treadmill, you know how hard it is to burn calories with exercise. Exercise certainly helps, but you’ll see the most dramatic results from overhauling your diet. A good diet not only brings in fewer calories; it boosts your metabolism too. If you’ve talked yourself into thinking milkshakes are healthy, get back on track with Healthy Eating. If you’re looking for a dramatic diet overhaul, let a pro show you how to do Paleo right. In the meantime, get started with these simple yet effective tips.
You may have heard of kombucha and kefir being touted as the latest superfoods for weight loss. While it sounds like a modern fad, these products have been around for centuries as a way of storing and saving food. Freshly fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt are chock full of probiotic bacteria. Why should you care about bacteria? Well, the latest research shows that these tiny microbes control everything from our waistline to our wellbeing. The right bugs can make us happy; the wrong ones can make us sick. You’ll gain the maximum benefit from these foods by making them at home. Store bought versions are generally either sterilized or sugar laden. Learn how to make fermented foods yourself and watch you health return.
In our over-stressed, overworked, hurried daily routines, our bodies pay the price. Caffeine, prescription medication, and stimulants can all increase appetite. Calming those stressors can reduce appetite and the best way to get a whole body sense of relaxation is thermotherapy—otherwise known at home as a hot bath. Make your bath as hot as a hot tub—uncomfortably hot, skin prickling hot—but don’t burn yourself, obviously. Get your legs in first and give them a good stretch with the aid of the heat. Then, slowly get your upper back into the water to release tension. Epsom salts are a fantastic way to relax even further. Stay in the bath for at least fifteen minutes. The relaxation that results culls those hunger inducing hormones, and leaves you calm and controlled enough to resist even the most tempting fudgsicle. The idea that relaxation can suppress appetite is the reason why most people don’t feel hungry after a massage, yoga, aromatherapy, or meditation. There’s no reason not to see if decreasing your stress can also rewire your appetite.
Foods for Weight Loss
Look up foods for weight loss and you’ll find one common feature: they all act on insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone from your pancreas that regulates blood sugar. Everyone talks about it because of diabetes. When you eat foods that act on your insulin response, you create an effect on your fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Eat the right stuff and you get thin; eat the wrong stuff and you get fat. So what’s the right stuff?
- Green tea
- Pine nuts
- Frozen blueberries
- Apple cider vinegar
- Detox tonic: Lemon juice, maple syrup, warm water
Calorie for calorie, all of these foods are supposed to aid your body in burning fat and losing weight compared to your regular diet. Sub them in wherever possible and keep your tape measure nearby to see the results. But it doesn’t just matter what you eat, but when you eat it. Starting your day with protein can curb mid-morning snacks. In one study, people who ate protein at breakfast lost twice as much weight as their carb-eating counterparts. After dinner munching is the surefire way to pack on the pounds. Try doing your bedtime routine shortly after dinner. You’ll be much less likely to binge on chocolate cake when you’ve just brushed your teeth.
Water for Weight Loss
How many times have you been told to drink water to lose weight? It’s everywhere. “The model’s secret weapon.” Does water really work? Here’s what we know:
- When you stop drinking juice, lattes, alcohol and diet soda and drink water instead, you save hundreds of calories per day.
- When your body feels tired and lethargic (and unmotivated to hit the gym…), more often than not, it’s because of borderline dehydration.
- When you drink water, especially ice water, it does take energy for your body to warm it to body temperature.
- When you drink water before a meal, it helps you feel fuller, so you eat less.
- When you’re adequately hydrated, it benefits intestinal transit which reduces bloating.
- While coffee and tea don’t contain calories (when you don’t sweeten them), they are both diuretics which cause you to expel water causing mild dehydration.
Water may well turn out to be one of the simplest ways to make a healthy change with real results.
