How to Lose Weight Without Breaking A Sweat.
Pounding away at the gym may not be some people’s idea of a good time. Getting hot and sweaty in a quest for weight loss may not always be the answer. In fact, we know you can’t outrun a bad diet, no matter how much you exercise. Here are my simple tips to aid your weight loss journey. If all else fails, why not book in with me for a consultation, or opt for my popular 12-week weight loss package. For more information visit www.sarahflower.co.uk
This sounds tricky, but it really is quite simple. You eat your evening meal and then fast until mid to late morning to ensure around a 16 hour fast. Remember, you are sleeping through most of the fast, what could be easier? Fasting is one of the most powerful tools to aid health. When you fast, your body has a chance to repair, rejuvenate and recover. It allows the body to remove toxins from our cells, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress whilst also boosting the immune system. Some studies show it can slow down the ageing process, this is due to the body having the time during a fast to mop up any free radicals and repair itself. Our overall health will benefit from fasting. This includes cardiovascular health. Fasting allows us a period of fat burning and this is often targeted at the visceral fat, which is the most dangerous fat that lies around our middle and surrounds our vital organs. Reducing this fat helps protect us from a multitude of diseases including cardiovascular health, cancer and type 2 diabetes. It also helps lower blood pressure and improves blood triglycerides. Every time we eat, we stimulate an insulin response, another reason our current lifestyle is showing an increase in T2 diabetes and obesity. However, when we fast, it allows the body to lower and balance insulin levels, reducing blood sugar spikes, allowing the body to burn stored fat. It also stimulates the growth hormone, helping to increase our muscle mass.
Top Tip! It does help if you are already fat adapted before you begin a longer fast. Most find it easier if they have been on a low carb diet, as this helps to balance insulin and reduces the cravings and hunger pangs associated with a carb-rich diet, so you already have a reduced appetite. It is important to keep hydrated whilst fasting, but this needs to be good clear fluids, such as water, broth, black coffee, herbal tea. You must avoid sugary drinks, including fruit juices. There are some fascinating studies showing the benefits of fasting. I would highly recommend reading more about this with Dr Jason Fung and his book The Complete Guide To Fasting
Ditch the Sugars
We all know by now that sugars are bad for your health, but did you know they actually cause you to eat more? Sugar and carbohydrates stimulate a hormone called Ghrelin which sits in your stomach and growls to be fed. When you ditch the sugars and lower your carbs, you naturally supress this hormone, meaning you cut down the cravings. Sugar and carbohydrates, especially fructose, also switch off our leptin response. This is a hormone that tells our brain when we are full. This is a really important fact, especially for those who struggle with overeating. You can see the cycle: people are told they have to eat less and move more; they want to lose weight, so they opt for low- calorie and low-fat food, which is pretty much pure carbohydrates as these are half the calories of fat. But, as soon as they reduce their calories, they get more and more hungry. They are then blamed for being greedy, so they get depressed and confidence dips to an all-time low, so for comfort as well as a physical necessity, they overeat again.
Top Tip! – Read all your food labels and try to cut out sugars from your diet. Natural does not mean sugar free. Honey, Agave syrup, maple syrup, dates, dried fruit and fruit concentrates are often used but it is just a sideways step and should also be avoided. Sadly, our body doesn’t differentiate between refined or unrefined sugars; it breaks them down in exactly the same way. You can lower your carbohydrates, but you must increase your fat intact and good quality protein. For recipe ideas, look at my latest books, The Sugar Free Family Cookbook, Low Carb Slow Cooker and Eating to Beat Type 2 Diabetes.
Get More Zzz’s
Lack of sleep can affect our health and our ability to burn fat and lose weight. When we have not had enough sleep, our hormones such as cortisol are out of balance and disrupted. Cortisol is synthesised and secreted by our adrenal glands and plays a vital role in our response to stress and helps balance blood sugar. Lack of sleep can lead to lack of energy and focus, poor blood sugar control (which lead to diabetes and obesity, low immune system and an increased risk of depression. Shift workers tend to have more problems with weight-gain which is said to be due to poorer food choices which can impact the hormonal balance of cortisol, insulin, leptin and ghrelin stated above.
Top Tip! Aim to get to bed early and get into a regular routine to help promote a good night’s sleep. Ensure the room is free from light. Turn off all your electricals. Phones, iPad and TV screens stimulate the brain rather than help you relax, they also stop you producing melatonin which regulates sleep. Magnesium citrate as well as camomile, valerian and lavender can help you relax and stay calm.
