- Get Lots of Sleep
Sleep deprivation can change how your body regulates appetite, leading you to crave more food. It can also change your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which will slow down the number of calories you burn doing basic life-sustaining activities like breathing and maintaining body temperature. People who are sleep deprived tend to exercise less because they feel fatigued; they often also eat more—unhealthful foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates—to boost energy. Being sleep deprived will result in your body seeking to conserve energy and store unwanted belly fat.
Skimping on sleep also dulls the brain’s activity in the frontal lobe—it’s like being drunk! The frontal lobe is the section of the brain that regulates impulse control and decision-making. When you are sleep deprived, you don’t have the mental clarity to make sound decisions.
Here’s How You Do This
- Create a bedtime ritual like meditation, reading, showering, or bathing.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time.
- Turn the lights off. The darkness will cause your body to release melatonin, which is your natural sleep hormone. Having the lights on will suppress this hormone.
- For at least an hour before bedtime, turn off your TV, computer, and cell phone.
- Steer clear of caffeine (chocolate, tea, coffee, soda) after 2 p.m. Caffeine can stay in your system for 6 hours.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals close to bedtime. Contrary to belief, it can be harder to fall asleep after a full meal and it can cause heartburn. Alcohol will do the same.
- Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only!
2. Eat This, Not That!
Eating processed and packaged foods will not help you feel satiated. Instead of reaching for crackers or chips, substitute a handful of nuts. Replace pretzels with an apple. Instead of grabbing something packaged, pick foods that are filling and whole.
What is a whole food? Whole foods are foods that are unrefined and unprocessed, such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, and animal products including meats and non-homogenized dairy products.
Foods that you want to eat:
- Locally raised meats (beef, chicken, pork)
- 100 percent whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products (eggs, cheese, plain yogurt)
- Natural sweeteners (honey)
Foods that you want to limit or avoid:
- Fast foods
- Packaged, bagged, boxed, and canned foods that have more than five ingredients listed on the ingredient list
- Deep-fried foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugar, including corn syrup, solids, sugar cane, etc.
- Alcohol, milk, sweetened drinks
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Listen to your thirst—it’s there for a reason! Signs of dehydration are often mistaken for hunger. Before grabbing a food snack, try downing a glass of water; water will fill your stomach and ease those hunger signals. Drinking water is also essential for keeping the body hydrated and will reduce water retention. The general recommended daily amount is 64 ounces, so don’t be afraid to drink up!
Mild to moderate dehydration can include these signs:
- Feeling tired or sleepy
- Decreased urine output and darker urine
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth
- Food cravings, especially for sweets
- Dry skin
- Bad breath
- Fever and chills
- Muscle cramps
Tips for staying hydrated:
- Avoid alcohol, excessive caffeine, and energy drinks.
- Keep a water bottle on hand.
- Drink tea.
- Consume watery snacks like fruit, veggies, and yogurt.
- Add flavor to your plain water by adding chunks of fresh fruit.
- Drink room temperature water, not ice water.
4. Reduce Stress
Stress creates a vicious circle of harmful effects on the body. When your body is stressed, your brain commands several powerful hormones to be released. First, you receive a surge of adrenaline and cortisol which communicates to your body to replenish the energy even though you haven’t used any calories. This ends up making you feel very hungry; your body will continue to pump out cortisol as long as the stress remains. It is at this point when we crave salty, high-fat, or sweet foods because they will immediately stimulate the brain to deliver pleasure chemicals that reduce tension.
Additionally, when your adrenal glands are releasing cortisol, the cortisol hinders the production of testosterone. A drop in testosterone causes a decrease in muscle mass (and thus you burn fewer calories) over time. Cortisol also stimulates the body to store fat, especially visceral fat.
How do you reduce stress? Here are some ways:
- Listen to music.
- Take a walk or run.
- Breathe deeply.
- Slow down.
- Get a massage.
- Listen to bad jokes.
- Talk to a friend.
5. Eliminate Sugar and Flour
When sugar is ingested, the body systems are put under stress: the digestive system, immune system, nervous system, and the liver. Every time you eat sugar, the immune system can be compromised by 50 percent and as a result you are more susceptible to weight gain, colds, and depression. By eliminating sugar in your diet, you also can help control insulin surges that cause your blood levels to drop. When you have low blood sugar, you feel fatigued and hungry again very quickly.
Sugar can sneak into your diet without you even knowing it. It’s in many beverages including coffee drinks, fruit drinks, soft drinks, and even sweetened waters. One of these drinks can contain over 300 calories (one serving is usually approximately 150 calories), and even more depending on the serving size.
Cutting just one serving per day (150 calories for 12 ounces) can produce a meaningful weight loss over time. (Every little effort adds up in the end.) Eliminate junk food, and look at any condiments, sauces, and dressings that you add to your food. These are often sugar-rich add-ons—get rid of them all! Also, foods like energy bars, crackers, granola bars, and popcorn can have tons of hidden sugar. Phase them out, one by one.
During digestion, your body treats flour in the same way it handles sugar. Flour is converted to sugar very quickly in digestion, which places a lot of stress on the pancreas. In order for the flour to be digested, it releases a huge amount of insulin, and insulin is a hormone that signals the storage of FAT!
- Check ingredients; avoid products that list enriched flour, galactose, cane sugar, bread flour, bleached all-purpose flour.
