Is going to the gym something you dread or dislike? Let us face it, working out in the gym may take up more time and money than many of us can spare. Not to forget, you may simply not be up to the routine of gymming. But then, hating the gym does not mean you should give up on weight management.
If you do, you will miss out on the remarkable difference it can make to your health – even losing as little as 5-10% of weight if you have piled on the pounds can bring about a positive change in blood sugar, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure.1 Maintaining a healthy weight can also better your physical mobility, energy levels, self-confidence, and mood.2
So how do you knock off the extra pounds without weights and fancy machines? The equation governing weight loss is very simple: you need to expend more energy than you take in through food. And that means watching what you eat and finding other ways to burn calories.3
Watch What You Eat
It goes without saying that eating right has a big role in weight management. An average adult male with a sedentary lifestyle uses about 2000 to 2400 calories per day while an adult woman uses about 1600 to 2000 calories. But most of us take in much more than that, leading to those magnificent love handles.4
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing weight slowly and steadily, rather than a drastic weight loss, helps to keep it off. So target about one to two pounds per week. A pound translates to about 3500 calories, which means reducing your intake by 500-1000 calories per day.5
But remember, cutting down calories suddenly or taking in less than 800 calories per day for a long time can have a serious impact on your health, including your heart health.6 So it is a good idea to focus on eating smart: have healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals rather than just counting calories. Here are some tips to help you manage:
- Have a healthy balanced meal which includes vegetable, fruits, proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Also, keep a check on the saturated fat, salt, added sugars, and cholesterol in your diet.7
- Do not skip meals – this might make you hungry and lead to overeating at the next meal. In particular, skipping breakfast has been associated with obesity. In fact, research on people in the National Weight Control Registry found that people who are successful in maintaining their weight loss regularly eat breakfast.8
- Leverage the power of foods that can actually help you burn fat and lose weight. For instance, green tea can lower body weight by oxidizing fat and increasing energy expenditure. A study among the obese given a balanced, controlled diet found a significant difference in weight loss between a group that was given green tea and those who took a placebo. At 8 weeks there was also a difference of 183.38 kJ per day in the resting energy expended.9 Another study found that people on a diet who ate yogurt lost more fat compared to lean muscle – in fact, they lost 81% more belly fat than those who did not have yogurt.10
- Keeping yourself well hydrated can also help you lose weight. According to a study, drinking 500 ml of water increases energy expenditure by 24% over 60 minutes after you drink it whether you are overweight or of normal weight.11
Not getting enough sleep can make you hungry. A study found that two days of sleeping only four hours a night led to changes in levels of hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that control appetite (desire for food) and hunger (need for food).
This was linked to an increase of 24% in hunger and 23% in appetite. The appetite for calorie-dense foods like sweets, starchy foods, and salty snacks also increased.12 So, not getting enough shuteye can sabotage your diet.
Watch Less TV
Some studies show that while watching TV, your body slips into a semi-resting state, and you tend to burn fewer calories than you would if you were sitting still without doing anything!
While we are at rest, our body uses energy to carry out essential functions like breathing, pumping blood etc. The rate at which you burn energy to carry out these functions is called resting energy expenditure.
A study among children that compared the resting energy expenditure while at rest to the energy expended while watching TV found that the metabolic rate was significantly lower while watching TV than during rest.13
Watching too much TV has also been linked to obesity. A study estimated that people who watched TV for more than three hours a day were twice more likely to be obese than those who watched it for less than an hour a day, after adjusting for things like age and hours of weekly exercise.14
Stay On Your Toes
You may not be a gym fan, but there are other ways to get in the required physical activity. We need about 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity (which ups your heart rate and makes you breathe faster) like brisk walking each week. You could start small and slowly up your exercise quota depending on your comfort level. Walking at about 2mph for an hour will burn 204 calories if you are around 160 pounds.15
Even short bursts of physical activity (about 10 minutes or more) at a time will help immensely. A quick walk in the middle of the workday, taking the stairs, walking across to your colleague instead of texting, or going out dancing with friends – stand and move around every chance you get. Every little bit helps!
Also, get in some activities that strengthen your muscles at least twice a week. As muscles burn more calories than body fat, you will lose weight faster. Pushups and situps are great for building muscles – and they do not take up too much time or need any special equipment. Or indulge in some heavy-duty gardening that requires some digging and lifting.16
|↑1, ↑5||Healthy Weight, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Klem, Mary L., Rena R. Wing, Maureen T. McGuire, Helen M. Seagle, and James O. Hill. “A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 66, no. 2 (1997): 239-246.|
|↑3||Healthy Weight, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑4||Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age, Gender, and Physical Activity Level, The United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑6, ↑7, ↑16||Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths, National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑8||Wyatt, Holly R., Gary K. Grunwald, Cecilia L. Mosca, Mary L. Klem, Rena R. Wing, and James O. Hill. “Long‐term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.” Obesity research 10, no. 2 (2002): 78-82.|
|↑9||Auvichayapat, Paradee, Montira Prapochanung, Oratai Tunkamnerdthai, Bung-orn Sripanidkulchai, Narong Auvichayapat, Bandit Thinkhamrop, Soontorn Kunhasura, Srisuda Wongpratoom, Supat Sinawat, and Pranithi Hongprapas. “Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial.” Physiology & behavior 93, no. 3 (2008): 486-491.|
|↑10||Zemel, M. B., J. Richards, S. Mathis, A. Milstead, L. Gebhardt, and E. Silva. “Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects.” International journal of obesity 29, no. 4 (2005): 391-397.|
|↑11||Boschmann, Michael, Jochen Steiniger, Gabriele Franke, Andreas L. Birkenfeld, Friedrich C. Luft, and Jens Jordan. “Water drinking induces thermogenesis through osmosensitive mechanisms.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 92, no. 8 (2007): 3334-3337.|
|↑12||Spiegel, Karine, Esra Tasali, Plamen Penev, and Eve Van Cauter. “Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite.” Annals of internal medicine 141, no. 11 (2004): 846-850.|
|↑13||Klesges, Robert C., Mary L. Shelton, and Lisa M. Klesges. “Effects of television on metabolic rate: potential implications for childhood obesity.” Pediatrics 91, no. 2 (1993): 281-286.|
|↑14||Tucker, Larry A., and Glenn M. Friedman. “Television viewing and obesity in adult males.” American Journal of Public Health 79, no. 4 (1989): 516-518.|
|↑15||Ainsworth, Barbara E., William L. Haskell, Stephen D. Herrmann, Nathanael Meckes, David R. Bassett Jr, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Jennifer L. Greer, Jesse Vezina, Melicia C. Whitt-Glover, and Arthur S. Leon. “2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 43, no. 8 (2011): 1575-1581.|