The idea of losing weight can seem like a daunting prospect. And if you are at that familiar stage where you think “I really need to do something about this” whenever you stand on the scales or struggle with fitting into your clothes, you know that you need to take action and soon.
Taking a full weight-loss diet and starting an intensive exercise regime will work, but as we all know it is hard to do and easy to put off until later. In the meantime, you can lose weight by making some simple life changes.
Here are nine simple tips to help you reduce your calorie intake without really noticing much difference to your life.
1. Hide the snacks!
We all know that a chocolate bar, bag of crisps or a cookie contains loads of calories. We all know that we MUST avoid them. The trouble is that when we are feeling peckish and see these things, it is very hard not to give into temptation. It seems obvious but according to scientists, the answer is to hide them away so you just cannot see them.
A study carried out on 210 households in New York found that the people who were the most overweight stored snacks in a visible location, such as on the kitchen counter or coffee table. The scientists advised storing the snacks away in the cupboard and replacing them with a bowl of fruit where you can see it. The idea is that when you feel like snacking you are more likely to go for the healthy option you can see and you don’t have to resist the lure of an unhealthy treat.
It seems that out of sight really is out of mind when it comes to snacks.
2. Eat from a smaller plate
We eat loads more today than we even did 20 years ago, so you don’t have to be a boffin to realise this is going to result in weight gain. The problem is that most of us have not even noticed this change and we just accept that the larger portion size is the norm.
According to dietary experts, this “portion distortion” is a serious problem. The facts speak for themselves. For example, a bagel that 20 years ago had a diameter of 3 inches and contained, on average, 140 calories is likely to be 6 inches and contain 350 calories today. The size of an average ready meal of chicken curry and rice for example is 53 percent bigger than the same meal on offer in 1993.
When it comes to preparing our own meals, we are equally lavish in piling on the portions, so one simple way of reducing intake is to just use smaller plates. That way you can cut down on food without really noticing much difference or feeling that you are missing out.
Sounds obvious, but if your plate is smaller, you cannot put so much on it!
3. Focus on the food!
It’s crazy, but although we generally eat too much, in many cases we don’t really notice, especially if we are checking our devices, catching up on Facebook or watching TV.
A study looking into eating attentively found that people who ate while they were distracted tended to eat more food than those who simply focused on their food. And when it comes to snacking while watching TV, consumers can forget they have actually eaten anything. All these calories add up and just because you don’t remember your meal or your snack, makes no difference at all when it comes to your waistline.
The answer is to focus on your food and take your time when eating it. Chewing your food thoroughly and slowing down means that you tend to feel fuller. Switching off from distractions, eating slowly and enjoying your food actually leads to weight-loss and means that you don’t feel that you are missing out or going hungry.
According to the conclusion of the study into attentive eating, doing this,
provides a novel approach to aid weight loss and maintenance without the need for conscious calorie counting.
This sounds like common sense, but whatever you call it, it seems to work!
4. Fill up on fibre
Foods that are rich in fibre are a great ally when it comes to weight-loss. In addition, fibre is good for health, helps keep your bowels moving and your digestive system in tip top condition. Fibre is present in pulses, fruit and vegetables, and stays in your stomach for longer than many other types of food, so you don’t get that hollow empty feeling and low blood sugar cravings.
Some foodstuffs contain a type of fibre called soluble (viscous) fibre that swells up on contact with water and turns into a gel in the gut, making it especially effective for weight-loss. Pulses such as kidney beans, split beans and lentils are excellent sources of soluble fibre, but it is also present in fruit, vegetables, oats and nuts.
You can buy supplements that contain soluble fibre, such as Glucomannan, but adding more natural fibre to your diet will help in the same way. Try oats for breakfast or sprinkle on flax seed or other seeds to beef up your breakfast cereal. And, because soluble fibre is slow digesting, it should keep you going until lunchtime.
