Maintaining a healthy weight

A persons feet on scales
Author:  Sally Anderson, Sports Dietitian - Nutritionist
Issue: Volume 8 Number 1

Learn the difference between flexible and rigid restriction

Flexible restriction will result in weight loss, while rigid restriction tends to result in a yoyo-ing body weight, as there is only so long we can stick with a diet before we break it. Allow yourself occasional treats as you start your weight-loss journey.

Practise the best exercise you can to lose weight: the two-handed push-up away from the table!

Stop eating when you are no longer hungry and, in about 20 minutes, you will feel completely satisfied. Do you really need something else after dinner? Or is this simply a habit? If you are not physically hungry, you do not need another round of food.

Start reading ingredient lists

The closer your food is to how it was when it came out of the ground or off the tree, the better it is for you. Rather than focusing on the numbers on the nutrition label, take a look at the ingredient list. This will tell you how processed a food is. When a food manufacturer processes a food, it is likely that they add extra sugars and fats that you would not add yourself if you were creating the food. This adds unnecessary calories and robs your food of healthy nutrients. The fewer ingredients and numbers (that is, preservatives and additives) that appear in the ingredient list, the better the food is for you.

Make a habit of moving it to lose it!

Australian health authorities recommend 30 minutes of activity on most days (that is, five–six days per week). However, this is the amount required to maintain a healthy weight. To lose weight, it is likely that you will need to be doing more than this. The amount of exercise you need to do depends on many factors, including how much you have to lose, your current regime and your exercise history and, of course, any injuries that need accounting for. Consult your sports dietitian or exercise physiologist to find out what will work for you.

Sleep it off

As crazy as this idea sounds, it is likely that if you sleep more, your weight will come off more easily. Medical researchers have established a clear link between sleep and body weight. How so? Let’s take a few steps back and look at what our hormones do:

  • Leptin is produced in your fat cells and sends a signal to the brain when you are full.
  • Ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and stimulates your appetite.

When you do not get enough sleep, leptin levels drop, which means you do not feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, and you want more food. This makes for a dangerous overeating environment.

If you want to shed some kilos, logging a few extra hours of sleep is not a bad idea, particularly if you currently get less than six hours of sleep a night. Most people need seven to nine hours a night. Some more, some less. Give it a try! You may just discover that you are not as hungry, or that you have fewer cravings for sugary, calorie-dense foods.

Ask an expert

Having a meal plan that is designed for your unique needs is invaluable. Have you ever followed a magazine diet but found it hard to stick to for longer than a few weeks? This is common and keeps the dieting industry on its feet. You can beat it by seeking specific advice for you. A sports dietitian can account for your training and officiating and other work and life commitments and tailor a meal plan to your life. This gives you the best chance at success.

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