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Lose Weight For Free: Five Habits Of Healthy People
ScaleWars Jan 26, 2015 7:01 pm
People evidently find it very tempting to spend money on products that promise to make them thinner or healthier, or preferably both.
Canadians spend prodigiously on superfoods and cookbooks devoted entirely to kale and, if the television ads are to be believed, people are happy to open their wallets to buy weight loss capsules filled with dietary fibre. (Twenty million bottles sold!)
Sadly, there isn't much evidence to suggest that you can buy your way thinner or healthier, but there are some things that people who maintain a healthy weight do that not everyone does, if you get my drift. That is not to say that any of these things cause you to be healthier maybe being thin makes you more likely to walk to work rather than the reverse so let's say these are habits of healthy people. The best thing about these habits is they cost next to nothing to practice.
Keep a food journal
Keep track of everything you eat throughout the day. You don't have to try to cut back or give yourself any goals, just write down everything. If you are the tech-savvy type, there are several smartphone apps such as eaTracker that will allow you to record everything, according to Vashti Verbowski, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Dietitians of Canada.
Just being aware of what you are eating has been associated with weight loss or at least weight maintenance, she said.
By writing down every food choice you make, you will soon begin to see patterns not just in what you choose but when you choose it. And simply knowing that you will have to write down what you eat usually results in making more positive choices. Research shows that tracking your food intake increases consumption of fruit, vegetables and fibre and leads to weight loss.
A number of studies have found that people who take the aforementioned fibre-based capsules with a large glass of water before meals do lose a modest amount of weight. There is also good evidence that just drinking the water (about two cups) before meals also promotes modest weight loss over the two- to three-month course of the studies. Proper hydration with water will certainly make you less likely to reach for soft drinks or juice, said Verbowski.
American researchers found that drinking two glasses of water right before eating reduces calorie intake by up to 90 calories per meal. A recent German study suggested that drinking water increases the rate at which calories are burned, though it's not completely clear whether it promotes carbohydrate breakdown, fat burning or increases energy use to heat those extra fluids up to body temperature. But who cares? Water costs nothing.
Walk or bike to work
People who live in the world's Blue Zones communities with the highest proportion of centenarians all tend to move under their own power, either walking or cycling almost everywhere. They aren't spending hours in the gym or training for triathlons, but neither are they riding escalators. And that is as true in Okinawa as it is in the Sardinian highlands.
A review of studies on the health benefits of physical activity found that the heavier you are, the more you benefit from walking. Two hours a week produced a very modest benefit and four hours a week just over 30 minutes a day produced the greatest likelihood of weight loss.
When you build that walking time into your commute rather than trying to incorporate activity somewhere else in your schedule you are far more likely to stick with the program. Get off transit early or park a few blocks away from the office, suggested Sinead Feeney, a registered dietitian at St. Paul's Hospital.
Measure your portions
As with the food diary, you don't really have to set any goals here. It's more about awareness. Just measure how much cereal you are putting in your bowl or how much mashed potatoes you put on your plate. When you eat packaged foods check to see what amount is listed as one portion on the nutrition facts label. You may well be serving yourself two or three portions when you free-pour cereal or snacks and that means two to three times the calories, sugar and salt, said Verbowski.
Another simple way to adjust your portions at dinner time is to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit before adding a quarter plate of starchy foods and meat or other protein. Research also shows that using a smaller plate for meals and small bowls to serve nuts and other healthy but high-calorie snacks will help you see your portions as more generous. People who use larger plates tend to serve themselves larger portions and they believe that they have eaten less.
Plan your meals for the week
Before you go to the grocery store, plan your meals, look up recipes and make a shopping list, Feeney recommended. This will ensure that what you buy will be useful for making nutritious meals, rather than arriving home with lazy, high-calorie foods. The solution to being too busy to cook every night is to plan ahead. Prepare two meals on Sunday night to provide workday lunches and relieve the pressure on your busiest weeknight, reducing the temptation to grab whatever.
Pack leftovers and healthy snacks to take to work while you are clearing up the dinner dishes in order to avoid ending up in the food court the next day. Every meal at your desk is about $10 that you didn't spend on fast food, and you avoid the temptation of high-calorie items, soft drinks and hefty franchise restaurant portions.