Weight loss is always highly discussed and has often fallen back on old myths that involve pushing our bodies harder than feels right and following faddy diets that can leave us feeling hungry, miserable or simply don’t work long-term. New approaches that come from good science, are showing us ways that aren’t just more effective, they are also tastier, more enjoyable and allow us to treat ourselves kindly.
This thinking lead to the low fat and low calorie diet movements that correlated with the rise of obesity and lead to millions of unsatisfying diet foods. Our biochemistry is more sophisticated and our metabolisms conserve or spend energy according to what they perceive is needed. Sedentary habits slow them down as it seems we need less energy. Low calorie diets slow metabolism as our bodies think we must be in a famine and need to conserve energy for survival. Lowering stress levels, eating quality fats and protein and being in the cold all raise metabolism.
Simply ratching up the ‘calories burned’ on the treadmill will only wear you out. Exercise physiologists have identified this ‘no pain, no gain’ approach is not only exhausting and highly stressful for the body, it’s also the least beneficial way to work out. What matters is your caloric afterburn, the amount you burn after your workout and it’s determined by the amount of muscle tone in your body, maximised by strength training. A medium intensity workout can elevate your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) for longer and not raise the stress hormones that make you lay down stored fat.
Yes fat is high calorie, but we were designed to eat it for just this reason. In the wild, animals seek out foods that give most satisfaction for energy expended and as we evolved eating meat, for humans this means dense energy from animal sources. If you’re not getting enough fas in your diet (especially if vegetarian), you may find yourself craving sugar (which does make us lay down fat), especially in colder times when we more energy to keep warm. We can get the appetite satisfaction our brains crave to stop seeking sugar, snacks and mindless eating from meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut and olives.
As nuts have been accused of being both fatty and high calorie, you’ll see from previous statements that this is not the negative connotation it was once reputed to be. Nuts are a great food for the weight conscious; humans have been foraging them since way back and they are the perfect nutritional package to satisfy body and brain signals for food. Protein, starchy carbohydrates and omega oils, alongside B vitamins and minerals for energy production mean they can hold back sugar cravings and calm all seeking systems down. People with nuts in their diets have shown to put on less weight over the years.
Hard to shift fat around the middle is a result of sugar and stress. The desire to lose weight can have us panicking that if we don’t keep doing stuff to help it, the excess won’t shift. But our bodies are designed for periods of activity followed by periods of rest and if we don’t relax often and well enough to allow stress hormones to come down, high cortisol and high insulin levels will keep us in fat storage mode. Restorative yoga where we lie in passive positions on the floor, long enough for all body systems to slow down, has shown to have positive effects on weight loss. We need to keep moving and not be sedentary, but we also need to let go and release.
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