It Has Cost Me 14 Teeth: Readers On Soft Drink Addiction & How To Beat It

Fizzy, caffeinated drinks are on sale everywhere, and for many people it can become difficult to function without them. Is cold turkey the only way out?

Sirin Kale wrote about her 27-year addiction to fizzy drinks this week. When we asked readers to tell us about their own experiences of soft drink addiction, there was a huge response – here are some of the replies

‘It’s normal for me to drink Diet Coke at the start of a 6am shift’

Working in a Coca-Cola factory means that most Coke brands are freely available to employees. I’m on my feet a lot and work up quite a thirst. The fridges on site are stocked up with everything from Fanta and Sprite to Coke and its many variants. It is totally normal for me to grab a bottle of Diet Coke at the start of a 6am shift. On a hot day I could get through five or six 500ml bottles. Lately, I’ve tried hard to replace Diet Coke with water, but I just find it so boring! Lockdown was a big help: since I’ve been shielding at home I don’t have easy access to such a large supply. Nowadays I’ll get through a couple of two-litre bottles a week. The caffeine in Diet Coke started to badly affect my stress and anxiety levels. I’ve since switched to caffeine-free Diet Coke and feel a lot better. Anonymous, Coca-Cola factory worker, London

‘The shock when I couldn’t buy Ribena was overwhelming’

We always had cheap cordials when I was growing up, as Ribena was so expensive. When I left home, I started treating myself to Ribena. I would get through the large bottles of it within a few days and refused to drink anything else. I don’t think I realised how bad my addiction was until the young people in the youth centre where I work hid it and it caused me so much anxiety – I couldn’t leave the centre until I found it. I no longer drink Ribena – the only way I could stop was to go cold turkey. I travelled to New Zealand and naively thought I’d be able to get it over there – the shock when I couldn’t was overwhelming. I had no choice, I had to drink something else. Nina, youth worker, Bristol

‘I don’t drink tea, coffee or alcohol and Diet Coke gives me a boost’

I started with Tab – the forerunner of Diet Coke, which I then moved on to when it became available. I don’t drink tea, coffee or alcohol and it gives me a boost. I have known I am addicted for as long as I can remember. As far as I can tell, the only side-effect has been the impact on my teeth. However, I have wondered about donating my body to medical science so that a lifetime of Diet Coke addiction can be assessed! I like to say that this addiction is the only thing I have in common with Donald Trump. Occasionally I have managed to go without Diet Coke but can only do it on non-working days as I get a headache and become irritable. It also makes me prone to falling asleep whenever I sit down. But nothing healthier really appeals as a replacement, so it is hard to abstain indefinitely. Anonymous, healthcare worker, London

‘Weaning myself off caffeine has been a very slow process’

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In my early 20s, I could drink six to eight cans of Red Bull a day. When I got pregnant at 30, I stopped; but when my daughter was born she never slept, so I started drinking it again. About five years later, I managed to stop again but instead drank two to three bottles of Lucozade a day. When I started getting palpitations, I decided to switch to Coca-Cola; now my daughter is seven and I just drink one can of Diet Coke a day.

It has been a long journey and a very slow process of weaning myself off caffeine. I don’t drink tea or coffee, so felt I needed to get that pick-me-up from somewhere. At my worst, I would get about three hours sleep a night, drink fizzy drinks all day, then struggle to sleep again at night. Michelle, receptionist, Mansfield

‘I’d often walk miles to a 24-hour supermarket just to buy Pepsi Max’

I remember drinking cans of Coke and Lilt often as a child, but by age 12 I was drinking about a litre of Coke every day. At 14, I switched to Pepsi Max because of tooth decay caused by the sugar. From 16 onwards, I was drinking at least two litres of Pepsi Max a day, with slower tooth erosion but still some decay. Altogether, it has cost me 14 teeth. I realised the amount I was drinking was excessive a long time ago. From the age of 20 onwards, I was drinking two to six litres a day. I’d often get out of bed in the middle of the night due to cravings and walk miles to the nearest 24-hour supermarket just to buy some. The uncomfortable bloating, concerns over possible bone loss, and considerable expense (£6 a day is a lot on low income) finally got me to stop. I quit six months ago after going cold turkey. The cravings and the headaches were strong and every time I had a meal it would trigger the craving. Every time I walked past a drinks chiller I’d be so close to saying sod it, but I knew one sip would inevitably become a can, and then a bottle. Now I no longer crave Pepsi Max at all. Barry, carer, Dundee

