After a year of being stuck at home and being limited from doing many of the things we enjoy, one of the biggest side-effects for many people has been involuntary weight gain.
Now more than ever, emerging research has shown that a high percentage of the population rates themselves as being less physically fit and more out of shape than they were just 12 months ago!
If you're in that boat, now's the time to get back on track. And here, we'll help you do that with some simple, tried and tested tips for finding or returning to your ideal weight.
1. Drink more water
As simple and mundane as it sounds, one of the key ways to start burning more fat, is to support your body to flush out toxins out. And that means drinking plenty of pure water every single day.
Many studies over the years have proven that drinking water is beneficial for weight loss. And one of the main reasons is because water helps the body function optimally and transports waste via three of the channels of elimination - defecation, urination and perspiration. These are key factors in the ideal weight equation.
Additionally, hunger is often a mask for thirst. Meaning, when you feel hungry, many times you're actually deprived of water and you should drink water first before eating something. Therefore, drinking a glass or two of water before reaching for a snack can also help to curb unnecessary eating.
Water is crucial for helping your kidneys filter out toxins whilst still retaining all the essential nutrients and electrolytes, but when your body is dehydrated, the kidneys retain fluid. This may lead to constipation, bloating, and toxin-retention which isn’t just detrimental to your health, it can negate any efforts you are making to burn fat.
If you’re looking to burn fat, consider drinking 3-4 litres of water per day, beginning with one litre first thing in the morning when you rise.
Interestingly, studies have also found that drinking COLD water can actually help to boost metabolism allowing you to burn between 2-3% more calories than if you drank a glass of room temperature water.
2. Incorporate Intermittent Fasting
A second great way to drop fat is to incorporate intermittent fasting into your day.
Intermittent fasting has become extremely popular in recent years, for its powerful mental and physical health benefits. And one of the greatest benefits, is the way it puts your body into a state known as "Ketosis", where your body moves from glucose to fat as an energy source.
Intermittent fasting is mostly about reducing your consumption or eating window time period within each 24 hour cycle. Even if you maintain the same type of diet, simply by condensing your calories within a shorter time zone, you give your digestive system the opportunity to re-set, to activate cellular recycling and to boost fat burning.
The easiest way to prolong your "fasting" window and to shorten your "feeding" window, is simply to eat dinner earlier and breakfast later.
This allows the body to exhaust its sugar supply, which it relies on for energy during eating hours, and goes through a process called “metabolic switching”. In essence, your body starts to burn through its own fat - sometimes while you’re asleep!
Giving your body a rest from having to digest for 12-16 hours per day will reduce your levels of insulin in your blood stream and boost your insulin sensitivity - an important process not only for effective weight management, but also for avoiding chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Decreased levels of insulin have been shown to improve your body’s fat burning abilities, to slim down and shape up. New emerging research even shows that intermittent fasting can help your body to retain muscle mass much more effectively than calorie restriction, which will help you maintain body tone too.
3. Exercise on an empty stomach
If you’re already practising intermittent fasting to help you get in shape, why stop there?
If you're reasonably healthy and have a basic level of fitness, try exercising on an empty stomach a few mornings per week.
When you wake up and don't eat right away, you have very low levels of insulin in your blood stream because you are still in a 'fasted' state. When you do moderate exercise in this state, your body wants to tap into its fat reserves for energy because there is no sugar/glucose immediately available.
This is why more and more research is coming out now about the benefits of exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. In fact, Harvard Research has recently shown that fasted workouts burn a significantly higher level of body fat than non-fasted workouts. Their studies conducted on a group of young, healthy men showed that doing aerobic exercise when fasting increases the use of stored fat as an energy supply.
This means that just by choosing to workout first thing in the morning rather than in the evening you are automatically giving yourself a head-start on your fat burning and body shaping potential. More fat burning means a leaner body and a slimmer, more toned shape.
4. Add resistance movement (muscle tone boosts metabolism and fat burning)
When designing your workout plan, or looking at what classes to attend at your gym, try to focus on incorporating resistance movements and workouts into your schedule. This is because muscle is the engine in which fat is burned.
Resistance (strength) training has been proven time and time again to help build muscle, which subsequently increases your metabolism. The benefits of the strength training don’t end after the workout, however- they continue throughout the day, and even into your sleep if you workout enough.
This is because enough resistance training will increase your muscle mass. Muscle mass has a significantly higher metabolic rate than fat, which means that muscle mass requires more energy to preserve.
A person’s body naturally loses muscle as they age. Regular resistance training can help counteract this effect. Resistance training doesn't mean you need to go crazy in the gym. It can be circuit training, pilates, hot yoga, or even swimming to place a little tension on the muscles which is a 'must' for effective, long-term fat burning.
In addition to resistance-oriented movement, incorporating higher intensity cardiovascular workouts into your weekly schedule, can further boost your metabolism and increase your body’s fat burning capabilities.
More advanced fitness levels can also incorporate high intensity elements such as burpees, squat jumps, or sprints into workouts, aiming for short bursts of high intensity energy expenditure followed by recovery periods.
Not only will this help you burn more fat, this kind of workout will develop and tone your muscles, helping you to achieve a leaner, more honed body shape.
5. Stay consistent
Lastly, but certainly not least is to stay consistent. Keep things simple so that they're sustainable.
Always remember that consistent daily actions are what matter most when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight over the long term. You must prioritise daily movement if you want to stay in shape. And age is not really an excuse.
The key is to find a level that slightly stretches you and to choose a level that you can stay consistent with. As your fitness and routine improves, you can easily up the ante by adding simple layers on top as you go along.
Also, keep in mind that if you have a goal to lose weight or get in shape, you may not notice the difference in a matter of weeks, but don't let that discourage you.
Just realise, that every time you exercise, you pay it forward and put 'weight loss' dollars in the bank that will return compound interest to you over time.
The Main Take Away
The key to losing weight and being in shape comes down to the dietary and lifestyle choices you make over time.
Fads and Yo-Yo diets don't work.
What works is having a consistent approach to healthy dietary habits based around whole foods, drinking plenty of water and having an exercise routine that suits your goals, your stage in life and that you can show up for day after day just like brushing your teeth.
Getting started on a weight loss journey can be difficult, but just remember to keep things simple by doing the little things right on a daily basis. This is the key to creating momentum and building healthier habits that will help you to find your ideal weight and stay there over the long term.
Tolman Self Care.