- EAT SNACKS WITH COMPLEX CARBS AND PROTEIN (i.e., eat foods with less sugar including whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese, fresh fruit, turkey or chicken sandwich, plain yogurt, can of tuna)
- REDUCE CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION (more than three cups of coffee may affect the quality of sleep)
- EXERCISE REGULARLY (physical activity releases endorphins which enhance your energy level)
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER (water contains no calories but enhances your energy level by flushing toxins and circulating nutrients within your blood)
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP (get into a sleep pattern of waking up and going to bed at the same time each day)
- ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE AND BE OPTIMISTIC (don't be a "hater" as this diminishes your energy level)
- ORGANIZE YOUR HOME (clutter tends to increase stress levels)
- EAT ENOUGH FOOD (eating more food may lessen you body's tendency to go into "starvation mode", a state when your metabolic rate decreases, bodyfat storage increases, and muscle tissue is catabolized for energy)
- EAT EVERY TWO TO THREE HOURS (this lessens dramatic fluctuations in your blood sugar levels)
- REDUCE STRESS LEVELS (lessen your anxiety by writing things down in a "To-Do List" and checking things off as you accomplish each task--the sense of accomplishment will make you feel good and energized!)
Here is a list of things you can do today to increase your energy level throughout your day:
Does it matter what time you should eat to lose bodyweight and if so, what's the best time of day to eat to lose bodyweight?
Analysis on this topic is largely based on research which is observational in nature rather than cause-and-effect. Nevertheless, there does seem to be an observational relationship between metabolic rate, circadian rhythm and meal intake times. When you eat affects your appetite hormone levels (e.g., insulin) which may cause disturbances in your circadian rhythm and lead to metabolic syndrome (i.e., obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). Eating your biggest meal before 3pm tends to cause greater bodyweight loss than eating later.
A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity provides support that eating more food earlier in the day is more effective for losing bodyweight. This study compared two groups of participants: those that ate most of their food before 3pm and those who ate most of their food after 3pm. In both groups, caloric intake, macronutrient composition, activity level, sleep quantity, and appetite hormone levels were similar. The group that ate their biggest meal before 3pm lost more bodyweight at a faster rate than those who ate their biggest meal after 3pm. Other studies support this finding when it was discovered that those people who tend to skip breakfast are more likely to become overweight or obese than those who regularly eat breakfast. The reason for this may be because those people who skip breakfast tend to eat more food later in the day when their metabolic rate is usually reduced, thus perpetuating bodyweight increase.
BOTTOM LINE: Eating most of your food before mid-afternoon when your metabolic rate is elevated may be an effective and healthy habit for you to lose bodyweight. Certainly, avoid eating large late-night meals when your activity level is low--this is a recipe for weight gain!
What are some of the most recommended supplements you should take to support a particular fitness goal or when you're deficient in certain micronutrients?
