Successful weight loss doesn’t just happen without a plan; losing weight requires making significant lifestyle changes that stick. Instead of going on a diet, use these eight tips to kick start your weight loss and become a healthier, fitter version of yourself.
Learn to Love Vegetables
When it comes to dieting, eating more vegetables is perhaps the best way to ensure weight loss success. Vegetables are a low calorie, high volume food, which means you can eat plenty of them without worry of packing on the pounds. They’re also full of soluble fiber, digesting slowly in the gut, helping to reduce hunger levels. And if that’s not enough reason, they’re also full of natural phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help us metabolize food and keep us healthy. In one 12 month study, increasing the vegetable content of a low calorie diet resulted in significant weight loss after the first 3-months. In addition, study participants reduced their blood sugar and triglyceride levels, while increasing their HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels.
Weight Loss Tip: Eat from a variety of vegetables, but especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. These veggies provide a lot of fiber, but are also high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that help keep the gut clean. Fill half your plate with veggies at every meal, ok maybe not at breakfast, but at least the rest of the meals of the day. Have a side salad, roasted veggies, steamed or sautéed.
Keep Track of What You Eat
If you’re not sure how many calories you’re eating or are unsure of what portion control means, now’s the time to start keeping track. Become more aware of what you’re eating, how much and when you’re eating. Every bit of food you put in your mouth adds up to extra calories consumed. Becoming more aware of what you eat, will help you to understand the triggers that make you reach for food and can help stop you from overeating.
Weight Loss Tip: Become familiar with reading labels and determining the appropriate portion of foods. Consider splitting your plate into half for veggies, and one quarter for each protein and starch. However it is better to use a digital scale for accuracy. You can also keep track of everything that you eat each day using a fitness app – that tracks calories, macros and portion sizes. It’s also been thought that that taking pictures of your meals can help you to become more aware of what and how much you’re eating! Using smaller plates and bowls to control portion sizes is also a good idea.
Drink More Water
Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day. Water not only has zero calories, it can also keep you hydrated and feeling fuller. Drinking water with meals will help take up some space in your gut, making you feel fuller with less food intake. One study, showed that drinking just 500 ml or one bottle of water, half an hour before meals, helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight, compared to those who didn’t drink the water. Additionally, it’s important to eliminate all other beverages – as they will add unnecessary calories, including juices and soda. Eliminating alcohol is also a must, the body shuts off metabolism of food in order to get rid of alcohol; it can also make you more hungry and craving bad food.
Weight Loss Tip: Drink at least 2 to 3 L of water daily. More if you’re working out, to account for sweat losses. If you have a hard time drinking water, consider having infused water, add a dash of citrus, or make herbal iced tea. If you’re a coffee drinker, learn to love your coffee without sugar, or heavy dairy. Use sugar substitute like stevia, add a drop of low fat milk, unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
Eat More Protein
Increasing protein intake can increase satiety and reduce hunger, but also including more protein in your diet can result in a decrease in daily energy intake. Protein is a necessary nutrient to build and maintain lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle our bodies carry the greater your metabolic rate – that is the amount of calories you burn at rest, or while doing nothing.
Weight Loss Tip: Include a source of protein with each meal. Protein should make up about 40% of your total caloric intake for the day. Choose protein sources that are high quality and are considered complete – provide all the essential amino acids necessary for sustaining and building a lean body. This includes poultry, fish, beef, eggs and dairy.
Drink Black Coffee and Green Tea
Both of these delightful beverages can help increase metabolism, not to mention offer up antioxidants – catechins and polyphenols that have added health benefits. Coffee has been shown to help increase metabolism and fat burning. Coffee contains active ingredients including caffeine that help increase the release of fat in the body, to be used as fuel. As for green tea, it contains both caffeine, and the catechin - EGCG, these two ingredients work synergistically to enhance fat burning.
Weight Loss Tip: Drinking a few cups per day of either coffee or green tea is fine, and could help stimulate your weight loss efforts. Although best to drink black, if you just can’t manage, try a sugar substitute such as stevia, need milk – try low fat, unsweetened almond or coconut. Limit to just a few cups per day.
Reduce Your Carb Intake, Up Your Fiber Intake
Overeating on this macronutrient is easy, simply because it is by far the tastiest. But seriously, carbs are the primary macronutrient responsible for weight gain. Carbs are a major source of energy for the body, but if you eat more than you need, it will end up stored as fat. Low carb diets have been associated with 2 to 3 times faster weight loss and better body composition versus those who follow iso-caloric high carb diets. Choosing high fiber foods is important – dietary fiber is thought to promote feelings of fullness by increasing chewing time, promoting stomach expansion and decreasing absorption of food. Population based studies have shown that high fiber diets are associated with lower body weights and reduced disease risk.
Weight Loss Tip: Increase your intake of fibrous carbs and eliminate your intake of simple carbs or sugar. Replace starches with vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, asparagus and squashes. Fruit is also ok in moderation, especially high fiber citrus fruit, berries and apples. Remove processed carbs high in simple sugars such as bread, pasta, pastries and white rice. For weight loss, consider a carb intake of 20 % to maximum of 30% of your total daily calories. The amount of carbs you consume should be relative to the amount of fat you want to lose and the amount of activity you’re performing.
Eat Less, More Often
Eating more often won’t increase your metabolism or help you lose more weight, but it will help you to balance your blood sugar levels. Skipping meals will lead to blood sugar lows that can cause cravings for sweets, or worse a food binge. It’s also been shown that those who skip the first meal of the day – breakfast; ate more throughout the day than those who routinely had a higher protein breakfast. Bottom line, eating regularly throughout the day can help prevent you from overeating.
Weight Loss Tip: Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid missing meals throughout the day. Try using a meal delivery program or pre-cook meals in advance. Aim to eat 3 bigger meals and 2 low energy dense snacks that are higher in fiber, such as nuts, veggie sticks or fruit. Eat every 3 to 4 hours, to ensure your blood sugar levels are maintained.
Avoid Mindless Eating
This can be a hard one to break, paying attention to triggers that can cause you to overeat are important to your weight loss. Are you eating when you’re hungry? Bored or stressed? Are you reaching for that ice cream instead of something healthy, after a long day at work or a bad break-up? Emotional eating is usually the result of an unhealthy coping mechanism brought on by something subconsciously. We don’t always realize we’re doing it, or care that we’re doing it until after – when the guilt kicks in.
Weight Loss Tip: It was shown that those who regularly exercise, or engage in alternative stress reduction strategies are better at controlling emotional eating. Exercise should always be part of a weight loss plan; in fact it should always be part of a healthy lifestyle. Focus on what you’re eating; be mindful of when you’re feeling full. It’s also important to eat at the table, instead of in front of the TV, laptop or while scrolling on your phone. Not paying attention while you eat can lead to eating more than you need. It’s also important to keep track of your emotional eating triggers – consider keeping a food diary to track what you eat, and how you feel.
WHO IS LAUREN?
With more than 20 years’ experience designing nutrition products, supplements and meal plans, Lauren is an expert in her field. She has worked with professional rugby and football players, as well as physique and fitness competitors, and holds a degree in nutritional biochemistry, specialising in sports nutrition and supplementation, from Trent University in Canada.
Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook: @sexyfitlauren, or read her blog: sexystrongfit