With America in the midst of an overweight and obesity epidemic, it seems that everyone is looking for a way to lose weight these days. Following are a few simple rules will help produce the dramatic weight loss results that so many are seeking.
1. Do not skip meals and do not go longer than 4-5 hours without eating. The reasoning behind this is simple: after skipping breakfast, by 11:00 am one will be so ravenous that just about anything looks appealing. Especially that box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts still sitting in the breakroom from the morning meeting. It is important to set oneself up to have the willpower and motivation to make good food choices. Making those choices in the throes of hunger typically does not work.
2. While on the topic of Krispy Kreme doughtnuts, the second rule is to make sure that you are trying to avoid simple sugars as much as possible. This does not mean to avoid fruit or whole grain bread or white potatoes or anything of that nature. This means to avoid cakes, cookies, pies, candy ice cream, etc except for maybe once weekly or on special occasions. (Your birthday is a special occasion. Wednesday is not a special occasion). The reason for this is that the body has to do very little to process those sugars. Once those sugary treats have been eaten, they have an almost immediate increase on blood sugar. After the initial blood sugar spike comes the inevitable crash. Then, in about an hour and a half, another doughnut will sound really good because energy and blood sugar control are both long gone.
3. Drink water. Hydration is key for many things. The body needs water to simply function and go through day to day activities. Dehydration can cause a host of problems from fatigue to urinary tract infections to acute renal failure. Making sure to get 75-100 ounces of water daily will keep energy levels high, the body's processes functioning optimally and will help control hunger. (Water also helps lower blood sugars for those needing blood sugar control, such as diabetics).
4. Plan your meals with the three macronutrients in mind: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Protein is critical in maintaining muscle mass and providing amino acids for body reparation, maintenance and growth. Carbohydrates (those poor little guys have gotten a bad rap since the early 2000's, haven't they?) are key for energy. Carbohydrates are the brain's preferred energy source. To keep energy high and the brain functioning normally, it is important to get in enough carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains daily. Fats are the third macronutrient. Fat plays critical roles in how the body functions, how it feels and how it looks. Without enough fat, it is hard to stay "full" after eating. Too low dietary fat causes the hair, skin and nails to begin to look sallow. Also, an adequate amount of fat is needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K! This is why a balanced diet is key: eating macronutrients the way they are provided in nature keeps the body humming along just as it should.
5. One can not mention weight loss without exercise. Going to the gym and doing traditional cardio and weight training is great! But, for those of us that are a little more unorthodox, it is key to remember that any movement counts. This can include: those short 5-10 minute dog walks done multiple times throughout the day, gardening, cleaning, laundry, dancing, exercise DVDs, walks with friends, marathon shopping trips, etc. There are many ways to sneak in activity. Research shows that sitting for too many hours daily is what leads to cardiovascular disease and poor health. So, as long as you're doing something other than sitting, you're doing good!