The do’s and don’ts of weight loss
Don’t do this: As tempting as they can seem, crash diets may seem like a popular “quick fix,” but they can have negative consequences in the long run. Be wary of yo-yo diets, detox programs and cleanses that advertise as the perfect weight-loss solution. These types of fad diets can do serious damage to your heart and immune system, as they don’t provide the critical nutrients your body needs. The rapid weight loss results from these types of diets can ultimately slow your metabolism, setting the stage for future weight gain.
Do this: A healthy, balanced diet is essential to long-term weight loss success. This includes increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Not only are lean meats such as chicken and fish known as healthy, but they are also protein-rich fuel sources for dieters. In combination with high fiber foods, such as carrots, beans and broccoli, they can help slow your digestion and keep your insulin levels low while making you feel fuller longer.
In addition, healthy snacks, such as high-protein nuts, can help ward off hunger while improving weight loss results. Not only can eating small snacks help aid digestion, they can help you sustain a high metabolism level, perfect for fat burning.
Don’t do this: While on the path to weight loss, don’t be tempted by the lure of diet soda. A common misconception is that diet soda is a better alternative to their sugar-laden counterparts (a regular can of soda may have 39 grams of sugar, for example). The artificial sweeteners contained in the sugar-free versions may have the ability to trick the body into thinking it’s consuming sugar. This causes your sweets craving to flare up, increasing the chance for indulging.
According to a recent study, just one can of diet soda a day leads to higher instances of belly fat, increased cholesterol and the potential for heart disease. The study, conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center, showed that drinking two or more cans a day of diet soda actually increased waistlines by 500 percent!
Do this: Drink more water! It’s recommended that you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day to help keep the body fully hydrated, help you feel fuller quicker, and maintain weight loss. A recent study has shown that drinking 16 ounces of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner helped sustain weight loss results for well over a year.
The study, conducted by the American Chemical Society, monitored nearly 50 overweight men and women between the ages of 55 and 75. Participants were also following a low-calorie diet (1,200 calories a day for women; 1,500 calories a day for men).
Those who drank at least 16 ounces of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner averaged 15.5 pounds of weight loss over a three-month period. Those who didn’t follow this methodology only averaged 11 pounds of weight loss. In fact, those who continued drinking water before each meal lost an additional 1.5 pounds after a year; those who didn’t gained 2 pounds!
Don’t do this: The abs, hips, glutes and thighs can be stubborn trouble areas for those looking to fit into their perfect summer swimsuit. Targeted spot reduction workouts, including crunches and leg lifts, may seem like the key to toning those bothersome areas, but don’t be fooled.
Do this: The most effective activities for overall weight loss and increased fat burn are cardiovascular and strength-training exercises that provide a total body workout. For example, squats, in combination with pushups, can provide an effective compound exercise that burns calories and boosts metabolism. This compound approach is much more effective than exercises that focus on just one muscle group at a time. In addition, core exercises are excellent for toning the abs and back muscles, proving much more efficient for weight loss than crunches alone.
Always remember to consult with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise plan.