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Weight Loss Secrets

By Martin Harshberger

The "Secrets" of Weight Loss

The first and most closely guarded secret is there is no secret
formula for effective weight loss.

If a safe and effective diet pill is what youíre waiting for,
Iíve got some bad news for you. It doesnít exist, and probably
never will. If youíre overweight, you have just two options Ė
either learn to accept the way you are or learn how to lose

"The only place success comes before work is in the
dictionary." Vince Lombardi

Yes, weight loss can be a lot of work. But the more you know
about nutrition, foods and exercise and how your body reacts to
them in the form of fat loss,and the easier your task becomes.

The 2 Most Important Facts about Successful Weight Loss

Before beginning any diet plan, itís important that you
understand these two important facts:

1. *Weightloss depends on energy balance*. To lose
weight, your energy intake must be less than your energy
expenditure. This will always be true. There are no foods,
pills, or potions that will magically melt the pounds off.
The only approach that works is eating less and/or
exercising more.

2. *Permanent weight loss requires permanent change*.
Donít assume that you can spend six weeks on a diet and then
return to your old eating habits. Short term diet plans only
produce short term results. The only successful way to
keep the weight off is to make small but permanent changes
in your lifestyle. Coincidentally, this is also the best
way to improve your health.

The 6 Most Important Principles for Enabling Weight Loss

Although many different weight loss techniques exist, nearly all
are variations of just six basic principles. Study these
principles, and make them part of your action plan:

1. *Maintain or improve your health*. If you donít take
care of your body, it wonít take care of you. So, as a
first step, make sure that your diet supplies adequate
amounts of vitamins and minerals, that youíre drinking plenty of
water and getting enough sleep and fresh air, and arenít
under too much unhealthy stress. Everything that you do to
improve your overall health will help make weight loss
more likely to occur.

2. *Reduce your Caloric intake*. To achieve fat loss,
you have to change your energy balance. (See Fact #1
above.) There are just two ways to do this Ė either consume
less energy (Calories) or expend more energy (via exercise). The
easiest way to reduce your consumption is simply to cut
back on the size of your meals and/or the amount of
high-Calorie foods that you consume. This doesnít mean
that you have to give up any particular food. In fact,
completely avoiding a food can lead to strong cravings
that derail your diet. A smarter approach is to just eat
less of those high-Calorie foods.

Also beware of foods containing "hidden" Calories. For
*Watch what you drink*. What you drink during the day
can have a major impact on the number of Calories that
you consume. There is very little difference between the
satiating effects of different drinks, so this is one of
the easiest places to improve your diet. Water is always
your best choice, but coffee, tea, and diet drinks can
also help cut Calories.

*Be smart about condiments and toppings*. Butter,
mayonnaise, and a lot of the "special sauces" used by
restaurants are very concentrated sources of Calories.
If you want to add flavor to your food, try using lemon
juice, soy sauce, salsa or different spices instead.

3. *Maintain or increase your metabolism.* One of the
most common mistakes that dieters make is to get excited
or impatient with their diet, and reduce their Caloric
intake /too far/. If you do that, your body will respond by
lowering your metabolism and slowing your weight loss. To
prevent this downward adjustment of your metabolism, make
smaller changes to your eating habits. Your patience will
pay off in terms of more consistent weight loss, more
energy, and fewer cravings.

For the best results, add exercise to your plan. Regular
exercise not only expends energy as youíre doing it, but
can also lead to increases in your basic metabolic rate,
so youíll burn more calories even at rest. High-intensity
exercises burn the most calories, but donít select
exercises solely on their fat-burning potential. Instead,
pick exercises (i.e. sports activities) that you enjoy,
and want to incorporate into your daily routine.

4.*Avoid hunger*.Hunger is one of your bodyís
strongest stimuli, and can be an evil challenger to your
will power. Hunger is also relatively slow to subside, and
can cause you to eat more than you intended. To break this
unproductive hunger-overeating habit, always try to eat
before you get hungry. This may seem counter intuitive to
someone whoís trying to limit their Calories, but itís a
very effective concept. Two different techniques can help
make this easier to accomplish:

*Eat smaller, more frequent meals*. Instead of three
meals per day, try eating five or six smaller meals. By
eating more frequently, there will be less time between
your meals, and less chance of you experiencing such
intense hunger. As an extra benefit, there is some
evidence that suggests that eating more frequently can
also help raise your metabolism.

*Include more slow-to-digest foods in your meals*. When
itís not possible to eat more frequently, make sure that
your meals contain a mix of nutrients. In particular,
fats and protein are much slower to digest than
carbohydrates. While most carbohydrates leave your
stomach within about two hours, protein takes
approximately four hours to digest, and fat takes as long
as six hours. But remember fat has four times the calories of
other energy sources.

*Note*: The slower digestion of fat is one of the primary
reasons that people on low-carb diets (like Atkinsô and
South Beachô)experience less hunger than those on low-fat
diets. Itís not necessary to completely eliminate
carbohydrates from your meals, though. Most people on
balanced-nutrient plans (like the Zone Diet) also experience
better hunger control.

5. *Correct bad eating habits.* We eat not only for
nourishment, but also as part of our social interactions.
However, many people develop unhealthy habits that
encourage overeating. Here are a few examples of bad eating
habits that you should try to avoid:

*Mixing food and entertainment. *Itís easy to mindlessly
eat a tub of popcorn, a whole bag of chips, or a carton
of ice cream while youíre watching TV. Make eating a
separate activity, and youíll consume less.

*Eating to relieve stress.* Thereís nothing wrong with
taking pleasure from eating, but try not to use food as
your primary stress reliever. Find other ways to
dissipate stress (such as exercising, listening to
music, or meditating) before eating.

*Eating on the run*. With the abundant availability of
convenience foods, itís easy to grab something from a
vending machine and eat your meals in your car. But try
not to make this a regular daily habit. Plan your
schedule to include enough time to prepare and eat your
meals in a quiet place, without the rush.

No one eats perfectly. However, if you continuously have
trouble controlling what you eat, realize that correction of
your eating problems may be beyond your own abilities.
Please consult a psychologist or weight loss professional
for additional help.

6. *Make a record of everything you eat* When making
changes to your diet, it's very easy to lapse back into
your old eating habits. Keeping a food diary is a great way
to help prevent that from happening. Buy an inexpensive spiral
notebook, and simply write down everything that you eat
during the day. If possible, keep your food diary with
you, and make your entries soon after you've eaten. For
maximum benefit, keep making entries for at least three

Keeping a food diary forces you to give conscious thought
to everything that you eat. It may be a tedious task at
first, but it will help you more quickly develop better
eating habits. Your food diary will also be a tremendous
asset if you later consult a dietician or health care
provider for assistance with your diet.

When keeping a food diary, it's also a good idea to take
the time to add up the total Calories and nutrients that
you consume eachn day. For your diet to be successful, your
total Calories will need to decrease from their original
level, but your nutrient intake must at least meet your
minimum needs.

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