Archive for the ‘Eating For Weight Loss’ Category

Breaking the Weight Loss Plateau

One frustrating aspect of weight loss is reaching a weight loss plateau. Thankfully, breaking the weight loss plateau is a relatively simple task once you know what causes it.

When we first undertake a weight loss goal we tend to lose a lot of weight initially then the amount slowly declines over a period of weeks or months until we reach the point where we stop losing weight altogether, and it’s not that we don’t need to lose more weight either. This is referred to as a weight loss plateau and it’s probably the most frustrating aspect of any weight loss program. You know you’re doing all the right things but you’re just not losing the weight.

In the first week of your program you tend to lose the largest amount of weight. Much of the weight loss this first week is actually excess fluid and this constitutes as much as 9 lb (4 kg) or even more depending upon your starting weight. This fluid loss can represent as much as 50% of total weight lost in the first week.

There are several factors that contribute to a weight loss plateau including (but not limited to);

  • Insufficient Calories Consumed
  • Muscle Loss
  • Weight Loss
  • Lack Of Discipline
  • Physical Adaptation
  • Exercise Ability
  • Over Exercise
  • Enhanced Fitness Levels

Lets deal with these one at a time.

Insufficient Calories Consumed

The human body requires a MINIMUM of 1200 calories per day to function. If you consume less than that (on a crash diet for example), your body will interpret that as being in a famine and will reduce your metabolism (the bodies ability to burn calories) in order to protect itself and be able to survive for longer. This of course will stop it from burning fat stores.

Solution: Maintain a reasonable calorie consumption. Use a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator to determine how many calories your body requires per day to maintain itself. You can find a BMR calculator on this post about How many calories per day to lose weight. Once you have determined approximately how many calories your body requires to operate, reduce you calorie consumption to 500-700 calories less than that without going under 1200 calories. Any more than a 700 calorie deficit may lead to muscle loss which leads to the next cause of a weight loss plateau.

Muscle Loss

All bodily tissue requires energy to maintain itself, including fat. Muscle however, requires FIVE TIMES the amount of energy to maintain itself compared to fat. The higher the muscle percentage in your body the greater your caloric needs. Unfortunately, diets sometimes lead to muscle loss as well as fat loss, especially if a diet is not used in conjunction with some type of exercise program. You need to understand where your energy comes from, the primary source of energy for the body is carbohydrates, followed by protein then finally by fat. Your muscles are made of protein which is why you need protein to increase muscle mass. Unfortunately, if you lose muscle you need fewer calories.

Solution: Ensure that you consume enough protein in your diet. The primary source of protein is meat but that also has a lot of fat so consume lean cuts of meat and supplement your protein intake with things like mushrooms, nuts and legumes and egg whites which are all high in protein. Combine that protein intake with some form of exercise to maintain muscle mass. If necessary, vitamin supplements may be utilized to ensure correct nutrition.

Weight Loss

Huh??? Isn’t losing weight the whole point??? Yes it is! But as you lose weight so also the number of calories your body requires to maintain itself. As mentioned earlier, even fat needs calories to maintain itself (although at a rate of 20% what muscle uses).

Solution: As you lose weight, check your BMR regularly to see how many calories your body requires per day and maintain a calorie consumption around 500 calories less than that. But remember, don’t consume less than 1200 calories. Access a BMR calculator here.

Lack Of Discipline

After several weeks of a new weight loss program many people tend to lose focus. They start indulging their cravings for unhealthy foods more than they should and they cut corners on exercise, skipping one day under the pretense of exercising twice as much the next day etc. This of course has the effect of decreasing the BMR and increasing their calorie intake making it more difficult to lose weight.

Solution: Staying motivated during a weight loss program can be a challenge. One of the best ways to overcome this issue is to find a weight loss buddy. The point is to have someone to exercise with and to be answerable to another person for our weight loss. Another great motivational tool can be found on our Free Weight Loss Downloads page. There is a free weight loss goal setting worksheet. You can print it out, fill it out and place it in a prominent place, perhaps on the fridge, where you will see it regularly and it will remind you of just what you are trying to achieve

Physical Adaptation

Our bodies adapt themselves to our calorie consumption and physical activity levels. When we begin an exercise regime, our body is required to make several changes to adjust to changing workloads. Our muscles have to rebuild themselves and this requires many calories. But, over time the body finishes adapting and burns less calories for the same activities.

