After an eventful year, lockdown has gone (although everyone seems to be isolating!). Unfortunately, those extra pounds that many of us put on over the year haven’t! Now that we are tasting a little bit of normality (what does that even mean anymore?), we are being contacted more and more by people who feel stressed about it and want a quick solution to lose fat.
Now obviously, putting some weight on is not the end of the world! We had to endure so much, so let’s put things into perspective and accept that the extra weight is not a huge problem. However, you – like many others – might still like to shift a little bit of weight.
On the other hand, weight loss doesn’t need to be difficult or frustrating! We are huge believers in working smart, not hard. That’s not to say that there won’t be times when losing weight will feel challenging, but small habits and changes can make a huge difference without always feeling like a chore.
So here are our top tips to lose weight while building healthy habits and without sacrificing too much:
Erratic meal patterns have been shown to lead to consuming more calories, so sticking to 3 meals and 1-2 snacks a day (or whichever pattern works for you) can make it easier to remain in a calorie deficit. Having regular meals and snacks can also ensure that you never get too hungry. While feeling hungry sometimes can be normal and even expected while dieting, try to avoid getting to the point where you could eat anything in sight! The hungrier you are, the less in control you will be in front of food.
Protein and fibre (contained in vegetables, fruit and wholewheat/wholegrain products – to mention some) are highly satiating. In simple terms, they fill you up quickly and keep you full for longer. Ideally, your plate should be half full of fruit and vegetables, a quarter or more of lean protein (white meat like chicken and turkey breast, eggs and egg whites, fat free/low fat dairy products, tofu…) and the remaining quarter or less of a carbohydrate source. To increase your fibre intake, try and eat the skin of fruit and vegetables wherever possible and opt for wholegrain/brown versions of carbohydrates like rice and pasta. Potatoes are a very satiating carbohydrate source too!
When eating your meal, try to finish your protein and vegetables before moving onto any extras. You might find that you don’t need as many extras as you had planned! This is great to keep in mind also when eating out.
Try and see where you can make significant changes. If you normally start the day with a large full fat latte, swapping to a white americano can make a huge difference. If you buy large packets of crisps or chocolate bars or ice cream tubs, swap for individually portioned foods. If you like cheese, try and swap for reduced/fat free versions. Use oil sprays rather than oil and butter. Foods that are higher in fat are generally quite high in calories so those can be some easy but effective swaps to make.
Yes, we are talking about chocolate too! Ever gone for a while without any chocolate and then inhaled a whole bar in 3 minutes as soon as you were given the chance? We often associate the term ‘diet’ with the idea that we have to completely cut out foods we enjoy such as chocolate, sweets and crisps. While these can be very high in calories and it is wise to stick to small portions, cutting them out completely can lead to a restrict-overeat loop that can create a bad relationship with food. Better have a couple of squares of chocolate a day than have none for three days, and then fifteen in one go on the fourth day!
This one sounds easy, but we usually tend to involve food alongside many activities! Just keep this in mind: do one thing at a time. If you are in the middle of a conversation, put your fork down. Paying attention to each mouthful, chewing properly, and not rushing through your meal can help you identify the moment when you feel satiated and full enough to stop eating before you get stuffed and uncomfortable.
Drinking lots of water throughout the day, including before and during meals will not only keep you hydrated, but will also help you to feel full. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try infusing it with fresh or frozen berries, cucumber, lemon, lime or orange or even add a little sugar free squash or cordial. Teas and coffees can count towards your liquid intake, but do try to stick to the two or three recommended daily maximum as you should…
Not sleeping well or enough can make you feel ravenous the following day. Therefore, aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep each night. Go to sleep at a similar time every evening, black out any light that might come in from the window or door, have a bedtime routine to cue your body that it’s time to sleep. If you have small kids, we’ve been through it and we just want to tell you to stay strong and reassure you that it will get better!