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Eating Unhealthy Foods Can Actually Make You Lose Weight

Eating Unhealthy Foods Can Actually Make You Lose Weight

What role do unhealthy foods play in weight loss?

Strictly speaking, eating junk food plays no role in weight loss. Pizza, hamburgers, candy and other unhealthy foods do not add much nutrition to your diet, and being high in calories they do little in themselves to regulate your weight. However, as anyone who has ever been on a diet knows, it’s almost impossible to stick to a perfectly healthy eating plan and strict exercise regimen all the time.

In fact, the moment you decide to abandon your old unhealthy favorites forever, you probably start craving them more often than ever before! Luckily, research suggests that the best way to stick with a diet in the long run and give yourself the best possible chance of losing weight is to intentionally cheat. Yes, planning to bail on your diet temporarily can help you shift the pounds.

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The power of cheat days

When you give yourself the gift of a cheat day, you can stare temptation in the face and not give in, knowing that you only have a few more days to wait until you can indulge. When you impose restrictions on your diet, you place yourself under enormous mental strain.

It is difficult to say ‘No’ to junk food, especially in our society where it is cheaper and more readily accessible than ever before. When you know that you have a cheat day coming up, you are less likely to feel sorry for yourself or have a ‘what the heck’ moment and give into your cravings.

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The science behind cheating on your diet

Researchers from Portugal put participants on a 10,500 calorie per week diet (by comparison, the average American man eats over 17,000 calories in an average week) and monitored their weight loss. Half of the participants were allocated a cheat day, being allowed to eat whatever they wanted every Sunday.

After two weeks, all participants had lost weight. Interestingly, there was no difference in average amount of weight lost between the two groups. Moreover, those who were allowed a cheat day every day felt more motivated to work towards future weight loss goals.

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Rita Coelho do Vale Ph.D., who lead the study, believes that the effort required to restrain yourself whilst on a diet can result in unplanned splurges. Intentionally setting yourself up for indulgences, however, can help you maintain an overall level of willpower.

In her words, ‘…when goal-deviation behaviors are planned, that is, part of the long-term plan they may actually help rather than hurt successful goal pursuit.’

How to make cheat days work for you

So how often should you include a cheat day in your diet? The research cited above suggests that taking one day off from your diet or weight-maintainence regimen could help you stick to your healthy habits on other days of the week.

When you take a cheat day, try not to go overboard! It’s fine to enjoy a couple of treats, but eating to the point of excess will only make you feel lethargic and sick. You don’t want to have to contend with a junk food hangover the next morning when it’s time to get up for your usual healthy breakfast.

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You could also consider incorporating extra exercise on your cheat days to burn off the extra calories, but take care not to go overboard in an attempt to get rid of every single calorie. Your aim should be to take a relaxed, positive attitude to your eating pattern, including scheduled and enjoyable cheat days. So the next time you want a slice of pizza but don’t want to break your diet, simply make a note to have a big slice on your next cheat day. In the long run, it’s good for you!

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Jay Hill

Freelance Writer

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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