When you begin a weight loss programme, you are looking to see results. If you don’t get results or you reach a plateau far from your goal weight it can be very frustrating. If you are struggling to lose weight and drop those unwanted pounds of fat it may be because you are victim to one or more of these weight loss sins!
We live in a fast-paced world where sleep seems to be becoming more of an inconvenience and less of a health necessity. Sleep deprivation is terrible for you in many ways, but one of the issues it causes is weight gain. With a new study showing that ~28% of adults get 6 hours or less sleep each night, it seemed only a matter of time before sleep and diet were found to be linked.#
When we feel tired, we reach for our morning coffee/tea in a bid to make ourselves feel more alert. We may even reach for a high sugar snack on the morning commute to boost our energy levels. The problem with this is that by the end of the day we are on a caffeine and sugar low, with no energy to do any exercise. The rapid highs and lows of blood sugar will also make it more difficult to sleep so the cycle continues relentlessly unless we make a conscious effort to stop it.
Sleep loss is shown to affect the secretion of cortisol (stress hormone). Stress is associated with ‘comfort eating’ which goes some way to explain the weight gain of sleep deprived subjects. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that sleep deprived subjects consumed 549 calories (on average) more per day than those who slept as much as they wanted.
Sleep loss may also interfere with the body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates which increases carbohydrate stores in the body. An increase in carbohydrate storage will be accompanied by an increase in water retention leading to weight gain.
Studies on this matter indicate that sleep restriction results in decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased levels of cortisol (particularly in the evening), decreased levels of leptin and increased appetite. The evidence points toward sleep deprivation being linked with obesity and diabetes.
Low Water Intake
We all know how important drinking water is. Not consuming enough water leads to dehydration, chemical imbalances, digestive disruption, aging badly..the list goes on. Yet the majority of the population still fail to hydrate themselves properly. If you want to lose weight, drinking enough water is vital. You may be restricting yourself thinking that by drinking water you will look bigger, but this just isn’t true.
Drinking a glass or two of water prior to your meals can help aid weight loss. It is believed that those who drink water before a meal will eat smaller portions of food. Findings published by the American Dietetic Association (2008) stated that dieters who drank water prior to meals lost 44% more weight than those on the same diet but with no instructions regarding water intake.
Water consumption may also spark the body to produce more heat, boost metabolism and burn more calories in the process. The best thing about drinking water though, is that you are less likely to reach for caffeinated or sugar-filled drinks. These drinks are crammed with calories and add to your daily total when you probably have not accounted for them.
It is also possible that you confuse thirst as hunger. When you feel the urge to snack, try drinking a glass of water instead. Wait for 15-20 minutes and see how you feel then. You will be able to better gage what you really want.
If you are exercising regularly to lose weight (hopefully you are) then you will need to keep yourself hydrated. The loss of electrolytes through sweat can be damaging if not replaced. Try dropping a High 5 Zero tablet into your water. It will be a nice change from plain water and one tablet is only 12 calories per serving!
Avoiding Resistance Training
One of the biggest mistakes people trying to lose weight make (I’m speaking particularly towards the ladies here), is that they spend hours on a treadmill in a bid to lose fat but refuse to pick up a weight for fear it may ‘bulk them out’. Engaging your muscles through resistance training is one of the best things you can do to burn fat. The more lean body mass you have, the more energy it requires. Muscle burns approximately triple the amount of calories that fat burns at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. Obviously you need to accompany resistance training with cardiovascular training in order to achieve optimum health, but resistance training will give you the tone and body shape you desire.
Don’t be scared to pick up the weights! You may not see the difference to start with, but once you strip the layers of fat away, the muscles you trained hard to get will be waiting to show off ;).
In other words, you don’t stock up your fridge/ you don’t buy healthy snacks during your weekly shop. This means that you run out of food and have no time to shop so you order in takeaway or you go out to work, have no healthy snacks to take with you and end up buying on-the-go junk food. Always be prepared, that way you will never get caught out when hunger strikes.
If you do eat something that you know you shouldn’t have, don’t throw in the towel and eat as much junk food as possible on that day. You will lose track of the calories you have consumed and it will lead to weight gain. Instead accept that you had a slip up (everybody does) and move on from it by eating healthy food for the rest of the day.
Patel SR, Hu FB, Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review, Obesity Research Journal, 2008, 16(3):643-53.
Spiegel K, Leproult R, L’Hermite B, Copinschi G, Penev PD, Cauter EV, Leptin Levels are Dependent on Sleep Duration: Relationships with Sympathovagal Balance, Carbohydrate Regulation, Cortisol & Thyrotropin, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2004, 89(11): 5762.