‘The craving for a fizzy drink at meal times never leaves me’

I grew up in the 70s when people were not so aware of how bad sugar and fizzy drinks are for one’s health. The tropical weather in the country where I grew up also contributed to consumption of cold drinks, mainly Coke. I got into the habit of drinking a fizzy drink with every meal and, even after moving to England more than 20 years ago, it’s very hard for me to get rid of this habit. There was a time when I drank two cans of Diet Coke a day and believed it to be fine because they don’t contain sugar. For 10 years, I’ve been trying to avoid any sort of fizzy drink, diet or not. Sometimes I succeed and may go a few months replacing them with coconut water, but the craving, especially at meal times, never leaves me. Irene, health professional, London

‘They changed the formula in response to the sugar tax – rendering it far less appealing’

In the moment, you never consider whether an extra can is one too many. I don’t think I realised the amount of Irn-Bru I was drinking was excessive until I stopped. I have now managed to quit altogether. This was due to the drinks maker AG Barr’s response to the sugar tax; the company changed the formula and taste of the drink – rendering it far less appealing and with an odd aftertaste. Now Fanta is my soft drink of choice. Michael, student, Glasgow

‘Diet Coke is the first thing I drink in the morning and the last thing at night’

I have always been a big fan of Diet Coke – when the beast from the east hit and I only had a few cans left in the fridge, I was panicking! While others were desperate to stock up on bread and milk, I went straight for the Diet Coke aisle. I can’t go anywhere without a bottle or a can – if I go somewhere for dinner and they say: ‘We have Diet Pepsi, will that do?’ I think, no, sorry, that won’t do! Nothing tastes the same.

I drink about two litres a day and have tried to quit several times. The only times I have been successful was when I was pregnant. I actually don’t know how to get it out of my life – it’s the first thing I drink in the morning and last thing I drink at night. It makes me anxious if I’m running low. The long-term effects can’t be good and, as a nurse, I should know better. Lindsay Young, nurse, Renfrewshire

‘I was spending lots on coffee, and thought Coke Zero would be a cheaper alternative’

My addiction to Coke Zero developed during my undergraduate studies when I needed a pick-me-up but was spending too much money on coffee. I thought it would be a slightly cheaper alternative. But I ended up drinking more Coke Zero than I ever did coffee, so it was pointless. I have tried cutting down but struggle as I feel groggy if I don’t have any. I have to make sure I don’t drink it too late in the day or I struggle sleeping. Anonymous, Glasgow

“We visited World of Coca-Cola for my birthday and my kitchen is decorated in Coca-Cola colours”

I started drinking full-fat Coke in sixth form because I was too busy with extracurricular responsibilities and lessons to eat properly. The caffeine and sugar kept me going. When I tried to wean myself off it, I switched to Diet Coke. I’ve always hated still or sparkling water and I found that any sweetener other than aspartame tastes horrid – most diet drinks use sucralose. A few years ago I gave up drinking Diet Coke for February as a charity fundraiser, but since then my intake has increased and I drink between six and eight cans a day. I make special trips to buy them in bulk as it works out cheaper. I can tell when a can is getting near its best-before date as the taste changes and I can also tell the difference between Coke and Diet Coke just by smell. We visited World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta for my 29th birthday and my kitchen is decorated in Coca-Cola colours. Is it addictive? I wouldn’t say so. It’s just a preference. The difficulty is retraining your palate to enjoy different flavours, and finding another drink that has the same ease of access. Frances, teacher, Surrey

‘Everything tastes awful after catching Covid – so I’ve been able to quit Dr Pepper’

