Sensible weight-loss tips that won’t starve you
By: Margaret Cantwell
Most diets can be a real headache. Too many rules about what to eat and portion sizes are enough to drive you over the edge. Stress and hunger set in and you’re ready to give up. If that’s your experience, you’re following the wrong one.
One of the best things about the paleo diet is that it provides powerful tools for making your body both healthier and thinner. And though following this diet necessitates careful food choices, you don’t have to make drastic cuts in the amount of food you eat to make the diet an effective weight-loss tool.
Here are a few simple tips that can keep you on track for slimming down and being at your best.
Close your eyes
If you are trying to follow a paleo lifestyle and lose weight, you have to get more sleep. Thousands of years ago, during the Paleolithic period, people got up with the sunrise and went to bed around sunset – getting much more sleep than we get today.
And you know what? That extra sleep helped keep their weight down. A long list of studies shows that extra sleep is linked to less weight.
Plus if you get extra sleep, your willpower for resisting binging and overeating may be increased.
As Sarah Ballantyne, The Paleo Mom, points out: “Not getting enough sleep causes food cravings and increased hunger, makes us less inhibited in our food choices, makes us insulin and leptin resistant, slows metabolism, makes it harder to build muscle, is inflammatory, and causes chemical changes in the brain that can lead to food addiction. “
Many experts agree that one of the keys to taking off weight is to eat more protein and fat (healthy fats like fish oil and coconut oil) and limit your carbohydrates — eating a relatively low carb diet.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out carbs altogether. Fruits and vegetables, which are mostly carbs, are important for staying healthy. But you may want to limit starchy vegetables, like squash and sweet potatoes, which contain a higher level of digestible carbohydrates.
The trick is to learn by trial and error your own tolerance for carbs.
According to Sally Johnson, a dietitian who writes the blog Paleo Plan, by experimenting with different levels of carbohydrates in your diet, you can decide how much carbohydrate to eliminate to help you lose weight.
“This (carbohydrate) level is different for everyone based on age, activity level, health status, environmental factors and genetic inclination and can change over time, requiring experimentation and periodic re-evaluation,” she says.
When you’re picking out beverages to drink while you’re trying to lose weight, don’t even think about letting diet soft drinks pass your lips.
The net effect of drinking artificially-sweetened drinks is actually to make you gain weight!
A study at the University of Illinois (as well as other research) shows these drinks increase your cravings for sweet, processed food. In particular, you may end up feasting on junk food packed with extra sugar and unhealthy fats.
“It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips,” says researcher Ruopeng An, a professor of community health. “Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods.”
The best beverage for your health and weight is water. It is the original no-calorie beverage and it can help make you feel full. Black coffee and unsweetened tea can also help slake your thirst without being fattening, although their diuretic effect may make you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water.
Don’t just sit there
Pretty much everybody now agrees that we all spend too much time sitting down. If you want to keep your weight under control, you got to move — even if you don’t necessarily do strenuous exercise every day.
As Chris Kresser, author of Your Personal Paleo Code, notes: “… if you work in an office, commute by car and watch a few hours of TV each night, it’s not hard to see how you could spend the vast majority of your waking life (up to 15 hours!) sitting on your butt.”
He warns that all that sitting both compromises your health and adds to the risk of putting on extra weight around your middle.
Instead of sitting for hours on end, break it up with at least a few minutes each hour of standing and walking around. That gets your metabolism into a slightly higher gear and helps your body burn off more calories.
One thing to keep in mind when following these and other tips for losing weight — everyone’s body reacts differently to changes in diet and lifestyle. What works for someone else’s weight loss program may be more or less effective for you. Trying to take off pounds can be daunting but remember: slow and steady persistence is your best bet for losing pounds and keeping them off.