Category Archives: Burning Fat

Why Eating Too Little Can Stall Weight Loss

If you ask most people how they would recommend losing weight in the most basic form, they will usually answer “Eat less, exercise more”. Generally, they are right. The simplest way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit: that is, burning more calories during the day than you are taking in from your food. However, contrary to what you might think, that deficit should not be too big. Rather than help you lose weight, extremely low calorie diets can often lead to weight loss slowing down. The question is, why?

When you dramatically reduce your calorie intake, your body reacts as if it is in danger. Your metabolism, which is the process by which food is converted to energy, actually slows down. It adjusts to the expectation that it will continue to receive too few calories, and as a result, starts to store fat for future use. Conversely, those with a fast metabolism can often eat far more than others, as their body processes this food into energy at a quicker rate.

While very low calorie diets can have an instant impact on weight loss, it is not sustainable, and even if you continue with a low calorie diet, your body will have adjusted. As a result, the rate at which you lose weight can slow down, or even stop altogether. The problem here is two-fold; not only are you no longer losing weight on a low calorie diet, but the moment you increase your calorie intake your weight will increase disproportionately, as your metabolism is still operating slower than it should be.

Quite aside from not being conducive to consistent weight loss, very low calorie diets are also bad for your general health. The effects can range from feeling lethargic and dizzy to low blood pressure and heart rhythm abnormalities. Understanding calories is an important part of weight loss, but starving your body is certainly not the way to go about it.

The mantra of “eat less, exercise more” needs to be taken sensibly. It does not mean cut your calories in half and start walking ten miles every day. It means having a balanced diet with an appropriate amount of calories received from healthy foods, while exercising a reasonable amount. Those who consistently maintain a moderate calorie deficit and lose weight at a slow but steady pace are statistically proven to be far more likely to maintain their weight loss. Starving yourself might seem like a good idea, but all you are doing is harming your chance for stable weight loss.

What Are The Best Times of Day to Eat if You Want to Lose Weight?

Not only is what you eat and how much important when you are trying to lose weight, but so is when you eat. According to a recent study by Forza Supplements, 84 percent of the participants thought having defined mealtimes was important in their weight loss efforts.

Best times to eat

Based on that survey, people felt the optimal time for them to eat breakfast was 7:11am, lunch at 12:38pm and dinner at 6:14pm. Now of course you don’t have to be that precise, but 7am, 12:30pm and 6pm for breakfast, lunch and dinner respectively, would give you the best chance at losing the most weight based on eating times. Also noted by 76 percent of them, breakfast was their most important meal of the day; seventy-two percent responded that eating after 7pm was disastrous to their weight loss efforts.

What you eat

As far as losing weight, the kinds of food you eat are just as important as when you eat. If you are gorging yourself with foods high in saturated fat, salt, sugar and simple carbohydrates, then all your weight loss efforts will be in vein.

A healthy diet should consist of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats in the unsaturated family, whole grain, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. And don’t forget to add in foods containing Omega 3: salmon, halibut, mackerel and tuna. This healthy diet not only gives you the nutrition you need, but keeps the calories down also.

How much you eat

Even eating the above healthy foods, you can still eat too much, so portion control is important. But how much is a portion? It depends on the food.

For instance, think of a portion as:

A hockey puck for whole-grain pasta
Two-thirds deck of cards for skinless chicken breast or hamburger patty
Two teaspoons is about the size of a pair of dice
Four dice for a serving of cheese squares
A tennis ball for an apple or orange
A baseball for a serving of cooked vegetables
Two baseballs for a serving of fresh green leafy vegetables

It will take a while of practicing portion control using this method of association, but once you get the hang of it, it is much easier than trying to remember and judge portions in measurements such as ounces, teaspoons and cups.

Controlling calories, along with eating at prescribed times, is the key to achieving sustained weight loss. Once at goal, you can adjust your portions to stay at goal weight. However what and when you eat should remain constant. And don’t forget to keep exercising!

For Weight Loss, Should You Eat Fewer Big Meals, or More Small Meals?

For most of the population, eating more small meals is better for weight loss. Generally their meal plan consists of a small breakfast, lunch and dinner with a healthy snack in the morning, afternoon and evening.

However in a select group of individuals – those with Type 2 diabetes – the opposite has proved to be more beneficial for weight loss; eating a large breakfast and lunch. In a study presented by the American Diabetes Association, they found participants lost an average of 1.23 more BMI points when they ate two 750-calorie meals as the control group did eating six 250-calorie ones.

Granted that was in a controlled setting. For most of us, the two-meal-a-day program would not work. We tend to get too hungry between the lunch of one day and breakfast the following day. The result, overeating which leads to weight gain. Eating five or six smaller meals/snacks throughout the day keeps the hunger wolves at bay and keeps our metabolism humming along at a fairly constant rate thus keeping cravings in check.

Studies have proven that a consistent eating pattern day-in and day-out provides for the most weight loss. Eating breakfast within one hour of getting up, eating every three hours and stopping three hours before bedtime provides the following benefits:

1) Increased basal metabolic rate (BMR) – your body always has food to burn so your metabolism always works hard.
2) More energy – with a somewhat constant food level, your body always has plenty of food to make into energy
3) Decreased appetite – By eating every three hours, you don’t get hungry and end up eating foods that are not good for you.