Reduce the Stress
Stress, anxiety and depression happens to all of us at some time in our adult life and is the most common mental disorder in the UK (according to the Office of National Statistics). When we are stressed or anxious, we often find it hard to concentrate and work as efficiently as we should be. Our brain can become foggy and we feel tired and drained. To make matters worse, no matter how tired we are, we may also experience insomnia and an inability to relax. Anxiety can leave us with a feeling of ‘What if?’ accompanied by panic, fear, poor concentration, loss of appetite, sweats, aches and pains and can even be the root cause of migraines and IBS. To counteract the feeling of low energy, lack of concentration and foggy head, we may reach for caffeine and sugary foods, but this can simply perpetuate the problem. Cortisol (produced by the adrenal glands) is often raised when we are stressed and anxious and this can increase when we consume too much caffeine and sugary foods. Long-term stress and anxiety can cause our adrenal glands to become exhausted, leading to adrenal fatigue, which increases symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration, mood swings, weight issues, fear, depression, muscle aches, cravings, memory loss, anxiety and insomnia.
Top Tip! Ditch the electricals and spend some ‘me’ time, even if it is just 10 minutes a day, to gather your thoughts and just breath. As stated above, sleep is also essential to help reduce stress and mental fatigue. Panax Korean ginseng is an adaptogen, helping to support us in times of stress and any form of anxiety. It can also help clear the head, restoring and enhancing memory and improving mood; all of which can be affected during times of stress. I would also recommend taking Magnesium Citrate, known as the anti-stress mineral due to its amazing effects on the nervous system. It also helps relax muscles and improves flexibility and tones blood vessels – vital to protect you from heart disease. Also ensure you have enough B vitamins in your diet or take a mulit B vitamin daily. This includes Folic acid, which has been shown to help with dopamine and serotonin production, B6, which helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, alongside B3 and magnesium, Biotin is needed for essential fatty acid metabolism, B1 is needed for utilisation of glucose by the nervous system, and B5 is vital for adrenal support and the conversion of serotonin to melatonin.
Grab a Coffee
Your daily cuppa can help boost your metabolic rate, stimulating thermogenesis, helping you burn more fat. Coffee also contains Chlorogenic acid, which helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates as well as stimulating the hormone Epinephrine, which helps break down the fat. Before you start guzzling coffee all day long, the fat burning effect diminishes the more coffee you have, and you could become intolerant to its effects, so it is actually better to choose your coffee wisely and drink on a few cups per day to enjoy all the benefits.
Our digestion starts from the minute that food enters our mouth. Chewing slowly enables the correct activation of our digestive enzymes and helps us to avoid gulping lots of air as we swallow, easing any digestive bloating. Studies have shown that those who cook from scratch and take time to enjoy their meal, undistracted by computers or television, enjoy the flavours of their food more and end up eating less, as they start to listen to their natural feeling of fullness.
Drink more Water
We often confuse thirst pangs for hunger pangs. Drinking water can also help you feel fuller for longer, but a hydrated body is more able to burn fat and metabolise faster. Staying hydrated will not only help your body to flush out toxins from your cells but will also help you to avoid constipation. Many people worry that consuming too much water can make them more water retentive, but in fact it has the opposite effect. If you are dehydrated, your body will try to hang on to the water, making you look and feel more bloated. Hydrating regularly will actually combat water retention, since drinking stimulates your body to release fluids.
Top Tip! Grab a water bottle, preferably one with a drinking tracker on the side to help remind you when to drink. There are also apps that can alert you to sip during the day.
Eat Real Food
In our quest for calorie counting, we have seen a rise in ‘Frankenstein’ foods; claiming to be low calorie and low fat. This is particularly the case for the majority of cereal bars currently saturating the market, these 99calorie bars are causing more harm than we know and it’s only once we delve into the ingredients that we can see how bad these foods really are. With this in mind, stop chasing calories and start looking at the quality of the food you eat. A diet of real food is the first and foremost change everyone should make in their quest for good health and this journey starts with the first meal of the day. By avoiding processed foods, you’re cutting out unnecessary sugars and unhealthy fats, replacing it with nutrient-rich foods in its more natural state. So opt for fresh foods to start the day off right.
Top Tip! Eat food for its nutrient content. Avoid processed foods, opting instead for foods full of colour, antioxidants and flavour.
Sarah Flower is a leading Nutritionist and Author.
By Sarah Flower, Author, Nutritionist and freelance Journalist!
For more information on Sarah, her work and recipes visit www.sarahflower.co.uk
Visit her Sugar Free Group on Facebook
See more from Sarah Flower HERE