Shrink your carbon footprint—and your waistline—with these eco-friendly weight loss tricksBy: Hollis Templeton
Weight loss could be a natural side effect of your eco-conscious efforts. When we rely less on Mother Nature’s resources to help fuel our cars, process our food, and keep us warm, we force our bodies to do more work—and we burn more calories in the process. (Learn how being more beautiful could save your life) From biking to the office to hitting the hay an hour early, these 10 strategies will help you peel off extra pounds while protecting the planet.
What's Your Carbon Footprint?
If you’re a pro at multitasking in the morning, leave the car parked in the garage. By commuting on foot or bicycle, you’ll save money on gas and cut carbon emissions while squeezing in a light cardio workout. A 160-pound person burns 138 calories while walking at a brisk 3.5 mph pace for 30 minutes and 145 calories biking at approximately 10 mph for 30 minutes. Rely on public transportation to take you to the office in the AM? Stride or cycle to a stop that’s farther along your route.
Search: What’s the best commuter bike?
You don’t have to cut out meat completely to reap the slimming benefits of a plant-based diet. Part-time vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans all have lower risks of becoming overweight or obese compared to regular meat-eaters, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Free Guide: What to Eat to Beat Belly Fat) Easing up on steak and chicken—even just one day a week—can also shrink your carbon footprint. The meat industry generates nearly a fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions (that’s more than transportation), according to estimates from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Not sure where to start? Check out these smart swaps for Meatless Monday.
Swapping bottles and cans of soda, juice, and sweetened tea for glasses of good ol' H20 can eliminate empty calories from your diet while slashing your consumption of plastic, glass, and aluminum. (Video: Which breakfast beverage packs a secret sugar high?) Replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with zero calorie hydration doubles your chances of losing 5% of your body weight compared to restricting food calories alone, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Keep your cup of water in eyeshot or tote one of these eight innovative bottles.
The healthy salad or can of zero-calorie seltzer stowed in your lunch bag may be hiding a dirty little secret. Containers and cans made with bisphenol A (BPA) could make you pack on pounds. BPA causes the body to release almost double the insulin it needs to break down food, according to a recent study published in the online journal PLoS ONE. Over time, an insulin overload makes your body less sensitive to the hormone, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Creepy Food Additives That Make You Gain
Popping in a microwave meal requires little energy on your end. But it takes plenty of electricity and fuel to package your grilled chicken, veggies, and rice as an attractive-looking dinner and transport it to your local grocery store. A healthier, greener option: cooking at home using the most local and least processed ingredients you can find. “It’s not only cheaper for your food bill—convenience costs more—but can also help with weight loss,” says Kate Geagan, RD, author of Go Green, Get Lean. “Packaged foods are often higher in sodium, sugar, and trans fats.”
How to Find Fresh, Local Food
A garden offers more than a collection of fresh, local food at your fingertips. It also gives you a season full of excuses to exercise. For example, pulling weeds for a half-hour helps a 160-pound person torch 163 calories. Surrounded by a concrete jungle? Find a community garden where you could lend a little muscle. Visit communitygarden.org to locate one in your neighborhood.
Video: How to start a kitchen herb garden
Shrink your utility bills and your waistline by keeping your house or apartment a little chilly. Cooler environments force the body to expend more energy to maintain its core temperature. In a study published in Obesity Reviews, British researchers found that when people wore light clothing in a 60°F room, they burned 100 to 200 more calories per day. Over a year, those calories could add up to a weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds. Just don’t bundle up too much—it will negate the fat-burning effect.
The Laziest Ways to Lose Weight
During the week, it’s nearly impossible to cut ties with your computer and mobile phone. But when Saturday and Sunday roll around, take a tech break. Conserve electricity by powering down your gadgets and picking yourself up off the couch. “Sitting and screen time are two of the greatest challenges to weight loss and health,” notes Geagan, who recommends finding ways to spend time with your family that don’t involve a gathering around a television screen. Start small by taking a walk before or after dinner, she suggests.
How to Help Your Kids to Commit to Fitness
Whether you spend an afternoon planting trees or picking up trash along the highway, the hours you devote to cleaning up the environment can double as your physical activity for the day. Visit volunteermatch.com to find an opportunity in your area.
21 Best Places for an Outdoor Workout
Not only will you conserve power by setting down your iPad and flicking off the lights, extra hours of slumber can keep excess weight off your frame. Over the course of six years, people who slept for five to six hours each night gained 88% more weight than those who dozed for seven to eight hours nightly, according to a Canadian study. Short-duration sleepers also experienced a 58% higher increase in waist circumference and a 124% higher increase in body fat percentage compared with those who got seven to eight hours of rest.
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