New year, new you, right? This is typically the time of year when we make promises to ourselves about getting in shape, or finally losing that extra 10 pounds. We sign up for gym memberships, start eating salads and restrict our calories only to throw in the towel by February when we don’t see the results we want, starting the cycle over again next year. Sound familiar? The good news is you are not alone and the really good news is a few key changes to your approach may make all the difference.
5 Keys to achieving a healthy body weight
These keys for losing fat and achieving a healthy body weight are simple yet often overlooked. Maximize your efforts in these 5 areas daily in combination with some form of exercise for optimal results.
1. Eat More Fat!
Yes, you read that right. Dietary fat is critical for maintaining good health. A group of healthy fats called essential fatty acids must be obtained through our diet as they cannot be produced by our body. It is these essential fatty acids that are responsible for everything from improving our mood and brain function to maintaining energy, and improving immunity. Contrary to popular belief, consuming fats will not lead to you gaining body fat, and can actually improve your body composition, as long as it is not coming from processed foods. Eating healthy fats will also leave you feeling more satiated. Moral of the story, reach for more fats daily. Good sources include avocado, walnuts, flax seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.
2. Start your morning with protein
For years breakfast has become synonymous with cereal, muffins, and toast. All of which are high carb options causing large spikes in our blood sugar and leading to mid - morning energy crashes and cravings. Including protein in your morning routine will help you sustain your energy throughout the day, leaving you feeling full for longer and reducing cravings. Add a healthy fat for even greater results. Eggs or a protein smoothie are great options.
3. Eat Real Whole Foods
The most common misconception when it comes to shedding the extra fat is that we need to restrict our calories. Sure, there is a time and place for reducing calories but not all calories are created equal, and consistent calorie restriction can actually make it difficult to lose body fat and it’s a quick way to lose your muscle. Rather than focusing on calories, focus on micronutrients and eating from a colourful and diverse whole foods menu. Nature is smart, the chances of you overeating avocados and yams is slim. It’s the empty calories from man -made processed foods and snacks that leave us feeling hungry and cause us to overeat and gain weight. So grab some real food and eat up!
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
You have heard it many times before that you need to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and there is good reason for it. We are made up of over 65% water and water is important for many functions in our body including digestion and nutrient absorption. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration which causes fatigue and hunger, leading us to eat more, and reach for the sugar. Aim for 2-3 litres of water daily, and next time you are feeling like you need a snack, chug back a glass of water and wait a couple minutes to see if you are truly hungry or just dehydrated. Add a slice of lemon to your water for an extra energy boost. It will give you a good dose of important electrolytes and keep your skin looking fresh.
5. Manage your stress.
The stress hormone cortisol is vital for life. It keeps us awake and motivated, but when it gets too high over long periods of time it leads to among other things, fat storage and muscle loss. Stress is a part of our lives and getting rid of it is not going to happen anytime soon. We can however do our best to manage it and keep cortisol levels in check. This can look like a journalling or mindfulness practice, getting out in nature, or deep breathing exercises when you feel yourself getting really stressed. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep and exercising regularly are also key to maintaining healthy cortisol levels.