Staying slim and fit is not only important for good looks but also for your overall health. To achieve this goal, you first need to determine your ideal body weight based on your gender, age, height, body frame and body type. There are a number of formulas to calculate it.
You can also calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) using your body weight and height to determine whether you are underweight, overweight or have an ideal weight. It is widely used and also recommended by the World Health Organization.
You can find the BMI formula in our post on home remedies for obesity and weight loss. The normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9.
You can follow some tips and tricks to stay healthy and avoid unwanted pounds from creeping up on you. Most of these suggestions involve improving your lifestyle, keeping a regular routine, exercising and following some basic diet rules. Also, your determination to stay fit and healthy will go a long way in making your efforts successful.
Here are the top 10 tips to stay slim, hot and healthy.
1. Stop Eating When Your Belly is 80% Full
Instead of binge eating until your buttons pop, go slow and only eat until your belly is 80% full. It will help you avoid overeating. Also, your stomach will perform better with more space to produce digestive juices and break down food.
Slow, mindful eating will help you sense your level of fullness. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full. Research indicates that eating slowly also enhances satiety. Plus, it allows you to better enjoy the flavor of the food.
Along with this, delve deeper into your eating habits to explore some basic diet rules like:
- Eat only when you are hungry—not out of boredom, stress or loneliness. Remember the old saying, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips!”
- Do not eat food or drink a beverage on the go, such as drinking your coffee while driving to work. You end up consuming more calories this way.
- Do not eat late at night. Enjoy your last meal of the day 2 to 3 hours before going to bed.
- After eating a snack, wait 3 hours before your next meal or snack. Likewise, wait 5 hours after eating a heavy meal.
- If you skip a meal, load up on fruits and vegetables first so that you do not overeat when you finally sit down to eat. Research shows that after fasting for about 18 hours, the body craves more fattening foods to load up more calories per volume.
- If possible, go on a detox diet once a week.
2. Keep an Eye on Portion Sizes
Most people do not realize how portion control can help support weight loss efforts. In a 2004 study involving 329 overweight participants, 38% of them lost 5% of their body weight after practicing portion control for 2 years. The study was conducted by researchers at the Summa Health System in Ohio.
To reduce your portion sizes and avoid mindless eating, follow these tips:
- Downsize your dishes by using smaller plates, bowls and even serving spoons. In a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Backentive Medicine, participants were asked to serve ice cream for themselves in 17- and 34-inch bowls. Researchers found that people, even nutrition experts, who used larger bowls served themselves 31% more ice cream than those who used smaller bowls.
- Serve beverages in tall, narrow glasses instead of small and wide ones as they appear to have more liquid, thus making you think that you are drinking more.
- Do not eat chips and other packaged snacks straight from the bag.
- When at a restaurant, request a half order or smaller portion of your chosen entree.
3. Detox Drinks
Start your day by drinking warm water mixed with the juice of 1/2 lemon. It improves digestion, flushes out toxins, balances the pH levels and helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Another option is to mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a tall glass of water and drink it once or twice daily. You can also add raw honey or a natural sweetener like stevia to these drinks.
Although lemons and apple cider vinegar are acidic in nature, they have an alkalizing effect on the body. However, they may trigger heartburn if you drink them in excess or are prone to acidity.
You can also drink delicious detox smoothies to support your body’s natural detoxifying abilities. Plus, it will count toward your servings of fruits and vegetables. Needless to say, kick unhealthy habits like drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking cigarettes.
4. Get off the Couch
Lack of physical activity is the most obvious yet neglected cause of unhealthy weight gain. People fall into the illusion of losing weight and staying slim with different weight loss diets, while disregarding the most basic rule—you must exercise to burn calories.
You do not need an intense workout. In fact, you can enjoy a physical activity of your choice like brisk walking, running, jogging, swimming, dancing, aerobics or cycling. Even gardening can be great exercise as it helps you burn more than 300 calories per hour.
Regular, moderate exercise will also improve your mood and reduce stress. Once you figure out the activity of your choice and fit it in your daily routine, you will enjoy your exercise and do it regularly with enthusiasm.