Solution: Don’t allow you body to adapt. Vary your exercise program by changing the intensity, duration, frequency and type of exercise. If you always do weights then go do some cardio, grab a jump rope and skip for 15 minutes. You can also utilize interval training where you swap and change between different types of exercise.

Exercise Ability

Whenever you do an exercise regularly you become better at it and your body requires less calories to perform it. A trained athlete will burn less calories playing their sport than someone who isn’t trained in that sport.

Solution: As in the point above, don’t allow your body to adapt to a single exercise. Mix it up, if you’re always doing weights then go for a run, switch from the treadmill to a rowing machine etc.

Over Exercise

If you exercise too much your body adapts and reaches a point of where the extra energy consumed in exercise is offset by a similar DECREASE in the amount of energy used when not exercising. In other words, when you increase exercise intensity, your body decreases the number of calories consumed during the rest of your day.

Solution: Allow yourself recovery time. Take a break for a few days with some low impact exercise like swimming or tai chi. When you return to your normal exercise routine, pull back a little and only increase intensity when needed to maintain weight loss.

Enhanced Fitness Levels

As your fitness level increases, your body efficiency increases and requires less calories to operate. Enhanced fitness causes a reduced resting metabolic rate and fewer calories required for normal daily activities. This is partially because your cardio-pulmonary efficiency is increased and your resting heart rate is lower.

Solution: Congratulations! You’re officially fit and healthy. You can justifiably feel proud of yourself. Concentrate on mixing up your routine to maintain progress and life will just get better and better!

Another thing to keep in mind is that weight loss is not the only aspect to increasing your fitness. It is possible to lose inches without losing weight. This is because if you build muscle through resistance training that muscle weighs MORE than fat but takes up LESS space. So a person who weighs 200 lbs with 25% lean muscle will be smaller than another person of the same height and weight who only has 20% lean muscle.

So in summary there are four main things you need to remember:

  1. Keep track of how many calories per day your body needs to maintain itself.
  2. Maintain a calorie consumption of 500-700 less than your BMR without going below the 1200 minimum.
  3. Engage in exercise to prevent muscle loss.
  4. Mix up your exercise program to prevent your body from adapting.

Good luck breaking the weight loss plateau!

How many calories per day to lose weight

If you’re looking for how many calories per day to lose weight the answer is not as straightforward as you might think since every individual has different caloric needs. But it is possible to calculate your requirement of calories per day to lose weight.

What is a Calorie?

A ‘calorie’ represents the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree centigrade. Of course, a calorie is not the only measure of food energy used worldwide. The World Health Organization recommends use of kilojoules. One calorie is equal to 4.184 kilojoules. Some countries use kilojoules in the nutritional info on food labels while others use calories. Some products include both. Even though I come from a country that uses kilojoules I tend to think in calories. Scientists have calculated one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.

So how many calories per day to lose weight do you require?

The minimum number of calories per day should be 1200. Less than that causes the the body to go into ‘starvation mode’. This means that your body interprets the lack of food as a famine so it slows your metabolism (metabolism refers to the ability to burn calories) and retains fat stores in order to survive for longer. Hence, crash diets involving less than 1200 calories per day only work short term (like a week or two at most). While you may think that’s all you need if you’re only looking to lose a couple of pounds, you need to keep in mind that crash diets also tend to have short term results. In other words, you quickly regain the weight lost plus more.

Every individuals calorie needs are different. There are many factors that affect how many calories per day to lose weight are required including;

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Activity level

Lets deal with these one at a time.

