1 - DELAY your breakfast
You've probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. To make it even better, try eating breakfast just before you leave home or even when you arrive at work/uni/school (rather than having it first thing when you wake up).
WHY? When you sleep, your body is in a fasting (ie. non-eating) state. This causes a release of 'catecholamines' which tell your body to breakdown fat-stores for energy.
Thus after a good 8 or so hours of sleep, your body is well into 'fat-burning' mode. However, as soon as you eat any carbs or sugars (ie. breakfast) there is a rise in insulin levels which effectively switches-off the catecholamines. So, by delaying breakfast by just a little bit each morning, you force your body to burn a little bit more fat!
This is probably one where most people go wrong. Eat about 3 decent meals a day, rather than 5 or 6 tiny ones (or even worse, constant snacking!)
WHY? Ask any body-builder, and they'll tell you they eat heaps of small meals a day... that's right - it helps them put ON weight. Thus, in an attempt to lose weight, we should do the opposite.
Physiologically, this is due in part to the level of insulin - if we constantly eat, our body will keep releasing insulin, which is NOT what we want. Dont forget that catecholamines are fat-burning, and they hate insulin!
It's recommended that we drink about 2 litres of water a day. You should try drinking much more than this (aim for 3L or more). If its possible, drink cold or chilled water.
WHY? A couple of reasons. My favourite reason is known as 'water-induced thermogenesis', which basically means that by drinking (cold) water, your body requires energy (ie. burning of fat) to heat it back up to body temperature. Another reason is that water simply fills your stomach, thereby decreasing the amount you can physically eat.
Not only does this help you hit your target of at least 3L per day, but green tea has been shown to stimulate your body to burn fat.
WHY? It relates to our good friends catecholamines, which as we said earlier, are used by our body to burn fat for energy. Green tea blocks 'bad' enzymes which normally prevent catecholamines from doing their job. So, if we let the green tea take care of these 'bad' enzymes, catecholamines are free to roam around and do their job.
Caffeine too plays a minor role, in that it activates the sympahtetic nervous system, which also contributes to the increased levels of fat-burning.
5 - Exercise (we know it scares you) in SHORT bursts
Rather than sprinting hard for 10 minutes straight, you can burn more fat by sprinting for 12 seconds, jogging for 8 seconds, sprinting for 12 seconds, jogging for 8 seconds, sprinting for 12 seconds... (for a total duration of 10 minutes). Do this a couple of times a week. And make sure you work up a sweat - you know you're doing well if you sweat!
WHY? Several studies have shown this to be true, but the exact physiological mechanism is not really clear. What we can tell you is that bursts of sprints followed by slow jogs (and repeat...) have been shown to stimulate catecholamine release.
When you eat 'normal' sugar (ie. glucose) your body releases chemicals which tell you that you're full. Fructose doesn't have the same effect, so you end up eating more and more fructose, thereby unkowningly increasing the calories you take in. You'd be suprised how much of your daily food and drink contains it (hint: almost everything).
WHY? Glucose intake generally stimulates the release of leptin (from fat-cells) which tells you to stop eating. Fructose, however, has a much lower leptin response, so you just keep eating and eating and eating.
Remember, weight-loss is NOT just burning off fat...
Burning fat is an important aspect to losing weight. But don't forget to focus on the following which are just as important: