This is an easy question with a simple answer: eat less food, drink more water, and get more sleep. Ice-cold water is highly recommended since the body needs to warm the cold water (thus enhancing the body's metabolic rate) prior to digestion throughout the day. The key part here is to drink more water.
If you drink more water, you will eat less food. It's that simple. How can this be? The more you drink (especially between meals and snacks), the more satiated you'll feel and therefore the less food you'll consume. The less food you eat, the less your caloric intake. As your caloric intake decreases, and all other things being considered (i.e., unchanged activity level), you will lose bodyweight. So how much water should you drink? You should drink at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. Thus, a person weighing 160 lbs should drink at least 80 oz or 10 cups of water daily. But the more water you drink the better! By the way, drinking your calories (e.g., soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, etc.) in place or in addition to food is a sure-fire way to gain weight rather than lose it. Liquid calories can surely add up throughout the day so lose the soda! You should also consider eating fibrous foods from grains (e.g., brown rice, whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereal), vegetables (e.g., broccoli, carrots, beans, sweet potatoes), and fruit (e.g., apples, berries, prunes). Eating foods high in fiber stabilizes blood sugar levels, reduces insulin resistance, reduces appetite, blocks fat absorption, and most importantly (in the context of this reading) reduces bodyweight.
Another easy way to lose bodyweight is to take hourly breaks when sitting and stand up, step away from the computer or desk, and walk about for a few minutes each hour. This act alone may trim your waistline and more importantly lessen your risk of metabolic diseases plaguing American society today (i.e., heart disease, obesity). According to a recent study in the European Heart Journal (Jan 2011), reducing sedentary behavior by taking small breaks and standing and/or walking can reduce stomach fat. The bottom line is any little bit of movement throughout your day adds up!
Another very important consideration is getting adequate sleep every night! What constitutes adequate sleep? Strive to get at least seven hours of restful pillow time each and every night. Studies have shown a correlation between decreased sleep and increased abdominal fat due to a greater caloric intake when awake. Yes, you read that right--less sleep equals more calories. When we sleep less, appetite increases as do cravings for high-calorie sugary and fattening foods (e.g., soda and fast food). This may be due to a disruption in the normal circadian rhythm of eating and sleeping that is ordinarily synchronized. This disruption may affect appetite hormone levels (e.g., ghrelin and leptin) which leads to increased hunger and food intake, decreased calorie burning, and increased fat storage. Human growth hormone (HGH) levels fluctuate throughout the night when you're asleep but the level increases particularly upon waking up after a good night's slumber. Increased HGH levels, along with testosterone, affect your metabolic rate. As these hormones increase, metabolism is stoked and the fat-burning process is accelerated. Thus, your body becomes more efficient at burning bodyfat when it gets optimum sleep. Optimum sleep for most people varies between seven to nine hours per night. If you're not able to get at least six quality hours of sleep during the night, try getting in a midday nap. Studies have indicated that a quick ten minute nap is enough to boost memory and increase concentration, focus, and alertness. Sweet dreams!eams!
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
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I'm a personal trainer who loves to help others fulfill their health and fitness goals. I consider myself a bodybuilder in that I live the lifestyle of eating healthy food, working out regularly, and sculpting my body.