Could your simple everyday habits be making you fat?
The vast majority of us have probably tried on a few occasions to follow a diet, only to see sub-par results, or see results that quickly fade as the pounds come back when the diet has ended.
Perhaps identifying the bad habits that contribute to excess weight will help not only to achieve the weight loss, but also sow the seeds for a long term healthier, and slimmer future.
The following are our pick of the worst habits when trying to get in shape:
1. Poor shopping- failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
Most of our food intake takes place at home; hence changing our food shopping habits must be the key to a healthier diet.
Don’t allow temptation to take over when you enter the supermarket: write a list of the foodstuffs you need to create healthy meals, plus a few wholesome, but enjoyable snacks and ensure that nothing goes into the supermarket trolley that wasn’t included on that list.
2. Drinking insufficient water – Don’t wait for thirst to remind you to drink!
Everyone knows that drinking plenty of water is healthy, but understanding why too little water may result in weight gain may encourage us to adhere to that medical advice.
Insufficient water leads to dehydration, which the body sees as a survival threat, causing it to retain fluid as a precaution. This, in turn, leads to bloating and weight gain.
A second reason is that water is vital to the metabolism. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys are unable to filter out toxins, and the liver has to assist. The liver’s role in metabolising fat is then performed less efficiently which can result in a build-up of fat.
3. Using artificial sweeteners in drinks – is it really better than sugar?
Many dieters rely on artificial sweeteners, assuming they will aid weight loss. Recent research suggests the reverse: because artificial sweeteners are significantly sweeter than sugar, the body assumes sugar has been consumed and releases insulin, a fat storage hormone.
This natural process results in storage of excess fat. Evidence also suggests that artificial sweeteners may slow the metabolism, which results in the burning of fewer calories.
4. Not being aware of how much you eat – The “I’ve hardly had anything syndrome”.
Most of us have selective memories in terms of food and drink, believing that we consume significantly less than we do. Keeping a careful record of everything we eat and drink may shatter those delusions and help weight-loss.
Record-keeping can take any form, from a daily diary to a photographic log of every meal and snack recorded on a smartphone or ipad. We recently reviewed the best smartphone apps for dieters.
5. Skipping breakfast
We are all familiar with the mantra that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many skip breakfast despite knowing its importance.
Why is breakfast so important to health and weight-loss? Because this is the meal that kick-starts the metabolism and begins the calorie-burning process for the day. Miss it, and the metabolism will be sluggish and burn fewer calories.
6. Lack of sleep – Can an extra hour in bed help you drop a jean size?
Researchers at several American universities claim that a good night’s sleep – between six and seven hours – aids weight loss. The scientific explanation for this phenomenon is that sleep deprivation affects hormone levels: leptin is reduced and ghrelin increased.
Apparently reduced levels of leptin and high levels of ghrelin enhance feelings of hunger, which is likely to tempt us to snack between meals.
7. Eating too much fuel before and after workouts
Everyone knows that weight-loss is enhanced by increased exercise, but it seems that some people over-estimate the numbers of calories burned through exercise and wipe out the benefits through pre- and post- exercise eating and drinking.
Our bodies will cope with a sensible workout without needing an extra carbohydrate boost.
8. Choosing low fat meals – The low-fat food con
Logic dictates that if we want to reduce fat in our bodies, we should reduce levels of fat in our diet, which is why every dieter fills the fridge and food cupboards with low-fat foods.
The problem with this theory is that foods marketed as ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ can actually be counter-productive, because the products simply replace the fat content with carbohydrates that are quickly digested by the body resulting in ‘between-meals’ hunger pangs.
Instead of searching out the low-fat diet foods, check carbohydrate levels. A study at the University of Alabama suggests that limiting the carbohydrates in meals to 43% will prevent both hunger pangs and storage of body fat.
9. Eating too quickly – chew before you swallow!
Research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that people who eat slowly consume 66 calories fewer at each meal than those who eat more quickly.
That means overall weight loss in a year, without altering what is eaten, could be 20lb! Not bad going for just eating a little slower than usual!
10. Watching too much television
Another interesting piece of research conducted at the University of Vermont claims that reducing the time spent in front of television by 50% burns a whopping 119 calories each day, presumably by replacing this sedentary activity with a more active one.