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Losing weight is never easy. The root cause of your weight gain may be completely different from what you were anticipating. Besides a non-regulated diet of processed foods, hypothyroidism, diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) could also be the reason behind sudden weight gain.

If an underlying medical condition isn’t the reason behind weight gain, bringing in lifestyle changes become paramount. Poor eating habits, along with leading a sedentary lifestyle thanks to the desk job you have been pursuing, add to the bulge in the stomach and the extra kilos on the weighing scale.

Introducing little changes to your lifestyle, getting good sleep, eating more leafy greens and exercising regularly are a great start towards turning it around. These small changes can make a great difference in not only losing weight, but improving your overall health.

Regulating your body’s functions is key towards moulding into a fitter person, and here are 15 ways you can do so.

  1. Proper sleep
  2. Drink a lot of water
  3. Eat more vegetables
  4. Increase protein intake
  5. Superfoods
  6. Chillies
  7. Change your oil
  8. Nutritional Drinks
  9. Apple cider vinegar
  10. Calorie deficit
  11. Portion control
  12. Yoga
  13. Drop unprocessed food
  14. Prebiotics and probiotics
  15. F-factor diet

Not getting enough sleep directly impacts our eating habits, as you tend to eat more during the day, and gain weight as a result. The hypothalamus of the brain releases a hormone called leptin, which plays an important role in weight regulation. Sleep deprivation leads to falling levels of leptin, which slows down your metabolism rates, resulting in weight gain.

Hydrate yourself’ is the tried-and-tested formula towards maintaining good health. Not only does water help in actively managing stress levels, it aids digestion, boosts metabolism, ensures you get all the important nutrients from food, and reduces signs of early ageing. Drinking a good amount of water curbs hunger pangs and aids in controlling your BMI (Body Mass Index). A high BMI indicates a higher presence of body fat in the body.

It’s not the potatoes but the way you eat them that makes all the difference. A great source of carbohydrates, protein, fibre and potassium, potatoes make you feel full without adding fat to the body. Instead of those fries, why not boil or bake them in olive oil?

Kale, spinach, cabbage, beet and turnip greens as well as microgreens (baby plants) are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and help in maintaining body weight. They are also low in calories and carbohydrates, and rich in fibre. Steaming your vegetables instead of frying them, using low-calorie dressings and adding herbs and spices to the preparation add flavour to your favourite veggies.

Proteins help you feel full for longer by reducing the amount of the hunger hormone ghrelin in your body, controlling the urge to eat. Food items like sprouts, lean meats, eggs and soy are some healthy options for a protein-rich breakfast.

Eggs are a good source of both protein and fats. Though egg yolk is full of fat, the whites are a rich source of protein. Studies say eating eggs can lower the levels of ghrelin. They also elevate PYY levels (a hormone associated with the lack of hunger) in the body.

Skinless chicken breast has no carbohydrates but is extremely rich in protein. Since it is rich in caloric value, it also provides sufficient energy to the body.

Superfoods like berries, leafy greens, avocados, quinoa seeds, whole grains, olive oil and chia seeds help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, berries, chia seeds and whole grains are rich in fibre and suppress hunger by keeping you feeling full for longer. They are also rich in antioxidants and control bloating in the body.

Chillies and peppers may burn your mouth, but the heat they generate has numerous health benefits. Chillies get their heat from capsaicin, which fights weight gain and reduces craving. Research shows that this heat (thermogenesis) helps in breaking down fat in the body, thus aiding weight loss.

Studies have shown that eating foods cooked in coconut oil helps in increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce body weight. Coconut is thermogenic, so it burns fats faster and increases energy expenditure. Coconut oil also makes you feel full for a longer period of time and prevents overeating.

Certain drinks like coffees and smoothies have the potential to cut down extra fat in the body. A study concluded that a cup of coffee speeds up your metabolism for about three hours, although excessive coffee intake can have its own set of consequences. 