My family are avid Dr Pepper drinkers so there was always soda in the house but I didn’t really drink a worrying amount until sophomore year of high school, when I started taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and working 30 hours a week. I did not like coffee or tea, but did not have enough energy to do everything I needed to and felt crushed by pressure. I probably drank an average of six cans a day – and it worked! I graduated top of my class from high school and maintained good grades at the University of Oklahoma while working 35 to 45 hours a week. I’m not healthy, mind you – in particular, my acne is pretty bad and although I have tried to quit numerous times, it was not until about a week ago that I went cold turkey. I was diagnosed with Covid and have been able to utilise the fact that everything tastes awful to implement my own personal Garcia effect (AKA, conditioned taste aversion) on Dr Pepper. Anonymous, student, Oklahoma City

‘When I quit, my skin would change colour very slightly’

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As a child, I was allowed one glass of Coke on Sundays, as a treat. By the time we were teenagers, my brother and I had persuaded our parents to add Coke (or Tab Clear) to our grocery list. At some stage it was decided that calorie-free Diet Coke was the better way to go. Fast forward 20 years and I would drink four to six cans a day. I knew it was excessive because everyone told me so. On a couple of occasions when I quit, my skin would change colour very slightly (I am quite pale but the Coke gave me a bit of a yellow-brown undertone). I quit Diet Coke entirely at the beginning of 2020 but replaced it with Fever Tree tonic, which has sugar in it. So I quit Fever Tree at the beginning of 2021. One month in and I’m now addicted to Red Bull. Fresh drinking water is available so I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Anonymous, data analyst, Dorset

‘I can easily have a Coke with every meal’

I have loved drinking Coke since I was young, probably aged 11. Once I got through university, I realised I was gaining weight so I switched to Coke Zero. I can easily have a Coke with every meal and go through two to three litres a day. I realise it’s not the best, but I don’t drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs, so it feels like a relatively harmless vice.

Before lockdown, I had some success in cutting down – I stopped drinking Coke Zero for breakfast and switched to juice, then forced myself to drink more water during the day but I struggle to eat a full meal with just water to drink. Coke somehow “washes down” certain foods quite nicely. Sebastian Groth, auditor, London

‘I’ve become known as the Monster boy to my friends’

When I was 14 or 15, I spent my lunch money on Coca-Cola but I couldn’t tell you why it became so excessive. I remember there was a deal at the time: two 500ml bottles for £1.70. That would lead me to drink six bottles on some days. Six! I remember once forgetting to bring money for lunch and so I went without my caffeine fix all day, and threw up by the time I got home. That’s when I knew it was out of control. Yet Coke was just a gateway to Monster – I drank up to three cans a day at university. I had a bit of a ritual: I would have a Monster by my bed waiting for me, then I would wake up, drink it in the shower, get the train to uni and drink another one before I went to the library. At the beginning of 2020, I vowed to give it up – then the pandemic hit and buying cans of Monster became a weekly ritual.
I still drink Monster today, although a lot less. I’ll have one can a day, sometimes two if I have a lot to do. Advertisement

I’ve become known as the Monster boy to my friends. Someone got me a Monster beanie for Secret Santa and, for my lockdown birthday, my friends all drank cans of Monster with me over Zoom to celebrate. I know that people are really disgusted by my habit. I do not like to drink it in public. I feel like I’ll be judged. William, London

‘I’ve probably spent more than £1,200 on Lucozade’

Doing my food shop one day, I just picked up Pink Lucozade Zero – and became instantly hooked. It was on Valentine’s Day last year that I realised how excessive my habit had become: my boyfriend bought me nine bottles (one litre each), and in the space of about two days I had finished them. My addiction was also highlighted during the first lockdown as I used my daily exercise to walk to the shop to pick up a litre bottle of Lucozade. Even if it was pouring with rain, I’d still go. I spent about £400 a year on my addiction, meaning that in total I’ve probably spent more than £1,200 on Lucozade. Change came during the summer when, sitting at the table with my boyfriend’s family, they all had glasses of water and I had a one-litre bottle of Lucozade – it was embarrassing. Over the past two months, I’ve managed to quit completely. Kayley Cornelius, student, Manchester

By: Guardian Readers

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How To Lose Weight Fast

Whatever the latest diet or exercise trend, whatever bullshit lines the personal trainer at the gym is feeding you, and whatever the latest scientific research is telling us, losing weight revolves around one factor and only one… CALORIES. Consume more than your body burns in day, whether through your natural basal metabolic rate, your day to day activities or exercise and you will gain weight. This is known as a calorie surplus. Burn more than you consume and you will lose weight. A calorie deficit. It really is as simple as that.

