Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Loose Weight Tips - 5 Surprising Weight-Loss Traps

You're trying to lose weight, doing all the right things, eating less, exercising more, and still seem to be getting nowhere fast - maybe it's time you rethought your lifestyle. The evidence is mounting: seemingly harmless routines can have a great impact on your waistline and thwart your attempts to reach and maintain Goal weight. And some of the most common pitfalls are the most surprising...

1. Burning the candle
Sleep loss may do more than make you cranky. After getting just four to six hours sleep every night for one week, young healthy male athletes studied at the University of Chicago developed signs of impaired glucose tolerance, which has been identified as a leading cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The study's leader, Eve Van Cauter, says that as well as causing insulin changes, sleep loss may increase hunger. "It's possible that because the brain senses a lack of energy it encourages the person to eat, even if they have had enough kilojoules for the day," she says.

These chronic "eat more" messages may be intensified by changes in leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells. Leptin helps to switch off your appetite after a meal, but studies suggest that leptin levels actually diminish when you're not getting enough zzzzs.

Always aim for eight hours of sleep a night. If you have a late one, spend the next day few nights getting to bed early. In the Chicago study, the metabolism of the men returned to normal when they resumed a regular pattern of eight hours' sleep.

2. Grazing the day away
You might heard reports that "grazing" through the day - eating smaller main meals and several snacks - boosts your metabolism and reduces cholesterol. However, what the reports don't reveal is the studies into the "small and often" snacking approach were done under strict conditions, and the total day's food was divided into three of five meals.

The trap here is that we, non-restricted snackers, tend to eat our regular meals and add snacks on top - a combination resulting in us consuming more kilojoules. Snacking carries the temptation to overeat many times a day, rather than just three. And finally, snackers tent to eat so often they lose track of when the feel hungry.

Make sure you monitor your intake of snacks through the day and stick to those low in fat, such as fruit.

3. Eating too little fibre
Wish you could feel more full after every meal? Want to decrease your chances of between-meal munching? Then ensure high-fibre foods are daily headliners on your menu. Foods such as vegetables and wholemeal bread slow digestion, leading to a more gradual emptying of the stomach so you feel more satisfied after you've eaten. High-fibre foods can also kick-start an increase in a hormone called cholecystokinin, which helps regulate appetite. In research at the University of California, women given high-fibre meals reported feeling more full and satisfied than those who ate more refined low-fibre foods. When samples of their blood were taken, the high-fibre eaters also had higher levels of cholecystokinin.

Always choose unprocessed food varieties such as wholegrain or pumpernickel breads, or brown ice, instead of the more refined (often white) versions. Best of all, opt for high-fibre breakfast cereals as one bowl can carry eight times the fibre content of an equivalent points value of brown rice. And you should also aim to increase your intake of high-soluble fibre foods, such as fruit and vegetables.

4. Being out of Zinc
Have you lost your appetite ? Do you have a poor sense of smell or taste, easily develop stretch marks and take forever to heal small wounds? Then you could be deficient in zinc. This important nutrient, not manufactured in our bodies, must be ingested through our food. Diminished zinc levels have been linked to abnormal eating behaviour, as studies at the University of California and University of Kentucky found that the majority of people with anorexia and bulimia are zinc-deficient. Zinc is also pivotal in the production and storage of insulin so, unsuprisingly , many studies are now linking low zinc level to adult onset diabetes and subsequent weight gain.

Boost your zinc levels to meet the recommended intake of 12-16mg of zinc every day by eating oysters, lean red meat, dairy food, brown rice, rolled oats, sardines, and wholegrain bread.

5. Drinking takeaway smoothies
They're delicious, satisfying and contain calcium and vitamins, so it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking takeaways fruit smoothies area a dieter's best friend. But even without the inclusion of ice-cream and full-cream milk, takeaway smoothie servings are too generous to be turned into a daily habit. At around 1,160 kilojoules for a large (430ml) skim milk fruit smoothie, they pack quite a punch!

Watch your portion sizes. Think of smoothies as a meal in themselves; they make a filling breakfast. At a cafe, ask for a small glass, fill it with smoothies mix and don't touch the excess in the milkshake container. Or better still, make your smoothies at home, blending fruit, skim milk and low-fat yoghurt. Pour your smoothies from blender to drinking glass and save any excess, at a sensible serving size, with a family member. Mostly through, try to drink water - it's filling and kilojoule-free.


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