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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tips On How To Lose The Last 10lbs

Why is it that losing the last 10 pounds is so difficult? For many people, the first 20 or 30 seemed to come off steadily, but now everything has slowed down and summer is almost here. It feels like no matter how religiously you stick with your program, that needle on the scale isn't moving -- at least not downward.

It is harder now partly because you already look and feel so much better, says Weight Watchers regional trainer Kelda Gavina. That may cause your motivation to slump. But it may also be that you are gaining muscle mass now, which is heavier than fat. Or that you are tired of denying yourself.

Dr. Michael Lyon, adjunct professor at the University of B.C. in the Food, Nutrition and Health Program, medical director of the Canadian Research Centre for Functional Medicine and co-author of Hunger Free Forever, says that when it comes to the last 10 pounds you have to adjust your lifestyle and your relationship with food so that you can sustain it throughout your life.

Using will power to control weight is like trying to hold your breath, he says. You can do it for a while, but then the brain takes over and demands you gulp.

Lyon warns that losing a last 10 pounds may not be what you really want.

"I'd rather see someone gain five pounds in muscle mass and lose five pounds in fat," he says.

Muscle mass raises your resting metabolism which helps you more efficiently burn -- rather than store -- calories.

Loss of muscle has proven to be as hard on your health as gaining fat. Gaining muscle is actually more important than aerobic exercise in the long run, experts say.

Here are 10 tips from three experts on how to shed those last lingering pounds.

1. Stabilize blood-sugar levels. Overweight or obese people tend to have highly fluctuating blood-sugar levels, resulting particularly from weight gain around the belly, Lyon says.

Excessively irregular blood sugar levels cause a domino effect of body changes beginning with the secretion of hormones that in turn promote insulin resistance and other phenomena that cause you feel sluggish and to eat more. The more you eat the more you want to eat, and the less you want to move.

Lyon suggests choosing foods that are low on the glycemic index, (55 or under) high in water-soluble fiber and high in protein.

2. Spoil your appetite before you get to the high-fat, high-calorie part of the meal. Have a bowl of vegetable soup or a salad (with dressing on the side to dip your fork into) before the main course. Says Lyon:

"You get an initial feeling of fullness and when you get to the rest of the meal, you will eat more slowly and not as much."

3. Eat a solid breakfast with adequate protein and a reasonable number of calories. People who skip breakfast tend to either eat a high-calorie snack later or they will themselves to wait until they are starving, and then pig out late in the day when they are the least active. If you skip breakfast, your metabolism rate drops and your body stores more calories as fat.

4. Get out the weights or the bands and do resistance training to build muscle mass. Muscle weighs more without looking like you've gained weight, and it burns more calories than fat does.

John Berardi, Ontario-based human performance and nutrition expert and the author of Gourmet Nutrition, says if you do the next three things on the list, you can burn an extra 400 calories a day. That is a whole meal.

5. Increase the intensity of your exercise. The exercise program you started with doesn't create the same metabolic challenge as your fitness improves.

You need to regularly up the intensity of your workout to continue to lose weight. Add 30 minutes to your run (or walk) every two weeks or bump up the intensity level on the cardio machine.

6. Eat fish oil. Fish oil has been shown to boost metabolism, improve fat burning and increase carbohydrate storage in muscle. Berardi typically recommends using about 6 to 12g of total fish oil per day or 3 to 6g of combined DHA+EPA.

7. Eat protein with each meal. Eating always sparks metabolism, but the rate we metabolize depends on the type of food we eat. If we eat fat, our metabolism increases by two to three per cent. Protein increases it by 30 per cent. Carbs by nine per cent.

8. Keep your eyes on the prize. The last 10 pounds are the hardest because you already feel so much better and fit into a smaller size, says Gavina. But originally you may have wanted to look good in a bikini. Remember that.

9. Have a support group of like-minded people. Especially when you are down to the last 10 pounds, people tend not to support you like they did for the first 90.

They tempt you or tell you how great you look. Meeting regularly with people who do support you can really help.

10. Be realistic. Losing those last 10 pounds might mean cutting out all the extras and becoming a bit obsessed with this one part of your life. Gavina lost 30 pounds 12 years ago and was willing to cut everything out for the last push.

She has since gained 10 pounds back, but she says she leads a more balanced life now and is content knowing her weight is still within a healthy range.

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