You’d be amazed how seemingly little things contribute to adding those unwanted extra pounds. Find 12 of them and what to do:
Exposure to stress is inevitable. But your anxiety could be a reason why you find it hard to lose weight. Some of us are prone to reach for comfort food, as soon as we become tense or worried – particularly at the first signs of stress. This leads to stress-induced eating and weight gain.
Also, when we’re stressed, our body releases a natural, stress-related hormone called cortisol, which can be responsible for storing fat – particularly abdominal fat.
Turn things around: meditation is one of the best ways to calm the mind – and the good news is that anyone can do it.
2. Inadequate Sleep
Those who are well-rested are more likely to lead an active lifestyle and therefore maintain a healthy body weight. Sleep deprivation slows down the body’s metabolism the next morning – meaning less calories are burnt off. Feeling tired may also make you turn to sugar for a short-lived energy boost.
Turn things around: make sure you’re getting around 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed.
3. Lack of Portion control
Avoid double or large helpings at dinner. There is a delay in the time it takes for your stomach to tell the brain it’s full. If you bolt down your food, chances are you haven’t given your brain time to react to these signals.
Turn things around: if you tend to cook too much, save the leftovers for another meal.
4. Smoothies and fruit juices
It’s suddenly become easier for you to get your five-a-day. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they don’t contribute to weight gain. The natural sugars and, in some cases, hidden ingredients, mean that these drinks can still be full of calories.
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Turn things around: make sure you count them in your daily calorie allowance. You may be better off eating a whole piece of fruit instead.
Although caffeine is commonly used to assist weight loss – with frequent consumption it can be very calorific. A large latte can contain as many as 300 calories, and if you make it a mocha, it could be as many as 600 – or a third of your daily calorie allowance.
Turn things around: make it a skinny, or order a black coffee.
Many allergy sufferers find that the use of antihistamines increases their appetite. Some antihistamines are so effective at increasing hunger that they’re prescribed to anorexic patients as an appetite stimulant.
Turn things around: try and limit your intake of antihistamines. Or try a natural approach to your allergies.
7. Sluggish liver
Your liver is the major organ, which maintains your metabolic rate, gets rid of toxins and turns fat’s into energy. But if it’s overloaded with toxins, such as drinking alcohol, it will not be able to process fat effectively and help burn calories.
Turn things around: avoid excessive alcohol intake and make sure you have a balanced diet.
8. Excess Viewing of Television
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to weight gain. Some people watch three hours of television each night. So, it doesn’t matter how healthy your diet is if you don’t move.
Also eating in front of the TV increases your meal intake because you’re not concentrating on what you’re eating. Studies have also shown that when you watch TV you spend less energy than when you rest.
Turn things around: hit the gym instead of the sofa or take an evening stroll.
9. Ready-made lunches
Ready-made food can be high in calories and fat, making it harder to eat healthily and keep those pounds off.
Turn things around: making your own lunch means you know exactly what’s in it.
• Mayonnaise: it can turn a low-fat tuna sandwich into a lunch laden with unhealthy fats and calories.
• Triple sandwich packs: you simply don’t need this many calories in one sitting.
• Cheese: it might make for a delicious sandwich, but even small amounts will hike up your calorie and fat intake.
• If you can’t say no to butter, use sparingly.
10. Tap water
Around 10 per cent of tap water is fluoridated, and although it’s good for your teeth – it’s not so good for your waistline.
Fluoride can cause individuals to gain weight because it makes it difficult for the body to absorb iodine.
Iodine supports thyroid function and when we’re not able to get enough of it, our metabolism is slowed down.
Turn things around: find out whether you live in a fluoridated area, ask your water company. If you do, switch to mineral water and see if this has an effect on your weight.
11. Crash dieting or fasting
Claire MacEvilly, a nutritionist at the MRC Human Nutrition Research Centre in Cambridge, explains: ‘Losing weight over the long term burns off fat. Crash dieting or fasting not only removes fat but also lean muscle and tissue.’
The loss of lean muscle causes a fall in your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories your body needs on a daily basis. As a result, your body will need fewer calories than it did before, making weight gain likely once you stop dieting.
Turn things around: adopt new healthy eating habits, introduce changes gradually over a long period of time – the body likes slow changes in terms of food and exercise – and increase your activity levels.
12. Your relationship
All those romantic dinners, the nights spent on the sofa cuddling up, the takeouts, and the general comfort that being in a relationship provides, can help you pile on the pounds.
Turn things around: if you can get your partner to hit the gym with you, you’ll have an instant workout buddy. If they’re not into it, be sure to carve out time each week that you can devote to some kind of exercise.