For many of us the enforced time spent at home in response to attempts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak has not only meant more time spent with family but also with the fridge. And our kitchens in general. Combine ease of access with stress and uncertainty and the fact that many people are already complaining about the ‘Quarantine 15’ and gaining weight should come as no surprise.
Even when there isn’t a pandemic, every few months often brings a renewed commitment to lose weight. And in order to do so many people turn to the fad diets that you hear about so often in the media. The juice cleanses (live only on juices for a week) the single food diets (grapefruit diet, cabbage diet) and the diets that call for extreme calorie restriction or an entire food group to be removed from your everyday diet (Atkins)
Some of these diets will produce some short term weight loss that can be exciting, but it is rarely ever weight loss that lasts. Worse still many fad diets are not actually healthy for you and there is little use in being thinner if you also feel ill and completely lacking in energy.
In order to succeed in losing weight the healthy way you need to take a more controlled and conservative approach to the process. Here are some tips to get you started on a path to weight loss that will not work overnight or even in a week or two but will hopefully result in healthy weight loss that lasts:
Follow the Basic Formula
The key to weight loss is really a very simple formula. A decrease in the number of calories you consume together with an increase in the number of calories you burn will eventually result in healthy weight loss. It sounds very simple and that is because it is!
Starvation is Not the Key
If you suddenly drop your calorie intake significantly your body goes into crisis mode. “Fearing’ that it is about to be deprived of the energy it needs to keep itself healthy the body will begin to break down components in order to prevent that. But it will not break down fat, that is for survival.
Instead, it will attack and break down muscle fibers first. To avoid this calorie reduction should be slow and steady. A reduction of 300 to 500 calories a day, combined with increased activity and exercise, is often enough to start losing weight the healthy way.
Easy Ways to Cut Calories
The hardest part about losing weight for many people is dealing with the feeling of being deprived of the foods they love. Those on a no carbs diet for example often start dreaming about bread, even if they never though too much about it before simply because they have now taken it off the menu in order to follow the diet plan.
There are a number of ways that you can cut those 300 to 500 calories day that will not result in these feelings of deprivation (which often lead to overeating the forbidden foods in the end.) These include:
- Opt for low fat or skim milk instead of full fat milk in your coffee or tea and on cereal.
- Try to cut back on soda and opt for a diet version if you must drink it all. Replacing soda with water is a much healthier choice though.
- Change the way you snack. Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar for an afternoon snack op for a juicy apple or a handful of cherries instead.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Your Grandmother was right, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast will have you starting off your day hungry which will lead to overeating later on in many cases.
Devise an Exercise Plan You Can Stick To
Calorie reduction by itself is rarely enough to produce healthy weight loss, you need to burn more calories through exercise and physical activity as well. There is not one form of exercise that is really better than any other, at least in terms of losing weight, if you can stick to it.
A commitment to walk around the park for 30 minutes is probably easier to stick with in a busy life than one to get to the gym for an hour a day – an impossibility if it’s still closed anyway – and if you manage to stick to a commitment to do that once a day then it will be effective.