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If You Want To Lose Weight, Do It In The Right Way

If You Want To Lose Weight, Do It In The Right Way

With a growing number of people in the world struggling with to lose weight, it’s no wonder there are so many fad diets being promoted through mainstream media.

According to the WHO, around 52% of the world’s population is either overweight or obese.[1] Many of these people have tried to lose weight at least at some point in their lives, and some have even experimented with extreme dieting by following fad diets.

But as research shows, an extreme weight loss diet is not only ineffective as a long-term solution, but it can be extremely damaging to your health.

Extreme dieting leads to muscle wasting

Extreme weight loss diets usually involve severe calorie restriction with the goal of shedding a great amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible. While these diets will inevitably lead to great weight loss within the first few weeks, you need to keep in mind that you run the risk of losing muscle tissue before you get the chance to shed fat.

According to medical experts, extreme dieting will first lead to water weight loss, then to muscle atrophy, and at the very last stage, to fat loss. Researcher G.L. Thorpe has explained this a very long time ago stating that our body does not selectively burn fat when we eat less.[2] It rather, wastes all body tissue, including the muscles and bones.

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Muscle wasting slows down your metabolism

The reason why your body targets muscle tissue first when you are starving yourself is because it aims to preserve energy when food is sparse. To explain this further – your body needs more energy in order to maintain muscle tissue than it does in order to maintain fat.

When there’s a shortage of energy from food as in cases of extreme dieting, your body will attempt to remove one of the body’s greatest energy consumers – the muscles.

This will happen even if you do weight-loss exercises that you may think help build more muscle. But the bad news does not end there.[3]

Keep in mind that a loss of muscle mass leads to a lower basal metabolic rate, and a lower metabolic rate leads to, you’ve guessed it – more weight gain. These facts explain why so many people experience the jo-jo effect following an extreme diet.

Fad diets bring persisting health-related issues

A study published in The Journals of Gerontology found that calorie restriction reduces energy expenditure.[4] What this means is that being on an extremely low-calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism making future weight loss difficult if not impossible.

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Furthermore, diets that are extremely low in calories are often very restrictive and as such, unable to meet your body’s needs for essential nutrients. In other words, being on say, an 800-calorie diet is likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies which can seriously harm your health.

A study that was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition examined the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in popular diets, and the results were striking.[5]

The study found that a restrictive weight-loss diet called The Best Life Diet met only 55% of daily micronutrient requirements while the very popular South Beach Diet met only 22% of the daily requirements for micronutrients. Other negative consequences of crash diets and other highly restrictive diets include osteoporosis, depression, kidney stones, and in severe cases scurvy when the diet is deficient in vitamin C.

How to lose weight the right way?

First off, you need to keep in mind that successful weight loss always comes on gradually. This means switching to a healthy eating habit that you can follow for years to come as well as exercising on a weekly basis.

You also need to eat fewer calories than you usually do for weight loss to take place. According to a study published not so long ago in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, consuming fewer calories is the most effective weight loss strategy, especially when combined with low-GI and moderate fat intake.[6] Just make sure that you reduce your calorie intake by 300-500 calories as recommended by Harvard Health Publications.[7]

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For instance, if your usual diet consists of 2500 calories, start eating 2200 calories. Your body will take the time to adjust to this modest caloric deficit, but after a while, you can drop a few calories lower.

Just make sure that you don’t eat anywhere less than 1200 if you are a woman or less than 1500 if you are a man to avoid micronutrient deficiencies. Other things to help you lose weight include finding daily weight-loss motivation tips to help keep you going and checking your health with your doctor to see if underlying health conditions are stalling your weight loss.

Diets don’t work, but healthy eating does

Instead of following fad diet trends that you see being promoted by slim celebrities, nutritionists would suggest you follow healthy eating instead.

By switching to healthy eating instead of say, a low-carb diet that does not work, you’ll be able to shed weight slowly and still meet your body’s needs for key nutrients.[8]

When your body is healthy, and your organ’s well-nourished, you are more likely to experience successful long-term weight loss. Another reason why this is so is because healthy eating is much easier to stick to in the long run when compared to impossible and restrictive diets.

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According to an entry published in the Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition, switching to healthy eating involves making big lifestyle changes, focusing on food quality, and balancing your nutrients.[9]

The same entry lists the health benefits of healthy eating which include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and of course, an improved body composition.

Back to Basics. Forget About Immediate Weight Loss.

You may hear stories of people losing a huge amount of weight by following impossible diets. These stories are usually parts of marketing campaigns for weight-loss products and dieting books that are potentially detrimental to your health. Sticking to proven facts is the only way you can lose weight successfully and safely.

Weight loss requires that you cut down on your calories gradually without jeopardizing your health. It also involves regular exercising to increase energy expenditure and to build more muscle tissue.

Reference

[1]World Health Organization: Obesity and overweight
[2]The JAMA Network: Treating Overweight Patients
[3]Consumer Health Digest: 11 Highly Effective Weight Loss Exercises
[4]The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences: Long-term calorie restriction reduces energy expenditure in aging monkeys
[5]Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans
[6]Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: Weight loss maintenance: A review on dietary related strategies
[7]Harvard Health Publications: Calorie counting made easy
[8]Consumer Health Digest: 8 Big Reasons Why Your Low Carb Diet Doesn’t Work
[9]Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition: Towards a healthy diet: from nutrition recommendations to dietary advice

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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