Weight Loss Tips
In order to help you make sure that you get your New Year's weight loss and fitness resolutions off to a great start, I'm taking you through one important and powerful change per week. We're working off the hierarchy of fitness and fat loss.
Time and energy are limited resources, so some methods deliver way more results per minute invested than others. Most people do not have an unlimited time budget for exercise — for most of the professionals we work with, they only have two to four hours per week, but we've still got to get them good and fast results.
So, our first choice of exercise is resistance training (for the first two hours of their budget) because the time spent on that will have the highest return — bar nothing else. And our second choice of exercise (for the next two hours of their time budget for exercise) is high intensity interval training, because it yields an excellent return on time invested, but not quite as good as resistance training (an interval training program is much easier to lay out in a short article).
Activities like walking 30 minutes a day would be the last on the hierarchy because they yield the least results per unit of time invested. Walking four hours a week doesn't do anything in terms of fat loss. (It is relaxing, and nice, but it is not a fat-loss tool.)
Most people go in reverse of what makes sense — they start with walking, and when the results are not forthcoming, they get discouraged and quit. Be smart; start at the top. Do the activities that give you the best return on your time first, then and only then move down the list if you have more time.
Worst things first
If you're going to focus on something in your diet, start with the worst thing first. The biggest negative in most people's diets is sweets — they're literally addictive, and they make you hungry.
In 2007 French researchers gave rats the choice between intravenous cocaine and sweet water. They were shocked to discover that 94 percent of the rats chose sweet over cocaine. So, sweets might literally be more addictive than cocaine. You just want them regardless of if you're hungry or not.
Additionally, your body treats sugar (especially when you drink it) as "phantom calories." Table sugar is a two-part molecule — one part glucose, one part fructose. There is a hormone that your fat cells make called leptin. Leptin is supposed to go to your brain and tell it, "I've had enough." If everything is working correctly, food goes in, leptin goes up, brain/body is satisfied, and you stop eating.
However, it seems that your body does not register the calories you get from fructose. When fructose goes in, nothing happens to leptin — it's as if you didn't eat anything at all, and since you don't get the "stop" signal from your body, you keep eating and eating (or drinking and drinking).
What to do
Start with the easiest source of sugar to eliminate — the sugar you drink. Juice (yes, juice), soda, sugar in your coffee or tea, chocolate milk, and sweetened beverages.
Orange juice and oranges are not the same thing at all when it comes to nutrition. A glass of orange juice has as much sugar as a glass of Pepsi. It's not better because its "natural sugar." I'm not really sure what's so natural about taking 5-6 oranges and concentrating all of their sugar into something you can easily drink in a single setting. When was the last time you ate 6 oranges at a sitting? Juicing is processing many oranges to concentrate all of their fructose (the one that makes you hungry above) into an easy-to-consume single serving.
Cut the sweet drinks, and replace them with pretty much anything that is not sweetened. Green tea, black coffee, coffee with cream (real cream, not "creamer" which is made of high fructose corn syrup), seltzer water and water (especially with lime or lemon juice) is a great list to get you started.
If you really need to add a little bit of sweetness to your coffee (or whatever), try Truvia. It (and similar knock offs) seem to be the least bad non-calorie sweetener. But, do work on using progressively less and less — the sweeter your food or drink, the more sweet you'll want everything else to be.