How do you go about losing weight? Most of us get the basic idea that we need to consume fewer calories than the body burns (called creating a calorific deficit), so we start cutting down on fatty foods and doing more exercise. But did you realise that with a few strategic lifestyle changes you can help your body help itself? Follow the six steps below, and watch that fat just melt away!
Step 1: Fight Fat with Fibre and Protein
The rate at which we burn calories each day is affected by our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). That is what people are referring to when they talk about having a slow or fast metabolism. What is less widely known is that we can affect our BMR by the foods that we eat.
All foods require energy to digest and assimilate, and this is known as its thermal effect (TE). Your body needs to work hard to digest fibre (which has zero calories and fills you up as well), causing an increase in your BMR. Vegetables, fruit and whole grains are good sources of fibre, but don’t go overboard: too much fibre can cause unpleasant bowel complaints.
In terms of food groups, protein has the greatest thermal effect, with 25 to 30 per cent of the energy it contains being used in digestion and assimilation. Lean meat is particularly useful for raising your BMR.
Step 2: Spice up your Diet
Adding certain spices such as cayenne pepper, horseradish and mustard to dishes raises the temperature of the body. As it works to restore equilibrium, your BMR is temporarily boosted. Once again, don’t go to extremes: too much spicy food can cause heartburn and other stomach complaints.
Step 3: Get your Vital Vitamins
There are fourteen vitamins that your body needs in order to work properly: (A,C,D,E,K,Bp,B1,B2,B3,B5,B6,B7,B9,B12). One of the effects of not taking in your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of these vitamins is a reduction in BMR, and alcohol can also deplete vitamin stores. Just make sure that you don’t overdose on vitamins. Some (e.g. Vitamin A), can be very dangerous in large quantities.
Step 4: Top up your Fluids
Becoming dehydrated will also slow down your basal metabolic rate, since your body needs water to carry out many of its activities. Although alcohol and caffeine increase your BMR, they also have a drying effect, so make sure that you top up with water throughout the day. Keeping a water bottle with you is a good habit to get into, as it will prompt you to refill often. Always remember to have a drink with you while exercising.
Step 5: Get Street Fit®
With the right fuel inside you, and a hydrated, vitamin-rich body to work with, it’s time to workout. Cardiovascular exercise, like high-intensity dance fitness will send your BMR soaring. Even better, the body’s recovery phase also requires plenty of work. As you’re sitting, watching TV the following day, the body will be in its EPOC (Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption) phase, most commonly referred to as ‘the afterburn effect’.
Step 6: Add Some Resistance
To really shift fat, your CV exercise should be complemented by an element of weight training (resistance training or toning). When you start weight training, you might find yourself getting heavier at first, since muscle weighs more than fat. However, muscle is an energy-burning machine, while fat is…well, fat. Once you’ve increased your muscle bulk, you can burn more calories per pound as your BMR soars by 15 per cent. To put that into context, if you used to burn 2000 calories a day, you will now burn 2,300!
Disclaimer: This blog post is for information only and does not constitute expert dietary advice. For expert advice, consult with your GP or trusted healthcare expert.