  1. AGE: Individuals in their mid twenties require an average of 2300 calories per day, as we get older, that amount reduces partly due to physiological changes in our body, partly because as we age, we tend to become less active and our bodies just naturally tend to increase fat content which burns less calories than muscle.
  2. GENDER: Males require 5-10% more calories than females of the same size. This is due to the fact that men have greater muscle mass than females. But if a woman is pregnant or breast feeding she requires around the same amount as a male of the same size.
  3. WEIGHT: The heavier we are the more calories we require to maintain our weight. Even fat cells need calories to maintain themselves. For this reason, as we lose weight our calorie requirement reduces accordingly. This is one of the reasons that we reach a ‘weight loss plateau’ and need to mix up our routine a little to get past it.
  4. HEIGHT: Again, the taller we are the more we tend to weigh, the more muscle we have (to cover bone structure etc), thus our calorie needs are higher.
  5. ACTIVITY LEVEL: And this, of course, is probably the most crucial factor. It doesn’t just refer to what we traditionally think of as ‘exercise’… this is only one aspect of it. It also refers to lifestyle, careers etc. For example; A builder or brick layer will not need to cut as many calories per day to lose weight as someone who sits at a desk all day because their calorie needs are higher. I don’t have a drivers license (never have had one) and because of that I tend to catch public transport or walk everywhere which means that on average I walk at least 2 or 3 miles per day… this is a lifestyle example of something that results in higher calorie needs.

How many calories per day to lose weight do you needOn average, 60-65% of calorie intake is expended in bodily functions such as breathing, blood purification, heart beating, maintaining body temperature, etc. Another 10% is expended in digestion. The rest is used to supply energy to the body.

As you can see, determining how many calories per day to lose weight are required is not a simple question to answer.

You can use the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator below to calculate roughly how many calories per day your body needs to maintain itself.

 




As mentioned earlier, scientists have calculated that one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. So in order to lose one pound per week without extra exercise you need to reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 calories. Extra exercise in conjunction with reduced calories will result in even greater weight loss… even if it’s only taking a 15 minute walk per day.

If you’re looking for foods to eat that will allow you to reduce your calories without reducing actual food intake then there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, close to nature is much lower in calories than processed. For example, a piece of fruit is higher in nutrients and lower in calories than a cookie, cake or snack bar. Take a look at these calorie free noodles for a product you can substitute for noodles that are traditionally high in calories. Why are they calorie free? Because they’re made with 100% dietary fiber mixed with water. Fiber passes through the body without being converted to energy. In fact, the body is incapable of converting fiber to energy. So that is why they are effectively calorie free. Find out more about miracle noodles.

cut your calories per day to lose weight by eating these

So there you have it! Now you have the means to calculate how many calories per day to lose weight you require. Good luck in your weight loss goals.

Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss – Curb Those Midnight Munchies

If you’re trying to improve your health, chances are you’re looking for healthy snacks for weight loss. The good news is that there are plenty of healthy ways to satisfy those munchies. The bad news is that most of us eat far to many snacks, particularly in the evening. Did you know that many of us consume as much as one third of our daily calorie intake AFTER our evening meal?

Oh, it all starts innocently enough, you’re watching television or at the computer and a snack attack hits. You grab a packet of potato crisps or a block of chocolate and start munching and before you know it the packet is empty. We don’t even realize sometimes just how much we are eating. But why do we do it? Well, there are several reasons, some people engage in emotional eating, others just have a routine that includes evening snacks like dessert after dinner or cakes and cookies for supper, still others are craving foods which contain nutrients that their regular diet doesn’t provide enough of.

So here are some anti snacking tips and ideas for healthy snacks for weight loss.

