To achieve their weight loss goals, dieters often push themselves to great limits; however, a growing body of research suggests that people can lose more weight by doing sedentary activities, such as sleeping, reading and eating.
A recent report issued by researchers at Laval University, Quebec, suggests that sleep plays a big role in weight loss. The report cites two separate studies which indicate that insufficient sleep can make us hungrier and fatter.
In one study, researchers split several overweight participants into two groups and put them on the same diets and exercise plans over a two-week period; however, while subjects in the first group slept 8.5 hours each night, those in the second only slept 5.5 hours. In the end, the subjects in the latter group lost less body fat even after following the same weight-loss regimen as the participants who got more sleep.
Because it’s a stationary activity which burns few calories, reading wouldn’t necessarily seem like an effective weight loss aid; however, according to author RJ Lawrence, research suggests it actually does support healthier weights.
“Time Magazine recently published an article detailing a study out of Duke University which linked reading to lower body mass indexes,” he said. “To reach their findings, the researchers divided 81 overweight girls into two groups which read two different books and an additional group which read nothing at all. Over a six-month period, all of the girls participated in a weight-reduction program at Duke Children’s Hospital. In the end, however, the girls who read novels lost more weight.”
While this study appears to suggest that reading may somehow promote healthier habits, it also indicates that not all books are the same. According to Lawrence, who sells his books through Amazon.com, the best novels for weight loss may be ones that revolve around characters with whom readers can relate.
“In this particular study, all of the female readers lost more weight,” he said. “However, girls who read one particular novel named Lake Rescue lost more weight. Although it’s unclear why, the researchers believe that readers may have experienced more motivation due to the fact that the novel featured a female character who was also overweight.”
It may seem counter-intuitive, but eating may actually help spur weight loss. According to health and fitness expert Paul A. Achoa, this is because digestion tends to speed our metabolisms.
“When we starve ourselves during crash diets, our metabolisms slow, and our bodies begin to hoard fat,” he said. “On the other hand, by eating numerous small meals throughout the day, we can ramp up our metabolisms.”
For best results, Achoa suggests low-calorie foods which are high in fiber and protein and low in simple carbohydrates.
“Fiber is great for weight loss, because it takes so long to digest,” he said. “Besides making us feel fuller for longer periods of time, this slow digestion also prevents big insulin spikes which promote fat accumulation.”
- Time: Can Reading Help Kids Lose Weight?
- Huffington Post: Sleep Is Integral To Weight Loss, Study Suggests
Sarah McDaniels writes for The Best Books Journal.