Following a diet can be exhausting, not only because it involves cutting out some of your favourite foods, but because it can be extremely time and energy-draining at first.
There is a negative stigma that comes with the word ‘diet’, and if not done correctly, dieting can be a dangerous way to lose weight quickly. While this might sound tempting, the faster you lose weight, the quicker you are likely to put the weight back on. Dieting can even cause a loss of muscle and bone strength, thinning hair, restricted blood flow to the brain, and weakened heart rates.
In contrast, if you lose weight slowly but surely, you are more likely to keep that weight off in the long run.
In light of the above, many professionals recommend taking a less linear route to weight loss. Guiding principles and general rules are a good way to constantly remind yourself of your fat loss journey and the goals you have set for your body.
Here are 10 essential general guidelines that you should follow if you want to burn some belly fat.
1. Be calorie-wise
Keeping your body in a calorific deficit is one of the quickest ways to lose weight, however, isn’t the most healthy option. A calorific deficit is when one keeps their calorie intake lower than what their current body weight requires to function at full capacity.
There are 3 ways in which our bodies burn calories:
- Resting energy expenditure – This is when your body burns calories to regulate your breathing and body functioning, even while you are resting.
- Thermic food digestion – Your body burns calories when you eat, digest, and metabolise food.
- Activity and energy expenditure – The most well-known way of burning calories is to do active exercise.
If you’re hoping to burn a lot of belly fat, you might want to feed your body fewer calories and burn more calories simultaneously. This would include combining an active exercise regime with a low-calorie diet.
For the average human, maintaining a calorific deficit of 500 calories each day is enough to healthily lose weight without reducing your energy levels.
If you choose to take this route, be sure to do your research and get advice from a medical professional, as everybody is different and thrives with different calorie counts and food types.
2. Drink plenty of water
Increasing your intake of water is a great way to healthily speed up your weight loss journey, as well as help you to maintain your lost weight.
Water has a 0 calorie count and is essential for hydrating the body. In fact, up to 60% of the human body is made up of water!
Drinking water helps to increase the speed of your metabolism and can even suppress your appetite when you drink it before eating.
Water is such a powerful weight-loss tool that even if you drink it alone without engaging in exercise or dieting, it will help you lose weight. Even better, when you drink cold water, your body uses more energy to warm it up while digesting it, causing you to burn even more calories.
The benefits of staying hydrated:
- Water lubricates your joints and muscles
- It moves oxygen around your body
- It’s great for clear skin
- Water regulates your body temperature
- It flushes your body waste and assists your digestive system
- It maintains regular blood pressure
- Water gives you energy for exercise
3. Reduce your sugar intake
When one eats too much sugar, your insulin levels increase and can affect the health of your bloodstream. This increases your risk of heart disease and chronic diseases, as well as inflammation within your body.
Sugar is another weight loss enemy, and the worst thing about it is that it is hidden in almost all of the food that one eats. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should start with cutting out all processed, pre-packaged, and instant meal foods. These foods are filled to the brim with preservatives and added sugars which can easily be avoided by cooking your own food.
Sugar is fattening because it is high in empty calories. This means that the sugars found in sweetened juices, snack foods, and sodas are high in calories yet lack the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the body requires.
Healthy sugars such as those found in fresh fruits, green vegetables, and legumes contain all the vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals that added sugars lack, and are necessary to maintain the proper functioning of your body.
4. Reduce your salt intake
It’s important to remember that sodium (salt) is necessary for your body to function. The human body makes use of salt to balance fluids in the bloodstream and to regulate stable and healthy blood pressure. It’s even necessary to help your nerves and muscles work properly.
Too much salt, however, can be detrimental to your body and negatively affect your aspirations for weight loss. Eating a lot of salt causes your body to retain too much water, which increases your water weight as well as your fat content. Most notably, high salt intake is related to increased stomach fat as well as blood pressure, which can lead to heart issues and kidney diseases.
Try to cut down the amount of salt you add to your diet, as well as on various food types that secretly contain more salt than you might expect.
Foods with an unexpectedly high sodium content:
- Smoked or cured meats
- Frozen and instant meals
- Salted nuts
- Canned beans with added salt
- Vegetable juices
- Salad dressings
- Soup stocks and broths
5. Avoid microwave convenience meals
As previously mentioned, instant meals are packed with added sugars, salts, and preservatives.
The simplest thing to do is to get rid of any instant meals you have in your freezer and avoid the convenience aisle in the supermarket altogether. Out of sight means out of mind!
6. Trim down your serving sizes
In an era of overconsumption and instant gratification, one often loses sight of how much food they should truly be consuming. Overeating is often connected to boredom, anxiety, depression, and stress and without notice, you might be serving yourself double the helping your body requires.
How to avoid overeating:
- Dish your food up on smaller crockery.
- Eat slower so that your body has time to digest and to feel full before you eat too much.
- Fill yourself up on healthy fruits and vegetables instead of carbohydrates.
- Use carbohydrates and fats as an addition to a vegetable dominated meal instead of the other way around.
- Drink a glass of water before eating. This helps to stimulate your metabolic system.
7. Keep moving
Dieting fits hand in hand with exercising, and one should rarely do one without the other. The more physical activity you do, the more calories your body will burn for energy.
Engaging in regular exercise will help you to control your weight, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, help manage your blood sugar, and improve your mental health and happiness levels.
Take note: purely engaging in an exercise that works your abs and stomach alone will not be enough to help you lose tummy fat. A combination of aerobic, resistance training, and cardio exercise, as well as a healthy eating plan, will be needed to reduce body fat.
8. Destress throughout the day
While intermittent stress can reduce your appetite at first, long-term stress is in fact related to an increase in appetite. When you are under pressure, your body’s cortisol levels rise.
Cortisol is a hormone released when you are stressed. Increased cortisol levels correlate with higher insulin levels and a drop in blood sugar levels, therefore causing you to crave sugar, fat, and salt (otherwise known as ‘comfort foods’).
Learning how to manage your stress can have a positive effect on one’s weight loss. When you are feeling stressed and hungry, perhaps try to do some meditation, go for a relaxing walk outdoors or take a nap in a dark room.
9. Don’t skimp on sleep
Keeping your body well-rested is not just a great way to help increase your energy and happiness levels, it’s also necessary if you’re hoping to lose weight. In fact, the sleep you get is equally as important as the diet you keep and the exercise you do.
Poor sleep is highly related to a heightened Body Mass Index (BMI). As a general trend, those who get under 7 hours of deep sleep each night experience an increase in weight gain. Limited sleep can increase the excretion of ghrelin and leptin which are hunger hormones that affect one’s appetite.
With enough sleep, your brain will have extra energy to be able to fight your hunger cravings and make better food choices.
10. Plan ahead and stay motivated
The final commandment for weight loss is to stay motivated and persevere. Remember that nothing worthwhile ever comes easily, and although the journey might be long and tiresome, the result will be worth the time and the energy spent.
5 ways to stay motivated on a diet:
- Keep a journal and write down realistic expectations for yourself.
- Celebrate all of your successes.
- Focus on the long term goal ahead.
- Make use of social support.
- Listen to your body and don’t push unhealthy boundaries.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be as stressful and energy-consuming as you think. If you follow these 10 commandments of fat loss and concentrate on your goals and aspirations, you will lose weight while maintaining a healthy mental wellbeing.