Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

How to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism

Posted: 19 Nov 2012 06:46 AM PST


People often refer to as having a slow or a fast metabolism. This categorization has also been used some times to explain why some people may put on weight easier or slower and /or why they can fail losing weight. Is there such a thing as slow metabolism and if so what can someone do in order to lose weight?

This article will look into some basic metabolic principles and how does energy expenditure (calorie burning) work so as to understand better how to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism.

What is the metabolic rate?

In order to understand what 'slow' or 'fast' metabolism is and how it affects weight gain, we will first explain some basic metabolic principles. Firstly metabolism is the combination of processes that take place in the body in order to function and maintain life. The means in which we take in nutrients and deliver energy as required is called metabolic regulation.

The rate in which the cells break food into energy (or simplified the rate in which we burn calories) is the metabolic rate. So when people usually refer to a 'slow' or 'fast' metabolism they usually refer to the metabolic rate.    

Each person's metabolic rate depends on genetics, hereditary factors and amount of lean body mass (i.e. body mass minus fat such as in adipose tissue). However, it must be noted that in the general healthy population these differences are very small and metabolic rate on its own will not necessarily lead to measurable weight changes.

How does the metabolic rate work or measured?

The diagram bellow is a simplified way of explaining how the metabolic rate works.

An important thing to understand here is that regulation of energy metabolism and body weight takes place by highly complex systems and is not as simple as 'slow' and 'fast' metabolism.

What affects metabolic rate?

A second step is to look into which factors can cause substantial changes in the metabolic regulation and affect the metabolic rate and what makes some people to burn calories slower or faster. Some of these can affect directly the metabolic rate and others can affect hormones or organs which are involved in metabolic regulation and result in dysfunctional metabolism.

Some of the factors are summarised in table1 below; for the purposes of this article we will concentrate only at the aspects which can cause the metabolism to slow down.

Condition / factor Effects
1. Thyroid dysfunction Hypothyroidism: in simple words is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. One of the effects of hypothyroidism is decreased metabolic rate, and changes in the metabolic regulation. Weight gain can be common in hypothyroidism, not only due to the slowing down of the metabolic rate and the hormonal changes but also as a result of other symptoms. Symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and weakness can lead to decreased physical activity and associated bad eating habits.
2. Genetic conditions / diseases There are a number of different conditions and these can range in the way they affect metabolism and weight gain. However, it is beyond the scope of this article to look into each one in details.
3. Very low calorie intake This could include very low calorie diets, fasting for religious or other purposes, anorexia etc. Metabolism slows down to conserve energy and its own stores. Also muscle mass can be lost which would further decrease the metabolic rate.
4. Sleep deprivation Chronic lack of sleep does not directly lower metabolism. It affects production of some hormones which are involved in metabolic and appetite regulation.
5. Stress Stress affects hormone production which indirectly influence metabolic rate. Stress can have a dual effect. For some people it indirectly increases metabolic rate and for some it decreases it.
6. Menopause During menopause a number of hormonal changes take place some of which influence metabolism. Menopause has been associated with low energy expenditure at rest and exercise and increase in central fat deposit and fasting insulin levels.
7. Age Metabolic rate decreases with age. Some scientist will argue that the decrease in the metabolic rate starts as early as 25 years of age. One of the reasons for metabolic rate changes is the decrease of muscle mass with age.


How to increase your metabolism?

1. Consult a medical professional: In cases where metabolic changes and weight gain are due to medical conditions/disorders or you have any concerns, the best way forward is to consult the appropriate medical professional. It is important to receive the appropriate medical treatment for any medical conditions, as these could have serious implications to health if not treated properly. In addition, for some medical conditions it is important to follow the appropriate and recommended diets.

You could try every trick on the book for metabolism or weight loss but if not appropriate you could actually be harming yourself and worsening a condition.

2. Increase your muscle mass: Probably one of the most important ways of increasing the metabolic rate. With exercise is not just a matter of burning calories while we exercise. The more muscle mass we have in our body the higher the metabolic rate at rest. In the average healthy person what makes the difference in having a 'lower' or 'faster' metabolism is muscle mass (more specifically what is called lean body mass which is the muscle mass and organs).

