There are many lifestyle changes that go along with the decision to get healthy and lose weight. For example, a new diet that consists of a lot of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats replaces the processed carbs. Also, sitting around is no longer an option, as there are weights to lift and intervals to sweat through. However, an element of fat loss that is rarely spoken about, but can have a drastic effect on weight loss, is water.
Just like protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, water is a nutrient. Approximately sixty percent of our body is composed of water and it is essential for just about every function in the body including maintaining body temperature and transporting other nutrients. Water is so important that even a three percent loss will result in decreased performance of the body and death occurs when the losses reach seven percent. In addition to these vital purposes, water also plays an important part of many processes that cause and support fat loss.
First of all, burning calories requires an adequate supply of water to operate effectively and dehydration will significantly decrease fat metabolism. Also the chemical reactions that occur during metabolism produce many toxins, water removes these from the body. Water is required by the muscles and joints to move properly and without pain and is a main component of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to these working structures. Therefore, dehydration can severely decreases the ability to exercise intensely and expel energy. In addition, water can aid in satiety (feeling full) when included with meals resulting in eating less and assisting in creating a negative calorie balance.
The most common, blanket recommendation for water consumption is sixty-four ounces (eight, eight ounce glasses). An individualized recommendation is to drink, in ounces, half of one’s bodyweight, in pounds, per day. However, these recommendations are for those at rest in a controlled climate as exercise and heat can easily double the body’s hydration needs. A minimum of eight extra ounces will need to be consumed for every fifteen to twenty minutes of intense exercise and all recommendations, both at rest and during activity, should increase by fifty percent in higher temperatures.
Ingesting the amount of water needed for optimal weight loss and healthy functioning will require daily conscious attention. Just as breakfast is extremely important to break the overnight fast and jump start the metabolism, consuming at least one glass of water (and preferably two) immediately upon waking will greatly impact everyday hydration. There are many tips on ensuring adequate water intake through the rest of the day such as drinking a glass at every transitional point during the day (i.e. leaving the house, arriving at work, every meal, etc.), drinking a glass every hour during the work or school day or drinking a glass after every trip to the restroom. The key is to find a system that works within your lifestyle and focus hydration around workouts (one glass fifteen to thirty minutes before, one glass every fifteen minutes during and two to three glasses after).
Water is an essential nutrient for weight loss. This zero calorie beverage is an important part of fat metabolism and burning calories as well as improving feelings of fullness during meals. Building a routine to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day with focused replenishment surrounding physical activity is a fundamental lifestyle change to achieve the lean body you desire.
There is a principle developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that states: “eighty percent of the effects comes from twenty percent of the causes.” Pareto’s principle has been applied to many business and health practices through the years since its inception in the early twentieth century and also relates to nutrition for both weight loss and maintaining the lean body that you crave. Most of the results from eating healthy are derived from two simple habits that can be immediately integrated into a daily routine.
Nutrition habits are superior to specific dietary recommendations because of their consistency. Daily habits will become ingrained and contribute more to your health than exact amounts that require too much calculation and preparation. With busy schedules it’s all about bang for our buck and this is exactly what a lifestyle change provides compared to the latest supplement or wonder drug. Remember the advice of another intellect from the past, Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
The first lean body habit to adopt is to make vegetables your primary source of carbohydrates. Vegetables are the most nutrient dense food source on the planet. This means that based on the calorie count, veggies are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals that aid in all of the processes of the body. Vegetables are also digested and absorbed slowly, providing prolonged energy. In contrast, other carbohydrate sources like bread, pasta and rice are calorie dense, contain few vitamins and minerals and are digested quickly, leading to returning feelings of hunger. By providing a plethora of these nutrients from vegetables, the body will decrease the hunger signals sent when a deficiency is detected.
The best types of vegetables are the green leafy, cruciferous (i.e. broccoli and cabbage) and brightly colored varieties. More starchy vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes are still good choices but should be restricted to post-workout meals. Fruits, though rich in vitamins and minerals are composed of simple sugars that are absorbed quickly with spikes in blood sugar and limitation in the diet is recommended. Including vegetables with lean protein during every feeding will nourish the body without adding extra calories to the daily intake allowing you to lose fat and keep it off.
Designating water as your primary beverage is the other lean body habit that will greatly affect results. In addition to having absolutely no calories, water greatly improves digestive, cardiovascular and neural health. Hunger is often confused for thirst and feelings of fullness can be advanced with water intake. On the flip side, the body does not recognize the caloric content of liquids as well as solids and, therefore, drinking beverages such as pop, milk, fruit juice and even many sports drinks can easily increase caloric intake and fat storage without you realizing their effects.
Drinking a half gallon (8 cups) of water is day is recommended at rest and is at least double that with any intense physical activity. Making a routine in which a glass is consumed immediately upon waking and one glass with, and between every meal and snack will provide a healthy daily amount. Though it may be difficult, and some exceptions may be made for post-workout shakes, drinking only water as opposed to beverages that contain calories (especially alcohol) can lead to huge results in body composition and overall health.
The journey toward a lean body requires dedication and effort. However, some behaviors have a much greater impact than others. Consuming vegetables for the majority of carbohydrates and water as the main beverage choice will decrease calories and increase nutrients of your daily intake. These two habits are highly recommended and carry a large bearing on sculpting the body into the lean form that you desire.
