Diets – most of us have tried them, few of us have loved them, and almost all of us have ditched them at some point in our lives. Diets can be boring, monotonous and even unsustainable, making us feel like our ideal weight cannot be achieved. But all is not lost, as important as food and calorie consumption is, diets are not the only factors that encourage weight loss.
As important as food and calorie consumption is, diets are not the only factors that encourage weight loss.
We can all be reluctant to give up our favourite snacks and treats but weight loss doesn't mean you have to rid your diet of all tasty foods, instead changing other areas of your life can assist weight loss without having to sacrifice your favourite foods. These tips can help you reach your weight goals without altering the cupboards or your diet.
Get more sleep
One of the simplest ways to aid weight loss is getting enough sleep. Sleep is the body’s natural way of getting both mental and physical restoration, and without enough sleep your body and mind cannot perform at their most efficient. Lack of sleep stimulates the production of ghrelin, increasing our appetites and lowering levels of leptin; the hormone that makes you feel full.
Sleep and lack of, can also affect your willpower and motivation to exercise or generally eat sensibly. Sleep will also affect your stress levels, and if overly stressed, your body increases its levels of cortisol, an appetite stimulant. If you don't receive the necessary rest to reduce this stress, you can find yourself consuming extra food not necessary for your diet. A study by Columbia University found that those who get enough sleep eat almost 300 fewer calories than those who are sleep-deprived.
Although you may be tempted to skip breakfast to cut calories or save time, eating a filling breakfast can help curb your hunger, preventing snacking throughout the day or overeating during lunchtime. Researchers from Tel Aviv University found that participants who ate a 600-calorie breakfast with a lighter lunch and evening meal lost an average of 40lbs more than those who started their day with a 300-calorie meal.
Following the old adage ‘eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper’, really does help when trying to lose weight. This is because the metabolism is believed to be more efficient in the morning, a breakfast can kick start your metabolism and continue burning through the day. Breakfasts also stop your body entering into a state of starvation and will prevent your body storing any of the food you eat later in the day.
Eat foods slowly
Rather than focusing on how much you are eating at meals, try to concentrate instead on how quickly you eat them. It generally takes a minimum of 20 minutes to start feeling full, so slowing down the speed in which you eat will mean that you start feeling full after less. Simple tricks can help you slow how fast you're eating; chewing more thoroughly for example, not only takes up time between bites, but also helps your digestive system by breaking down more food before entering the stomach.
Putting your fork or food down between bites is another technique to slow down how fast you are putting the food into your mouth, as most of us too often will shovel food into our mouths too quickly for our digestive system. Research results published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who chewed each mouthful 40 times ate nearly 12 per cent fewer calories than those who chewed just 15 times, proving that taking your time over each mouthful could have huge benefits for your waistline.
Concentrate on your meals
As well as taking your time to eat your meals, concentrating on what you are eating can help you to eat less whilst encouraging you to enjoy your meals more. According to research findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating when distracted can cause you to ignore your body’s signs of fullness, and so try to focus on your food rather than the television while eating. If distracted you are also more likely to consume more food and feel less full as you don't pay enough attention to what and how much you are consuming.
Eating at your work desk or whilst watching tv at home aren't advised ways to eat meals, instead make an occasion of each meal and put in the effort to appreciate and enjoy your food.
Cut out unnecessary extras
Rather than cutting down on the meals you eat, you can easily lose pounds simply by cutting back on those extras you barely even notice you’re eating. Too frequently we think we have eaten a satisfying balanced meal when really our food can be filled with hidden elements the can pile on the pounds. Particularly when eating out, meals and snacks can include or be cooked with fattening ingredients that hinder your ability to lose weight.
Try replacing oily and sugary salad dressings with balsamic vinegar to significantly reduce the calorie count, and cut out calorie-rich dips and sauces, substituting for a small portion of fresh tomato salsa. Cooking with oils can also add hundreds of calories to a meal without contributing vastly to its taste, investing in a non-stick pan, or low-calorie sprays, can significantly cut down on unnecessary calories.