The following is a listing beginning with the more essential supplements:
Very low-calorie and very low-carb diets consist of eating about 10 calories per pound bodyweight and 10 to 15% carb intake daily, respectively. Usually professional physique competitors eat this way in order to achieve single-digit bodyfat percentages or to lose bodyweight/bodyfat. The trick to eating this way is to do it for only a relatively brief period (i.e., no more than four months) so as to not allow the body to go into starvation mode in which bodyfat storage occurs. To avoid plateauing when eating very low calories and/or low carbs, you should cycle your caloric or carb intake up and down to keep your body guessing and to prevent stagnation. In other words, decrease caloric/carb intake for a relatively short duration before increasing caloric/carb intake to fool the body so that is doesn't go into starvation mode. If the person dieting is very disciplined, dietary re-feeding every 3 to 4 days (or one to two weeks) in which caloric/carb intake increases by a factor of 1.5 (or 3.5) may be beneficial in obtaining an optimum physique. The risks of eating this way for a relatively long duration is the following:
Very high-carb diets consist of eating about 3.5 to 5g of carbs per pound of bodyweight or more than 70% carb intake daily. Usually endurance competitors or ectomorphic athletes eat this way in order to increase performance in long-duration events (e.g., marathon). Just as for very low-carb diets, very high-carb diets should occur for a relatively brief period (i.e., no more than four months) so as to not allow the body to convert carbs to fat when an excess supply is available. The risks of eating this way for a relatively long duration is the following:
Fat burning goes into overdrive when your body's metabolic rate remains elevated for longer periods of time. The key to burning more bodyfat is to train your body to run at a faster metabolic rate. How can this be done? Simple. Incorporate more interval training (alternating between periods of high and low intensity) within your workout regime. Interval training enhances your metabolic rate due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the amount of oxygen debt your body experiences following intense exercise. The oxygen debt occurs to make up for the oxygen deficit during the initial period of your exercise bout when there is a delay between exercise and your body's physiological response to exercise. EPOC occurs to metabolize additional nutrients your body needs as well as to replenish energy and oxygen stores. EPOC increases when your exercise intensity increases. The increase in oxygen debt plus protein turnover (amino acid replenishment) causes an increase in your metabolism. The increase in your metabolism can last several days following an intense exercise session. This means your body can burn more calories while resting as a result of intense training. Think of your body as a machine. When the machine is placed under a greater workload, it "learns" to adapt to the increased stress. As a result, your body becomes more tuned, running at optimum efficiency and at a faster metabolic rate. The end result: your body becomes efficient at burning fat for energy while resting. How cool is that?
Indeed, it is insidious that the human body loves fast food and packaged, processed foods. Unfortunately, highly processed foods (i.e., fast food) may severely compromise your body's metabolism. How does this happen? Since processed foods typically lack the nutrients that whole foods contain, your body craves more fast food in order to get the nutrients it needs to remain healthy. Thus, your appetite for unhealthy food tends to increase in order for your body to get as much of the nutrients it needs even if the food in general is not healthy.
A diet of mostly processed foods (most people get the majority of their sodium intake from processed foods) and high-calorie beverages essentially causes an imbalance in metabolic rate. Foods high in sodium, beverages high in sugar, and processed foods with a high calorie density but low nutrient density do not trigger appetite sensors to signal satiety. Instead, these foods tend to stimulate the release of periodic surges of insulin to deal with high blood sugar levels. As a result, the tendency is to scarf down more and more of these foods and drink more and more of these sodas (can you say 40 oz, please). In the meantime, more and more empty (read: nutrition-less) calories are consumed. Guess where these extra calories get stored. In a word: bodyfat! Combine this tendency to overindulge with sedentary behavior and you have a recipe for obesity.
The solution to break this never-ending cycle of gluttonous behavior in order to fulfill your appetite is to learn to eat more whole, nutritious foods. These are the low-glycemic index foods which are the unrefined, complex carbs which take longer for your body to digest and absorb. The benefits of eating these foods: increased micronutrients (vitamins and minerals); increased fiber content which contributes to increased satiety; increased thermic effect of food (TEF) in which your body burns more calories to digest compared to simple carbs; and increased insulin sensitivity. Your body will adapt gradually to feeling full much sooner when healthier foods are eaten. More importantly, your body will have a steady energy balance due to more regulated insulin levels.
Many clients I assess state that they lack the energy to be active. This is when I edify them on the science of metabolism and how the cells within the body adapt to exercise. Many are amazed when they find they have more energy after participating in training sessions. How can this be? How is it possible for a person who feels they have very little energy suddenly feel more energized after exercising?
The answer to why and how we are able to feel more energized after being active is dependent on your anatomy as well as physiology. To be more precise, the organelles (e.g., mitochondria, nucleus, etc.) within your cells adapt to the training stimulus. In this case with regard to energy, it is the mitochondria (known as the "energy storehouses") of your cells which increase in number when your body becomes more active. Take, for example, weight training. As you perform more and more weight training exercises, the mitochondria within your muscle cells begin to multiply. This causes an increase in mitochondria density which creates more potential for energy to exist. It is the mitochondria that is responsible for up to 95% of your body's energy level.