- Use whole-grain pasta, bread, and rice instead of the white refined versions.
- Spring clean! Throw away all cookies, crackers, pasta, breads, etc. in your kitchen.
- Make your own meals; control your portions and use whole foods. Know what you put into your food!
- Drink water instead.
6. Do These Types of Exercises
Should you weight train or do cardio to lose weight? Very simply, when you do cardio, you will burn tons of calories during your exercise period; however, with weight training you will build more muscle and keep burning calories even when you’re not exercising. Cardio training will only cause a short rise in metabolic rate for an hour or two after the session, taking away from the overall calorie-burning benefits compared with resistance training.
Combining both cardio and weight training will produce the most effective results if you are looking to shed fat.
Which is the best cardio exercise? It’s the one that you will do on a regular basis. The amount of cardio a person needs varies from person to person; it’s dependent on a variety of factors such as fitness level, age, gender, caloric intake, lean body mass and fat mass, and exercise intensity. Consult a personal trainer to help you develop an exercise prescription that meets your goals and individual needs.
Experts are now saying that walking 10,000 steps per day can offer health benefits like lower blood pressure and reduced heart disease risk. While walking 10,000 steps in one day may sound a bit overwhelming, it becomes more doable if you break it down into smaller “steps.” A little over an hour of fast walking equals about four to five miles, or 10,000 steps, and if you break that up over the course of one day into three parts, it becomes much easier to do—plus you will burn an additional 300 to 500 calories.
Simple ways to add more steps to your day:
- When you’re on the phone, stand and walk as you talk.
- If you’re driving, don’t try to find the perfect parking spot! Park as far from the entrance of your work, store, or school.
- Take the stairs.
- Get up to change the TV channel.
- Take the bus, but only part way. Get off a few blocks before your stop, and walk the rest of the way.
- Go for a walk with a friend instead of meeting for coffee or drinks.
- Walk around the block on your coffee break.
- Start a tradition with your family of taking nightly walks.
- Instead of emailing your co-workers, walk over to their desks to deliver your message.
- Take the scenic route—enjoy your surroundings with longer and prettier routes.
Unlike long duration cardio training, when your body is challenged with heavy and complex movements the fat burning continues all day, long after you have finished your workout. Big movement patterns like squat presses and lunges that involve lower body, core, and upper body muscles increase your potential to burn more calories. As your body performs compound and difficult movements, it burns more calories.
7. Drink Black Coffee
Coffee helps mobilize fats from fat tissues and increase your body’s metabolism. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the production of the hormone epinephrine (or adrenaline). As the epinephrine travels through the blood, it then sends signals to break down fats and release them into the blood.
The higher our metabolic rate, the more potential we have to lose weight. Caffeine can increase a person’s metabolic rate and thus increase fat burning. Think of your metabolic rate as a campfire. If you want to build a more intense fire, you need more wood to burn. The more muscle (wood to burn) you have, the higher (bigger fire) metabolic rate, and thus, a higher fire.
It is important, however, to consume coffee in moderation. Caffeine can aid in weight loss, but excessive consumption can create insomnia and increase stress levels. The recommended daily intake is one to two cups per day.
Black coffee, without cream or sugar please! Try to wean yourself off of the cream, sugar, and syrups that many of the specialty coffees have. They contain so much cream and sugars that the caloric values can constitute a whole meal!
Not only does caffeine naturally increase your energy, it can help you approach your workouts with ease. Having coffee about an hour before a workout will energize your workouts and help increase your intensity. Because coffee affects the nervous system, it can reduce pain in muscle and joints.
8. Veg and Fruit It Up
Fruits and vegetables are great options for filling you up without loading you up with fat and calories. These high-fibrous, high-nutrient, high-volume but low-calorie foods will help you lose weight. Evidence from recent studies show that plant-based foods aid in controlling overeating and cravings. When your stomach is occupied with these nutrient-dense but low-calorie foods, you won’t load up with fat and calories.
Additionally, the consumption of five or more servings per day of vegetables and fruit can help change the direction of the food-addiction cycle, especially the craving for processed foods.
9. Keep Track of Calories
Most people find counting calories to be quite burdensome. However, keeping track of what exactly is going into your mouth is the only way to account for true calorie intake. It comes down to how many calories that you take in, versus the calories that you burn off.
Mindless eating can quickly add up and hinder your weight-loss efforts. Writing down what you’re eating in a journal or using an app such as MyFitnessPal or Fitbit can help you track calories. You might be surprised to see your results after one week of record-keeping—it’s worth it!
The main energy sources for your body are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They fuel your body for all activities you do: running, working, eating, and even sleeping. If your body doesn’t end up using these energy sources for physical energy, it will store them as fat in your body. The fat stores will remain there until you use them up via increased physical activity or by reducing caloric intake.
There is a simple equation: Energy IN versus Energy OUT. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you consume less than you burn, you will lose weight. To lose 10 pounds in 10 days, you will need to burn off 3,500 more calories a day than you consume.
10. Get a Mantra
Repeat positive thoughts to yourself, and create an affirmative self-fulfilling prophecy:
- “I can resist dessert after dinner.”
- “I will exercise today.”
- “I can do this!”
- “Quitting is not an option.”
- “Just do it.”
- “Earn your body.”
- “No excuses.”
- “Get slim.”
Let these thoughts become true and you will achieve success.