To understand how to lose weight quickly, we first need to understand what causes us to be overweight in the first place. You cannot fix a problem without first knowing its cause. Lets take a look first at some common reasons we become overweight.
Quite simply – we eat more calories than our body needs in a day, so the excess gets stored as fat. Our human bodies are designed in such a way that when in times it was harder to get food, our bodies could be prepared by having stored extra calories in times of plenty in the form of fat. Now, with the ease with which we get food, a lot of people tend to overeat, and this is a severe problem that causes a huge number of people to become overweight or obese.
Genetics play a factor as well by setting basic parameters on the metabolic efficiency of your body. People who are overweight many times have very efficient metabolisms, meaning their body needs less calories per day than others to operate, and they store the excess calories as fat. Also you have a greater risk of being obese if one of your parents are and an even greater risk if both parents are.
Your metabolic rate. Besides genetics, your metabolic rate depends on how active you are. It is said that every ten years past our mid-twenties we lose about 10% of our metabolic rate. This probably does not have to do completely with age, however, but instead with how active we are.
The more active we are, the more muscle mass we can retain, or even build, and in turn the more fit we are because muscle tissue is metabolically active whereas fat is not. On the other hand, if we lead a basically sedentary life, we are much more likely to be able to gain weight as we lose muscle mass.
Eating patterns. People’s eating habits make a huge difference in determining their weight. When foods high in fat or sugars are favored, this of course can cause much weight gain. Also, how you serve the food, i.e. do you put the portions on everyone’s plate or do you bring it all to the table and serve it the food family style where everyone can take as much as they want? Portion size is one of the main reasons people eat too much. Also, how have you learned to eat? If you are a fast eater, you may not even realize the cues your stomach gives you that it is full.
Larger portion sizes. Over time, larger portions of food have become the norm, especially at many restaurants. Weight has also gone up because of this.
Exercise or the lack thereof. Exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle and to maintaining a healthy weight. When you exercise, especially when you include strength training in your workouts, you gain muscle mass and raise your metabolism and in turn the muscle helps to burn more fat. In turn, you will weigh less and you will look leaner and firmer because muscle takes up less space than fat. Plus, strength training helps reduce the risk of accidental injury, improves your bone density, helps with digestion and helps in lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
As you can see, even if your genes make it easier to gain weight than other people, diet and exercise are the two main factors that affect your health and weight. Regular exercise is essential to getting to and maintaining a healthy weight – and so is what you eat, how you eat and how much you eat.
- Learn portion control. This is usually a huge factor for most people, and they do not realize how much they are actually eating. A portion of food the size of your fist is generally all that should be eaten at one time, because that is the size of your stomach as well.
- Eating several small meals a day, consisting of healthier, less fatty foods rather than two or three big meals, will help you to be able to eat less and also not be hungry in the early days of forming this habit. Another vitally important thing is to never skip breakfast, as this sets up your metabolism for the day. If you don’t eat breakfast, your body will go into defense mode and store more fat because it will think you are starving.
- Try slowing down your eating as well if you have the habit of eating fast. This way you can feel the signals from your stomach when you have had enough, before you stuff yourself full. When you have done that, you know for sure you have eaten too much. In reality, on a scale of 1-10 of fullness, we should feel right in the middle, around a 5, when we are done eating. It takes some practice, but you can learn this trick and you will feel so much better knowing you did not stuff yourself to the maximum capacity.
Another thing to watch of course is your intake of fatty and sugary foods. We all need nutrients, including healthy fats, to keep us balanced, but eating a lot of junk food and sugary drinks will attribute greatly to us gaining more weight. Processed foods don’t generally have a lot of nutrients in them, or any at all, and they are high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats.
