Weight management, is living, eating and moving whilst reaching and maintaining your healthy body composition and weight. It’s individual, and for some a challenge that’s comes and goes with age and or situation. There is no magic formula and everyone will require a different strategy – what used to work when we are younger, may not be effective later. It’s so much more than calories in v calories out! Apart from what we eat, and how much we exercise we do other factors have a big impact on gaining and losing weight and the ability to keep a healthy body composition. Here are 5 common factors I frequently come across with Nutrition on Track clients, that once addressed can often be the catalyst you need to get to where you want to be:
Sleep. Getting quality sleep and sufficient hours is essential. Why? Tiredness affects your hormonal balance. You produce less leptin – the appetite control hormone, and more of the hunger hormone ghrelin. So you will be hungrier – and have less appetite control too. Physical and mental tiredness creates cravings for quick release sugary carbs which can be difficult to manage, and when hormones are in the equation willpower alone hasn’t got a hope in keeping you on the right track. Do everything you can, to sleep well!
Movement. NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis). This is the physical movement in our lives that isn’t planned exercise or sport. We all know, exercise is good for us in so many ways physically and mentally. However, it’s the smaller everyday movements that can really make the difference. Standing not sitting, carrying bags, getting up often, taking stairs – all these NEAT activities can have a substantial impact on our calorie burn and energy expenditure. If you’re sedentary in an office all week, make reasons to move, collect printing, walk stairs – all these tiny chunks of NEAT movement can add up to a bit impact on your metabolic rate and calorie burn.
Stress. When stressed your levels of the hormone cortisol are likely to be higher,cortisol is an adrenaline ‘fight or flight’ hormone. It prepares you for action. It also slows your metabolism right down, as your body tries to conserve energy in anticipation you may need it to react to a dangerous situation. In our frantic full on modern lives often we feel moderately stressed, for prolonged periods of time. Do everything you can, to tackle the causes of your stress – easier said than done, of course in tricky times so at least find ways to manage and reduce the effects such as mindfulness and relaxation techniques. If we cant remove the stressor, we can nurture ourselves and find coping mechanisms to survive, reduce cortisol and get metabolism back in line.
Caffeine. Caffeine, in itself is calorie free, and tea and coffee are good sources of antioxidants – but caffeine elevates your blood sugar levels. This quick rise in blood sugar creates a surge of insulin to bring it back down, and elevated insulin means fat storage in the cells. Caffeine need not be avoided completely, consume it with protein and food to slow the blood sugar spike, and stick to a couple of caffeinated drinks daily. Strong coffee, first thing in a fasted state, is not a great idea for the huge surge it creates followed by a sudden dip. You will start the day on a rollercoaster that’s difficult to get off.
Protein. I have generally seen most womens’ diets, when analysed, are not consuming enough protein and we work on ways of getting the intake right. Protein keeps you fuller for longer, and helps stability with blood sugar as its slows the rate of sugars from carbs released into the blood stream. Getting enough protein, will therefore also be a big ally in reducing sugar cravings, maintaining energy and reducing hunger. You need 1g of protein, per kg of your own body weight, per day. So, if you are 75kg, you aim for 75g of protein. It’s not a huge amount, but can be difficult to visualise. Calculate your intake for a couple of days using an app or Google, and you will see what you need. The challenge usually is, unless you are getting decent protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner or skipping a meal, it would be difficult to hit this daily target.
So 5 common and easy strategies, that are a great starting point to support your weight management and healthy lifestyle. I have seen over and over again that when old tactics aren’t working, it can be the small specific tweaks to really get you going! Eat well, be active, and don’t overlook the lifestyle factors that can be the missing links and complete the picture on your journey.