Various smoothies containing ingredients like avocados, kale, cucumber, parsley, cinnamon and almond milk can act as a replacement for your lunch or dinner. They are not only delicious, but also keep you full for a longer period of time. There is no strict recipe for a smoothie, but it should have these six things:

  • Base: Any liquid base, be it almond milk or coconut water.
  • Fruit: A fruit rich in fibre and antioxidants like bananas or avocados to add flavour as well as nutrition.
  • Cream: Use a spoonful of cream to make it smoother.
  • Greens: You can add greens like kale and spinach to make your smoothie rich in proteins and micronutrients.
  • Boost: You can add pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds or your regular supplements.

According to studies, the acid in apple cider vinegar stimulates the body’s metabolism and limits the storage of fat in the body. Taking 1-2 tablespoons of diluted apple cider vinegar daily can help lose around four pounds (just under two kilograms) in three months.

The intake of apple cider vinegar before consuming starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, couscous or potatoes controls blood sugar levels and cuts down the craving for sweets. It also keeps you full for longer, thus preventing overeating.

Calories are units of energy that your body requires for its everyday functioning. But when there are extra calories in the body that are not used up, they turn into fat. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat. You can also decrease calorie intake by substituting higher-calorie ingredients with low-calorie fruits and vegetables. The water and fibre in fruits and vegetables add volume to dishes so you don’t eat ‘less’.

Don’t only watch what you eat, but how much you eat as well. Increased portion size leads to obesity and unwanted weight gain. You don’t have to stop eating your favourite food; just measure and control the amount of it. You can practise portion control by:

  • Eat in smaller plates and bowls to regulate portion size.
  • Rather than getting the food in serving bowls, get your food in your plate and keep the excess food out of sight.
  • Ask for half the portion of a meal while eating outside.
  • Eat a snack like a fruit if you feel hungry before your meal. This will prevent overeating during a meal.

Yoga asanas like paripurna navasana (boat pose), chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff pose), purvottanasana (upward plank pose) and urdhava mukha svanasana (upward-facing dog pose) help in cutting down extra fat in the body. Yoga increases flexibility, muscle strength, tones as well as increases metabolism, thus aiding weight loss.

As the name sounds, processed foods have already been altered during their preparation; all frozen, canned, packaged and dried foods are processed. While processing, manufacturers add salt, sugar and fat to these foods to increase their shelf life, which are enough to add a few extra kilos to your weight. Choosing freshly cooked food over a ready-made meal at the grocery store is generally a good practice.

Prebiotics like garlic, onion, asparagus and bananas have microorganisms that induce the growth of essential bacterias in the body. Probiotics, on the other hand, like yoghurts, buttermilk and fermented cheese contain live bacterias or yeasts that are directly ingested to benefit the body.

Studies have confirmed that probiotics and prebiotics release GLP-1, the satiety hormone, into the body, thus helping in maintaining weight. They are also known to increase the levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4) which reduces fat storage in the body.

Specific diets designed for specific purposes have been a rage for decades. The F-factor diet is the other name for a high-fibre diet. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is not broken down by the enzymes of the body. It helps in relieving the symptoms of both diarrhoea and constipation

Doctors claim that the fibres keep the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) in limits and also reduce the risk of diabetes. A high-fibre diet is also more filling and satiates the craving to eat more while providing you with enough energy to carry out your daily tasks.

The F-factor diet is all about eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. A person following the F-factor diet should have three meals a day rich in fibre and protein.

A combination of all these methods can be beneficial in achieving your ideal body weight, and generally lead a much healthier, active lifestyle. Choosing healthier foods over junk, eating on time and getting good sleep, exercise and a general change in lifestyle can go a long way in aiding weight loss and disease-free.

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References

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight
  2. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Eating processed foods
  3. Yadav H et al. Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate-induced GLP-1 hormone secretion. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2013 Aug 30;288(35):25088-97. PMID: 23836895.
  4. Aronsson L et al. Decreased fat storage by Lactobacillus paracasei is associated with increased levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4). PLoS ONE. 2010 Sep 30;5(9): e13087.
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight.
  6. Health Harvard Publishing: Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Harvard University, Cambridge. Massachusetts. USA; 10 superfoods to boost a healthy diet.
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