The more significant gulf between energy consumed and energy used you are capable of generating, the more quickly you will lose weight. Whilst the component parts of the equation are simple, the way you go about solving it is a little more complicated, particularly if it is to be sustainable. It’s very easy to tell yourself to eat less and be more active, but a lot harder to actually do it consistently for long enough to see results.

There are of course lots of ways in which you can manipulate both your diet and exercise regime in order to give yourself the best opportunity to both lose weight and then maintain those losses as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Why?

You can’t help but be aware of the health risks associated with being overweight. Whether it be online, on the TV or in magazines and newspapers, the information is everywhere. As a society we have become increasingly concerned with healthy living and in particular diet and exercise. And rightly so. These areas represent an enormous challenge to millions of people all over the world.

Excess weight, and in particular, obesity, negatively impacts almost every facet of health. As well as the widely known increases in the risk of life altering and deadly diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers, your reproductive and respiratory functioning, memory and mood can also be severely compromised.

I think the motivation for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are pretty clear.

The How?

This is where we get back to that all important important equation:

Calories consumed – Calories burned = Energy balance

Negative energy balance = calorie deficit = weight loss

Positive energy balance = calorie surplus = weight gain

The two easiest ways to influence your energy balance? Diet and exercise!!

Diet:

There should be little surprise that what you eat (and drink) and how much of it you eat (and drink) determines your calorie intake for a period of time. Consequently, one of the simplest ways in which you can alter your energy balance is by consuming fewer calories. Over an extended period of time, provided the adjustments are significant enough to create an energy deficit, you should lose weight.

Eating less than your body is used to all of a sudden, unfortunately, is easier said than done. There are, however, a few strategies you can implement in order to give you the best chance of success.

  • Ditch the sugar:

Sugar is the devil. It is addictive. Eat more of it than you can burn off and your body stores it as… FAT! Excess fructose (sugar) in your blood causes elevated insulin levels. This prevents the body from accessing stores of fat for its energy demands and results in the brain telling you that you are hungry.

Moreover, sugar also causes leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone which helps us release fat from stores to be used as energy. Ergo it tells the brain that we have enough energy supplies and we don’t need to eat. Increased levels of fructose in the blood raises the level of triglycerides, which block the transmission of leptin from the blood to the brain. The brain thinks the body is starving and tells us to eat more than our energy demands require. Thus we gain weight.

Sugar has also been shown to have very little effect on our feeling of fullness relative to the number of calories being consumed. That my friends is a slippery slope. One which isn’t going to help anyone lose weight, nevermind lose it quickly.

See, I told you sugar was the devil!

The good news is, the less sugary foods you consume, the less your brain craves them and the less you eat. All YOU need to do is break the cycle.

Here are a few top tips to help you cut back your daily sugar intake:

  1. Avoid drinking calories. That means fruit juices as well as the more obvious sodas.
  2. Reach for an apple rather than the candy. Whilst fruit obviously contains sugar, your body responds very differently to fructose in comparison to heavily processed, sucrose rich foods. Fruit can also be a great way of satisfying any cravings for sweet foods you may have without the drawbacks of regular chocolate binges.
  3. Avoid pre packaged ‘convenience’ type foods which are often high in added sugar. The best way of knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body is by making your meals from scratch as much as possible.
  • Up the protein, fat and veggies:

When it comes to losing weight, protein is king. Studies have demonstrated that protein may boost the metabolism by up to 100 calories per day. That’s energy you’re burning simply sitting on the sofa twiddling your thumbs.

What’s more, high protein diets have also been proven to reduce cravings and make you feel fuller for longer. All of which are going to help you achieve the all important calorie deficit required for meaningful weight loss.

