Tri-annual physical exam
I recently went for my tri-annual physical exam at the Doctors. I try to go every year but it usually ends up being every three years. Hence I call it my tri-annual exam! Geddit?!! (The Doctor didn’t think that joke was funny either!)
Anyway, one of the recommendations was I could do with getting rid of a bit of my fat. Obviously given that 40% of our daily actions are habits and that this blog is all about habits, that was the route I opted to take. So, I went and did what I do best – I did a lot of research on how I can leverage the power of habits to help me with this goal.
I should state at this point that I am neither a nutritionist or a Doctor and you should consult a professional before making any changes that could affect your health. That being said all of the Goalbits Fat Loss Habits are based on solid scientific research.
Why not just diet
Why go to all the effort of creating new habits and not just follow a diet? Good question. Well first of all in 2014 researchers at the University of Toronto looked at 59 scientific studies – including 48 randomized control trials. They concluded that the best diet is, wait for it, drum roll please – the one you follow. People who “go on a diet” usually then “go off a diet.” If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you are going to have to create new habits anyway. In fact people who go on diets for short periods of time (3 – 6 months) end up gaining more weight in the long run (3 – 5 years.)
Secondly, there is no “magic” diet that is guaranteed to work. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who stuck to the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers and Zone diet for a year all lost similar amounts of fat.
Goalbits Fat Loss Habits
The next step was for me to decide which habits to adopt. If you google “science based fat loss” you will get a hundred gallizion results (this may be a slight exageration, but you get the point.) I reviewed hundreds of these articles from reputable sources and found the common themes. Then I looked to see what lent itself well to being made into a habit. Finally I whittled it down to three habits.
Several other habits came up frequently in my research. For example keeping a food diary, eating breakfast, eating off smaller plates, brushing your teeth after dinner and getting more sleep. These are all great ideas. When I was reading lists of 10, 25 or even 75 healthy habits I got overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. I decided to start with just three habits to make it manageable.
The Goalbits Fat Loss Habits are:
- Drink water.
- Eat plants.
- Then walk.
Drinking water helps with fat loss in several ways. First off the symptoms of hunger and thirst are easily confused. Both cause a gurgling tummy, low energy levels and lightheadedness. One easy way to make sure you are actually hungry is to drink some water before you eat.
Next, drinking water before meals makes you feel full sooner – meaning you consume less food and fewer calories. The website WebMD says that drinking water before a meal means on average you consume 75 less calories. If you did that at every meal you could lose two pounds in a month.
Drinking water can boost your metabolism which will help you burn the calories you do consume, faster. A study published in The Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism found that drinking 16 ounces of water temporarily boosts a person’s metabolism by 30%. Over a day that could cause you to burn 200 more calories.
Drinks like soda, alcohol and even fruit juice contain on average 150 calories. By replacing them with some zero calorie water you immediately reduce your calorific intake.
Start the habit of drinking a glass of water before you eat anything. You can also learn how to make drinking more water a habit.
Scientists at Yale reviewed over 100 clinical studies and they found that the best “diet” is to “eat real food.” The USDAs “Choose My Plate” suggests you fill half your plate with plants (fruit and vegetables.) The simplest way to eat real food is when you serve your meal make sure half of it is vegetables – then eat those first.
You can also borrow a trick from the Scandi Sense Diet and fill your plate with two handfuls of vegetables, one handful of protein and one handful of carbohydrates. That’s the easiest way in the world to ensure proper portion sizes. In addition have one handful of fruit at breakfast and for snack.
There is a great saying: If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not hungry.” Keep this in mind when you feel the need to have a snack. If you aren’t hungry enough to eat an apple – don’t have a snack. If you are having a non-fruit snack put a serving in a container instead of eating out of the packet. This will ensure you don’t mindlessly over eat.
Create a habit of whenever you eat, make half of it fruit or veg – and eat those first.
Researchers have found that going for a 15 minute walk after you eat boosts your metabolism. This helps your body to start burning the calories you have just consumed. It can take up to 20 days to retrain your metabolism, so as with all habits, this is one you will need to stick to for an extended time to see the benefits. Researchers have also found that walking benefits the digestion process and helps in maintain healthy blood sugar levels. To get these benefits it’s important to walk within 30 minutes of eating.
Make it a habit to for a walk after lunch and dinner. Learn how to get fit walking.
It took years to add the fat you are going to get rid of. Play the long game to get rid of it. Build one of these habits at a time. I suggest starting with a walk after dinner. Then drink water before every meal. Finally switch to making half of every meal plants.