It’s not easy to keep your body in good shape – in this day and age. Today more than 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women in the United States are now overweight and more than 2 in 5 adults are clinically obese.
It can be easy to write these people off as just unhealthy eaters or even to label them as lazy but the reality is that more often than not, overweight people are just eating the same food that everyone else is eating which is often packaged to appear far healthier than it is. I know it is not easy because before I switched to a high-fat paleo diet, my weight was always yo-yoing and to stay a small size I really had to obsess about exercise. And most people would not even have the time to do this and certainly not the energy as once you become out of shape then doing a full-on workout can feel like torture – at least as long as you are still feeling yourself with the wrong foods.
There is a reason why the obesity epidemic is only getting worse and it is not just because people are eating too much McDonalds. What and how we have been taught we should eat and look after ourselves has become totally distorted by the advertising we are exposed to as well as the often incorrect official recommendations on what is really good for us. The health studies that determine what the official healthy eating guidelines are are often funded by the same people who are profiting from selling us cheap processed foods as well as health care after we all get out of shape.
Quite often the additives that are added to processed foods contain substances so highly addictive that they literally have a similar effect on our brains as drugs – just on a much more mild and less noticeable scale. But this effect is significant enough that it can cause you to eat twice as much as usual and being oblivious to why this has happened you are going to end up blaming yourself for overeating or start to believe that you just have a slow metabolism. To break this pattern you must first understand that losing weight does not have to be as hard as you think, your problem might just be that you have been trying to do everything the hard way.
Below are some simple diet and fat-burning hacks to make losing weight a little bit easier for you.
My Top 10 Diet & Exercise Hacks
1. Eat More Fat
Now please don’t get me wrong, if you’re already eating a lot of high-fat food then you probably are not going to lose any weight by increasing it even more but for those of you who buy fat-free products and avoid cooking with oils then you probably will benefit from this.
Our bodies are made out of saturated fat and it is something that we need as much as we need water. If you completely deprive your body of fat through your diet then the only option your body has to survive is to go into fat storing over-drive and convert all of the carbohydrates you are eating into fat. When you cut out fat you are also cutting out an entire food group and because you are missing this your body thinks you haven’t eaten enough yet even when you have eaten a lot. And so on a high-carb and low-fat diet, you will usually find that you are constantly snacking throughout the day no matter what you do.
Yes, adding fat to your meals does increase the calories but it is going to fill you up for much longer and you do not need to go crazy with it. Just adding a small amount of fat to each meal will be enough to help you to kick cravings and make the switch from fat-storing into fat-burning mode.
Note: Trans fats are still extremely unhealthy and these include most common vegetable oils. Safe oils to use that are trans-fat-free include extra virgin olive oil as well as cold-pressed coconut oil.
2. Get 3 Minutes of Cardio Into Your Daily Routine
Now I’m not suggesting that if you go for a 45-minute run in the morning then you should stop. I just want to point out that although 3 minutes of exercise will only burn off a very small amount of calories, it will still get your heart rate going enough to switch on fat-burning mode for the entire day. And so when you don’t have the energy or the time to do more then just making sure you do something that makes you feel puffed, even just for 3 minutes only will still improve your metabolism if you do this on a daily basis.
This could be activities such as taking the stairs at work instead of the lift, doing sprints, skipping, or star jumps. This may also mean that breaking your exercise up could help you to burn more fat for example I now go for two shorter walks in the morning and at night instead of the one long walk that I used to do and I do think this actually makes me feel more energized. No matter how out of shape you are, anyone should be able to manage just 3 minutes of exercise and so if you are not doing this then why not start today? You have nothing to lose except weight!
3. Swap Table Sugar For Natural Sweeteners
When most people try to be healthy and avoid sugar they make the mistake of using artificial sweeteners instead. These chemical-based products are not only extremely bad for your overall health and are linked with many diseases including cancer but they contain substances that can make us actually crave sugar even more, even though we have stopped eating it!
The alternatives above are actually still sugars but they are natural rather than refined sugars which make them far safer to consume. These unrefined sugars contain compounds that will slow rather than speed up sugar absorption into your bloodstream which means you don’t get the sudden sugar spikes from eating them that you would from most normal sweet foods. So basically what this means is if you start sweetening your food and drinks with natural honey instead of table sugar then you are not going to crave sweets all the time like you used to (most probably). I know this worked for me at least!
4. Stop Eating Breakfast Cereal
We have been told for a long time now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day which is not even true in the first place. Unless you are doing a very physical job then your body will have plenty of energy left over from dinner to get you through your morning while you sit at your desk. But I understand that some people and I used to be one of them just get very hungry as soon as they get up and so usually we then ‘nourish’ ourselves with a bowl of processed carbohydrates and sugars. If breakfast really were the most important meal of our days then if you ask me this is even more reason to avoid cereals.