In today’s busy lifestyles, we may not realize how often we are eating these foods. If you are one who is always ordering out for work, or going out to dinner as well, this is not going to keep you healthy because you do not have the control as to what is being put in your food (except special ordering at a restaurant) and it is much harder to make sure you are eating the right kinds of things and getting all of your nutrients. Going out to eat is fine every once in a while, but be sensible in what you are choosing, and you don’t have to clear your plate of the large servings you will most likely be given
Health Risks of Being Overweight
Being overweight and having a high body fat percentage increases your risk for developing many health problems. If you are overweight or obese, you may be at higher risk of a legion of problems including these common ones:
- type 2 diabetes
- coronary heart disease and stroke
- metabolic syndrome
- certain types of cancer
- sleep apnea
- gallbladder disease
- fatty liver disease
- pregnancy complications
You may be able to lower your health risks by losing weight, doing regular physical activity, and eating healthfully. The health warnings are stark. If you’re overweight, you’re at similar risk to a smoker of developing a life threatening or fatal illness or disease.
The message here is simply this – Don’t delay – you can start turning your life around today, cheaply and easily.
Start doing more regular exercise – even something as simple as walking a few kilometers per day can have a huge benefit to your health and weight loss goals. Reducing you calorie intake and eating healthier foods in combination with exercise will really show you quite rapid weight loss results and appreciable fat burning in quite a short period of time.
Laying the Foundation – Watch What You Eat
How much food are you consuming daily? How much high-calorie or fatty foods are you eating without truly knowing it? How many calories do you need per day? The best way to identify where things are going wrong in your eating habits is to begin looking at the nutrition facts on the packages of the food you’re eating and to record them in a daily log for about a week. By doing this, you will be able to analyze where you are going wrong and where you will need to improve to get the results you want.
The unfortunate reality is that we cater to our taste buds instead of worrying about proper nutrition. This is what leads to weight gain and ultimately, obesity. What’s worse is that fast-food is far more convenient for most people than spending time in the kitchen cooking up a good dish. Society’s need for convenience is a big reason for the growing statistics of obesity which is still rising.
This is why it’s so important as a first step to take note of the foods you are putting into your body so that you can analyze the areas which require the most attention. You will discover by observing the nutritional value of the foods you are consuming exactly what is causing you to pack on the pounds. Some foods will help your body burn fat. From there, it means you can then begin diminishing your fat intake and replacing the fatty foods with slightly healthier foods and fat burning fruits.
A pound of fat consists of 3500 calories so in order to lose a pound of fat weekly, you would need to cut off 500 calories from your daily diet. If you are eating approximately 3000 calories per day, you could lose weight by wiping out 500 calories from the 3000 which you are consuming by either replacing your unhealthy meals with healthier meals and/or incorporating some exercise into your daily regime.
By taking out those 500 unhealthy calories, you are then down to 2500 and on top of that, you decide to put in a half hour or 45 minutes of running, biking or an elliptical.
Another 500 calories off puts you down to 2000 calories for the day just with less than an hour of cardio-training and a healthier choice of meal. At the end of the week, that will be 2 lbs of unnecessary weight off your body…and chances are you’ll be feeling much better both mentally and physically.
Not only do you build up a great sweat during your training, your heart and entire body gets a great workout in the process which means heading toward a healthier lifestyle.
As always, eating less or picking out a healthier choice of foods crossed with a bit of exercise can get you some seriously good results which not only gives you more self-confidence but also a vote of confidence from your family and friends.
The worst thing you can do is crash diet which is the drastic measure of going on a food strike in hopes that you’ll drop excessive weight quickly! This only leads to disaster as you experience hunger pains, causing your body to feast off your muscle tissue and then eventually, you go into a serious eating binge.
A Healthier Choice
Once you’ve discovered the amount of unnecessary calories in food you are consuming on average, you will then need to decide where to make adjustments in your diet so that healthier foods will prevail over fatty foods.
If you were to take the example of McDonalds’ Big Mac which packs not only a ton of calories but a lot of bad ingredients with it, you may consider downsizing to a hamburger which, although still not a healthy food by any means, is much lower in calories and easier on the health.
Let’s also take the example of a flame-broiled Whopper at Burger King which is actually bigger than the Big Mac. A single Whopper with cheese contains over 750 calories and almost 50 grams of fat. One could save 480 calories and about 36 grams of fat simply by downsizing to a mayo-free junior-sized Whopper. Discard the larger-sized fries for a smaller portion and you will have saved yourself from consuming a lot of excess calories. If you’re still feeling a little bit hungry, why not go for a bowl of grapes or an apple instead of a second burger?
