Start your day with fat and take the bus: 6 surprising weight loss tips you probably never thought of
The experts approve
I spent a majority of the lockdown in my hometown, Jaipur. After having lived by myself in three cities across three different continents, coming back home without a return ticket unleashed a flood of emotions.
With the frustration of having to live by rules that aren’t made by you, and the occasional squabbles about meal timings, skewed sleeping patterns, and “you aren’t spending enough time with us”, there was also a sense of comfort that came with having few responsibilities. I was able to let go. In hindsight, maybe too much.
When it came time to leave the Jaipur winter for Mumbai’s perennial humidity, it hit me. I couldn’t drown myself in baggy sweaters to conceal my muffin top. No more jackets to cover up my arms or shawls wrapping my now-more pronounced curves.
“I need to lose weight”, a thought that was immediately followed by a pang of guilt.
I truly believe that beauty is in no way governed by the size you shop for at a Zara sale, and that self-worth or self-esteem shouldn’t decrease with the increasing number of stretch marks on your thighs. So why was I obsessing over a few kilos?
Was I a hypocrite? Did this mean that I was no longer for body positivity, or even feminism?
“It wasn’t all that simple or straightforward, but both then and now, I rarely discussed the effort I put into what was a major, ultimately positive life change. For one thing, talking about your diet is inherently uninteresting. But I also held back out of a specific sense of shame that I couldn’t necessarily articulate at the time. I was bookish, inquisitive, and defiant, and I prided myself on those qualities; even though I deeply wanted to lose weight, this desire felt vain and ignoble, an admission that I cared about how others saw me,” wrote Gabriella Paiella in an article for The Cut while opening up about her weight loss journey.
Many women feel guilty when embarking on weight loss journeys that require tremendous dedication and effort worthy of applause. A sense of shame, because you change your entire lifestyle so your body can look a certain way. It’s labelled as superficial, even though people have an array of reasons – to be healthier, to feel more energetic, or as in my case, to feel like I wasn’t losing control of my body, and life.
After reading about others women’s experiences like Paiella’s, I realised that justifying something as personal as wanting to lose weight goes against the grain of self-love and body positivity — looking exactly how you want without caring what everyone around you has to say.
So if you’ve decided that you too want to lose weight for reasons you don’t need to justify to anyone, stick to what the experts have to say, and tips that are backed by research. Apart from the usual diet plans and fitness regimens, I discovered unconventional weight loss advice that may never have occurred to me, but can help me reach my goal faster.
From Luke Coutinho to Rujuta Diwekar and more, these lifestyle changes will improve your mental health and overall wellness, while steering you along your weight loss ambitions.
6 unconventional weight loss tips that you should try
Start your day with fat
The first thing most people looking to lose weight do is eliminate fat from their diet. Here, we’re asking that you actually begin your day with it.
It could be one tablespoon of ghee, butter, or coconut oil, dunked in your coffee or just consumed plain. Just make sure it’s organic.
“It lines your gut in the morning, helping to absorb fat soluble vitamins better,” explains nutritionist Rashi Chowdhary. “Since you’re not consuming carbohydrates for the first couple of hours of your day, you are not getting that surge of sugar. Your blood sugar level doesn’t go up, which makes you feel steady or stable. It also curbs hunger, you’ll see that you feel like having your breakfast much later than usual. I’ve notice with my clients that it also really helps their skin.”
Consuming fat first thing in the morning triggers weight loss facilitated by ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state that arises when there is a lack of carbohydrates. Low levels of carbs means lower insulin levels, which leads to increased burning of fat by your body.
If the idea of consuming a spoonful of ghee, butter or coconut oil sounds too extreme to you, to begin with, you can start with organic peanut butter or organic almond butter. You could even have half an avocado, some olives, nuts, or chunks of coconut. The idea is to just start your day with fats.
Make sure your breakfast includes more protein than carbohydrates to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Having 15 to 20 grams of protein for breakfast is what Chowdhary recommends.
Swap out your non-stick pans for iron kadhais
Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar believes that it’s not just your food that affects your weight but also how you store and cook it.