The label will often tell you that the cereals contain nutrition and if they are a more high-end, less processed product then they may actually be good for you but they will still most likely be mostly made up of carbohydrates. Eating carbs first thing in the morning will kickstart your food cravings and rather than filling you up so you eat less later as you might think, you’re going to eat far more because of it.
Toast can have the same effect but one healthier option is to switch to paleo bread. Paleo bread is carbohydrate-free and is not that great fresh, to be honest, but makes very good toast. Other good ideas for breakfast foods are fresh fruit and nut bars (as long as they are not high in sugar). When I lost a lot of weight about a year ago, I was eating raw almonds for my breakfast instead of my usual toast and this seemed to help me a lot.
Note: the vitamins in your average breakfast cereal will have been added artificially via fortification and are not nearly as good for you as real natural vitamins and minerals.
5. Eat Before You Eat
Eating a light appetizer half an hour before you eat dinner actually causes people to eat around 20% less on average. And so if you struggle with portion control then this could really help you a lot. Now just remember you need to make sure that your appetizer is super low in calories or you are only going to end up eating the same amount. Some good things to eat could be miso soup, other light soups or broths, or sliced carrot and cucumber. Even sliced fruit should be low-calorie enough to work for this.
6. Spice Things Up
Eating spicy food frequently can actually boost your body’s ability to break down fat and burn off more energy. It does this by:
- Boosting your metabolism
- Helping to control appetite
- Improving gut microbiome
- Reducing inflammation
Get more spices into your diet by adding them to cooking and curries, drink hot lemon and honey with ginger, use cayenne pepper for seasoning, drink turmeric lattes, and ad simple cracked black pepper to your food.
7. Unplug Before You Chow Down
When we eat at our desks or even in front of the TV we are not paying attention to our food and this often causes us to lose track of how much we have eaten. Basically, it is a really good way to polish off an entire bag of chips or a large block of chocolate before you even realize it. And so practicing mindful eating can help some people to lose weight. This means taking a 5 or 10-minute break from your work while you eat your snacks.
You should find that you actually enjoy and get more out of your food this way. Other activities to avoid would be eating while driving, walking and eating things like snack bars and even just eating in a hurry. Next time you snack try to take time out to do so and actually look at your food while you are eating it. You might find that you have had enough more quickly when you do this.
8. Eat Slightly Green Bananas
This hack works with very green bananas also but they might not taste so great. So eating your bananas before they properly ripen can help you to lose weight because green bananas contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is starch that can not be absorbed by our bodies and so it will instead feed the bacteria in your gut. Now if you have a healthy gut then this is going to have a pre-biotic effect but if you have poor gut health then do not eat green bananas because it could make your problems worse.
And so green bananas not only contain fewer calories than a normal banana but the resistant starch in them will increase fat oxidation and can lower the amount of fat your body stores. But if you suffer from IBS then you should be doing the opposite and you’d only want to eat very well-ripened bananas so as to not feed the bad bacteria in your gut.
9. Improve Your Mealtime Environment
Making improvements to your mealtime environment is proven to have an effect on your appetite and you will most likely find that you feel the need to eat less when you pay attention to this. This could be doing things like dimming the lights, lighting a candle, playing music while you eat, and eating at the table rather than at your desk or in bed. Basically, if you can make yourself feel good without food then you won’t crave so much food to boost your mood.
10. Swap Juice For Whole Fruit
We often think we are being super healthy by drinking juices all the time but because the juice is high in sugar as well as low in fiber it tends to not fill us up. And so if you want to watch your calorie intake then getting your fruit by eating whole fruits and vegetables is a better way to go. Some juices like green juices are lower in calories but in general, juice is both high in sugar and it actually will normally contain way more vitamins than we can even absorb to drink a whole large glass of it.
If you love drinking juice then it can be a good idea to mix it with soda water, I find this makes it nicer because of the fizz and it halves the calories. Just one orange will give you your daily vitamin C requirements but to make a whole glass of orange juice probably will require 4 oranges and as you can’t absorb more than a standard daily vitamin intake the vitamins in the juice then just pass through your and the only thing you are getting out of the extra fruit is than sugar.
If you are able to have a smoothie or juice instead of a meal then it is OK because you’re not eating extra calories. I actually will often have a smoothie for my lunch but never will I have it as a drink on the side. I’m not saying never drink just but just be mindful of the fact it is not necessarily a diet food.
I hope you found these tips helpful and if you are trying to lose weight then my biggest piece of advice would be to try counting nutrients rather than calories. Me, I get hungry all the time when my food is low in nutrition. So because I’m not getting enough of what I need then I naturally want to eat too many calories. Eating truly nutritious food should fill you up far more and not leave you craving snacks just a couple of hours after eating.