As 2017 comes to an end and we get ready for 2018 and those New Year’s resolutions, we thought we’d share some of the top health articles from myfitnesspal.com. Tips like the best workouts for weight loss, appetite control strategies, healthy meal ideas and understanding risks of overweight.
Best workouts for weight loss
1. Interval Training – The number one training method the experts turn to again and again for weight loss. This type of training keeps your heart rate elevated, which in turn keeps your metabolism humming. When that’s happening, you burn more calories.
One of the many styles of interval training is indoor cycling, though this workout leans heavily toward cardio over strength training. Cycling requires you to use various muscles in your body — quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core, for starters — which once again translates to weight loss. The more muscles you have to incorporate, the more calories you’re going to burn because those muscles all require energy in order to work. So the more energy you use, the higher those calorie-burning numbers climb. It’s all a cycle.
Try it: Here are 4 fat-burning stationary bike workouts that you might like. If you’re more of a treadmill person, this 20-minute treadmill interval workout will kick your butt in the best way. And if you want to skip the equipment altogether, this 10-minute lower body bodyweight interval workout is a good place to start.
2. Weight training – Weight training is “the mother of all weight-loss techniques. Resistance training, whether it’s with your bodyweight alone or with added weights, is an effective method to help you drop pounds, if that’s your goal. Lifting weights has been shown to increase your resting metabolic rate, which means you’ll continue to burn calories even after you finish working out. It’s called the “afterburn effect,” and you can read all about it here. Try adding weight training to your routine at least three times a week and mix it up about every three weeks to keep your body guessing.
Try it: First, if you’ve never done it before, be sure to read these strength training tips for beginners before you get started. And check out this primer on how to choose the right weights for your workout.
Other top workouts include: 3. Boot Camp, 4. Boxing, 5. Running, 6. CrossFit, 7. Tabata, 8. Yoga, 9. Swimming, 10. Jumping Rope
Appetite Control Strategies
1. ADD VINEGAR AND CINNAMON TO MEALS TO CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR
Looking to add some flavor to your food and noncaloric drinks? Forget the sugar; there are plenty of spices and flavors that will make your food both tastier and healthier. Vinegar, which has been shown to lower the glycemic index (which means you metabolize the food more slowly), adds acidic flavor to salad dressings, sauces and roasted veggies without a lot of calories.
For sweet-smelling warmth, add cinnamon to everything from coffee and smoothies to chili. Like vinegar, cinnamon slows the rate at which food transits from your stomach to your intestine — this keeps you full longer, and helps prevent the post-meal slump.
2. EAT WHEN YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY
When you get really hungry, you overeat. I know, groundbreaking stuff. When you overeat, you feel full, but then your insulin levels spike, causing you to feel tired, then hungry again … so you overeat again.
Instead of trying to resist hunger, beat it to the punch. If you eat when you’re either not hungry or only slightly hungry, you’ll eat less and tend to eat more slowly. Eating less throughout the day is great, but having more energy is certainly a nice bonus, too.
3. DRINK WATER, NOT LIQUID CALORIES
Mild dehydration can cause tiredness, brain fog and a sensation that’s easily mistaken for hunger. But you need to be aware that liquid calories such as juices and sodas don’t fill you up, and their rapid digestion causes insulin spikes. So it’s better to avoid the sweetened drinks and stick with sparkling or still water — you can flavor it with lemon, strawberries or cucumber if you want, but don’t pack your drinks full of calories.
Aim to drink at least three-quarters of a gallon of water a day. Also, be sure to drink a glass about 20 minutes before each meal to take the edge off your appetite.
Understanding calories – making better choices.
MyfitnessPal has an interesting infographic showing what 1,200 calories look like. Now 1,200 calories per day is not a lot. If your goal is weight loss, it’s close to the minimum the National Institutes of Health recommends for women, and it is literally the lowest count recommended for men. So we are not suggesting you drop your daily intake to 1,200 calories but rather use these meal ideas to replace the high-carb, high-sugar snacks and fast food with some healthier food choices. You may find that your appetite is satisfied and you have more fuel in your tank to keep you going throughout the day. Click here for more info and a Mediterranean Chicken Salad
The most dangerous fat is the easiest to lose.
Understanding the different kinds of fat
- Pinchable versus Pressable: “Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.
- Proximity: Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:
- Apples and Pears: These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pear shapes tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apple shapes tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It’s a quick way to tell these two fats apart.
- Waist circumference (WC): Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).
- Waist-to-Hip Ratio: The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula: WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.
- Know Your Family Healthy History: If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.
WHAT TO DO – Start getting rid of visceral fat by eating a well-balanced diet (eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and cut back on added sugars and alcohol), exercise (sweat for 30-60 minutes each day), sleep more & stress less (sleep loss and stress can sabotage your health)