Opinion

5 Insider Tips To Effective Weight Loss, From Work Out Routines To Cheat Meals

Quora Quora .

What are the most important habits for eating healthy and losing weight? 

This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Nicolas Cole, Health Blogger.

 

Even though I'm a hard gainer and I write mostly about how to gain muscle, I have quite a few friends in the bodybuilding world who are always in a process of shredding and losing weight. Here are 5 things I've learned from them that are absolutely essential to losing weight (while still being "healthy").

1. Cut the Sugar

We all know the sugar isn't good for you.  What a lot of people don't know is why.  When “Fat Free” became the big trend in the United States, what do you think Americans replaced the fats with to keep food still tasting good?  The answer is sugar.  Sugar spikes your insulin.  An insulin spike means your body is going to go into fat storing mode.  So the less you can spike your insulin, the better. The easiest way to do this is to stop eating processed foods.  Cereal, "healthy" snack bars, Wheat Thins, all that stuff is garbage.  Don't eat it.  It's all loaded with sugar. A typical diet for losing weight is very high in protein and vegetables.  The protein is there to maintain and build muscle and the veggies are carbohydrates but they are very, very low on the glycemic index—meaning no insulin spike.  If you are going to have carbs, have slow digesting carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa.   

2. Allow Yourself Cheat Meals

This might be contradictory to a lot of what people tell you, but in the bodybuilding world even the strictest diets allow for "cheat meals."  A cheat meal is where you allow yourself to eat just about anything.  Seriously, you can select one meal and eat anything from ice cream and pizza to candy and Oreos.What this does is it throws off your body.  If all you eat is tilapia and broccoli (super "clean" foods) then eventually your body is going to get used to it and it won't have any need to work harder—aka shed more fat.  By adding in extremely "dirty" cheat meals, your body is suddenly faced with tons and tons of burn off and it's going to go into hyper drive.  When you return to your normal diet the next meal/the next day, your body will still be in that "hyper drive" state and will continue burning.  One cheat meal every week or two will help you shed fat in the long run.Note: The cheat meal rule only works if you’re working out.

3. Schedule a Fat-Burning Workout Routine

If you want to lose weight, exercise is a key component.  A lot of people think they need to do hours and hours of cardio—this is false.  What you need to do is you need to do activity (weight training, running, and jump rope) that increases your heart rate in intervals.  The best way to lose weight is to do what is called HIIT training: High Intensity Interval Training.  This is where, for example, you sprint for a minute and then walk for 30 seconds, sprint for a minute and then walk for 30 seconds, etc.   If you prefer to lift weights, you need to be doing high reps with lots of supersets.  This is where you do 12 reps heavy, drop the weight in half, and then do another 20 reps.  Or do sets of 50. Exercises that get your heart rate to go through the roof for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, and then you rest.  

4. Routine

People think that by "not eating" they will get skinny or lose weight - False.  What happens if you try to just "not eat as often" is you train your body to not know when it's going to get food next.  So what happens when you do eat is your body tells itself "I don't know when I'm going to get food again so I better hold on to what I have now."  It then stores what you just ate as fat, for reserve. Instead, it's better to eat smaller portions more frequently—every 2 to 3 hours.  If you can get in this routine, your body knows that it's going to get food again soon so it will have no problem burning off what you put in it.  This routine over time is what allows bodybuilders and fitness models to eat tons of food but consistently stay low in body fat.  

5. Surround Yourself with Likeminded People

This might sound overly simple but there is a massive amount of truth to what I'm about to say— it is really hard to be healthy if you are surrounded by unhealthy people.If you want to be healthy you need to surround yourself with people that will make the process easier for you and even help teach you what they know.  I have celiac disease so I always have to ask, "Is that gluten free?  Is that gluten free?"  But all of my friends know this, understand this, poke fun but they all support it and when we're out together they always help find a place where I can get something to eat too.It really does make a difference when you surround yourself with other healthy people.  I have a couple "super food" friends that I really vibe with because every time we hang out it isn't beers and junk food - it's healthy smoothies and super food snacks.  They're always teaching me new stuff about health and nutrition and I always feel good when we hang out.Being healthy and losing weight is a lifestyle.  So build your life around that goal.

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