So, to summarize, as you exercise regularly, your body reacts by increasing its storage of cellular mitochondria which creates more energy. In effect, you need to exercise to feel more energy. If you don't exercise, there's no need for you body to increase its mitochondria supply and as a result, you'll fell lethargic and weak. It's a classic case of "if you don't use it, you'll lose it". If you don't exercise, you'll lose your energy capacity (less mitochondria density). What irony there is in that to feel more energized, you need to begin exercising rather than relaxing. The more active you are, the more energized you'll feel. It's that simple. Of course your energy levels also hinder on your nutrition so be sure to eat healthy to complement your training. Nutrient deficiencies can disrupt cellular function and impact your energy as well as performance.
Back in the seventies it used to be thought that low-fat dieting was the best way to lose bodyweight. Now we know that this is not necessarily the case. Fats can be healthy provided you eat more of the unsaturated variety and less of the saturated and trans fats (i.e., homogenated fats). Currently the trend is to go the low-carb route to weight loss. Is this the key to losing bodyweight and bodyfat?
Restricting your carb (i.e., sugar) intake is not magical in affecting weight loss. What really matters overall is your caloric intake relative to your activity level. In other words, burning more calories than you eat will cause weight loss. If you consume more calories than your burn as energy you will gain bodyweight in the form of bodyfat. So why all the attention to low-carb dieting? The truth is that there is no simple solution to losing weight (hence the existence of the multi-billion dollar diet industry). You should not think in absolute terms by categorizing fats or carbs or proteins as being the enemy in terms of losing bodyweight. But having said this, at least 130g of carbs are needed daily in order to meet the basic energy needs of your body to function. Remember, your brain is fueled entirely by glucose. If your carb intake is significantly reduced, your ability to think, remember and concentrate will be compromised. In this case, your body will resort to converting amino acids and glycerol into glucose to meet your brain's demand for sugar to function.
In order to eat a low-carb diet, you must eat more protein and fat to compensate for the calorie differential. Both carbs and protein consist of four calories per gram but protein is much more satiating (appetite-suppressing) than carbs. Thus, eating more protein may lessen your overall caloric intake and therefore allow you to lose bodyweight. Protein requires more energy than carbs for digestion to occur. Thus, you actually burn more calories (without exercising) by simply eating more protein than you do eating carbs. But protein is also important as a macronutrient that is needed by your body to spare your muscles from being catabolized for energy. In addition, protein also helps to maintain your resting metabolic rate which may enhance fat burning. Not eating adequate carbs does not endanger the survival of your body because your liver can readily covert lactate and glycerol from fats as well as amino acids from protein into a carbohydrate source (i.e., glucose) of fuel when it needs it.
So it's not really about eating less carbs but rather eating more protein and fat that may help you to lose bodyweight. Of course, excess protein and fat that is not used for energy in the absence of carbs can be stored as bodyfat if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Thus, be sure to exercise regularly in conjunction with bumping up your protein and fat intake to lose bodyweight and bodyfat the healthy way.
It's never too late to get in shape or improve your body's strength and condition. Quality of life is affected by the amount of muscle mass lost due to physical inactivity. It's never too late to build a healthier mind, body and spirit. Your body is your vessel in life--if you treat it well, it will treat you well. Any exercise, no matter the intensity level, is better than no exercise. More importantly, exercise just makes you feel good! That old adage "use it or lose it" is quite true. Exercising regularly, eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep is essential to living a fit lifestyle.
The benefits of exercise include burning body fat, boosting metabolic rate, suppressing appetite, controlling sugar cravings, lessening depression, reducing chronic fatigue and increasing energy. Not one dietary supplement can promise all of the benefits of exercise. Acquire more energy and lessen your reliance on costly medications by engaging in daily exercise.