One mistake many trying to lose weight make is skipping breakfast. That is one of the worst things you can do as far as metabolic function. Eating a good healthy breakfast consisting of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, gets your metabolism revved up and running all day.

When you don’t eat breakfast, your body can go into “starvation mode”, actually burn food at a slower rate because it thinks there isn’t any more food coming soon; it tries to make the best of what it has. Eating breakfast wakes it up.

The key to this six-meal method of course is calorie/portion control. Uncontrollable eating leads to weight gain whether you eat three or six meals per day. Only you can ultimately find how many calories your body needs per day to lose a sensible amount of weight per week (1 to 2 pounds) based on your BMR and exercise level.

5 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights

There used to be a belief that women should not lift weights. The thought was women would lose the feminine look when they got “muscled up” and bulky. And yes, if you are a female bodybuilder on supplements and steroids, you won’t look much different from the men who practice the same weightlifting ideals. But you should actually be lifting weights as a woman, and here are 5 really good reasons why.

1 – You Burn More Fat

A Penn State study showed what several other research papers and number crunching fitness experts have revealed. Weight training burns 30% to 40% more fat than diet or aerobic exercise. The Penn State researchers formed 3 groups of dieters:

Those who did not exercise at all…

Dieters who exercised aerobically…

Those dieters that lifted weights as well as doing aerobic exercise…

Across-the-board, an average of 21 pounds was lost by all of the dieters. However, the weightlifting women lost almost pure fat! The dieters who did not exercise, and those that only enjoyed aerobic exercise, saw 25% of their weight loss coming from muscle. Not good.

2 – You Will Have Stronger Bones

Weight resistance training for 12 to 18 weeks delivers bone growth of 15% to 20%. Strength training with weights over time on a consistent basis makes your bones stronger and healthier. This is especially important for women, who suffer a naturally greater tendency for weaker bones and poorer bone density as they age.

3 – You Can Wear More Complementary Clothing

We have already seen that weight training is an awesome fat burner. Between the ages of 30 and 50 women lose 10% to 20% of their muscle naturally. Your body weight usually goes up during this time, in the form of fat gain. A consistent weightlifting regimen helps you regulate a healthy waist size, keeping embarrassing fat from limiting your clothing choices.

4 – You Will Adopt a Nutritious Diet

For any number of reasons, it appears that women who work out with weights frequently often improve their diet as well. It just makes sense. When you see and feel yourself becoming stronger, looking sexier and burning fat, you want to keep the process going. Not only does your body burn more calories as a result of a weight training program, but you mentally find it much easier to stick to a nutritious diet when you like the way you look in the mirror.

5 – You Will Be More Successful, Productive and Happy

When women lift weights as a part of a healthy lifestyle, they burn a lot of fat. This makes them feel good about themselves, and exercise even triggers the release of “feel good” chemicals in your brain. As a result of looking and feeling great, you begin to fuel your body with healthy food as opposed to fast food, sugary sweets and processed garbage. All of these steps combine to make you more productive because you are filled with so much natural energy. This leads to success in all areas of your life, and what woman wouldn’t be happy with that outcome?

Can Stress Slow Down the Rate at Which You Burn Fat?

Our bodies can handle a normal amount of stress just fine. However, when we are constantly over-stressed is when it begins to cause problems. And the reason is because stress throws our hormone levels out of whack.

When our body senses a “fight or flight” situation, it releases more of the hormone cortisol to help deal with the perceived situation. One of the results of increased cortisol over time is overeating. Overeating leads to weight gain which causes your metabolism to slow down, thus causing your body to burn less fat and store more.

And if you are not getting enough sleep, because you are staying awake at night worrying about the issues causing your stress that can affect your metabolism also. When you are sleep deficient, your body has a hard time metabolizing carbohydrates causing your blood sugar level to rise.

In response, your body releases more insulin to help lower your blood sugar level. To help reduce your blood sugar level, your body metabolizes your blood sugar, but because it doesn’t need to use the calories right now, it stores them as fat.

Stress not only causes you to gain weight, by not getting enough sleep and increasing your level of cortisol, but it is also slows down your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns fat. And if you are not getting enough sleep, you are more apt to be tired throughout the day and not exercise – the main way to help speed up your metabolism and lose weight.

By exercising, you burn calories at a higher rate than if you did not exercise; exercise also helps relieve stress. If you have less stress, you’ll sleep better. If you sleep better, then your body will do a better job of metabolizing carbohydrates meaning you’ll lose weight. By reducing your stress level through exercise, your body will not flood your bloodstream with cortisol, thus helping keep your appetite in check and preventing the associated weight gain.

But there is another aspect of exercising that can help you burn more calories – building muscle mass. We are not talking body-building type of muscle mass gain – just some toning and defining with a little increase in size. The amount of muscle mass you have directly affects how many calories your muscles burn day in and day out. The more muscle you have, the more calories it takes per day to keep them going, even without taking in consideration the number of calories burned through exercise.

By exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, you are also burning more calories than you would if you did not exercise. But to build muscle mass for the long-term calorie burning effect, the type of exercising you do is important.

Strength training or weight training is the best type of exercise to build muscle mass. A program of four days of cardio with two days of weight training per week is a good mix to both burn the maximum number of calories and build muscle.