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Out with the old, in with the new

8/24 10:34:47

Almost every time we turn on the television or surf the internet, we are bombarded with the new weight-loss rules and diet plans. We've all been exposed to various 'diet rules' over the years and, accurate or not, many of us still live by them. Below are six of these outdated and unhelpful rules and some NEW guidelines that will actually help you reach your goals!

Old rule: Don’t eat after 19h00

The original idea was that people should stop eating about 3 hours before bed, using 10 p.m. as an average bedtime. Although it is a good idea to stop eating a few hours before bed, the reasoning has nothing to do with weight gain; it’s basically an issue of digestion and personal comfort.

Going to sleep on a full stomach may make sleeping uncomfortable, as the body is simultaneously shutting down to rest while still exerting energy to digest the food. Your body is smart, but it doesn't know what time it is when you eat. It will metabolize calories eaten after 19h00 the same way as it does the calories you eat earlier in the day. They will NOT automatically be stored as fat.

New rule: Don’t mindlessly snack in the evening.

You can eat at night without gaining weight, as long as you are eating mindfully to satisfy real hunger rather than stress or boredom and don't go over your calorie needs for the day when doing so.

Old rule: You should burn every calorie you eat through exercise

Some people misinterpret this weight-loss equation, thinking they must burn off every calorie they eat and then some by exercising. Besides being inaccurate, this practice can be unsafe and lead to exhaustion, overuse injuries, and stalled weight-loss among other problems.

Remember, your body is constantly burning calories throughout the day, even when you're not physically active. This is known as a basal metabolic rate (BMR), and it accounts for more than 1 200-1 500 calories per day (on average). Add to that all the calories you burn by moving, walking, standing, and yes, exercising, and you can see how easy it is to 'burn more calories than you consume' without spending your life in the gym.

New rule: Move more and exercise moderately

Try to achieve an active lifestyle by adding more physical activity to your days. Small things that get you moving more such as walking the stairs, walking to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing, or playing an active video game instead of watching TV – can add to your daily calorie burn and help you lose weight.

Old rule: Skip meals to lose weight faster

Skipping meals to save calories backfires more often than not. When you go several hours without food, you will be ravenous by the time your next meal comes along and this will make you more likely to throw your eating plans out of the window and consume anything within reach. In addition to this, eating too infrequently may slow down your metabolism, sending your body into conservation (or 'starvation') mode because it thinks calories are scarce.

New rule: Eat sensible portions at regular intervals throughout the day

Try to keep your body's metabolism running as efficiently as possible by fueling it at regular intervals. Try eating small, balanced meals every 3 to 4 hours to properly nourish yourself and encourage weight loss.

Old rule: Eating low-carb is the way to win at weight loss

Over the past several years, low-carb diet fads have given carbohydrates a bad rap, but this reputation is unfounded. Carbohydates are an important fuel source for your body and they are necessary for safe, steady weight loss, too. Your body needs carbohydrates to efficiently burn fat, so skimping on the carbs could actually hurt your weight loss efforts and be detrimental to your health.

New rule: Cut back on processed carbs and choose whole foods instead

It is true that some carbs (whole grains, vegetables, legumes, etc.) are better for you than others (white bread, sugary cereals, and sweets) are. Rather than omitting carbs from your diet plan, be more selective.

Old rule: Give up eating all of your favorite fattening foods

It’s simply unrealistic to think that you can cut out all the foods that you love without ever rebelling. Chances are, if you keep yourself from eating your favourite 'bad' foods all the time, you’ll eventually end up giving in and bingeing on those foods since you haven’t had them for so long.

New rule: Eat anything you’d like within moderation.

With moderation and portion control, you can still eat your favorites without straying from your goals. Try sprinkling a few chocolate chips on your oatmeal in the morning instead of eating an entire chocolate bar, or have one tablespoon of peanut butter with some celery instead of slathering layers of it on a sandwich.

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