Some fast-food restaurants have been making an attempt to offer healthier food including KFC which offers not only fried chicken but also grilled chicken.
A KFC grilled chicken breast and drumstick mixed with mashed potatoes and gravy can go for well under 400 calories and just over 12 grams of fat. On the flip side, the extra crispy chicken breast which taste-wise is not particularly better than the regular fried chicken according to some, goes for nearly 500 calories and over 30 grams of fat after having sat in the deep fryer for a longer amount of time.
If you need a quick fix but also something tasty and you find pizza as a very pleasing convenience, try a thin-crust at Domino’s with ham and pineapple instead of pepperoni. That will be around 200 calories you’ll have just saved from entering your body.
One must also not disregard the joy of quenching thirst with a massively-calorie- ridden milkshake or sugary soda! It tastes amazingly good but thankfully they are offered at different sizes which means despite the fact that you can still enjoy your favourite milkshake or even a soda, you can also go for a smaller sized cup.
For example, a triple-thick strawberry shake at the king size goes for over 1000 calories! A small-size goes for 420 calories. If you need your shake, go for the small size. If you want to trim your waistline then discard the shake and order an orange juice or a bottle of water!
Let’s also not forget breakfast! People during the early-morning rush hour need a decent breakfast to energize themselves and gather their bearings for another long day in the office mixed with a tedious commute back and forth.
The very popular Egg McMuffin is a popular breakfast amongst Americans but it also contains 300 calories. On the other hand, the English Muffin is half that. This is when you make the choice of going for the relatively less-fattening order – try some fat burning fruits for breakfast instead. Despite the fact that none of it is healthy, even making a choice of down-sizing your portion or going for the healthier dish can make all the difference on the road to losing weight.
Americans have a deep fascination with fast food. Fast-food means not just food on the go but also convenience because it’s much easier to go into a drive thru as opposed to rummaging through the fridge and trying to put together a decent meal. So why go to the trouble of cooking your own food when fast food is almost addictive and so easy to get access to considering it’s all around you, wherever you go.
As before, even if fast-food is convenient, one can still pick out healthier foods on the menu. Much like downsizing portions from large-sized to small-sized, you can slowly pick out healthier foods or mix your usual choices up from time to time.
Every food contains the nutritional value on the package so it’s always best to analyze what you are putting into your body. When you keep a close eye on what you eat, there is really no excuse for blaming the fast-food industry or anybody else for your unhealthy shape or inability to lose weight.
Fast-food is a convenience but you alone are responsible for what you eat and you have a choice which is why it’s best when starting off on the path to a healthier lifestyle to keep a close watch on the foods you eat.
Furthermore, losing weight is only the beginning. Weight can creep back up if you neglect your improved eating habits after a while. Snacking on junk food is ok if it’s limited while you still maintain a quality healthy diet.
Satisfying a craving is not at all a bad thing but making sure you stick to a reasonably healthy diet while doing some exercise daily is essential to improving your shape on the road to ultimately a healthier body and a healthier lifestyle.
Losing Weight is Actually Easy!
The surprising fact is, that contrary to what the diet industry would have you believe, is that its actually really SIMPLE to lose weight and keep it off. And improve your health at the same time.
Your success and weight loss come down to a few simple little factors:
- You need to change your eating habits to take in less ‘bad’ fats – for example check out our post on foods that help you burn fat
- You need to do a little exercise – start here with our ‘flat belly exercises‘ that are so simple you can even do them at home
- You need to boost your metabolism (which is easy as the first two factors do it for you, without you even knowing it)
That’s it. Its as simple as that. Change your eating habits, and do a little exercise (you get the increased metabolism for ‘free’ by eating better and exercising), and you’ll lose weight. Keep up your healthier habits, and you’ll keep the weight off and lose more.
No magic pills, no false promises, no expensive equipment to buy. And equally – no excuses why you shouldn’t be able to achieve your weight loss goals.
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