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Understanding the Basics of How to Lose Weight
We find some people who eat whatever they feel like and do not gain weight. On the other hand, there are people who gain weight no matter how little they eat. As a result, some are effortlessly thin while others struggle to keep the weight off.
Basically, our weight depends on the number of calories we consume – how many calories we store and how many we burn. But each of these is influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The interplay between all these factors begins at the moment of our conception and continues throughout our lives.
If we consume more energy (calories) than we expend, we gain weight. Excess calories are stored as fat throughout our body. Our body stores fat in specialized fat cells (adipose tissue), which are always present in the body, by enlarging them or creating more of them.
To lose weight, one must create a calorie deficit. A good weekly goal is to lose ½ to 2 pounds per week, or about 1% body fat every two weeks. To achieve this the number of calories one consumes should be approximately 250 to 1000 calories less than one’s daily calorie burn. We can do this by increasing daily activities with more daily steps or other non-exercise activities. Standing and walking burn at least 2-3 times more calories than sitting at the same time. A deficit of 250 to 1000 calories can be created by increasing exercise time or intensity and reducing food intake by approximately 200 to 300 calories per day.
Despite our sincere efforts to lose weight, we sometimes don’t succeed due to specific reasons that stand in our way without even realizing it.
Reasons for not losing weight –
• lack of sleep – Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. Experts hypothesize that sleep deprivation may affect the secretion of cortisol, one of the hormones that regulate appetite. When we are tired due to lack of sleep, we may skip exercise or move around less, which means burning fewer calories.
• chronic stress – Although few of us are aware of this fact, stress and weight gain go hand in hand. Chronic stress increases cortisol production, which not only increases appetite, but can also cause excess fat to accumulate around the abdomen. This causes cravings for food, which is high in sugar and fat. So-called comfort foods make us feel good. Additionally, we skip exercise because we feel too stressed to exercise.
• Overeating – Researchers have found that most of us underestimate how much we’re eating, especially when we eat out. The only way to know how much we are really eating is to carefully review our diet. We should space out our meals so that we are not hungry for too long. Or we may overeat at our next meal. We should try to eat smaller portions and eat more often.
• Exercise – Exercise is another crucial factor in weight loss along with our daily activity levels. If we’re not losing weight, we need to increase our exercise time and intensity to match our weight loss goals, or change our weight loss goals to match what we’re actually doing. In order to lose weight, we need to build lean muscle by doing some form of strength training along with our cardio. The more muscle our bodies have, the more fat we burn.
• Sitting habits – Any extended sitting at a desk, behind the wheel or in front of a screen is harmful. Along with exercise, we should try to be as active as possible. We should limit our screen time. Therefore, we should take a break from sitting every 30 minutes. If we sit for more than 8 hours, it could be another reason why we are having trouble losing weight.
• Weekend Indulgences – It’s good to have a few treats every now and then but mindlessly indulging in treats on the weekend can hurt our weight loss goals. The trick is to plan our indulgences so that we can have some fun while staying on track with our weight loss goals.
• Unrealistic goals – There are many factors that affect weight loss that cannot always be measured or calculated with the tools we have. Our bodies may still be undergoing changes that cannot be measured by a scale or tape measure. Experts agree that a realistic weight loss goal is to focus on losing 0.5 to 2 pounds per week. For more than that, it is not sustainable as we have to reduce our calories. Conversely, we can lose inches even if we don’t lose weight. If we are not getting the results we expected, it is important to find out if we are expecting something from our body, which it cannot deliver.
• Plateaus – Almost everyone reaches a weight loss plateau at some point. As our body adapts to our workouts, it becomes more efficient and therefore, does not expend as many calories to do it. Some common reasons for this include doing the same workouts every day, not consuming enough calories, and overtraining. We can avoid plateaus by trying something completely different at least once a week and changing our frequency, intensity, duration and type of exercise.
• Medical condition – This is important if we are doing everything right and after several months we do not see any changes in the scale or in our body. A health problem or some common medications can hinder our efforts in weight loss. One should consult a doctor to rule out such a possibility.
Bottom line –
There are endless diets, supplements and meal replacement plans to ensure the rapid weight loss we see in the media. But most of them lack scientific evidence. In fact, many gullible individuals fall prey to them and some even face their harmful side effects. However, a better understanding of the reasons that block our efforts will positively impact our weight loss program.
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