Weight is often one of the most common concerns after the festive period.
The extra calories piled on does take its toll in the form of tighter-fitting clothes and unwanted bulges along the body contour.
However, losing these extra measurements through physical activity can be a sweaty affair in our climate – not always something nice to contemplate, especially if you can only squeeze that workout in before going to the office or your evening social activities.
If you are one of those people who would prefer to avoid the sweat, but still lose the weight, then check out these five ways to reduce fat without breaking a sweat.
1. Tweaking your diet
Flat bellies and slimmer thighs start in the kitchen.
While an active lifestyle is an important part of staying healthy and maintaining an ideal weight, the right food choices can help us shed the kilos without as much effort as performing a squat or running 10km – and no, this does not mean crash-dieting.
Choosing a protein- and fiber-rich breakfast can help keep us full and stop us from reaching for that unhealthy mid-morning snack.
Also, have you thought of how many meals that cup of bubble tea or syrup-filled coffee accounts for?
Try swapping out your boba for healthier alternatives like aloe vera or konjac jelly, and go for brewed tea rather than milk tea (the creamer used to concoct the milky tea we like is made of sugar, vegetable oil and milk protein derivatives that pile on the hidden calories).
Just as we do spring-cleaning before the festive periods, we should “spring-clean” our diets once in a while to weed out unhealthy options or food habits we have developed over the years.
2. Choosing activity over convenience
Think about the times we have chosen the sedentary option over the active one during our day, eg:
- Taking the lift to go up just one floor instead of the stairs
- E-hailing a car or taxi instead of walking to the bus stop or LRT station
- Using a trolley instead of a basket at the supermarket, or
- Buying clothes online lying in your bed instead of hitting the mall and exploring the shops.
We are faced with many choices in our daily lives, some of which could burn extra calories through simple physical activity that does not necessarily require sweating it out.
By not choosing the sedentary option, we increase the amount of calories we burn.
For example, every step climbed helps us burn about 0.17 calories (on average), while chores can help take off about 120 calories for every 30 minutes of housework on average.
So, the next time you are faced with a choice, choose the option that involves a little more activity – the kilos will start shedding off before you know it.
3. Carry a bottle of water
In our urban lifestyles, staying hydrated is often not at the top of our priorities.
How often do we remember to bring a bottle of water out with us?
And when we get thirsty and do not have water with us, we often head over to the nearest store where the go-to beverage is often bubble tea, soft drinks, juice, coffee or tea, but never plain water.
Not only do calories from these sweetened beverages pile up, our metabolic rate actually drops when we are dehydrated.
Drinking water throughout the day can actually increase our metabolic rate by about 30%.
So, the next time you leave the house, remember to bring along that water bottle and don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day.
4. Stop burning that midnight oil
Staying up late at night can hamper our efforts in shedding those kilos.
When we do not have enough sleep, we are actually cooking up a perfect recipe for weight gain.
Lack of sleep dulls the activity in our frontal lobe – the center for decision-making and impulse control – which in turn makes us more likely to snack, skip exercise and choose unhealthy meals.
When we are tired, our brain’s reward center becomes hyperactive and make us more likely to indulge in sweet desserts, that late night snack, or even a larger portion of dinner.
And indeed, studies all over the world have shown that lack of sleep is closely associated with weight gain.
But it does not just stop there.
When we have insufficient sleep, the stress hormone cortisol spikes and triggers our bodies to conserve energy, which drops our basal metabolic rate.
In essence, sleep deprivation makes us “metabolically groggy” and less efficient at burning off that kilo of fat.
So, do aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
5. Consult your doctor
You can speak to your doctor about weight loss medications, which might be suitable for certain people.
These medications are indicated for use in people who are obese (ie with a body mass index, BMI, of 30 or more).
They might also be helpful for people who are overweight (ie with a BMI of 27 or more) and also have other health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure or obstructive sleep apnoea.
There are a variety of weight loss medications, each with its own distinct mechanism of action.
Some medications work by decreasing appetite.
An example of a drug in this category works as an appetite suppressant and can also increase your metabolism.
Some medications increase feelings of fullness.
One drug in this category is commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes patients and mimics a satiety hormone to signal to your brain that you are full.
And some drugs can perform both actions.
Others work by blocking absorption of specific macronutrients.
For example, there is one medication that blocks the patient’s body from absorbing a portion of the ingested fats.
Meanwhile, some combination medicines block certain signaling pathways in your body, resulting in feelings of fullness and increased metabolism.
Each medication has its own list of side effects, but the more common ones are nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, headaches, lethargy, dry mouth and insomnia.
Your doctor is the best person to advise on the right medication for you, and if needed, to change you to a different one should you experience significant side effects.
So if you are overweight and have other chronic health conditions, or are obese, you can speak to your doctor to find out if you are suitable for weight loss medications.