Many of us practice Bikram Yoga to reduce stress, increase blood circulation, improve immunity, and improve flexibility. But for some of us, Bikram Yoga is also practiced in effort to promote a healthy lifestyle with intentions for weight loss. Yogi’s must realize it’s not only what you do inside the room that counts, but making lifestyle changes outside the 105 degree room will be just as important in achieving weight loss.
For starters, how does Bikram Yoga help you lose weight?
- It warms the muscles which facilitates fat burn
- It helps to make the muscles stronger which in turn can help the body burn more calories when at rest
- It will improve the circulatory system through detoxification and help improve metabolism
- It will improve the efficiency of the body functions and help to regulate appetite as well as decrease the desire for unhealthy foods.
So what can we do outside of the yoga room to help promote weight loss?
Managing or losing weight is a balancing act, and calories are part of that equation. When it comes to weight loss, it’s calories that count. You need to burn more calories than you take in. Once you understand that equation, you’re ready to set your weight loss goals. Setting realistic weight loss goals is just as important. Having unrealistic expectations can deter weight loss and has been found to be counter-productive for individuals. A realistic goal to start with is losing 5-10% of your starting weight. The following are a few tips you can use to achieve your weight loss goal:
- Cutting your daily intake by 500 calories each day can promote a one pound weight loss alone. Additional calorie burn during your yoga class can add approximately 1-2 pounds depending on how often and how hard you work. It’s important to gradually lose the weight otherwise you are more likely to put the weight back on (and sometimes even more) if you drop it too quickly.
- Liquid calories add up fast and can interfere with achieving your goal of weight loss. Minimize the amount of sodas, juices, smoothies, sports drinks, specialty coffee drinks and alcohol.
- Always eat breakfast! You should eat within two hours of waking. This will help to stabilize and even boost your metabolism. Keeping that in mind, try not to allow yourself to get hungry. Eat at least every three to four hours.
- Minimize the amount of processed foods in your diet. Eat more fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables. They are filled with fiber to help satiety levels in the body.
Example of a 1,500 calorie weight loss meal
½ Cup cantaloupe
1 slice whole wheat bread
2 tsp. almond or peanut butter
1 cup non fat yogurt
1 cup minestrone soup
2 oz sliced turkey
2 slices of tomato + shredded lettuce + 1 tsp mustard
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 oz almonds or 1 oz pretzels
4 oz broiled fish (salmon/swordfish)
1 small sweet potato
½ cup broccoli
½ cup carrots
¾ cup cucumber salad with 1 tsp olive oil + 1 tbsp vinegar
1 oz hummus + 15 whole wheat pita chips
The bottom line: The key to successful weight loss is a commitment to making permanent changes in your diet and exercise habits! Good luck on your journey!
Laurie Taunton MS R.D.
Laurie Taunton is a Registered Dietitian with her Master’s of Science in Sports Nutrition. She has been working as a clinical dietitian at Winthrop University Hospital for the last 6 years. In addition, she is a guest lecturer for undergraduate classes at C.W. Post. Laurie practices what she preaches by living an active and healthy lifestyle. Laurie enjoys many activities such as soccer, running, weight lifting, spinning and most recently Bikram Yoga. Laurie started Bikram Yoga in February of 2011 and hasn’t looked back. She has completed half marathons, tough mudders and summer series running events which have all taken a toll on her legs and knees. Since taking Bikram yoga, not only has Laurie experienced mental clarity, weight loss, and flexibility but it has strengthened her legs and knees. In essence, this has helped her achieve a deeper stretch to help her muscles recover and complete long runs with less aches and pains. Every month she researches and writes nutrition articles with up to date information for our yoga students. These articles provide each one of us with healthy information to improve our yoga practice. It’s important to realize it’s not only what we do inside the yoga room, but also the nutrition we put in our bodies as well that can help improve our postures, breathing, and achieve optimal results of all our hard work.