There are many "Top 5" lists out there, but this list contains five simple habits that anyone can change with the right motivation. For anyone looking to burn a little extra fat, try implementing at least one of these strategies in your life. If you can eventually manage to incorporate all five, you'll be extremely pleased with the results!
1) Avoid simple sugars
Sugar spikes your insulin and sends you into fat-storing mode. The only beneficial time to consume sugar is immediately following a weight-training workout, when your body can selectively shuttle the nutrients to your starving muscles. Avoiding sugar is quite difficult in our society, but here are a few bonus strategies to help you win the battle:
- When grocery shopping, try to stick to the perimeter of the store. When you go down the aisles you find sugar-laden, processed junk food. Stay on the perimeter, where you find fresh produce and healthy protein sources.
- Pack lunches and healthy snacks to avoid buying fast food and using vending machines at work.
- Use spices instead of sauces; most spices are metabolism-boosters themselves, so it's a fat-burning double-whammy if you make the switch!
- Finally, the best way to avoid sugar in your diet...
2) Don't consume liquid calories
Removing juice and soda from your diet will make an enormous difference in your body composition. I recommend eliminating "diet" drinks as well, as artificial sweeteners have shown to spike insulin levels just like sugar, leading to fat storage and weight gain. If you can remove all alcohol as well, you'll be amazed by the results. Although there are some nutritious beverages out there with health benefits (red wine and milk to name a couple), if the goal is fat and weight-loss, stick to water! And on that note...
3) Drink lots of cold water
Water is the most critical component to keeping our bodies functioning at a healthy level. The average person should drink at least 2 litres of water every day, and the amount can go up to 3 or 4 litres depending on activity level. Cold water has shown to boost metabolism, as the body has to heat the liquid before using it. It's a small but simple weight-loss strategy. Buy a high-quality water bottle and have it with you at all times -- you'll drink it if it's there! If you're the type to prefer drinking from a straw, make sure you buy a bottle with a straw, or keep a supply handy -- you've got to set yourself up for success!
BONUS: Coffee and green tea are also excellent fat-loss weapons; just drink them straight without milk, cream or sugar!
4) Eat veggies with every meal
Not only are vegetables full of important vitamins and minerals, but they are also full of fibre, leading to a sense of satiety earlier in a meal. Eat your vegetables, and you won't have room for those sugary or starchy carbs that pack on the pounds! To get the most out of your vegetables, choose fresh produce that was grown locally -- vegetables that have traveled long distances lose nutrients en route and are often sprayed with harmful chemicals, further depleting the product of it's glory If you can't get any locally-grown produce, don't be afraid of frozen vegetables! Most frozen vegetables are snap frozen right after being picked, preserving their nutrients. Steaming is the best way to ensure that frozen vegetables don't leach nutrients in the cooking process. Finally...
5) Move more, eat less
Ah, the simplicity of arithmetic. If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. I know that this can be hard to wrap your head around, but think it through. More exercise + less calories = look better, feel better, be healthier. Make an effort to take the stairs, go for a walk at lunch, or prioritize getting to the gym above other activities. Eliminate one nutrient-poor, calorie-dense serving from your day- yep, this means junk food. It can be as simple as eating one less cookie, saying no to that morning doughnut, or even just eliminating the sugar and cream in your morning coffee! Small changes can go a long way!
BONUS: Before you go and jump on a treadmill, I must tell you that lifting weight will almost surely help you lose more fat and look better than cardio alone ever will. An ideal program will involve both aspects, but if you only have time for one, hit the weights! I'll elaborate on this in a future post, but for now, just move more and eat less!
There you have it. A useful, practical list of five habits you can change if you're serious about losing some fat and improving your health and body composition. As we are creatures of habit, I do not recommend trying to implement all five changes at once. Too much change too soon will increase the chances of you going back to your old ways. Try changing one habit at a time. If you have 2 weeks of success with one habit, start implementing another. If you can keep both going for an additional 2 weeks, try another. The key is to move at a reasonable pace for your mentality and lifestyle. You didn't pack on your extra body fat in a few weeks, nor will you lose it all in such a short period of time. Be cognizant that weight-loss is a gradual process, believe in your efforts, and eventually you'll see undeniable results.
Good luck, and don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any specific questions!