If you are one of the 30 percent people who believes that you should skip eating breakfast because you don't have time and that you can lose body weight, you are sorely mistaken. There's a reason why that old saying that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is true. The word breakfast, when understood in literal terminology, means breaking a fast. Having not eaten while sleeping for at least six hours inevitably causes blood sugar levels to drop and the metabolic rate to decrease.
Here's a nice statistic according to a Harvard University study: people who eat breakfast are nearly 50 percent less likely to be obese than those who don't eat breakfast. In other words, you're risk of becoming obese increases when not eating breakfast!
Here are other reasons why eating breakfast is so important:
If you don't eat breakfast because you don't feel hungry in the morning, stop eating after 8pm. By eating less food later in the day, you will eventually feel more hungry in the mornings.
Intermittent fasting (IF) involves alternating periods of fasting (e.g., 16 to 20 hours) and non-fasting (e.g., 4 to 8 hours). IF seems to be a fad lately within the fat loss and fitness industry. Since intermittent fasters eat less frequently (e.g., 2 to 3 meals daily), they must eat a lot of food per meal in order to get an adequate caloric intake (can you say gluttony?!). Eating so much food within a relatively short period of time inevitably makes the body work harder to digest the food.
Here are some of the PROS of IF:
Here are some of the CONS of IF:
My recommendation: "Listen" to the hormonal signals provided by your body which indicate hunger and eat. There are easier ways to lose body weight without causing dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Gradually reduce your caloric consumption while stepping up your physical activity. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will lessen disease risk, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce hypertension without resorting to a trendy diet like intermittent fasting.
Having an elevated metabolic rate makes it very difficult for some people to gain weight in their lives. You can accept your fate for the rest of your life by blaming your parents for being thin (thanks to genetic inheritance) or you can make some lifestyle changes now in order to gain weight. How?
In order to gain body weight you need to eat at least 400 extra kcals daily to gain one pound of lean body weight (muscle) per week. Too easy, right? Wrong. Our bodies are designed with a thermoregulatory mechanism in order to maintain homeostasis. This means that your body "knows" how much energy (read: kcals) it needs daily (plus or minus 400 kcals) in order to feel comfortable. Thus, in order to gain weight, you will need to make a conscious effort to eat not only more food but food which is calorically dense.
The best way to gain quality body weight without gaining fat is to eat less saturated-fattening foods and instead eat higher-caloric versions of healthy foods such as dense cereals like oatmeal (rather than flake cereals), starchy vegetables like corn, peas, potatoes (rather than watery vegetables such as lettuce), tuna in oil (rather than in water), whole milk (rather than low-fat milk), nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel). Eat a larger portion size of these foods per sitting and eat these foods consistently (i.e., every 3 to 4 hours). Also, to ensure the weight gained is mostly lean body weight (muscle) and not fat, be sure to perform strength training. This last point is essential as eating more food without exercising will inevitably cause fat weight gain rather than muscle weight gain.
Your body is constantly regulated by its hormone levels which in turn are governed primarily by bodyfat. Generally, the more bodyfat you have on your body the lower your testosterone levels. In turn, as testosterone levels decrease bodyfat tends to increase. Yes, it's a vicious cycle but one that can be broken by choosing healthier foods to eat, hydrating yourself often, and exercising regularly.
Your nutrition needs to be disciplined and consist of less sugary, processed foods (i.e., canned foods). Since your body has its own metabolic thermostat and "knows" how much energy it needs to be comfortable, tracking your caloric intake is not necessary. You should instinctively know whenever you've had enough to eat. Make an effort to eat at least six small meals daily and spread them out over the course of your day (i.e., every 2-3 hours). A simple rule to remember regarding your fluid intake (mostly water) is to take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 0.5 to get the recommended fluid intake in ounces. Drinking adequate water is crucial as this aids in detoxifying your body and helps to speed up your metabolism. Adequate hydration also helps to reduce your fat percentage in your body, aids digestion, and enhances the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Also, eat more fiber (i.e., fruits and vegetables) as most Americans are deficient in their fiber intake. By increasing your fiber intake you will reduce your blood cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. In addition, there are anti-inflammatory properties attributed to fiber intake which may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. The recommendation is to eat at least 14g of fiber per every 1000 kcals consumed.