Roadblocks in the journey to a lean body are inevitable. This process is neither linear nor easy, and the path will have twists, curves and dips. The ability to determine why fat loss plateaus are occurring and having solutions ready to get you back in the right direction is critical for continued success.
It is important to first differentiate between progress slowing and an actual plateau. The larger weight losses that occur at the beginning of a lean body lifestyle change cannot be expected to infinitely continue. Unfortunately, the body resists weight loss as a protection mechanism and the defense will only increase as the pounds fall off. As long as weight is lost, whether one pound or ten, the fat loss program is working. Always remember, lean body programs are more successful in the long term if they are a slow, continuous process instead of a dramatic, sudden instance. Losing less than one pound every two weeks or a weight gain should be considered a plateau and changes can be made to bust through it.
The nutrition and exercise programming that helped with the first half of the journey to a lean body is rarely the same as will result in the end goal. The reason for this and the most typical cause of a plateau in fat loss is the effect of weight loss on decreasing resting metabolic rate. The body will not expel as much energy at rest as it’s former heavier self. As a result, either the amount of calories ingested every day will have to be decreased or the intensity of workouts will have to increase, or both.
Stress is also a common roadblock to weight loss. Not sleeping for a healthy amount and living in a period of high stress can really affect the hormonal system, rendering it detrimental to fat loss. Stress can also result in seeking relief from old comforts such as the fridge or cupboards. Openly discussing stress, pursuing healthy stress relieving activities like socializing and exercise and prioritizing sleep, possibly by adopting some habits to promote it, may be the key to unlocking the next step toward the body you dream of.
If these two solutions do not push you past the fat loss stagnation, strict monitoring of nutrition to check for calorie creep may be necessary. Calorie creep is a phenomenon in which more calories are eaten without being accounted for or even consciously regarded. Calorie creep can occur due to inaccurate portion sizes, choosing the wrong types of food or extra calories due to add-ons such as dressings or condiments. This is especially critical in the later stages of weight loss when every calorie in the energy balance is important. Keeping a food journal, in which EVERYTHING ingested is written down, can be helpful, as can precise measurement of food quantities.
Obtaining a lean body is not an easy task. Worst of all, it becomes more arduous as you progress. Therefore, periods of stasis in weight loss are bound to occur. The best method is to determine the underlying cause behind this plateau and implement a solution. However, it is essential, no matter what the results, to remain positive and stay consistent in the behaviors that lead to fat loss.
To lose stored body fat, one must expend more energy than is consumed. By now, this is a widely known fact and has driven many people to hit the gym in order to sweat out the calories. Unfortunately many have ignored two very important parts of the weight loss equation, which has led to an excess of wasted time and energy and a lack of results. First of all, the consummation portion of the formula is the primary determinant of lean body success. A bad diet cannot be out trained and eating the correct foods at the right time in the recommended portions will guide fat loss more than any training program available. Secondarily, in the grand scheme of weight loss, the calories expended during exercise do not contribute to energy expenditure as much as commonly believed.
Three main factors contribute to daily caloric expenses. The thermic effect of food, or the energy required to chew, swallow, digest and absorb what we eat, constitutes approximately ten percent of the daily energy expenditure. This effect is maximized by frequent feedings (every two to four hours) and including protein with every feeding (protein takes more energy to absorb and digest than carbohydrate or fat). The caloric output of physical activity contributes twenty to thirty percent to our daily total. However, this number is not derived exclusively from exercise as, in fact, movement from everyday activities carries an even greater impact.
The largest factor, burning sixty to seventy percent of our daily calories, is the energy needed to keep our heart beating, lungs breathing and all the cells functioning. This is also known as the resting, or basal, metabolic rate and is influenced by such aspects as age, height and genetics. One other contributor to resting metabolic rate that can be altered, unlike the others, is our body composition. Muscle mass burns five times the daily calories per day (ten calories per pound compared to two) as fat and, therefore, increasing lean mass should be a priority of any lean body training program.
Although weight training does not expel the same amounts of energy during the workout as aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (interval) training, the effects on increasing metabolism during recovery after the session are similar. However, basing the exercise choice for fat loss on in session caloric expenditure is short sighted. Weight loss studies have shown that performing aerobic and anaerobic training as the sole means of physical activity leads to loss of both fat and lean mass where as incorporating weight training results in fat loss only. Losing lean mass has dire effects on long term weight loss, as the resting metabolic rate will decrease. This indicates that consumption, physical activity, or both will have to be altered further to just maintain fat losses from cardio and interval training alone.
The most successful lean body programs that are sustainable focus on both sides of the weight loss equation. Advantageous consumption and the thermic effect of food plans involve eating smaller meals mostly composed of protein and vegetables every two to four hours. Physical activity is maximized through including extra daily activities when available and performing multi joint, larger load and shorter rest resistance training for at least three hours per week. Interval training is also beneficial and should be incorporated if more than three hours of exercise time is available with aerobic training utilized for recovery alone. These recommendations will aid in turning the weight loss equation into a formula for developing the lean body you desire.