How to Lose Weight

by on May 22, 2015

How to Lose Weight

If you are determined to lose weight then this article sets out to let you know what is definitely helpful – and also let you know a few red herrings. Because there are some very common views about losing weight which simply aren’t true.

Diet

It should go without saying that you should be eating a healthy diet whether you are overweight or not. And by “healthy”, I mean low in salt, low in sugar, a high proportion of vegetables, some fruit (not too much), and nearly all prepared from scratch – in other words, few if any ready meals.

Accepting that your basic diet is like this, there are two additional factors to look at: further dietary factors, and exercise.

Further dietary factors

Healthy / unhealthy fat

First, one of the red herrings. For years we have been conned into believing that eating too much fat will make you fat, per se. This is actually not true.

What is true is that lots of unhealthy fat – deep fried food, and the hydrogenated fat found in manufactured foods – the dehydrogenation stopping it going rancid – is bad for you. Yes. And the sort of food that contains these fats will probably make you fat.

But evidence for olive oil or the fat in meat causing you to put on weight is non-existent or very slim. The “fat makes you fat” argument was founded on myths and then propagated by governments – first the American government, then the UK – who had political ends in mind.

There has never been good evidence that fat makes you fat. So you can forget that red herring.

There have been plenty of studies on this including these 23 studies on low-carb and low-fat diets. These 23 show that where the two diets are compared, and where one is shown to be better than the other for weight loss, it’s invariably the low-carb diet. Additionally, the low-carb diet is almost always beneficial in other ways generally acknowledged to be great for health – such as lowered triglycerides, lowered cholesterol, lowered blood sugar.

Carbs make you fat

There is a lot of evidence, however, that carbohydrates make you fat. In other words, sugar in all its forms – which includes all grain products. Bread, rice, pasta and potatoes consist almost entirely of sugar – even the wholemeal/brown versions.

And when our body has too much sugar in the bloodstream and can’t get rid of it by burning it up for energy, it says: “Wow – there’s a lot of extra sugar here I better store it as fat so I have it available in winter when there’s no food”.

Yes, this doesn’t make sense today: but our bodies still exhibit Stone Age thinking.

But now we understand why this happens, we can take effective action.

The key is, we need to do exercise which raises our metabolic rate, and keeps it raised for an extended period of time. This increased metabolic rate will cause our bodies to turn a little bit of the fat back into sugar and burn it up. Repeated over a few months, and combined with the other healthy habits I mentioned above, this will slowly burn up our fat deposits.

Let’s look at that exercise now.

Exercise to lose weight

There are two types of exercise which will cause us to lose weight. If we do these regularly, week after week, we will lose weight. End of story.

But first, let’s look at the type of exercise which won’t make us lose weight: aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise doesn’t take off weight

As I mentioned, to help us lose weight, exercise needs to raise our metabolic rate and keep it raised for a while – maybe 24 or even 48 hours. The problem with aerobic exercise is it doesn’t do this. As soon as we stop aerobic exercise our metabolic rate returns to normal.

What is aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise is where you exercise moderately, without a rest, for an extended period – perhaps 15 or 20 minutes or even longer. So it includes using a treadmill, running, jogging, some swimming, rowing machines, cross trainers, and so on. It has to be without a rest – so badminton, squash, tennis, football, etc are not aerobic (they are, however, excellent “general exercise”).

Aerobic exercise may well be unhealthy

There is no evidence that this type of exercise is good for us: and there is, actually, evidence that it is bad for us, as the body responds to it by reducing the size of the cells of the heart and lungs. Small lungs and heart correlate with poor health.

See The Aerobics craze – a monumental mistake, by Dr Al Sears.

So, which exercise works, then?

Two types of exercise raise your metabolic rate and keep it raised for long enough so that you burn off fat. The two types are: weight-bearing exercise and high intensity interval training, sometimes called “circuits”.

Weight-bearing exercise

In its extreme form this means “pumping iron” at the gym with ever increasing sized barbells. If this is what you are imagining you can put this image out of your mind altogether.

weight-bearing-ex-250hx167wThere are two ways to do weight-bearing exercise. The first way – the way above – is focused on building big muscles. The second way – the way I am recommending – simply makes your muscles stronger while having little effect on their size.

The muscles will become a little more defined and also bone health will improve. In fact, weight-bearing exercise is probably the most effective way to counteract osteoporosis.

How to do it

The best way to do weight-bearing exercises is by using “free weights” – as opposed to the machines at the gym. Free weights exercise your muscles in a much more natural way.

If you want the discipline of going to the gym then you can use free weights there.

