Not long ago the secret to losing weight seemed straightforward: just give up bread.Not long before that, it was all about avoiding fat.And when those theories sprung leaks, a long list of diet fads was there to fill the holes-cabbage soup,grapefruit, avoiding carbs after 5pm...the list goes on.To help you stop diet-hopping,we've peeled away the layers of hype to reveal the core concepts and surprising science behind what really works for weight loss. Here are five laws for hitting your perfect weight-and stay lean for life.
Don't crash diet
And not just because you'll get so hungry that late-night fridge raids become inevitableYour body thinks you're starving when you lose too much too fast.So instead of burning kilojoules, it conserves them in the form of fat.In fact,as many as half of the kilos you drop during crash dieting come from muscle,not fat.And because muscle stokes your metabolism, losing muscle means you'll burn fewer kilojoules.
Focus on food over exercise
Working out is essential to fitness and feeling good, but it's not the be all and end all. "People don't understand that for every 20 minutes of aerobic exercise you do, you burn around 400 kilojoules.That doesn't give you the liberty to eat anything you want," says John Jakicic,chairman of the Department of Health and Physical Activity at the University of Pittsburgh in the US. You can wipe out one exercise session with a Snickers bar.
Diet for life
"Diet" comes from the Greek word "diaita" which means "a manner of living." By that definition,your work isn't finished when you reach your dream weight.The stats tell the same story. More than 90 per cent of people who lose weight eventually gain it back once the diet is "over." When you weigh less, your body doesn't have to work as hard to move around. So-and it pains us to say this-you burn fewer kilojoules as a size 12 than a size 16.Which means you need to eat less to stay that smaller size. The good news: if you add more exercise you won't put weight back on.
Chuck out diet shakes
Repeat after us: meal replacements don't work.Those chocolatey shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner,bars that promise to replace your meal...put them down and save your cash. OK, they might make a tasty snack, but they don't teach you how to eat healthily in the long term and it's unwise to think you can live off milkshake and chocolate bars instead of real food. "There is no randomised controlled long-term scientific evidence that using meal replacements helps people to keep weight down," says Dr Sainsbury-Salis. "On the contrary, there is emerging evidence in the opposite direction; that meal replacements can contribute to eating disorders." Plus losing weight at a very fast rate may increase your risk of developing gallstones (clusters of solid material in the gallbladder that can be painful).
The multitasking insanity of our lives creates a culture of convenience. Just look at the array of foods-from snack chips to soup-packaged in containers that fit neatly into car cup holders. This may make the next piece of advice a little hard to take, but: whenever you eat, that should be all you do. In a 2001 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,women ate about 200 kilojoules more at lunch when they listened to a book on tape than when they ate alone with no distractions.A Finnish study found that only 20 per cent of subjects ate because they were hungry; some noshed to have something to do while reading or watching TV.
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