Sensible ways to change your body weight set-point
1. AIM TO LOSE A HALF-POUND TO A POUND A WEEK
Fad diets promising quick fixes aren’t just uncomfortable and unsustainable — they’re built to backfire. “In general, the more rapid or drastic a change you make, the more your body wants to fight back,” explains Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a weight-loss specialist. To prevent this from happening, Seltzer recommends setting a goal of losing a half pound per week. “If your body is getting the food it needs to function, or just a tiny bit less then it’s used to, it’s going to be more willing to release that extra energy [to burn fat],” he explains. This not only helps you lose weight, but you’ll be more likely to keep it off long term.
2. FOLLOW THE 5-10% RULE
Research has shown losing 5–10% of your total body weight at a time is a smart approach. It is argued that losing more than 10% of your body weight causes the body to fight back and make it more difficult to maintain weight loss.
3. TRY LOSING WEIGHT IN PHASES
For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, set that 5% goal, then try to maintain your new weight for six months before starting another weight-loss cycle. This allows your body to adjust to the new weight and gives you a psychological break from dieting. Once you’ve held steady for six months, work on shedding the remaining pounds. While this process takes time, “if you want to maintain your weight loss, you must learn and adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits for the rest of your life.
3. KEEP A FOOD LOG
Tracking what you eat is a proven strategy for successful weight loss. While monitoring your food intake can help you see if you’re overeating, it’s also a good idea to look at your macronutrient breakdown, ie protein, fat and carbohydrate intake. For example, an increase in protein content will mean more energy being required to breakdown as opposed to quick release processed carbohydrates.
4. INCREASE YOUR ACTIVITY
Believe it or not, the number of calories you burn during exercise is relatively small compared to the calories we burn through our daily activities like putting away groceries, taking out the rubbish or just fidgeting. (This moment-to-moment calorie burn is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis). When you’re losing weight (and taking in fewer calories), you tend to subconsciously move less as your body wants to conserve energy and maintain weight. So, simply add more activity to your life by taking the stairs, working at a stand-up desk, tending to your garden instead and cleaning up around your house when you have available time.
4. ADD STRENGTH TRAINING
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns when you’re at rest, for instance, when you’re just sitting around breathing or while you’re sleeping. One way to shift your weight into a healthier range is to raise your BMR. Since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, incorporate weight training into your exercise regime if this is appropriate (based on consultation with your GP).
5. SET YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE
“Appetite is a basic bodily function and is not always controlled with willpower,” says Dr. Ethan Lazarus, president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association. Quality sleep helps optimise the balance of hormones that support your weight loss efforts, which makes 7–9 hours of sleep per night an essential part of slimming down, as recommended by Dr. Lazarus. In particular, “while you’re sleeping, your body produces more leptin, a hormone that helps keep your appetite in check,” he explains. When you’re low on sleep, levels of leptin can drop, and levels of ghrelin (a hormone that makes you hungry) can surge, potentially leading you to crave high-fat, high-carb foods and overeat.
Having a nighttime routine, where you unwind at the end of the day, can help prime your body for a good night’s rest. It’s also important to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning to help regulate your hormones.
Extracts taken from '8 WAYS TO CHANGE YOUR SET POINT WEIGHT,' by CASSIE SHORTSLEEVE at myfitnesspal.com