I was the chubby girl at school, and was given the title of “the biggest bones” in my class. It wasn’t an easy time for me. The more nasty the name calling, the more depressed I became. I avoided physical activities, and ate more for comfort.
Thankfully, my siblings and friends were committed to helping me lose weight, and supported me through a strict schedule of exercise and healthy eating. I lost 8kg over 4 months by swimming 5 times a week, cutting down on food with high sugar content, including my favourite ice cream, and intermittent fasting.
Today, no one would believe I was once overweight, until I present them with my primary school images. The good news is, over 15 years later, I have maintained by ideal weight.
What follows are the three important tips that helped me in my weight loss journey.
1. Mindful Eating
“You are what you eat”. We have heard this so many times that we don’t really appreciate how essential this simple statement is to our health, and weight. Fad diets come and go, and although they may work for some of us, they have one thing in common - most are unsustainable, and many people end up putting back the weight, often more than before commencing their diet.
Keeping the following eating principles in mind will help you make better dietary choices, and in turn, keep the weight off.
Monitor your caloric intake
You gain weight when the calories you consume exceed the calories you burn. To lose 0.45kg, you need to burn 7,778 calories. It is equals to 14 hours jogging.
Replacing fat (9 calories/gram) with protein (4 calories/gram), will help reduce your caloric intake. Protein helps build muscle, and to boosts your metabolism, resulting in higher calorie burn. Food cravings are also reduced.
Choosing nutrient dense foods keeps you full for longer and helps curb your appetite. For example, oats and french fries contribute almost the same amount of calories, at 389 and 312 per 100g, but being richer in nutrients, oats keeps you full and satisfied for longer than fries, which offer little nutrients.
Choose your carbs wisely
Although carbs is a dirty word for dieters, not all carbs are bad. It is true, excess carbs convert to fat. This is more true of simple carbohydrates, such as white sugar, white bread, and soft drinks.
Whole wheat bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes, are examples of complex carbs, which take longer for your body to break down, and less likely to contribute to weight gain.
Consuming more complex carbs not only helps achieve and maintain weight loss, it also supplies you with valuable nutrients, and fibre - essential for a healthy gut, while keeping you full for longer
Listen to your body
Fad diets don’t work in the long term, mainly because they are not sustainable, due to limited food options or being high maintenance. Another important factor is that we are all different, and have different nutrient needs.
Some of us respond better to a low carb, high protein diet, whereas others may see more benefits consuming a plant based diet. Start to listen to your body - yes, it does talk to you - headaches and bloating may suggest irritation and inflammation, while more energy and alertness may signal a well rested and fed body. Find out which foods help you maintain a healthy weight, and cut out those that don’t.
2. Build your muscles
We all know that exercise is essential to weight loss, as it burns calories. It has been well established that exercising >150 minutes per week can prevent weight gain, while exercising >250 minutes per week can result in significant weight loss, due to better blood circulation and improved metabolism. Simple aerobic exercise, such as an hour of cycling, brisk walking, or dancing can burn up to 400 calories.
Did you know that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you are able to burn, even at rest? Dedicating some of your fitness plan to building muscle will help enhance your weight loss efforts.
3. Don’t scrimp on sleep
This one may surprise you, but the amount of sleep you get, plays an important role in keeping your weight down.
Sleep deprivation reduces your metabolism, and affects your hunger hormones: ghrelin and leptin, leading to increased appetite and weight gain.
Meanwhile, weight gain induces sleep apnea which worsening our sleep quality. In order to avoid this vicious circle, avoid heavy dinners, and caffeine close to bedtime (especially if you are sensitive to caffeine).
Ensure that your room is as dark as possible - this will trigger the release of melatonin, a hormone naturally produced by your body, which helps bring on sleep.
Pharmacist and formulator. Passionate about making a difference in healthcare and personal wellness through nutrition.