Low carbohydrate vegetables (normally the green ones), like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cucumber (you get the idea) are a great way of filling out your meals without adding excess calories. Vegetables have a high fibre content which means they not only provide volume but also take longer to digest meaning you stay fuller for longer. They also provide you with some really important vitamins and minerals which will help keep your immune system in tip top shape. It’s a win all round really.

Whatever you do, don’t neglect fat. This is probably one of the most counterintuitive aspects of weight loss nutrition. Eating foods high in fat surely makes you fat? Provided you’re consuming the right kinds of fat (unsaturated and naturally occurring) rather than those found in heavily processed foods then they are a hugely important part of a balanced healthy diet and can help you lose weight.

By upping your fat intake in relation to your carbohydrate intake you can create an environment in which fat loss is actually more optimal. As already discussed, our consumption of carbohydrates releases insulin. The more carbs you eat, the more insulin your body produces and the harder it is for your body to access fat stores for energy purposes. Therefore, by replacing some of the calories you consume through carbohydrates with fat, you will reduce your insulin levels which will in turn make it easier for your body to access fat stores for energy at the same time as allowing fat to enter and fuel your muscles. Winning!

All low fat diets do is reduce your body’s capacity to burn fat and increase its ability to burn carbohydrates. Hormones such as adiponectin, which help boost your metabolism and break down fat cells are also inhibited.

Foods high in fat are also much better than those high in carbohydrates at making you feel full for longer. When the fat you eat enters the small intestine it releases hormones including cholecystokinin and peptide tyrosine tyrosine, which both play a major role in the regulation of your appetite. The more full you feel after eating, the less inclined you will be to dip into the snack cupboard or go for seconds, all of which is going to help you consume fewer calories in the long run!

As with anything in life, moderation is the key. Foods high in fat are calorie dense. So whilst upping your intake in replacement of carbohydrates is definitely a good idea if you want to lose weight, if you don’t take care of the all important energy balance then you won’t see the changes you want to.

Cutting carbs from your diet all together is simply not sustainable. They are after all the most prolific source of energy for our bodies. There are, however, some sources of carbohydrate which will make it much easier for you to lose weight than others. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in foods like oats, beans, brown rice, quinoa and lentils take much longer for your body to breakdown than simple sugary carbs. Whilst all carbs are eventually broken down into glucose, the longer this process takes, the longer you will feel full and the more nutrients your body will absorb from what you eat.

Feeling fuller for longer means you’re more likely to eat fewer calories and thus more likely to achieve that all important calorie deficit.

  • Fuel regularly:

One of the most common mistakes people make when they are looking to lose weight quickly is to adopt a very low calorie diet. Whilst this will obviously achieve the negative energy balance required, there are some significant disadvantages to such a strategy.

Your metabolism goes up for two to three hours after any meal as a result of the extra metabolic processes required to digest food and absorb its nutrients. Consequently, the less you eat the slower your metabolism becomes.

Your body has a tendency to treat huge reductions in calorie intake as a period of food scarcity (that’s evolution for you). As a result your body becomes more efficient at performing the basic functions which keep you alive and thus you burn less energy and your metabolism slows.

Moreover, you hold on to more fat in order to increase your chances of survival. Even worse, as muscle takes more energy to support than fat, your body will break it down before it breaks down it’s stores of fat.

Eating regularly and ensuring your body never enters this survival mode will help to keep your metabolism ticking along at an optimal level.

  • Drink more water:

Drinking more water can help you lose weight in a number of different ways. Most fundamentally, it increases the number of calories that you burn at rest. In fact, energy expenditure has been shown to increase by up to 30% within 10 minutes of drinking water.

Are you hungry or just thirsty? You would be surprised at the number of occasions when you feel hungry but are actually just dehydrated. Next time you feel the urge to eat, have a drink of water and see if it satisfies your ‘hunger’. The signals from our brain which tell us if we are hungry or thirsty can get a little confused, which means we have tendency to eat when we actually need to drink.

As water is completely free of calories, making sure we are suitably hydrated before we resort to grabbing a snack is a great way of reducing excess calorie intake and finding the negative energy balance which is so fundamental to weight loss.

