About 28% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 are overweight, while 24% in the same range are obese. The figures are even more scary as the age increases.
Weight loss plans are often ladened with strict diet plans and increased physical activity, but there are several lifestyle changes that can complement these traditional approaches. In fact a recent survey by Everyday Health revealed that diet and exercise was not the number one strategy for successful weight loss. Asides diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, other safe and effective weight loss tips may include simple activities such as drinking warm water in the morning, soaking oneself up in the sun for vitamin D, and getting adequate sleep.
As you navigate your weight loss journey, having your local pharmacist as an ally can make a significant difference. Pharmacists are well-equipped to offer tips on weight loss medications, supplements and other lifestyle changes. This article focuses on pharmacists tips for safe and effective weight loss such as sleep, hydration, a healthy gut, and keeping food journals.
1) Sleep affects appetite
Experts recommend 7-9 hours of night’s sleep for adults. Unfortunately, 1 in 2 Canadian adults have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.
However, the bad news is that a lack of sleep is linked to a myriad of health issues affecting the brain, respiration, digestion, immunity etc.
In the same vein, several studies have investigated the intersection between sleep and weight. Most of the research says sleep affects the levels of ghrelin and leptin – the hormones that regulate appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger, while leptin tells your brain you’ve had enough food.
Growing evidence shows acute sleep deprivation reduces leptin concentration while ghrelin increases. This imbalance triggers a craving for more food when you are sleep deprived.
Moreover, some experts believe sleep affects food choices. There’s a shred of evidence to back this claim, though. A lack of sleep is believed to lead people to want high-energy foods. Investigators say this concept has to do with the alteration of the brain reward centres.
The bottom line is that there’s an association between short sleep duration and weight gain, as exposed by many studies.
So, follow these tips for a better and longer sleep experience.
* Keep a regular sleep schedule
* Reduce lighting source; a dark room is better
* Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed
* Reduce stress
* Sleep early
* Keep away your mobiles
2) Cultivate a healthy gut to lose weight
Your gut contains about 1000 distinct bacteria species, and some of them are called probiotics or simply good bacteria. Probiotics offer the body many benefits, including a role in digestion, mental health, heart health, immune system, etc. Incorporating fibre and probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt and fermented foods is essential for a healthy gut microbiome. Having the right balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can help you lose weight.
Probiotics may also help you lose weight, but not all types. For now, at least, only strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are promising. It has been established that taking strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium alone or in combination reduces weight gain, body mass index, waist circumference, and fat mass.
How probiotics reduce weight is pretty unclear for now. However, evidence indicates they form short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA reduces appetite and raises energy expenditure by another mechanism.
What’s more, probiotics may also prevent weight gain. For instance, supplementation with probiotics prevents body mass gain and fat accumulation. A caution, though. Some probiotics may actually cause weight gain. This study found that some strains of Lactobacillus promoted weight gain. The authors concluded that the effect of probiotics on weight is strain and species-specific. Therefore choose your probiotics carefully or better still eat probiotic rich food.
3) Water helps you burn more calories
Water is life, they say. We may also say that drinking more water results in a healthier weight. Why is this? To start with, water is an important biological ingredient. It’s essential for enzyme activation, metabolism, and vital biological processes. So, how can water help you lose weight?
Ordinarily, when you take a lot of water, your stomach sends a signal to the brain that it’s full, thus reducing the feeling of hunger. This is thought to be the mechanism behind water’s anti-weight properties. It’s backed by reliable evidence as well.
A study that involved 50 overweight females who drank 500 mL of water every meal found that the BMI, body fat, and appetite scores were lower after 8 weeks of repeated practice.
Keep in mind that calories are expended when the body heats water for digestion. Moreover, replacing diet beverages with water reduces your liquid calorie intake. Those soft drinks you reach for when you’re thirsty count, too.
A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported significant weight loss in overweight and obese women who replaced beverages with water. This followed a 24-week intervention period.
As per total volume of fluid intake daily, 13 and 9 cups are recommended for healthy men and women, respectively. However, the exact volume may depend on other factors such as age, body size, temperature, health status, and sun exposure.
As an alternative, you can even take herbal teas such as green tea — green tea contains compounds that break excess fat and burn more calories.
4) Go nature: spend more time outside
You’d be surprised to find out that sun exposure may help you reduce weight. Exposure to sunlight for about 10 minutes in the morning before 10 am helps to set your circadian rhythm. This makes your body wake up properly in the morning and ensures sufficient melatonin will be produced in the evening when it’s time to sleep. And remember getting enough sleep reduces appetite on the following day.
In addition, the skin utilises UV radiation to make Vitamin D. And Vitamin D has been found to be effective in reducing weight. It does this by reducing the formation of new fat cells. Moreover, Vitamin D equally raises serotonin levels – the more serotonin you have, the less the feeling of hunger.
Moreover, losing weight can even increase your Vitamin D levels. Experts recommend at least 5-30 minutes of sunlight per day. But moderation is key; over-exposure to sunlight may weaken the protective functions of your skin and make you vulnerable.
5) Get a food journal or diet app
It’s not uncommon to keep records of what we do to achieve certain goals. For some people, shedding extra pounds is a goal, for others the goal is to reduce extra fat in the belly area. Therefore, journaling your actions and steps in your weight loss journey is key. Apart from tracking your weight, another parameter that may be tracked is the waist circumference. Sometimes your weight does not change but you may notice significant reduction in waist measurement. Analyse your weekly goals and reward yourself when you meet a target.
For one, a food journal reminds you of your commitment to healthy eating. It also assists you in keeping track of your food choices for accountability and awareness purposes.
Your food journal should contain key information about every food you eat (even snacks). That way, you can get an ideal picture of your nutrient intake and the types. You may add important lifestyles such as exercise, sleep data, and daily steps.
Food journals are available as printouts and digital forms. Both formats are good, but make sure you opt for the one that guarantees easy access. There are diet apps, too, each with different features. Some apps may help you create meal plans and exercise routines; some even offer consultations.
Remember to use weight loss medications and supplements wisely. There is a current buzz about the use of medications for weight loss. Weight loss medications such as Saxenda, Wegovy, and Orlistat are recommended only when other underlying medical conditions are present. Orlistat is available at CPW in 2 different brands and dosages: Xenical, an Rx item, 120mg, available in brand and generic; and Alli, an OTC item, 60 mg, available only in generic. Please note, do not start any weight loss medication without the advice of your doctor.
Be sure to review supplements with your pharmacists and doctors before using them to make sure they do not interact with your other medications. It is also wise to be aware of some of the potential side effects of weight medications and supplements.
Obesity is a global issue, and it’s not surprising that the internet is flooded with several weight loss tips. Chief among them are lifestyle changes such as diet modification and physical exercise. Besides diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, incorporate pharmacist weight loss tips discussed here and be consistent. You will begin to see results soon.
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