  1. Drink a glass of water: Thirst is commonly misinterpreted as hunger and having a glass of water will often satisfy that empty feeling.
  2. Eat smaller, more frequent meals: Instead of three meals per day, eat 5-6 smaller meals. Two or three of those should be snacks and the traditional main meals should be smaller than usual. This makes your metabolism burn at a higher rate because it’s constantly trying to digest food and helps avoid hunger pains.
  3. Don’t skip breakfast: Many people make the mistake of skipping breakfast to decrease their calorie intake. Unfortunately, this is counter productive because two hours later they are starving and tend to overeat, thereby actually increasing calorie intake. Better to consume 150 calories for breakfast followed by 50 calories for morning tea than to skip breakfast only to eat 400-500 calories at morning tea time.
  4. Make a rule that food can only be eaten at the dining room table and stick to it: This will stop unconscious snacking at the computer or in front of the tv and create a greater awareness of what is being consumed (i.e. calorie content).
  5. Read nutritional labels or keep a food diary: When you review the calorie and or fat content of the snacks you eat it may well curb your appetite. Don’t forget to take beverages into account. For example, a can of soda can contain as much as 160 calories. Drink four per day and you’ve added 640 calories to your intake (almost one third of the average requirement)… none of which have satisfied your appetite!
  6. Don’t store tempting foods in the house: If you just can’t say ‘NO’ to ice cream or chocolates, don’t keep them in the freezer/pantry. If they’re not there you are less likely to eat them because you probably couldn’t be bothered going out to buy them every time you wanted them.
  7. Don’t ban snacking altogether: Banning snacking altogether will only result in cravings and binge snacking so allow yourself some snacks. Eat less during the day to allow for a healthy snack in the evening.
  8. Exercise portion control: Instead of buying a large bag or box of snacks, buy a multi pack and limit yourself to one of the small packs. If your snack of choice doesn’t come in multi packs then create your own by portioning small amounts in zip lock bags.
  9. Find low calorie substitutes for your favorite foods: If you like ice cream buy the low fat version, if you like chocolate, buy dark chocolate, it’s richer, lower in calories and you won’t eat as much, buy low fat cheese, oven baked crisps etc.
  10. Eat healthy snacks: Instead of eating high calorie snacks like cakes, cookies, candy and crisps, eat fruit or celery and carrot sticks dipped in low fat yoghurt, hummus, tzatziki or cheese dip.
  11. Reduce intake of simple carbohydrates: Sugar, products made with white flour (including pasta), potato and white rice. Eat fiber rich versions including legumes, beans, wholemeal/multi grain bread, wholemeal pasta and brown rice during the day as fiber takes longer to digest and creates a feeling of satiation.
  12. Chew sugarless gum: If you find yourself craving sweet foods, try chewing sugarless gum, it will satisfy the craving and chewing also sets of a substance called appestat which controls appetite by telling the brain we’re full.
  13. Brush your teeth: Brushing teeth can cause reluctance to continue eating because it will make our teeth dirty again. Nothing sends the signal that we have finished eating more than brushing our teeth.

Now all you need to do is try these tips till you find the ones that curb your midnight munchies.

This post, entitled “Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss – Curb Those Midnight Munchies” is not intended as professional medical advice.

Healthy Eating Facts You Should Understand

It’s really incredible there is anything experts can agree on when it comes to what we eat. It seems like we are inundated with new scientific findings and new diet plans on a daily basis. To make matters worse, it regularly seems as though this information is contradictory. But there are several fundamental dietary principles that haven’t altered, nor are they likely to.

Let’s begin with calories. A lot of “trendy” diets try to confuse the issue. They talk of “negative calorie” foods, or how certain foods increase metabolism and help burn fat. However, everything comes down to this: calories are energy. Therefore, if you wish to lose weight, then you have to consume less calories than you burn.

If you want to gain weight, then you do the opposite. Also, should you limit your caloric intake too much, your body will go into starvation mode, and will burn off calories extra slowly because it thinks there is a scarcity of food, this makes it more difficult to lose weight (if that’s your goal). So, that means you shouldn’t restrict food intake too much, but rather eat smarter.

Another significant feature of calories is that all of them should count. That does not mean you should count every calorie to the point of obsession. What it does mean, however, is that all of the calories you consume should provide nutritional value, or that they should count for something. This means getting rid of any empty calories. Certainly one of the largest sources of empty calories are sweetened soda drinks. these are loaded with sugar and have zero nutritional value. In fact, one non-diet can of soda contains as much as 160 calories. Imagine if you were drinking four of them per day, they would constitute an extra 640 calories, none of which are doing anything to satisfy your hunger or provide nutrients. Another example is fruit juice… yes, fruit juice! ‘But that’s healthy and full of vitamins’ I hear you say… you’re correct, but it’s better to eat the fruit than drink the juice because that will satisfy both your appetite AND your thirst! Whereas the juice will only satisfy thirst and is almost as high in sugar and calories and non-diet soda.