Otherwise you can get a few free weights to use at home – such as small barbells or kettle bells. Or if you have the self-discipline to exercise at home, it would be cheaper and better use of time to do that 3 times a week and get an exercise coach round for an hour to get you started with a routine of exercises.

Once you are up and running, you can easily continue by yourself and just have the coach round to tweak what you are doing once a month or so.

Another great piece of equipment to have at home is a set of exercise bands. These are really easy to use in multiple ways – with the right training and help. And they give you a really good weight-bearing workout.

Watch this guy on YouTube using exercise bands to get a good idea of what’s possible. Don’t be put off by his big muscles though – I promise you he didn’t get those with exercise bands! But he does give a good demo of how you could use these at home.

After doing weight-bearing exercise your metabolic rate will go up – and stay up long after your session has finished, burning fat.

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

The second type of exercise which raises your metabolic rate and keeps it raised is interval training – or high intensity interval training. Sometimes you see exercise classes in “circuits”, which are the same thing. I’ll call it HIIT.

The reason HIIT has the phrase “high intensity” in it is basically that you do intensive exercise for a very short period of time – usually between ten and twenty seconds – then rest to get your breath back, perhaps for forty-five seconds or a minute. If it takes longer to get your breath back, that’s fine – take your time.

When you’ve recovered from your intensive phase, do a second one and recover again. Finally, do a third phase, the same and rest again.

This whole process takes only 3 to 4 minutes, but it really boosts your metabolic rate and keeps it raised for up to 48-hours.

All this time, your body will be converting fat stores into sugar. Then it either burns it, or builds more muscle tissue.

It’s incredible that this can be achieved in just 3 to 4 minutes, 3 times a week – the recommended frequency. But it can.

Here is an article about a one-off study which showed greater benefits for a person doing HIIT compared with a person doing aerobic exercise.

Consistency is key

One final recommendation is that sometimes consistency works – even when the science is wrong.

Let me explain.

I am thinking of a particular diet plan.

Slimming World

Slimming World was obviously set up by someone who believed the “fat makes you fat” which, as I have said earlier, many people – including me – think is simply not true.

Nevertheless, the Slimming World low-fat approach has been successful for thousands of people in losing weight.

The secret? There are a few elements which make Slimming World successful. These include:

  1. Having weekly meetings where people clap you for losing half a pound or more (we all like positive reinforcement)
  2. Allowing you to stray now and again – without punishing you (the concept of “Syns”)
  3. The fact that if you backtrack, you just carry on again, “following the program”

However, they do let you have almost unlimited quantities of many carbohydrates. This means you are never empty. However, everything is cooked from scratch (or using Slimming World pre-prepared meals 🙂 ) so dodgy additives, hydrogenated fats, etc are avoided.

So, although the diet I would expect not to work – because it’s high carb and low fat – it does often work. So I’m guessing there are enough other factors there – including the consistency factor – to produce the weight loss. In other words, if you are encouraged to stay following an approach because it’s philosophy includes “sticky” components, that could be enough to get you a result.

My feeling is that if they changed the diet to be lower carb and higher fat it will work better..

I only mention Slimming World because I know of half a dozen people who got good results from it. I am sure other slimming programs also produce results for some people. So if you find a program you think you can really stick to then give it a try for a few months and see if it works for you.

Losing Weight

Losing weight is very, very difficult as many people who have tried – sometimes multiple times – will confirm.

But being a healthy body weight is essential if you are to maximise your chances of staying healthy. There is no doubt that being overweight or obese is correlated with a multitude of health problems – discussed in my article The Health Dangers of Obesity. Not least among these is diabetes.

But there are some proven ways we can lose weight. And there are some other commonly accepted ways which actually do not lose weight – although many people think they do.

The proven ways to lose weight with exercise: are with weight-bearing exercises and HIIT – high intensity interval training. These methods can be combined and carried out, say, three times a week. This only needs to be a half-hour routine each time.

And with diet: the article covers the fact that studies show that a high protein, low carb diet always out-performs for weight loss, compared to low fat diets.

And the wrong way to lose weight – but actually it doesn’t work – is aerobic exercise. And as I explained above, there is evidence to show that this is actually bad for your health by reducing the size of the heart and lungs.

So if you are carrying out aerobic exercise three times a week for twenty minutes or more, do yourself a favour and substitute weight-bearing exercise and HIIT. It will do you a lot more good and will actually take weight off for you. It’s how to lose weight! Combined with healthy diet (preferably low carb) this is a solid approach to losing weight and keeping it off.

 

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