Today, doctors are calling obesity our number one health concern in the United States. Today, about 30% of the adult population in this country is considered obese. In addition, 16% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight. Though it has gained a tremendous amount of attention in the past few years, the problem is still on the rise.
One of this country’s national health objectives is to reduce the incidence of obesity to less than 15% of the adult population by the year 2010. And, while there is a lot of talk about the problem, many people don’t seem to truly understand the steps they need to take to get their weight under control.
Most of us understand that in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. However, many people attempt to reach this goal by seriously restricting their calorie intake. This type of dieting generally fails for two reasons.
First of all, when you begin to significantly reduce the number of calories you consume, your body goes into starvation mode. When in starvation mode, your body works very hard to hold onto the fat that you have, decreasing the number of calories you’re burning. This means that your body is adjusting itself to the reduced number of calories you’re consuming.
Secondly, starvation diets are not realistic. We simply cannot live on such restrictive plans for any significant length of time. So, we begin to feel deprived, and before you know it, we’ve given up on dieting.
Doctors believe that just after a starvation diet, our bodies will quickly accumulate fat when we begin to eat again, as though trying to make up for the famine it just endured. So, often, just a few weeks after ending a diet, we find that we’re fatter than before. We feel defeated and as though losing weight is simply not possible.
However, losing weight is possible if you approach the situation correctly. There are two important pieces to the weight loss puzzle. The first is adjusting your diet.
Adjusting your diet doesn’t mean eating so little that you’re hungry nearly all the time. Adjusting your diet for permanent weight loss means replacing your high fat, high calorie foods with those that are healthier and contain fewer calories. By eating the right foods, you can easily eat enough to feel satisfied, but still lose weight. Avoiding hunger will help you stick to your diet long enough to see serious results.
Take a look at the way you’re eating. Get rid of the hydrogenated fats like butter and replace them with healthy ones like olive oil. Eat mostly chicken and fish – making red meats an occasional meal rather than a regular one. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and make your breads and cereals only from whole grains. Avoid processed foods. If you can make these substitutions, you should lose weight automatically.
The second part of the weight loss equation is speeding up your metabolism. You can make a significant difference in the number of calories you burn each day, making weight loss and weight maintenance far easier.
The fastest and easiest way to speed up your metabolism is to exercise. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Walking is a great exercise that anyone can do. In addition, try to make your life more active in general. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk wherever you can.
Be sure to get in some resistance training, as well. Muscle, even when resting, burns more calories than fat, so adding some additional muscle is extremely beneficial. You don’t need to aim to be a body builder; just 20 minutes of strength training 3 times a week is enough to build some additional muscle. Strength training will also help shape your body, making your weight loss results more noticeable.
It is also beneficial to use foods to your advantage when it comes to speeding up your metabolism. For example, eat those foods that require lots of energy to digest, like raw fruits and vegetables. Many raw vegetables actually require more calories to digest than they contain!
In addition, try adding some tea to your diet. Tea has been shown to speed up the metabolism and help oxidize fat. It may also have the ability to inhibit the absorption of dietary fat into the body.
One research study, conducted at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, looked at tea’s ability to increase thermogenesis, burning fat and speeding up the metabolism. Many studies have shown that caffeine helps speed weight loss, but tea seems to have more potential than other beverages with caffeine.
Tea’s catechins, a potent form of anti-oxidant, seem to work in conjunction with the caffeine in tea to burn fat and speed up metabolism. The study in the Netherlands came to this conclusion, along with concluding that other substances often used to speed metabolism, like caffeine with ephedra, simply are not safe enough to be recommended as a weight loss supplement.
For those prone to being overweight, keeping the scale in check is a lifelong project. But, armed with the right tools, including a sensible diet, regular exercise and helpers like tea, maintaining a normal weight for the long term is entirely possible.