Supplements for Weight Loss
It’s been said before, but we’d better say it again: check with your doctors before taking a dietary supplement. Supplements can have powerful effects on your body. Stay away from those that claim sudden weight loss. We all remember the horrible ephedra disaster, but supplements are still unregulated. Some teens experienced liver failure after pumping themselves full of the active component in green tea. Be responsible with your usage. Careful use of supplements can bring about positive changes in your waistline. The best ones are:
Magnesium—While the dairy lovers are busy telling everyone that you need calcium for strong bones, hardly any average adult is getting enough magnesium. Too much calcium can impair your ability to absorb magnesium and caffeine can make you excrete it. That’s a problem because magnesium is a major ally in the battle of the bulge. Magnesium plays a powerful role in increasing insulin sensitivity and taken as an oral supplement, can even help people with Type 2 Diabetes improve their insulin sensitivity and metabolic control. Once you take it, you’ll notice that magnesium ameliorates all sorts of conditions from TMJ to constipation. Back in the 1930’s they discovered that some mild asthma could be treated with magnesium—it’s still used in acute attacks in emergency rooms today. Magnesium may well be the medical miracle you’ve been waiting for.
Iodine—Another essential nutrient, iodine is largely lacking in Western diets. If you think you’re getting enough because you eat iodized salt and don’t have a goiter, think again. For weight loss purposes, iodine has a profound effect on your thyroid gland, which is essential for proper metabolism. Some even say it decreases cellulite because an underactive thyroid causes water retention. While an essential nutrient, too much iodine can wreck havoc on your body, so opt for a kelp supplement which contains natural iodine, and always check with your doc first.
B Vitamins—From B2 to B12, B vitamins each play different roles in your body, and they influence anything from inflammation to mood and yes, weight loss. B vitamins all contribute to the processes of converting food to energy. Therefore, they impact how your cells access and use the food you eat. They determine whether it gets stored or metabolized for energy. B vitamins can be affected by medications like birth control pills or malabsorption so it’s not a bad idea to take a supplement to ensure you’re getting adequate intakes, if you’re trying to lose weight.
No one really knows why, but daily affirmations do work. Maybe saying to yourself in the mirror, “I will lose ten pounds” focuses your mental energy on the task. Maybe there’s a larger universal force at work, but whatever the cause, affirmations can pay off. Even better, make a list where you delineate not only what your goal is, but how you are going to get there. As in: “I will lose twenty pounds;” “I will not eat chocolate after dinner;” “I will exercise at least twice a week.” Research shows that committing to your goals by writing them down makes you more likely to achieve them.
Exercise at Home
Strength training exercises are easy to perform at home. From sit-ups and push-ups to lunges and squats, you can work most of your muscles groups just using your own body weight as resistance. Developing those muscles does help your body burn fat even when you’re just sitting around. Instead of being sedentary, if you do a few exercises in front of the television, you get even more burn for your buck.
Get Enough Sleep
University College London recently published new research showing even children under three who don’t get enough sleep tend to overeat by ten percent. Now there is documented evidence that lack of sleep effects hunger hormones in every age group. Do whatever it takes to get your zzz’s. If you have the wandering insomnia brain, keep a notepad by your bed to write down what’s running through your mind. Try a calming magnesium supplement. Pay attention to your diet. You may find that alcohol, sugar, gluten, dairy or other common culprits effect your ability to fall asleep. Consider the advice of a sleep professional, if you’re still stuck. And if your little ones are sucking the life out of you with their sleepless habits, you owe it to both of you to get some real advice from a pediatric sleep consultant.
There are countless home remedies for weight loss—some more viable than others. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to make changes you can stick to. When we are stressed, we always default to the quickest, easiest, not necessarily healthiest, solution (when was the last time you weren’t stressed?) You must make a system where healthy choices are your quickest easiest solution. Keep a water bottle at your desk. Stock the fridge with bite-size veggies you can crunch on when you need a quick snack. Store nuts in the car for after-school energy. Put on your gym clothes, even if you’re only going for a walk around the block. Create a program that makes you feel good, and you won’t have any trouble sticking to it. If reading that makes you feel like you’ll never be able to fit it into your schedule, try this class on getting organized. After all, cheating yourself out of what you deserve is the only sure way to lose.