Now let’s examine the fat in our diets. It was relatively recently when food producers decided to provide low-fat variations of many different products. This was with the desire of capturing a piece of the health conscious market. While it is a fact that fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates which only have 4 calories per gram, not all fats are the same.

For example, it’s generally acknowledged that there is no healthy amount of trans fats; therefore you should do your best to completely eradicate them from your diet. Saturated fats are also unhealthy, but if you limit intake of them your body is able to deal with them. Then there are the two different types of beneficial fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Although you can’t consume these without considering their impact, if you are going to be consuming fats (and you do need some), then these are the better choices. Then of course you have essential fatty acids which are worth mentioning here, they’re not fats per se but they are certainly healthy and help control blood cholesterol levels. Rich sources of these include salmon, sardines, tuna and other type of fish and shell fish. This is one of the reasons that nutritionists recommend you consume at least two serves of fish per week.

So all eating really comes down to those two basic things: calories and fat. What diet plan you follow doesn’t matter so much as how you eat. Therefore, when choosing a diet plan, ensure that it takes a sensible approach. When you do that, you’ll not only feel better about being on a healthy eating plan, you will also be much more likely to stick with it.

A Simple Way To Lose Weight And Keep It Off

Isn’t it strange how excess pounds seem to creep up without us noticing? Then, all of a sudden, it seems like they’ve all been added at once. Maybe it was your reflection in the mirror, or a comment from a friend or work colleague. No matter what causes it, you instantly want to lose weight in order to look and feel better. But there is so much opposing data concerning the most effective means of losing weight. What can you do?

What follows isn’t at the top of everyone’s list of ways to lose weight quickly, however it does work. At the very least it ought to be added to the rest of your weight loss armoury to help shed those excess pounds. Some of the information might sound illogical, but the results are indisputable. So, what is it? Put simply… portion control. I know, it sounds like a real drag! Especially since when people talk about portion control we tend to think of reducing our food intake. But in reality portion control can be fun!

For starters, once you concentrate on portion control, you don’t need to carry a calorie counter when you dine out. I hated using them, because I felt self conscious, like the other diners were watching me; judging me for how fat I was.

The most basic method of portion control involves putting less on your plate. Easy peasy lemon squeezy right???… Hmmm, perhaps not! If it were that simple nobody would be overweight. Yes, we SHOULD put less on our plate, but doing so isn’t always easy. Here are some portion limiting tricks to help you lose excess weight.

Don’t worry about eating everything on your plate. It’s better to make a habit of leaving several mouthfuls on your plate. This was an issue for me, rather than ‘waste’ food I would continue eating. Even my family gave me their left overs because they felt I had a large appetite when. I had to learn to say no, I don’t want any more. Speaking of plates, using smaller dishes creates the illusion of extra food. In the last thirty years dish sizes have increased from 8″ to 10″ which experts believe has contributed to increasing rates of obesity. Look around for smaller dinner plates. Oddly enough, this technique works as it tricks the brain into thinking there is more food on the plate which leads to a greater feeling of satiation.

Another issue for many people is eating too quickly. This results in the body having enough calories and nutrients long before it has a chance to register that it feels full. Which means they end up consuming excess calories. Reduce your eating speed. Doing this will allow your body enough time to signal the brain that it has had enough.

Another aspect of portion control to keep in mind is nutrient balance. Your diet should be based on a balance of 50% carbohydrate (preferably high fiber), 30% protein and 20% fat. Many people make the mistake of adding extra carbohydrate as ‘filler’ to satisfy hunger… whether that be in the form of extra potato/chips, bread, pasta or whatever. These are actually the wrong fillers as they are the most easily digested and converted into fat cells. It’s better to increase the portions of meat and vegetables.

The great thing about portion control is that it allows you to consume your favorite foods, just in smaller quantities. You should increase consumption of healthy, natural foods, however you don’t have to relinquish your favorite foods if you control the portion sizes. It is important to consume natural foods compared to processed foods as these foods contain less fat, sugar AND calories. Once you become accustomed to it, portion control provides almost automatic weight loss. Just imagine feeling good when you see your reflection in the mirror, or being complimented by a friend the next time you see them.