Condition - Weight management - Shape up for summer - 10 tips for weight loss
If you are carrying excess pounds and need to shape up to make the most of your summer clothes, it is not too late to take action!
While a crash diet may be tempting to achieve quick results, ‘slow and steady’ wins the race. Crash diets can lead to deficiencies in vital nutrients, lacklustre skin and fatigue. More importantly, they do not help improve eating habits, so once weight is lost, you are liable to return to previous, unhealthy eating habits and quickly regain the pounds.
So, what are the top 10 tips for helping to regain control of your weight and enjoy a healthier lifestyle?
1. Eat breakfast
Studies show that eating breakfast regularly promotes a steady body weight. Although you may be tempted to cut out breakfast, this leads to blood sugar crashes and cravings for mid-morning coffee and cake! Blood sugar control lies at the heart of successful weight loss. Avoiding the highs and lows of blood sugar imbalance helps to maintain consistent energy levels and avoid feelings of fatigue and cravings for sweet foods. Eat a nutritious breakfast such as sugar-free muesli, scrambled eggs or a nutritious high-fibre shake to kick-start your metabolism and help you feel fuller for longer. Supplementing the mineral chromium can also help to stabilise blood sugar.
2. Limit sugary and refined foods
White, refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and white pasta raise blood sugar rapidly, causing a surge of insulin, which takes the sugar out of the blood into the cells and converts the excess into fat. Switch to wholegrain pasta, bread and rice, which release sugar slowly, maintaining energy levels over a sustained period. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and substitute xylitol for sugar. Xylitol is a natural alternative to sugar, with fewer calories and minimal impact on blood sugar. If you are struggling to cut down the starchy carbs, such as bread and potatoes, an extract of white kidney beans has been found to inhibit the digestion of starch when supplemented before a meal.
3. Eat little and often
Eating smaller quantities at each meal and enjoying small, healthy snacks between meals is one of the most effective ways to stabilise blood sugar. Handy snacks, such as fresh fruit with a handful of nuts and seeds or oatcakes with hummus, mid-morning and afternoon mean you should then be able to eat smaller portions for your main meals. If portion size remains a problem, try using white potato extract to help manage appetite naturally. White potato extract enhances the release of the body’s own CCK (cholecystokinin), promoting a feeling of fullness, so that you want to stop eating. Alternatively, HCA (hydroxycitric acid) from the rind of the tamarind fruit works both to support metabolism and to create a feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
4. Include all food groups
Healthy protein slows down the rate at which glucose is taken into the bloodstream and keeps you feeling fuller longer! You should include some healthy protein in every meal and snack; such as fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. While the saturated fats found in cream, high-fat cheese and meat can pile on the pounds and should be limited, make sure you do have a regular intake of the healthy omega 3 and 6 fats.
Oily fish provides omega 3, while both omega 3 and 6 are found in nuts, seeds and oils such as flax and hemp. These encourage fat burning and cell response to insulin.
5. Reduce stimulants
Like cigarettes and alcohol, tea and coffee have a significant effect on blood sugar, so reduce your caffeinated drinks and substitute with refreshing herbal teas such as peppermint, lemon or green tea.
If you do have the odd glass of wine, drink it with a meal to slow down the sugar-release, rather than beforehand. Apart from anything else, drinking alcohol on its own will probably mean your food choices become much less considered!
6. Keep well hydrated
As well as herb teas, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day between meals – at least one-and-a-half litres a day and even more when exercising or during hot weather. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger!
7. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
Studies have shown that eating more slowly means eating less but still feeling full. It can take up to 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full and some ‘speed-eaters’ simply overeat before their body has had time to register the amount consumed.
8. Get organised!
However good your intentions are, without the necessary ingredients, you can’t make that healthy dinner. Be organised by planning your shopping, as well as ensuring you have healthy snack foods with you when out and about.
9. Understand your motivation
Understanding why you beat a path to the fridge or the cake tin, when hunger is not the real issue, may be central to your ability to lose weight. If your motivation is boredom, stress or low mood, you will need to address your emotional comfort eating. Seeing a nutritional therapist or counsellor may be helpful.
10. Tone up!
Regular exercise is not only crucial for sustained weight loss but can help raise mood and alleviate stress into the bargain! Exercise should be increased gradually and sensibly. The effects may be enhanced by supplementing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may help to lower body fat and increase lean body mass. Including some resistance exercises can help to tone and build muscle, which burns fat.
Plenty of food for thought!