Exercise:

Whilst thinking carefully about what and when we eat and drink should be one of the cornerstones of any weight loss strategy, there is another key way in which you can ensure your body is operating in a calorie deficit. EXERCISE.

Controlling what we eat takes care of the energy we consume, but upping how much exercise we do is the easiest way to increase the amount of energy we use.

  • HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training):

The more active you are the more calories you burn and the greater your potential calorie deficit will be. This doesn’t mean, however, than you need to spend hours and hours on the treadmill or spin bike each day in order to give you the best chance of losing weight.

In fact, most research suggests that engaging in shorter burst of high intensity exercise is far more beneficial to both overall health and weight loss. Intense activity will increase your basal metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after exercise; increase levels of fat oxidation in the muscles; and lead to significant jumps in growth hormone levels, which help to burn fat.

As a result, a 20-30 minute HIIT session is actually going to be more beneficial to both your health and weight loss goals than an hour plodding on the treadmill at steady state. Efficiency is the name of the game here.

Circuit based training is a great way of introducing yourself to HIIT based workouts, particularly if you don’t necessarily want to fork out for a gym membership. Click here for a great whole body workout perfect for helping you shift that excess weight!

Larger muscles burn more calories. Simple as that. The more lean muscle you have the more calories your body will burn at rest. In other words, having more muscle increases your everyday base metabolic rate. The metabolic demand of muscle is greater than it is for fat.

Muscle is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesized, all of which requires energy. So not only will you be increasing the number of calories you burn during exercise, but you will also increase your energy demands at rest, both of which will make it much easier for you to achieve the negative energy balance required for weight loss.

The best way of building muscle is to ensure you include some resistance based strength training in your regular exercise routine.

Studies have shown that your metabolism can be elevated for up to 38 hours after strength training, which means you’re energy use will be elevated for the best part of 2 days after your session. Boom!

Key Takeaways:

If it isn’t already clear, the single most important factor in the management of your weight is the relationship between the amount of calories you consume through eating, and the amount you burn through staying alive and exercising.

If you consistently exist within a calorie surplus, you will gain weight. If you consistently exist within a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. It really is as simple as that. If you eat unhealthily but maintain a negative energy balance then you will lose weight just as if you eat healthily but maintain a positive energy balance you will gain weight. It’s all about calories in and out.

However, from a nutritional perspective, you will obviously give yourself the best possible chance of losing weight if you stick with some of the simple tips already discussed like ditching sugar, upping your protein intake and ensuring you drink enough water.

Your calorie consumption is, however, only one side of the equation. For most efficient weight loss results, you should definitely pay some attention to how much energy you burn too. The most efficient way of increasing the energy demands you place on your body? Probably some kind of combination of HIIT and strength training. Remember, this type of training will not only allow you to burn calories whilst you exercise, but will also help you burn more when you’re chilling on the sofa. That, my friends, is what we call a win win! Post navigation

How To Squat ProperlyParkour: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Source: https://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com

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BRIGHT SIDE

Are there any ways to lose weight besides diet and exercise? There are many tricks that can help you lose a bit of excess weight in just 2 weeks. We’re going to share with you 15 tips that can help you get rid of excess belly fat. Most people don’t even know about these tricks! Science proves that people burn less fat when they sleep during the day and are active at night. A group of researchers from the University of Colorado studied 14 healthy people for 6 days. During the first 2 days, subjects slept during the night and didn’t have daytime naps. Then they changed their sleeping patterns to imitate owls’ sleeping schedules. It turned out that when people took a nap, their metabolism worsened since their biological clocks didn’t completely flip to fit their schedules.

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A Diet Guru Explains Why You Should Eat Dinner At 2pm – Dr. Jason Fung

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There have been two main changes in dietary habits from the 1970s (before the obesity epidemic) until today. First, there was the change is what we were recommended to eat. Prior to 1970, there was no official government sanctioned dietary advice. You ate what your mother told you to eat. With the publication of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we were told to cut the fat in our diets way down and replace that with carbohydrates, which might have been OK if it was all broccoli and kale, but might not be OK if it was all white bread and sugar…….

Read more: https://qz.com/1419105/a-diet-guru-explains-why-you-should-eat-dinner-at-2pm/

 

 

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