So you’ve decided to embark on a healthy eating plan. It starts off quite well, you lose a few pounds and then suddenly you find it’s not working.
Why is it that your diet and exercise plans never seem to work? Possibly because you’re unwittingly undoing all your best efforts.
The British Nutrition Foundation identified more than 100 factors that influence our weight. Many of the tips they offered were fairly obvious, such as eating smaller portions or not eating ready-made meals. Here’s a few habits that might actually surprise you…
What’s that in your shopping cart?
Cereal. A U.S. study found breakfast cereal sweetened with sugar left overweight participants hungry before lunchtime and they consumed more calories a day than those given an egg as the protein kept them full. Egg eaters also had significantly lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.
White bread. Too many refined carbs such as white bread and white rice can lead to weight gain, particularly around the midriff, according to researchers at Tufts University in Boston. Two groups ate roughly the same number of calories each day, but those who ate mostly refined carbs added a half inch on their waist per year compared with those eating unrefined ‘whole’ foods such as vegetables and wholegrain bread.
Fruit juice. Fruit juices and other sugary drinks have a stronger impact on weight than calories from solid food. Cutting out just one sugary drink a day resulted in a weight loss of more than one pound after six months.
Is working out, not working out?
Exercising at a steady pace. Short sharp bursts are just as effective and less time consuming and you’re more likely to stick to it. Canadian researchers compared the effects of cycling at a moderate pace for 90-120 minutes with a workout of 20-30 seconds of gut-busting pedalling followed by four minutes rest and repeated four to six times. After two weeks, both groups had almost identical improvements in fitness despite the fact some had only worked out for six to nine minutes a week but others had put in five hours.
Eating after exercising. When women exercised hard they ate almost enough calories afterwards to make up for the ones they just burned, according to a U.S. study.
Indoor workouts. Most studies show that exercising in natural environments is associated with greater boosts to mood, decreased anxiety and an increased likelihood of sticking with the workouts.
Is life in general giving you more curves?
Overweight friends. If your friends gain weight, chances are you will too. Why? A Dutch study found that we tend to mimic each other’s behavior when we eat out, taking a bite at the same time.
Not chewing enough. The longer food remains in the mouth, the more chance the tongue has to send messages to the brain to release the necessary digestive juices. Chewing and digesting solid food fills you up.
Getting some shut-eye. A study published in the journal Sleep suggested too little encourages the genes that cause weight gain. Longer sleep (nine hours) suppresses the action of these ‘obesity’ genes.
Being stressed. Stress encourages the body to put on weight around you middle. This is because it triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol. Over time, raised cortisol levels cause belly fat to accumulate and also makes individual fat cells enlarge.
A large variety of foods. Fewer food choices and instilling culinary boredom could be the key to successful weight loss. Researchers reporting in the American Journal of clinical Nutrition found that when women were offered the same food over and over again, they tended to eat less overall.
It’s all your (body’s) fault.
You’re a woman. Using brain scans, U.S. researchers have found overweight men could suppress cravings or what they called ‘the conscious desire to eat’ more successfully than women. It’s thought hormone differences were involved.
You don’t have enough brown fat. Thin people are known to have higher amounts of beneficial brown fat than the overweight. Brown fat’s great appeal is that it burns calories faster, like a furnace. A recent study found that a form of brown fat is turned on when people get cold.
It’s your age. Basal metabolic rate, which accounts for about 50%-70% of your total energy expenditure is thought to decrease about 1%-2% per decade. After age 20, daily energy expenditure decreases about 150 calories per decade. The upshot is that you need to eat less as you get older.
You’re hardwired to yo-yo. Scientists now think that soon after people lost weight, their metabolism shows and they experience hormonal changes that increase their appetites again. These effects can be long term. People who have lost weight need to remain vigilant and understand that once they have lost weight the battle is not over.
Your parents made you fat. Whether you are fat or thin could be an inherited factor. A UK study showed only 4% of girls with normal weight mothers were obese compared with 41% with fat mothers. Research suggests a very strong link between mother and daughter and father and son obesity, but no link across gender divide.
All of us who have dieted know it’s not easy. If it were, we’d all be fit and healthy….
♥♥ Terri ♥♥
In memory of those who lost their lives 11 years ago…