Exercise should consist of both weight training and cardio. Go with the particular exercises you enjoy (e.g., squats, deadlifts, stairstepper, etc.) in order to encourage compliance. Remember, exercise should become your way of life and your lifestyle choice rather than a chore to accomplish. If you don't find hitting the treadmill or exercise bike all that appealing or boring, consider joining an exercise class. There are dance classes, bootcamp classes, swimming, yoga, Zumba, etc. which can be quite fun! The point is to get your body moving and keep it moving daily. To keep you motivated, have a full-length mirror available to assess your progress in whittling down your waist. Measure your waist monthly to assess your progress. Seeing the number decrease provides its own motivating impact.
Is HIIT training just a new fad that's overly hyped by the media with little substantiation for its effectiveness as a means to lose bodyweight?
More and more research lends credence that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to lose body weight or bodyfat. No longer is the standard protocol of performing low-intensity (e.g., 50 to 65% HRR) cardio exercise recommended as the only way nor the best way to burn bodyfat or lose body weight. Low-intensity cardio is good and can be effective, provided you exercise for relatively long-duration periods (e.g., 45 minutes per session). Nowadays, who has the time for that! Enter HIIT training.
HIIT should not be confused with interval training. The distinction is that HIIT involves extremely-high intensity levels (e.g., 85 to 100% HRR) for very short periods (e.g., 10 to 30 seconds) coupled with low-moderate intensity levels (e.g., 50-65% HRR) whereas interval training usually involves moderately-high intense levels (e.g., 65 to 85% HRR) for relatively longer durations (e.g., 30 seconds to 3 minutes) coupled with low-moderate intensity levels (e.g., 50-65% HRR).
Here are the benefits to performing HIIT:
HIIT training should be performed infrequently due to its high-intensity characteristic. Infrequently means no more than two to three times per week. Performing HIIT any more than three times per week increases the risk of overtraining of which symptoms may include muscle catabolism (read: muscle burning). Generally, HIIT training is a relatively advanced technique due to its high-intensity range and increased risk of injury. When you do HIIT, be sure to do it sparingly. You can perform HIIT while running, cycling, swimming, or stair climbing.
No matter which cardio training you choose to do, the bottom line is that you should burn several hundred calories per session. The best part is that even after you're done exercising, the "afterburner" effect will occur. That is, your metabolic rate will be stimulated to continue to burn much more calories than a sedentary person while resting. How great is that?!! So don't neglect your cardio!
Skipping meals (i.e., not eating every three hours) is the worst thing you can do to your body if you're trying to lose body weight or just to get into better shape. This is because you are essentially starving your body (esp. your muscles) of the necessary sugars, vitamins and minerals it needs to fuel an active lifestyle. The body needs to be fed regularly in order to be in an anabolic (e.g., muscle growth) state. Failure to eat small frequent meals encourages the body to go into a catabolic (e.g., muscle breakdown) state when the body begins to store any macronutrients (e.g., carbs, protein) as fat.
Here are the consequences of not eating often:
If you usually feel an urge to eat late at night then chances are you skip breakfast due to lack of hunger in the mornings. Your body "knows" how much and when it needs energy (read: calories) in order to exist. If you don't eat a substantial meal (e.g., eggs, oatmeal, blueberries, orange juice, etc.) after waking up from a restful slumber in the morning, then your body will crave more calories later in the day. Of course this topic directly relates to your metabolism and more specifically, your metabolic rate: the amount of calories your body needs daily to function properly (i.e., digestion, organ functions, respiration, etc.). Your metabolic rate is governed by the functioning of your thyroid gland as it releases hormones.