Any form of physical activity will increase the rate in which we burn calories so you don't necessarily have to join the gym, simple things such as going for a walk, taking the kids swimming, or cleaning the house can help.

3. Avoid very low calorie diets: As mentioned above very low calorie diets can decrease the metabolic rate (see table 1). In order to lose weight decreasing the calorie intake may be necessary and metabolic rate may show some decrease in order for the body to adapt. The recommended calorie intake is 1500-2000 kcal per day for women and 2000-2500 kcal for men.

These are just guidelines and calorie intake does depend on individual factors such as levels of physical activity, age and body build. For a sedentary person who consumes 3000 calories a day is safe to aim reducing the calories within the recommended ranges. For a sedentary person whose calorie intake is within the upper recommended limits then a small decrease up to 500 calories should be sufficient and safe.

There are healthy ways of decreasing calories or increasing energy expenditure instead for losing weight without having to resolve into very low calorie diets.

4. Do not skip meals: Delaying having breakfast will actually help in burning more fat as fuel. However, skipping meals does not help your metabolism. Some scientist will argue that the body needs both periods of fasting and periods of feeding. This could help in improving metabolic flexibility which is the ability of the body to adapt easily in utilizing carbohydrates (sugar) and fats as a fuel and transition between them.

In very simple terms the systems becomes more efficient. In other words avoid loads of small meals and snacks (healthy or not) but aim to have all the meals in a day (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner).

5. Increase protein intake: Some studies have shown that protein does help in increasing the metabolic rate. However, you do need to include carbohydrates as well as very low carbohydrate intake can have negative effects in thyroid hormone production.

6. Caffeine: Caffeine is considered to increase the metabolic rate and the use of fat as fuel. However, caffeine is a stimulant and can induce a stress response among other negative effects. Therefore, it would not be recommended to have large amount of caffeine especially if you are experiencing other day to day stresses.

7. Sleep well: As mentioned earlier sleep deprivation can affect the body's metabolic processes. Sleep is important for the body and it does allow it to reset itself. A good night's sleep can make miracles for your body in every aspect.

8. De-stress: As with sleep, stress can have negative effects, not only for your metabolism. If you are actually one of those people who lose weight when under stress you may be tempted to think that is not a bad thing. Chronic stress can have number of implications to health and could actually result in chronic conditions.

9. Cold: Cold does increase metabolic rate as the body works harder in order to sustain its body temperature. Some people have gone as far to create the 'cold diets' in which they recommend to drink iced water and turn the heating off in the winter.

Although in cold weather we do burn more calories, chronic exposure to cold can actually lead into weakening of the immune system and being ill. So torturing yourselves with a T-shirt in the snow or with iced baths is definitely not recommended. Dress appropriately at all times and just simple appreciate that in the winter you will be using more calories.    

Do You Know How to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat?

Posted: 19 Nov 2012 06:24 AM PST

Post image for Do You Know How to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat?

Do you know how to lose stubborn belly fat? Take the following multiple choice quiz and see if you know all there is to know about how to shrink you waistline and keep the inches off.

(1) What types of foods contribute to excess fat in the abdominal area?

(a) Foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.
(b) Fried foods
(c) High protein foods
(d) All of the above

Answer: (b) Fried foods often add unwanted inches to the abdominal area as the majority of their calories come from saturated fat. This type of fat is made from animal products and is also known to raise the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Therefore, fried foods are not only bad for your waistline but for the health of your heart as well. Foods high in monounsaturated fats are actually good for the abdominals if they are consumed in conservative portions. High protein foods speed up the metabolism and therefore help burn fat.

(2) What types of foods should be eliminated from the diet if you want to lose stubborn belly fat?

(a) Eliminate all sugary foods such as doughnuts and pastries.
(b) Toss out any foods that contain trans fats, such as chips from the vending machine.
(c) Remove low-fat dairy foods.
(d) Both (a) and (b)

Answer: (d) – Both (a) and (b) are the correct answers. Low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt or skim milk are actually helpful in getting rid of belly fat as they release fat from fat cells in the abdominals and therefore reduce the amount of fat that is absorbed.

