Let's face it, many of us could afford to lose that few extra kilos. Many try but few succeed.
It's hard to lose weight effectively when you're don't have academic knowledge of nutrition or exercise. Most of us understand the simple theory of calorie deficit: burn more than you consume. But why is it so difficult then?
1. The idea of losing weight
Many people confuse the concept of losing weight with the concept of losing fat. What we really want to achieve is fat loss - but what is commonly mentioned is weight loss. This distinction is important to make as it shapes our thinking.
When we focus on losing weight, we focus on acts such as starvation and eating significantly less. But such actions are not only not sustainable (more on that later) but also harmful and counter-productive. Starvation leads to not just fat loss but also muscle loss. Muscle, by itself, is a key calorie burner.
2. Skipping meals
Any desperate weight-watcher has tried this before. Eating close to nothing and hoping to lose weight. This will, no doubt, work, however only for the first few days. Eventually, your metabolism reacts to the lack of food, crashes and stops burning calories.
3. Failing to understand your metabolism
This is the most important pitfall of all weight/fat-loss attempts. Why? Your metabolism is what keeps your digestion and fat-burning process in place. It works on science and has no room for misconceptions.
Think of your metabolism as a furnace. It's main job is to burn all the food (calories) that enter your body. Anything extra that it needs to burn, it burns from stored energy (such as fat), anything extra it can't burn, it stores as energy (such as fat). So far, simple enough, right?
Okay, but your metabolism is part of your body, a living organism, and has the capacity to react to changes. That is to say, the more you eat, the stronger this furnace burns. Likewise, the less you eat, the less calories it sense and the less it will burn.
This explains why during starvation, you can loss substantial weight during the first few days but not in the long run - your metabolism has yet to adapt in the early days at is still burning fast and furious (high burn + low consumption = fat burn). However, in the long run, your body adapts and stops burning. This is when your metabolism is said to have crashed. At this stage, if you're still depriving yourself of food, not only are you starving yourself but you're no longer burning fat. Lose-lose. You really really don't want this.
4. Eating supper will make you fat
While it is true that you shouldn't eat a heavy meal that's high in carbohydrates just before bed, keeping your metabolism going before bed to spur fat-burn through the night can work to your benefit. If you exercise regularly, protein sources such as eggs can be good for such purposes.
5. Skipping breakfast
This is a complete no-no. Never do this. After approximately 8 hours of sleep/no food, your metabolism has become dormant and needs to be started up quickly. This is why they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast means allowing your metabolism to remain dormant. You need to get it up and going if you want to burn calories throughout the day. A healthy breakfast doesn't have to be expensive or complicated: some oats or a few slices of bread will do the trick.
6. Running to burn fat
It's common intuition: run more = expand more energy = burn more calories = burn more fat. Yes, this chain of thought is right, but there's more to it.
It's true that WHILE you are running, you ARE burning calories - and that's what you want. However, this doesn't always work for a number of reasons. Firstly, running is time consuming and tiring and you can't spend every hour of your day running. If you use running as your main method to burn fat, you're restricted to only a few hours a day, at most. Secondly, people tend to compensate and eat more after their runs either because they feel they've earned it, or because they become more hungry after the run. If uncontrolled, this extra consumption can wreck the good your run did.
Instead, what you should focus on is building muscles. Muscles, as mentioned earlier, requires calories to maintain. That is to say, in layman terms, everything else constant, a buff guy burns more calories than a skinny guy while watching TV. This is efficient because fat-burn is triggered throughout the day, without having to commit hours to running. You will, have to commit to muscle building though. The good news is: hours in the gym burns fat not only during the workout but after too (due to muscle growth).
If you're not into gymming, another option to consider is HIIT. HIIT, also know as high intensity interval training, is another superb form to burn fat. It requires nothing fancy and reaps you compounding benefits. We'll be doing another post of HIIT soon, so sit tight. On second thought, don't sit tight. Get your bum off this phone and start working out!
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Disclaimer: we are not a professional medical body or nutritionist. Furthermore, everybody's body is slightly different. Check with your doctor or physician before trying deciding if what we mentioned suits your body.
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