As a trainer I often get asked, ‘If you could give me your top weight loss tips, what would they be?’. Although each person’s weight loss journey is an individual one, and there’s many factors that can contribute to a successful weight loss strategy, there’s always five tips I can give people no matter what their circumstances may be.
- Drink water, and lots of it.
Most us know that water is vital to us, but most of us need more of it than we’re currently consuming.
Water hydrates the cells of the body and enables all systems, from the blood to the organs, to operate at their full potential. It carries toxins out of the system (keeping you squeaky clean), keeps your mind sharp and enables your muscles to have full flexibility and strength. A 2% loss in hydration can also lead to a 10% drop in exercise performance!
Water also provides vital trace minerals and electrolytes – if you’re used to drinking filtered water you may lacking in some of the natural minerals present in fresh water from springs or streams. If you find you’re drinking lots of water but still feeling dehydrated, you may have sodium dehydration; you’re not absorbing the water due to an absence of salt. Try adding a tiny pinch of sea salt per litre of water to assist with this absorbance.
So how much water should you be drinking? A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in KG’s and multiply it by 30. So for an 84kg individual it would be 2530ml,, or around 2.5 litres. If you exercise, then you’ll need to increase to approximately 500ml extra for every hour of exercise completed.
- Get a good night’s sleep
When we think about weight loss, our initial thought is that we need to move our bodies more. While that is true, what our bodies do while we’re lying down is also very important!
Getting enough sleep is vital to weight loss, in more than one way. At a basic level, when we don’t get enough sleep we have less energy – which means we’ll be more inclined to grab a snack on the go, or an extra coffee during the day. We’ll also crave things that we think will give us energy, such as sugary foods or starchy carbs.
If we delve a bit deeper, however, studies have shown that a lack of proper sleep can cause your metabolism to become sluggish, and the body’s ability to use insulin can become disrupted. Insulin would normally help your fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream and prevent storage of fats – however when you become more insulin resistant, those fats stay in your blood, meaning more insulin is released to reduce those fats, and the excess insulin ends up storing those fats in places like your liver.
Lack of sleep also increases the levels of cortisol in the body. This stress hormone makes you crave foods and stops you from feeling satisfied after meals.
And think about it, if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, how likely are you to get up early for a work out, or stay after work to smash out your fitness goals? Going home to bed starts to look more and more appealing the less sleep you get!
- Protein, protein, protein
I always tell my clients that they should be aiming to have protein at EVERY meal, including snacks. In fact, don’t think about snacks as snacks, think of them as meals too!
Protein is a seriously important nutrient to the body, and does more than just build and repair muscle. How much protein at each meal will vary from person to person, depending on their genetic makeup, family origins, exercise history, activity level and goals.
Protein is also best served as animal protein, as this is the only complete protein source with all the essential amino acids. Of course there are some great vegan and vegetarian options too, but none of these have a complete amino profile and you will need to combine different sources to create this balance. If you’re looking to build muscle in your training program then this is even more important.
When people think of protein they often tend to think of chicken and fish. There are many protein sources that are all good options – as long as they are high quality, lean cuts. And yes, that includes fattier meats such as beef which is an excellent form of protein and a great weight loss food due to its CLA and omega 3 fat content. So ditch that cereal for breakfast and get some eggs and oatmeal with yogurt and fruit on the menu.
- Eat your greens
Vegetables are touted as the health super food across the board, and guess what? That’s for a reason! Vegetables, especially green ones, are vital for providing all the important vitamins and minerals for the body, and they also mop up all those nasty free radicals that are produced throughout exercise and stress.
Vegetables should make up a large part of your carbohydrate content throughout the day. Green vegetables such as spinach also provide many key nutrients that are vital for building lean muscle tissue. So the next time you think your forearms are failing, I want you to channel your inner Popeye and make sure you’re getting your daily dose of spinach!
- Move it, move it!
Exercise ensures that what you’re putting in your body is burnt off, but also assists with your overall health and wellbeing, and making sure all your body’s systems are functioning at their best.
At a minimum, you should be trying to exercise for 30 minutes every day to maintain your weight. However if you are looking to lose weight and burn fat you should be trying to increase the amount of training you are doing and building it up over time. Please don’t go out there and attempt to run 10km if you’ve never done any running before – start will small goals and build up slowly to give your body time to adapt and recover.
You should also try and build some incidental exercise into your daily routine to get your body moving – park further away from your office and walk into work, walk up and down the stairs of your apartment rather than using the lift, or try putting some music on and dancing while you’re vacuuming! All of these things will get your body into the swing of exercise, and help towards your overall weight loss goals.