We’re bombarded with so many new fad diets and quick-fix tips that working out how to lose weight effectively – but healthily – can seem very confusing. These tips will help show you how (and there’s no fasting or detoxing in sight):
1.Swap simple carbs for complex carbs
Carbohydrates are essential for a fit, healthy body and should never be removed from the diet entirely.
However, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white pasta, white rice and processed, convenience foods) are devoid of natural nutrients and can wreak havoc on your weight because they’re digested very quickly, leaving you feeling unsatisfied and more likely to overeat.
In contrast, complex carbohydrates provide a gradual, steady stream of energy throughout the day. Obtaining the majority of your daily carbs from more natural sources (such as wholegrains, vegetables, beans and pulses) will therefore fill you up for longer, on fewer calories.
2. Eat little and often
Studies suggest that your body releases less insulin (the fat storage hormone) when your food intake is more evenly distributed throughout the day, even when you consume the same amount of calories overall.
Eating five or six nutritious mini-meals of 250-300 calories each may therefore help you to lose weight faster, without going hungry.
3. Include protein with every meal
Protein is a blood sugar stabiliser, helping you to feel fuller for longer and reduce hunger and sweet cravings. Including a source of protein (such as eggs, dairy products, lean meat, beans, pulses, nuts or seeds) with each meal or snack can therefore help you to feel satisfied on less calories.
4. Don’t be too restrictive.
When you want to lose weight, there’s nothing more motivating than seeing fast results. However, whilst many quick-fix diets might offer rapid results, dramatically restricting your calorie intake can lead to deficits in the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs to function properly.
This often leads to unpleasant side effects (such as headaches, dizziness, low mood, cravings and fatigue), which make it hard to stick to fad diets for long enough to see tangible results. Eating too few calories also slows your metabolism, making it difficult to maintain exercise intensity or duration.
Focusing your meals around appetite-suppressing protein and filling high-fibre vegetables is a far more effective (and sustainable) approach.
5. Drink plenty of water
Studies have suggested that overweight people who drink two cups of water half an hour before each meal eat around 75 fewer daily calories and lose 5 pounds more than those who don’t. Water drinkers have also been shown to keep the weight off long term.
Water is no magic potion; it is believed to help people shed pounds simply because it contains no calories and fills up the stomach, making you feel less hungry and less inclined to overeat. However, drinking more water does stops you from reaching for high-calorie, sugar-filled beverages; and the fewer calories you get from drinks, the healthier (and slimmer) you’ll be.
6. Change the way you train
Interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat. It get can applied to many forms of exercise simply by incorporating brief bursts of high-intensity activity, followed by a more mellow pace.
The key is to build up these intervals so that with each high intensity burst you’re working harder than the one before. Our bodies are quick to adapt to this sort of exercise and if you work hard you should see a reduction in body fat within 4 weeks.