(3) Which food actually increases the body's capacity to burn calories and therefore reduces belly fat?

(a) Chili peppers
(b) Oat or rice bran
(c)  Asparagus
(d) None of the above

Answer: (a) Chili peppers. Hot peppers of any kind contain capsaicin which increases the capacity for the body to burn calories by as much as five to ten percent.

(4) What is the best way to speed up the metabolism and therefore reduce fat from the belly?

(a) Eat foods high in protein, such as egg whites, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds as well as certain berries.
(b) Consume nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.
(c) Drink plenty of water.
(d) All of the above.

Answer: (d) All of the above. Combined, all of the above approaches work as they speed up the body's ability to burn calories and therefore reduce belly fat.

(5) When trying to lose weight, it's helpful to detox the system to flush out any impurities so you can burn fat more efficiently. Which of the following fruits then is particularly useful in flushing out the kidneys?

(a) Kiwi
(b) Apple
(c) Cranberries
(d) Apricots

Answer: (c) Cranberries are specifically helpful in flushing any impurities from the kidneys. In fact, they are often used in clearing infections from the urinary tract.

(6) By adding fiber to your diet, you can significantly lose belly fat. Therefore, by simply doubling your fiber intake, how much weight, on average, can you lose in a year?

(a) 5 pounds
(b) 15 pounds
(c) 10 pounds
(d) None of the above. You can't lose weight by merely doubling the amount of fiber you consume.

Answer: (c) 10 pounds. It's been shown that if you simply alter your eating habits and include foods that contain more fiber, you will also see a lower number on the bathroom scale.

(7) Which of the following exercises is the best exercises to lose belly fat?

(a) Crunches
(b) Lifting Weights
(c) Running
(d) Both (b) and (c)

Answer: (d) Both (b) and (c) are the correct answers. Although crunches are good for toning and strengthening the abdominal area, they will not necessarily reduce the fat. The only way to burn fat is by speeding up the metabolism. A cardio workout like running assists in increasing the heart rate and the body's ability to burn fat and calories.

Used in conjunction with resistance trainingor an anaerobic exercise such as weightlifting, you will indeed lose weight in the abdominal area. That's because resistance training causes you to keep burning calories even after you’ve completed your session of exercise.

(8) Which of the following beverages will aid in reducing one's waistline?

(a) Skim milk
(b) Coffee
(c) Green tea
(d) Both (a) and (c)

Answer: If you said (d) – both (a) and (c), you are correct. Skim milk is a low-fat dairy product. Any low-fat dairy product is helpful in lowering the amount of absorbed fat in the abdominal region and therefore reduces any accumulation of fat. Green tea too is a good beverage to consume if you want to reduce inches from your waist as it's been proven to boost the metabolism and therefore burn fat. On the other hand, coffee dehydrates the system and is not a good choice if you want to lose weight in the abdominal area. It's important to keep hydrated when you want to burn calories and lose excess weight. So coffee isn't the best choice when it comes to something to drink.

(9) Which of the following foods is not rich in fiber and not necessarily helpful in weight reduction?

(a) Chick peas
(b) Strawberries
(c) Potatoes with skins
(d) None of the above.

Answer: (d) None of the above. All of the foods listed are rich in fiber and can help you lose weight if consumed in conservative portions.

(10) If you must cave in to temptation, which of the following treats would be best to eat if you want to keep your belly washboard flat?

(a) One or two bites of dark chocolate with almonds.
(b) An ice cream sandwich.
(c) Pork rinds.
(d) None of the above.

Answer: (a) Believe it or not, it's been found that you can eat a small amount of dark chocolate without any adverse effects. If you wrap it around a protein like almonds, then you'll even obtain more benefits. Dark chocolate contains monounsaturated fat, which is produced from plants and is an acceptable food to eat provided you consume only a small portion as it's also dense calorically.

How do you "weight in" when it comes to belly fat? Did you get most of the above answers right or do you need to do some more homework? Regardless of your score, remember to keep a healthy perspective, which is the best way to lose belly fat. You're already on your way to losing weight if you can maintain a positive outlook.

No comments: