Watch what you eat; cut down on calories; have small meals at regular intervals; workout intensely; exercise on an empty stomach! NO, have a nutritious pre-workout meal and a post-workout meal; lose your fat, not your muscles; drink more fluids.
And the list can get pretty long.
You are right! Those are the things that make a home in our minds when we are doing the most obstinate thing on this planet – Lose weight! There is this, there is that, and there is that as well, and then there are 147 other things people tell us to follow to shed a few kilos to show off on the weighing machine. Though all these words of wisdom might not always help you lose your weight, they sure as hell will make you lose your mind.
Weight loss is quite a sensitive subject and also a pretty confusing one.
Below are few things that your should be knowing about weight and fat loss.
Metabolim & Calories
Metabolism is the process by which our body converts whatever we consume into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food are combined with oxygen to release the energy our body requires to function. When at rest, our body carries out functions such as breathing, circulating blood, digesting, adjusting hormone levels, and growing & repairing cells. The number of calories our body uses to carry out these essential functions is known as our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). About 70% of the calories we burn daily contribute to merely keeping us alive. This number of calories reflects how much energy our body requires to support vital body functions if, hypothetically, we were resting in bed for an entire day. These are known as resting calories. Then, there are active calories that our body burns when we are physically active – walking to catch our morning commute, sweating in the gym, doing household chores, walking, or playing some sport. These calories are vital for losing weight, as the only way to burn more calories than we eat; while maintaining a healthy diet is to burn active calories.
The calories in and calories out (CICO) model gives us a halt to understand weight loss efficiently. It is based on a straightforward idea – 'to maintain a stable weight, the number of calories you eat needs to match the number you expend.' Building on the same logic, we can understand that we need a calorie deficit to lose weight.
Net Carbs (Impact Carbs & Non-Impact Carbs)
The concept of net carbs is based on the principle that not all carbohydrates affect the body in the same manner.
Net carbs are the carbohydrates in the food that you can digest and used as energy. Net carbs usually only count starch and sugar; most other types of carbohydrates have no energy value or impact on your blood sugar, so you don't count them towards your daily carbohydrate limit.
Simple carbohydrates like refined starch & sugar are absorbed rapidly, and they possess a very high glycemic index (GI). This means that they are the reason behind your blood sugar levels spike after you eat something. Excess of these simple carbohydrates gets stored in the form of fat. Potatoes, white bread, white rice, and sweets are a few examples of these carbs. Other carbohydrates, such as the fiber in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, move slowly in our digestive system, and much of it isn't digested completely (insoluble fiber).
Impact carbs are the carbs having a pretty high impact on your blood sugar level, known as high GI carbohydrates. These carbs break down rapidly into glucose, which then finds its way into your bloodstream. When these high GI carbs enter your bloodstream, they contain much more energy than your body can utilize in one go, and obviously, everything that is not used at all for energy generation gets stored in the form of body fat. Impact carbs can damage your health (and waistline) when you consume them regularly in high amounts.
Unlike impact carbs, non-impact carbs have a low GI, and they digest at a rate much slower than that of impact carbs. Due to this prolonged release of glucose into your bloodstream, insulin spikes are less likely, and thus, you experience more sustained energy levels.
The overconsumption of high-GI carbohydrates is presumed to cause many adverse health conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Weight Loss VS Fat Loss
Our body weight is the sum of the weights of our muscles, bones, organs, and the amount of water our body retains. Hopefully, the following two equations will help us realize the difference between weight loss and fat loss.
Weight loss = Muscle loss + Fat loss + Water loss.
Fat loss = Reduction of stored body fat.
Thus, it is safe to say that losing weight doesn't necessarily mean you are fit. Your fat percentage or body mass index (BMI) is the actual measurement of how healthy and in shape your body is. Losing excessive weight can have a side effect as it may lead to a loss in muscle mass, which can cause a rebound effect that leads to weight gain as losing muscle mass can slow down your metabolism. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't lose weight. If you are overweight, you have to shed off those extra kilos, but at the same time, you should focus on fat loss.
We assume that losing weight is equal to losing fat. Our body would only burn fat in a perfect world, and we'd lose our stubborn belly first and pose like a fitness model for our next Instagram post. But sadly, weight loss is a complicated phenomenon. Reduction in calories doesn't mean that our body will turn to burn excess fat for energy. As mentioned earlier, this might well lead to muscle loss and thus the overall body weight.
We should focus on the question "How much fat should I lose?" rather than the question "How much weight should I lose?"
THE SCIENCE OF WEIGHT LOSS – How our body stores and burns fat?
On consuming starch & sugar, our body breaks them down into glucose, which is the most accessible fuel for our cells to burn for energy. On consuming too many calories, our body converts this excess glucose into fatty acids and stores them for later use when there is a consistent calorie deficit. As long as we have excess calorie intake, these fatty acids remain untapped and eventually keep growing. The process of handling excess glucose in the blood and the inhibition of fat breakdown is controlled by a complex hormone signaling system, which has insulin as one of the primary signals. Elevated glucose levels in our blood from every single meal trigger the release of insulin, which signals our fatty acids (fat cells) to hold onto the energy stores, which leads to our muscles burning the glucose first. Thus, keeping the fatty acids untapped and intact.
When the glucose in our blood drops, insulin levels drop, and the body starts to mobilize energy from the stored fatty cells. It's important to note that our fat cells will not release their energy stores if insulin is present, so sticking to a diet that keeps your blood sugar stable is the key to fat loss. This translates to avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, white flour, and many fast-digesting packaged foods. Slow-digesting whole foods will prove to be your best friends.
Strive for Fat Loss
A fit body has lower fat percentage levels, 14% to 17% for men and 21% to 24% for women. Proper nutrition not only increases your metabolism but also initiates fat loss, while crash dieting slows your metabolism down, though it may result in weight loss temporarily. It is not as sustainable.
Eat more vegetables, whole fruits (not juices), fiber-rich foods like whole grains and beans, lean proteins, and nuts in moderation. Avoid processed foods, refined sugar, refined flour, fried foods, and excessive fat. If one has a lower fat percentage with higher muscle mass, they look fitter despite having the same weight. So remember, when you want to lose weight, focus on losing your fat.
Lose your fat, not your mind.
What is the most effective balanced diet?
It is estimated that every year a ton of young people attempt to lose weight. One of the ways to lose weight is by switching the diet and maintaining a balanced diet.
Yet, the number of available diet plans may make it very difficult to get started when you are not sure which diet is most suitable, sustainable, and effective.
Specific diets curb your appetite to reduce your food intake, while some suggest restricting your intake of calories, carbs, or fat.
There are many health benefits that are beyond just weight loss!
Below are few best diet plans that will help you in shedding weight and improve your health:
It is a dietary strategy that is a cycle of fasting and healthy eating.
There are various forms of intermittent fasting, such as the 16/8 method, limiting the calorie intake to 8 hours per day, and prefer high-protein food. There is the 5:2 method restricts your daily calorie intake to 500-600 calories twice per week.
Benefits: Intermittent fasting is said to have anti-aging effects. It even increases insulin sensitivity, improves brain health, and it even reduces inflammation.
Usually, plant-based calorie diets might help you lose weight. These days, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming popular. It restricts animal products for health, ethical, and environmental reasons.
Nevertheless, there are flexible plant-based diets available, such as the flexitarian diet. It is also a plant-based diet that allows eating low-calorie animal products but with little moderation.
Benefits: Plant-based diet has many health benefits, such as it reduces the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. This diet is environmentally sustainable than meat-based diets.
It is also one of the popular diets for weight loss. It includes diets such as Atkins diet, ketogenic or keto diet, and low carb diet for weight management.
Some varieties of diets reduce carbs more drastically than others. For instance, very low-carb diets like the keto diet restrict all the macronutrients to less than 10 percent of total calories, compared with other types of diet that are still at 30 percent.
Benefits: According to researches, low-carb diets may reduce the risk of heart diseases and sicknesses such as high cholesterol and blood pressure. It might also improve the blood sugar and insulin level in people with type 2 diabetes.
As the low carb diet, the low-fat diet has become very popular in the last few years!
Generally, a low-fat diet includes restricting your fat intake to 30 percent of your daily calorie consumption.
