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The hot months of summer are a perfect time to put on your swimsuit and cool off at the pool (or beach). It’s also a good time to work on improving your overall health, which may mean dropping a few pounds.

Here are a few fat loss tips, some of which you may not be familiar with.

Get Your Sleep

Did you know inadequate sleep sabotages your efforts to lose weight? You won’t have much energy to train without a good night’s sleep, but I’m referring to something even more significant. Not sleeping enough tends to have a very negative effect on hormones that control hunger. Leptin, for example, is a hormone that basically signals your brain that you are full and need to stop eating. Production of this hormone is dependent on adequate sleep. The bottom line: sleep deprivation makes you hungry, making it very difficult to stay on track with your diet.

Watch what you drink.

An important tip I give to trainees that want to lose fat is to cut out all liquid calories except for low fat milk. One of our big problems is that we can easily consume hundreds of extra calories without even chewing in the form of sugary drinks. A medium-sized frozen coffee drink can easily have over 400 calories and over 50 grams of sugar. Drinks like this are “sneaky” calories because you probably don’t feel very full after consuming them. They are also “empty” calories because they don’t have much nutritional value. Water and zero-calorie diet drinks are fine, but try to avoid (or at least drastically reduce) the amount of sugar you drink (this also means avoiding fruit juice).

Have Some Coffee/Caffeine

Speaking of what you drink, coffee has quite a few benefits for those who want to lose weight. As you’ve probably guessed, the not-so-secret ingredient in coffee is caffeine, our favorite stimulant. Caffeine has some helpful properties for dieting and fat loss if you can tolerate it (most diet pills are just over-priced caffeine tablets). It can help you in the gym by reducing both pain and fatigue. It has an appetite suppressing effect like most central nervous system stimulants. Last but not least, caffeine also encourages fat cells to release their stored energy into the bloodstream (a process called lipolysis).

Keep a Food Journal

I find that people tend to overestimate the role of exercise and underestimate the role of diet when it comes to losing weight. Exercise is important, but you’ll never do enough of it to compensate for bad eating habits. One thing you can do to start to get your diet under control is to keep a daily food journal–keep a record of everything you are eating/drinking. One study found that the simple act of keeping a food diary can double an individual’s weight loss. This is a simple yet powerful tool to consider if you’ve had trouble sticking to a diet.

Final Thoughts

I want to be 100% clear: there are no “secrets” or “magic bullets” when it comes to losing fat. But hopefully I’ve given you a few extra tools to consider for achieving your health goals. I would highly recommend investing in a quality diet/training program like Bikini Body Workouts (Jen Ferruggia) if you want a more complete guide to body transformation.

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