Habitually eating more food later in the day and especially late at night (there's actually a term for this known as "late night eating syndrome" which is essentially binge eating at night) will almost certainly derail your effort in losing bodyweight/bodyfat. Why? Because during the evenings the body temperature begins to decrease, metabolism begins to slow, and the body begins to prepare itself for sleep (think hibernation mode). You're not likely to be as active later in the day and therefore your body burns less calories as a result. But you're eating more heavier food (e.g., pizza, steak, potatoes, ice cream) than your body can digest before you go to sleep. Gee, I wonder what the consequences are if you continue this lifestyle habit for the long-term. Let's do the math: you eat more food but your body burns less calories later in the day. What do you think will occur? More caloric intake combined with less caloric expenditure equals a net energy surplus (translation: increased bodyweight/bodyfat gain).
So what's the solution to avoiding the undesirable scenerio above? You guessed it: EAT BREAKFAST!!! Better yet, eat a BIG breakfast! By eating more earlier in the day, you will feel less hungry later in the day. Your goal should be to eat more food before noon than you would eat after noon. Eat less as the day goes on and eat light before going to bed (e.g., cottage cheese, yogurt, blueberries, raisins, milk, protein shake, handful of nuts or seeds). Be sure to eat at least six to eight meals daily (every three to four hours). Drink cold water periodically throughout the day. Both, eating more often and drinking water will rev up your metabolism and fight food cravings. Green tea with or without caffeine will also speed up your metabolism. Incidently, avoid caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea, OTC prescription drugs like pain relievers or cold medicines) and reduce alcohol consumption within six hours of bedtime--the caffeine may be responsible for your insomnia if you're not able to get to sleep within twenty minutes after your head hits the pillow and the alcohol is usually responsible for less restful sleep. If this is a radical idea for you, then I strongly recommend you begin by making only slight changes in your eating cycle. Begin by eating some fruit (e.g., blueberries, grapefruit, raisins) and some orange juice with maybe an egg or two. Then gradually increase the amount eaten for breakfast each week. You'll need to wean yourself into eating BIG in the morning by making a
Metabolism is the total of all the chemical and physical processes by which the body builds and maintains itself and by which it breaks down its substances for the production of energy. About 70% of the calories your body burns is used for basic vital processes (e.g., breathing, digestion, muscle anabolism, fat storage, and blood circulation). The remaining 30% may be attributed to physical activity (e.g., walking, cycling, weight training, etc.). Metabolism involves two distinct processes: anabolic reactions, which involve the building of cellular structures and energy storage; and catabolic reactions, which involve the breakdown of molecules for energy.
Metabolic rate, not to be confused with metabolism, is the rate at which your body burns calories or the speed of your metabolism. Both metabolism and metabolic rate are affected by many factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, and hormonal levels. The thyroid gland produces hormones which regulate how fast or how slow your body burns calories and for such things as when your body uses energy to build muscle tissue from protein or stores energy as fat.
The most obvious modifiable factor for affecting your metabolic rate is lifestyle (e.g., physical activity and diet). Exercise, including weight training and cardio, will elevate the body's basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is essentially a baseline metabolic level, even during rest. Weight training, in particular, elevates one's metabolic rate because it increases muscle mass and muscle is a very metabolically-active tissue within the body. As the body ages, muscle mass slowly decreases and as a result, so does metabolic rate. A double whammy is the gain in bodyfat along with the loss of muscle mass, compounding the problem. Interval training (e.g., high-intensity interval training known as HIIT) is a very effective technique used to stimulate positive changes in one's BMR.
Nutrition also plays a part in terms of affecting metabolic rate. Not eating enough food (less than 1200 kcals daily) slows down metabolic rate because the body "thinks" it's starving. Going too long between meals (e.g., more than three hours) will slow down metabolic rate. On the other hand, a relatively high-protein diet will boost metabolic rate because protein is a macronutrient which the body must work harder and therefore expend more calories to digest. Caffeine and some spicy foods (e.g., hot peppers) can boost metabolic rate due to their stimulant qualities.