Someone asked me yesterday how to lose weight quickly. The simple answer is, stop eating. A reasonably healthy adult can easily survive a week without food so long as he or she drinks plenty of water. Last time I did this I lost a few pounds. You might get a headache or feel sick during the first day or two due to withdrawal symptoms from coffee or junk food, but you can avoid that by cutting out caffeine and by eating less than usual for a couple of days before you start your fast. After three days of fasting you won't feel hungry any more but you might feel a bit strange, at least that's been my experience.
At the same time you should take some gentle exercise - a little jogging, cleaning the car or doing some housework or gardening for example. If you want to trim your tummy down, exercise your abs (abdominal muscles) with situps, crunchies and 'cycling' on your back. With exercise, abs muscles grow stronger more quickly than any other group of muscles.
Incidentally, fasting for three days is the cheapest and most effective way to detox, something which some people believe is important to do now and again.
However, if you want to lose a lot of weight and keep it off then you need to take some permanent action. Here are my ten top tummy trimming tips.
1. Go jogging at least three times a week before breakfast. Since you won't have just eaten, your body will be forced to use up some of its fat reserves to find the necessary energy. Each day start slowly, go faster and faster until you are going as fast as you can for 2 or 3 minutes, then gradually slow down to a walk again. If possible find a jogging partner to meet up with you each day: this will encourage you both to keep it up.
2. Then eat a breakfast based on protein and saturated fat. (Yes, that's what I said!) Lots of recent research has proved that calorie for calorie these two macro-ingredients satisfy hunger longer than carbohydrates and sugar do, reducing the temptation to snack later in the day and consume more calories than you need. I am talking about such things as a sausage and scrambled egg, some grilled cheese and tuna on a thin slice of buttered toast, or a rasher of bacon and some mushrooms lightly fried in lard. You could also have a small helping of full cream yogurt. If you don't believe that such breakfasts are healthier than cereal and low-fat yogurt then read my book!
3. Don’t add sugar to anything, and so far as possible cut out all food and drink that has sugar added to it, including of course ordinary chocolates and sweets. If necessary use saccharin or sucralose as a sweetener. I know they are not 'natural' but I haven't heard of any research that proves them to be dangerous, and refined sugar isn't very natural either. Preferably omit alcoholic drinks too, because they all have sugar in them. You won't die!
4. Cut down on starchy carbohydrates - bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits, cereals, crisps, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. The human body converts starch to glucose, and if it has more than it needs for heat and energy it will convert it to fat and store it for a rainy day.
5. Eat plenty of protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts), fresh or frozen vegetables and some fruit.
6. If you feel hungry drink some water or tea, nibble a cucumber or raw broccoli stalk, or eat an olive or a little pickled beetroot.
7. Don't drink too much fruit juice, because it has sugar in it and fructose is probably the worst kind of sugar for causing Type 2 diabetes.
8. Don't buy any snack food apart from the sort of things I've suggested above - if there's none in the house you won't be able to eat it.
9. Get plenty of sleep and don't stay up late watching films or TV shows. You'll be tempted to snack, and if you then go to bed all that your body will be able do with the extra calories is to store them as fat. Also, if you don't go to bed in good time you won't want to get up in time to go jogging and eat a proper breakfast. You will feel tired, and when you feel tired and lack energy you are more likely to resort to comfort snacking.
10. Post a 'before' photo of yourself on Facebook and announce that you will post an 'after' photo in six or nine months' time. Or buy a coat, dress or pair of trousers that you really like, but one or two sizes too small for you. The more expensive it is, the more determined you will be to get your weight down enough to be able to wear it. Or why not book a holiday six or nine months ahead at a naturist resort or naturist guest house, and pay for it in advance? (See NudistUK or Castaways Travel if you are really interested!) That should do the trick. Best of all, do all three!
The amount of food you need depends on your sex, height, personal metabolism and activity level. So I feel that trying to keep to a set number of calories is misguided, besides being a pain. What I suggest is that you set yourself a modest amount of weight to lose each week, say 1lb or 0.5kg, decide what you want your final weight to be, and then work out how long you will have to diet in order to reach that weight. For example if you lose just 1lb a week you can lose nearly 3 stone in 9 months! In metric measurements, if you lose just 0.5kg a week you will lose 20kg over a similar period!
If you are seriously overweight seek your doctor's advice before setting your weekly and final targets.
Once you start dieting, weigh yourself every week or fortnight and if necessary adjust the amount of food you are eating in order to keep to your target weight loss. If you find that you are above your target weight for that week or fortnight then reduce the size of your food portions. If you find you are below it, you can reward yourself by increasing your portion sizes or by giving yourself a treat.
All dieters know that losing weight is easiest at the beginning and gets harder as time goes by. One solution is to increase steadily the amount of exercise you do. As you grow fitter and stronger you will be able to exercise harder and longer and so use up more calories than you did to start with. You could add some additional exercises to your jogging and abs exercises, or perhaps just jog faster, longer or more often. By exercising progressively harder and adjusting the amount you eat you should be able to maintain your target weekly weight loss until you reach your goal.
Although exercise can help you to lose a little weight its main benefit is to improve your health, your energy levels, your self-esteem and your general feeling of well-being. There is a really helpful exercise plan for people of all fitness levels in 'Twenty-First Century Nutrition and Family Health
'. I followed this plan when I was training for my half marathon runs in my early 70s.
Let me know how you get on!