Eat more frequently
While increasing the number of meals you eat may sound counter-productive, eating five small meals (rather than three larger ones) can actually help you to lose weight. Largely because eating more frequently throughout the day will not only keep the hunger at bay, but help maintain good energy levels and keep your metabolism burning. All of these factors will encourage to keep from overindulging or reaching for those easy-energy, high-sugar foods that satisfy your cravings and energy levels.
Even without taking on a diet, breaking your normal eating pattern and consuming food more frequently throughout the day will encourage a higher metabolism and therefore burnt food more efficiently.
No one wants to sacrifice their delicious foods and treats, but by adding in some exercise, you can see the benefits of losing weight without having to cut your diet. Although a combination of healthy eating and working out is ideal for weight loss, if dieting is infeasible to you, exercise is the perfect way to lose weight, enhance fitness and improve your overall health.
Not only will regular exercise help to burn off the calories you consume, it will also help to tone up and improve the shape of your body. A combination of cardio and resistance training is the best combination to assist weight loss as you are engaging not only your cardiovascular system, but increasing muscle size and power, reducing fat stores and increasing fitness.
Balance your healthy and treat foods
Embarking on a new diet can be stressful and daunting; however, you don’t need to cut out all of your favourite foods in order to lose weight. Rather than completely cutting out treats or following some strict food regime, try following the 80/20 rule; keeping 80 per cent of your diet for healthy, nutritious foods and 20 per cent for your tasty reward foods.
Keeping a food diary or journal is an efficient way to acknowledge the types of foods you are eating, whilst trying to limit the fatty foods we all love so much. This way you can cut back on calories without feeling as though you are missing out or limited to a diet.
Eat more ‘good’ fats
Many people think that healthy food is low fat food (and vice versa), however you needn’t cut out all fats in order to lose weight. In fact, monounsaturated fats – found in avocados, olive oil and nuts –can actually help weight loss. While it is still important to monitor your consumption of fat, as when trying to lose weight your aim is to burn through some of your fat stores, studies however, have shown that eating a diet rich in monounsaturated - and low saturated - fats can help promote weight loss, particularly in the abdominal area.
Eating a controlled amount of nuts, seeds, egg yolks and fish can provide a rich source of nutrients whilst ensuring a balanced diet to aid weight loss.
Pick the right foods to keep you full
When choosing what to eat, particularly what to snack on, too often we choose the easiest available option, but preparing and eating foods that fill you up and sustain your energy can help control appetite and reduce calories consumed.
Foods such as potatoes, whole-wheat pastas, beans (not the baked variety) and eggs, just to mention a few, are the types of foods that provide rich nutrition but can help keep the hunger at bay. Soup for example is a great example of foods that, although liquid, pass through the stomach into the intestines slowly, keeping you full and satisfied for longer.
Don’t shop hungry
A common mistake made by many people when trying to lose weight starts before the food is even in the cupboard. Shopping whilst hungry is a common error made by everyone which may not seem like a major factor, but when hungry, the brain desires foods that release energy immediately, typically high sugar or glycemic index foods. These are typically foods which we categorise as unhealthy, which subsequently impact your weight loss.
These types of food release energy rapidly, making you feel fatigued quickly and in need of more food for energy. It is therefore important to eat something filling before doing the grocery shop, as not only will you choose healthier options but also purchase less food.
Avoid late night snacking
Although it is important to make sure your body is not completely deficient of energy before bed, as you continue to burn calories whilst you sleep, consuming unhealthy calorie-rich food before bed can halter weight loss as unused calories are subsequently stored as fat. Studies have shown that a third of women consume nearly half their calories during or after dinner, resulting in a substantial amount of unused calories.
The average person should aim to consume around 200 calories, guilt free, after dinner, but eating large amounts of food before bed will not only add to your the amount of fat stored, but can also slow the digestive system encouraging weight gain.