Some very or ultra low-fat diets focus on restricting the fat intake to 10 percent or low.
Benefits: Low-fat diets help to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke. It might also reduce inflammation and improve the markers of diabetes and blood pressure.
How does managing stress help in weight loss?
Stress usually leads to higher cortisol levels. Cortisol sets our body for storing fat around the organs; it is one of the most dangerous places for fat accumulation. In a busy and competitive world like now, now can never avoid stress altogether, so we can say that "let's try to manage stress, as much as we can." Also, work on the resilience to stress, the ability to bounce back from day-to-day stress and tension rather than letting it be so one day it becomes too severe for your health.
However, a balanced state of mind can be achieved quickly; you can do some stuff such as: achieving mindfulness, counseling, meditating, taking a break, and for some people getting some exercise also works, but all depending on your circumstances.
How does weight gain affect your health?
Continuous weight gain will lead to obesity, which will lead to health problems. You can get diseases such as stroke, diabetes, cancer, and even heart-related diseases. Well, there are few queries that people always want to know "can they be obese and healthy at a time?" to answer this, there are people who are obese and have no sign of any health issue. But, that doesn't mean that they are risk-free. The risk will still be there; it's just that they have to take care of their health. Overall, weight gain will eventually lead to obesity and will always have the risk factor; to avoid this, it is better to control your weight.
How to lose weight in quarantine?
Coronavirus has locked us all in the safety of our homes. People are left with nothing to do! As they can't go out or talk or enjoy with the people, they love. Most people are getting busy with TV or Smartphones watching hours and hours of series and movies. Not just it, with nothing to do at home, snacking and overeating has become a pass time.
With the present scenario in mind, let's avoid the fancy grocery shopping and meal plan and start with the basics.
To start with: focus on eating healthy food, do regular exercise, take a good night's sleep, and plan your weight loss goals. Mentioned below are few steps that you may consider while planning a healthy weight loss journey during a pandemic.
Take baby steps: Pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health, so suddenly trying to change your lifestyle can be overwhelming. Instead, start with one thing at a time. Ask yourself that "what you can change now, that won't be that difficult?" once you have decided what you want to start with it, then go for it. Don't jump on things too fast just to see the results; take your time and adjust to it.
Embrace homemade food: As we all are at home, cooking food will be a great pass time and 100 times more healthy and hygienic than the take-outs. However, everyone might not have that much time to cook their meal daily. Well, you can always buy ready-to-use items and stock up your kitchen with them. You can cook your meal in minutes and transform it into something nutritious. It might not be a perfect meal on the first attempt, but gradually you can become a CHEF!!
Schedule your meals: Working from home usually gives access to 24*7 snacking or eating. This disturbs your whole balance of life that earlier used to be. Make sure to plan your breaks, meal timings; if possible, try to do portion control. Try hard to stick to them.
Intermittent fasting: Dieting takes a lot of planning. Diet plans such as a low-carb diet or Mediterranean diet involve planning which most people can't wrap around their heads. Well, intermittent fasting is one option. It limits your eating to only a set window of hours per day. That doesn't mean you can eat anything in that fixed window- instead, you have to make sure to eat a healthy and protein diet during this time. The cherry on top is, you prepare a balanced food, you don't have to count the calories or nutrients.
It is simple. You have to avoid eating early in the morning and late at night, in that you will avoid overeating. Due to lockdown, as everyone is at home, the eating pattern can be changed according to our wishes and can be limited to a fixed timeline. If you follow it cautiously every day, you will be consuming only fewer calories helping you in weight control and weight loss.
Get ready for WFH: Even if we can work comfortably in our pajamas from our home. It is good to get dressed and start every day with new enthusiasm. Clothing will encourage you to move and bring the required seriousness to work; however, loungewear doesn't activate any physical activity. Choose the clothes that make you move and motivate you to work.
Do regular exercise: Most of us spend time working, and we are left with very little time to spend with our families. But, to get significant weight changes, it is better to involve in physical activities. There are many exercises and cardio that we can do in our home, for which we don't have to go out. We can sign up for the online weight loss programs and do it in the safety of our homes. These sessions also serve as stress-relieving and interactive sessions with other people.