Also, try some simple yet effective ways to increase your physical activity, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking your car a mile or so away from your destination so you can walk that distance.
5. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Studies have found that those who skip breakfast and eat fewer times a day tend to be heavier than people who have a healthy breakfast and eat 4 or 5 times a day.
Scientists also believe that a high-protein breakfast could be the key to slimming as it keeps you feeling full, and thus improves appetite control. Plus, it has been found to reduce evening snacking on high-sugar and high-fat foods.
Try some protein-rich breakfast recipes, such as:
- a high-protein smoothie
- boiled eggs
- cottage cheese and fruits
- Greek yogurt
- fortified cereal with milk
You can also eat fiber-rich foods like oatmeal and sandwiches on whole-grain bread. Plus, replace your morning cup of coffee with green tea as it contains powerful antioxidants and promotes fat burning.
Another very important aspect is to prepare your food at home using organic and whole food ingredients. If you are not used to eating a proper breakfast, it may take you a few days to adjust to this habit.
6. Identify Your Hunger
More often than not, people confuse thirst for hunger and end up eating a snack when the body is actually demanding water. The hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls hunger and thirst, sends the same signal for both.
To determine if you are hungry or thirsty, drink a glass of water and wait at least 15 minutes. If your desire to eat subsides, then you were probably thirsty, not hungry. Symptoms like headache and fatigue may also signal the need for more water in the body.
7. Steer Clear of Fatty Fast Food
Junk food and sodas are much to blame for the growing obesity problem. However, by making healthier food choices, you can significantly cut down fats and calories in your diet.
Here are some tips to help you make better food choices:
- Substitute fries with a fruit, yogurt or salad.
- Opt for baked or grilled versions of fried foods.
- Choose plain, air-popped popcorn over high-calorie, oil-popped popcorn.
- Instead of products made from refined grains, choose products like whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereals and brown rice. Check food labels for whole-grain ingredients like whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat, buckwheat, whole-grain barley, millet and quinoa.
- Avoid high-calorie sauces and mayonnaise by opting for plain sandwiches. Or, you could replace these sauces with salsa, mustard or a low-calorie dressing.
- Skip the sodas and go for light lemonade, green tea or herbal teas.
8. Stress Less
Stress is one of the most common factors contributing to weight gain because it increases the rate at which your body stores fat and reduces your ability to burn fat.
The release of cortisol during stress increases appetite, causing people to reach for comfort foods. Also, stress makes you crave sugar because sweet and high-fat foods stimulate the brain to release chemicals that increase pleasure.
Instead of fighting stress with emotional eating, try relaxation exercises like deep breathing, yoga and meditation. Include more foods rich in vitamins B and C, magnesium and calcium in your diet. A deficiency of these nutrients can cause an increase in your cortisol levels and food cravings.
Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce stress and aggression, increase metabolism and facilitate weight loss. So, eat more oatmeal, almonds, avocados, oranges, berries, whole-grains, spinach, skim milk and yogurt to beat stress in a healthy way.
9. Get Proper Sleep
A growing body of research suggests that lack of sleep increases the risk of weight gain and obesity. Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism and affects your hormones, thus increasing your hunger and decreasing your satiety or sense of being full after a meal.
Also, you are likely to be tempted to indulge in late-night snacking to make up for the calories that you expend as you burn the midnight oil.
To promote proper sleep, establish a bedtime ritual like taking a warm bath, a few minutes of reading or meditation. Also, turn out the lights, create a relaxing environment, and remove all TVs and computers from your bedroom. It is usually suggested to stick to a schedule of going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day.
10. Get Regular Medical Check-Ups
Keep track of your weight and if you experience sudden or unexplained weight gain, consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of an underlying condition like diabetes, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menopause, depression and Cushing’s syndrome.
Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, for example, slows down your metabolism and causes weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
Certain medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, corticosteroids and oral contraceptives can also lead to weight gain as a side effect.
Do not stop your medications on your own though as it can have serious consequences. Discuss your problem with your doctor first.