“The size of our waist is inversely proportional to the size and importance of our kitchens – the utensils that you use to cook, the wrapping that you store your food in and the method you use to reheat food can all affect your micronutrient status, especially that of iron, calcium, zinc and even vitamins like B12, and folic acid. Micronutrient deficiencies can lead to imbalances in hormones, irritability, and constipation. All of which can make weight loss an elusive dream,” she explains.
So call your grandmother and ask if you can still take her up on her offer of iron kadhais.
According to Diwekar, cooking in an iron kadhai can substantially contribute to your daily iron intake. This in turn ups your haemoglobin levels, a deficiency of which can cause lethargy, mood swings, excessive or low blood flow during periods. Cooking in an iron kadhai is also a great way to avoid taking iron supplements, which causes digestive problems for a lot of people.
How is this linked to weight loss?
Iron is responsible for the healthy growth and development of our body and is also closely linked to our metabolism. Low levels can lead to inadequate amount of oxygen being carried to muscles, which affects their ability to burn fat.
Don’t neglect your sleep schedule
We’re sure you’re clocking in an adequate number of sweat sessions, but are you also meeting your quota of snooze time?
“Getting a full night of sleep is one of the most under-appreciated factors contributing to healthy weight maintenance,” says Matthew Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the effect of sleep on weight.
Research suggests that adequate sleep can curb your cravings for unhealthy food – “We are finding that getting a full night of sufficient sleep actually helps you reboot and refresh the circuits of the human brain, allowing it to make optimal food choices. These food choices may put you on a path toward weight control, rather than weight gain,” explains Walker.
Other benefits of getting the required hours of shut eye include feeling fuller for a longer duration of time, feeling more energetic, which in turn helps you exercise more efficiently. It also increases your concentration levels and allows you to focus better on your weight loss goals.
In fact, it’s said that you burn 50 to 100 calories an hour while you’re asleep. “When you dream, your brain can be as—if not more—active than when you’re awake,” adds Walker.
Take a digital detox
How many times have you heard someone complain about their dinner getting cold by the time they narrow down on something to watch?
And it’s not just screen time but multitasking in general that can negatively impact your eating habits.
It isn’t just hunger that determines the amount you consume in a day, it’s also influenced by the amount of attention you’re paying to your food.
A study shows that if you aren’t mindful of what you’re consuming, your brain doesn’t process the information, which means that it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that you’re eating. Usually, it sends you a signal indicating that you’re full about 20 minutes after you start eating, but if your brain doesn’t get the signal that you’ve begun, the stop sign is out of the question.
To make sure that multitasking isn’t throwing your weight loss schedule out of whack, practice mindful eating. Don’t merge meal time with screen time or even work for that matter, when eating concentrate solely on the food, and you will notice the difference right away.
Another reason to give going on a digital detox some serious thought is because some time away from social media and devices in general indirectly aids weight loss by ensuring that you sleep better at night. “”For the longest time I have been encouraging my patients to go off social media after evening to see an improvement in their sleep, which has worked very well,” says holistic lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho.
Get set to revamp your dining space
Redecoration can help you inch closer to your weight loss goal.
Turns out that hanging a mirror opposite your spot on the dining table is a great way to ensure that you’re not overeating. And it is reflecting quite literally that does the trick.
According to a study, food intake of people who ate in front of the mirror was one-third times lesser than those who did not eat in front of the mirror. Turns out that your actual reflection sets into motion an internal reflection spree, which reinforces your fitness goals and helps you stick to your dietary plan.
Take public transport
It might be best for you to strike out “Buy a car” from your five-year-plan to ensure that your weight loss goal is met.
A study conducted in the UK that involved 15,777 participants found that using public transport or active modes of transportation like walking or cycling significantly lowered the participants’ body mass index and body fat percentage, when compared to effect on weight when using private modes of transport.
That being said, this unconventional weight loss strategy is best implemented when the spread of the pandemic is curbed to ensure that you aren’t putting yourself in any kind of risk.