How can I get rid of my belly fat? How can I reduce the size of my large hips or even my so-called ‘love handles’? These are a few of the many questions that we all wish we had answers to. Well, wait no longer, this article will provide you with the secrets behind weight loss and simple tips to help you achieve your ideal body weight.
In reality, the concept behind weight loss is a lot simpler than you may think. When we eat, we take in energy in the form of calories (a measure of energy). When we walk around the house or exercise, we release energy. If the amount of energy you consume is equal to the amount of energy you expend during a given day, then your weight will remain stable. If you exert more energy than you consume, then you are in a ‘negative energy balance’ and this will cause you to lose weight. So, simply put, we will provide you with the tools to induce this energy deficit, which will take those kilos off your waist for good!
There are three ways to induce this energy-deficit:
- Change the type of food that you consume. Move from energy-dense foods to nutrient-dense foods.
- Alter your food preparation methods (i.e. cook using healthier techniques).
- Last, but definitely not least, exercise!
Let’s start with energy density. Replacing energy-dense foods with nutrient-dense foods from your diet will automatically reduce your caloric intake. Nutrient-dense foods are those that contain a large number of nutrients with fewer calories, such as: fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. These contain vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates – all of which your body needs. Energy-dense foods are the exact opposite. They contain a large amount of calories and typically very little nutritional value, such as: chocolates, soft drinks and fast foods.
Here are a few examples that might help you grasp the idea:
- Reduce the amount of rice that you have for lunch, and have a bowl of vegetables.
- Instead of having a piece of cake to satisfy your sweet tooth, have a bowl of fruit salad with honey.
- Replace all your full-fat dairy products with low-fat or skimmed alternatives.
- Use olive oil or canola oil instead of butter or ghee.
- Replace white bread with brown bread or oats.
- Use lean meats such as chicken breast, fish and lean cuts of beef or veal.
- Eat dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate contains more sugar and butter than dark chocolate.
Now, we’ll move on to the second point – improving your food preparation methods. When you resort to healthier food preparation techniques, you will also automatically be reducing the caloric content of your food. Below are a few examples:
- Replace deep-frying with grilling, boiling, baking or even stir-frying. This will keep your food from soaking up tons of oil and could easily cut out 100 calories or more from your meal.
- Love those crispy French fries? Try baking them with some non-fat cooking spray – not only will they taste just as good, but they’ll be guilt-free as well!
- Sautee your foods with oil rather than butter.
The key here is to reduce the amount of oil or fat that the food absorbs while frying. Some foods just don’t taste as good when grilled, but you have to reach a compromise. So, grill, bake and boil most days of the week, but allow yourself some fried food once a week or so. This raises a crucial point that you should be able to maintain the changes in your eating habits. Make sure they’re gradual, subtle and maintainable; otherwise, it’ll be a matter of time before that lost weight comes creeping back!
Finally, we come to the topic of exercise. Unlike the first two tips that aim at reducing energy intake, exercise aims at increasing energy expenditure. This alone will not result in shedding a large amount of weight; however, coupled with the first two tips, it will accelerate the weight loss process. Start by making small changes in your lifestyle such as using the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car further away from the entrance of the mall or office than you usually do. Engage in active play with your children. All of these will help you exert more energy throughout the day and will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster. For more in-depth tips on exercise, please refer to the article ‘Exercise: Is it Really Necessary?’ under ‘His & Her Health’.
On a final note, please remember that there is no quick way to losing weight. It involves changing your dietary habits and changing your lifestyle. Take your time, make sure you’re comfortable, and set yourself small, achievable weight loss goals.
This article provides general advice and may not be applicable to you. Before embarking on any weight loss or weight gain diet, consult with a qualified physician.