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Condition - Weight Management - Two-week shape up for Christmas

By Christine Bailey MSc PGCE MBANT

Want to look great in that little black dress this Christmas, but still need to feel a little slimmer? Higher Nature has some great tips to help you get body beautiful in time for the festivities. 

The big day is almost here, but it’s never too late to get into shape. When it comes to managing your weight and toning up, great nutrition with the right exercise is the winning formula. Don’t resort to crash dieting – this can leave you looking gaunt and feeling tired and run down. It can also result in the loss of muscle mass rather than fat, which can slow down metabolism, leaving you fatigued and more likely to pile on the pounds in the new year. 

Kick-start your metabolism

To lose weight, you must eat regularly. ‘Grazing’ can help boost your metabolic rate and reduce hunger by stabilising blood sugar levels. It will also keep your energy levels high and avoid those mid-afternoon slumps. Eat two or three nutritious snacks in addition to three small meals a day and base your meals around some lean protein and healthy fats (see example meal plan). 

Breakfast is key

Breakfast really is essential and will raise your metabolic rate – meaning food is used effectively for the rest of the day, helping to burn fat and encourage weight loss. Go for a protein-rich breakfast, such as kippers, eggs or breakfast shakes, rather than sugary cereals. For a quick option, look for an energy or high fibre shake to really get your day off to a great start. 

Protein power

If you want to shape up, you need to include protein with every meal. Protein helps your muscles tone, recover and repair more quickly after exercise. Eating more protein will also help you feel fuller for longer and reduce food cravings. Hemp protein can easily be added to smoothies, stirred into yoghurt with some fruit or added to baking. It is perfect with breakfast or as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. 

Fat burners

Essential fats are not only important for optimal health, but support metabolism and help maintain a healthy weight. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase the cells’ response to insulin, manage healthy hormone balance and support energy metabolism. Try to include oily fish in your diet or, to ensure you get sufficient amounts, supplement with a quality omega 3 fish oil. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is another important fat found naturally in dairy products and beef. It has been shown to support fat loss and muscle tone, when combined with exercise. As you would need to eat several steaks a day to have an effect, try to include a supplement containing CLA. 

Take a multinutrient

To burn fat and lose weight, you need the right spectrum of macro- and micronutrients. That’s not always easy, especially if you’re reducing your calorie intake. To compensate for any shortfall, take a multivitamin and mineral formula daily. 

Manage appetite

The festive season can be a tempting time, with all those party foods and drinks. An extract from white potato can help manage appetite and hunger naturally. Additionally, hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, derived from the tamarind fruit, has been shown to be effective in managing appetite. Both are available in supplement form. 

Balance blood sugar

The quicker you can maintain a healthy blood sugar balance, the sooner you’ll shift that fat. Chromium is an important mineral to help support normal glucose metabolism. It works very well when combined with other nutrients, including B6, manganese, zinc, magnesium and cinnamon. Another trick is to increase your intake of soluble fibre, so add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds to your morning breakfast and accompany with a glass of water. Eating wholegrain rather than refined foods helps support good blood sugar balance, as well as providing key nutrients. 

Drink green

Switch from your daily cappuccino to cups of green tea to increase metabolism and help manage your weight more effectively. Rich in antioxidant polyphenols known as catechins, green tea is also energising and revitalising.

Example meal plan

Choose one of each of the options below:

Breakfast

Two scrambled eggs with spinach and tomato, plus two slices of wholemeal toast spread with organic coconut butter.

OR

One small pot (125g/5oz) of plain, low-fat natural yoghurt (or soya yoghurt), with two tablespoons of mixed nuts, two tablespoons of porridge oats, one tablespoon of cold milled flax seeds and a handful of mixed berries.

Mid-morning snack

A high fibre breakfast shake.

OR

Two tablespoons of hummus and a cup of vegetable sticks. 

Lunch

One grilled or poached chicken breast, salmon fillet (palm sized, 75g-100g) or thinly sliced lean roast beef and mixed salad, with two teaspoons of flax seed oil and lemon juice dressing.

OR

Large, mixed, leafy green salad with a feta cheese, avocado and tomato wholemeal wrap.

Mid-afternoon snack

Handful of almonds and two plums.

OR

Two oatcakes spread with organic pumpkin seed or walnut butter.

Evening meal

Steamed or grilled fish, tofu or chicken, steamed vegetables, one tablespoon of brown or basmati rice.

OR

Prawn or tofu vegetable stir-fry, with half a cup of cooked buckwheat or wholemeal noodles.

Bedtime snack

One piece of fruit and a handful of Brazil nuts.

OR

Hemp protein powder, made into a smoothie with fruit and milk.

For more information on successful weight management, see The Intelligent Way to Lose Weight by Dr Mark Atkinson and Christine Bailey, available from Higher Nature. 


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