Protein is great for weight loss. There are whole diets, such as the Atkins diet, devoted to eating protein and not much els. And although cutting out other food groups is not advisable, eating a diet rich in protein will help decrease calorie intake. Protein helps increase feelings of fullness and seems to influence the hormones that signal hunger, such as ghrelin and leptin.
Scientists don’t know yet about the body’s mechanism of protein-induced satiety, but in one test carried out over 4 days it was noted that a high protein diet increased in 24-h satiety, thermogenesis, sleeping metabolic rate, protein balance, and fat oxidation. All the vital components of successful weight-loss.
Eggs, fish, meat, nuts and dairy produce such as cheese and natural yoghurt are all sources of protein, so it is easy enough to include plenty of protein in your diet without making any noticeable changes to your lifestyle.
6. Don’t burn the candle at both ends – get a good night’s sleep
It’s easy to miss out on sleep. However, a good night’s sleep is extremely important for weight loss and if you generally sleep less than 6 hours a night, or more than 9 hours on a regular basis, the chances are that you will struggle with losing weight.
According to research carried out in Portland, USA by private health company Kaiser Permanente, sleep disruptions are a contributory cause to obesity. The study recruited 472 obese volunteers and examined ways over the following 6 months in order to help them lose weight.
The volunteers cut 500 daily calories, increased exercise and attended group sessions. In addition, their sleep patterns were noted, as well as the amount of time spent watching TV.
After 6 months, the volunteers who slept between 6-8 hours per night were found to have a greater chance of sustaining permanent weight-loss than those who slept less or more. Stress was also a factor, especially when combined with a lack of sleep.
This does not mean that sleeping makes you thin, but it does signify underlying issues. Stress hormone cortisol can disrupt the appetite controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin, leading to increased appetite. In addition, feeling tired and groggy throughout the day is likely to make you reach for the sweet snacks in order to help you feel better.
7. Move more – get more active
Not the gym or taking up a sport, but simply moving about more will help you lose weight and get healthier. In addition, getting physically tired will help you sleep better at night, so it is a win-win situation.
If you have a phone, try downloading a step counter App. The aim is to reach 10,000 steps a day and although this can seem a lot, it does help you to keep mindful of your activity levels. Try walking to the shops or to work. If you catch the bus, try getting off a stop before you need to. If you have a spare 30 minutes, go for a walk. Blitz the housework or the garden and think of it as a workout.
Activity that causes your heart rate to increase and get slightly out of breath (medium intensity exercise) is important for health. According to medical advice, adults should be active on a daily basis and undertake at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Doing this not only helps weight-loss but lowers the risk of contracting diseases such as heart disease, depression, dementia and some types of cancer.
If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,
says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant, speaking in an interview with the NHS.
8. Liquid calories also count!
It can be easy to note the size of the meals that we eat and pay attention to our snacks, but there are also numerous calories in drinks. Sodas and fruit juices contain high levels of fattening sugars, and although a few glasses of wine can also be enjoyable, alcohol is generally high in calories too.
We don’t want to be killjoys, but if you are going to drink wine you must remember that a large glass of wine (250ml) will add approximately 288 calories to your meal.
Drinking water before a meal can help you feel fuller, it’s official! According to a study carried out on middle aged and older adults, drinking 500ml of water half an hour before a meal increases weight loss. All adults on the test were following the same low calorie diet but after 12 weeks the group drinking the water lost on average 2kg more than the group who did not. This equated to a whopping 44% more weight loss over the 3-month period.
Water is a great way to stay hydrated. If you switch to plain water in place of sodas or juices you will also benefit from missing out on those calorie heavy sodas and flavoured drinks that contain high quantities of sugar.
Here at the Watchdog we have become huge fans of fizzy carbonated water whenever we fancy drinking something with a bit more zing.
It is important to remember that a healthy rate of weight loss is only between 1lb to 2lbs a week. This means that making some small changes to your everyday lifestyle can be enough to get the scales moving in the right direction.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.