When it comes to weight loss, we’re often bombarded with so much information and advice that it’s easy for us to become overwhelmed before we’ve even started. Keep it simple. If you want to lose weight, all you need to do is encourage your body to burn more calories than it consumes. The best way to do this is to eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly. “If you improve your health, that will automatically lead to weight loss,” says Vivienne Logan-Reid, Director of Prodimed UK. “Don’t just think about cutting calories, think about what you are eating.” So what are you waiting for? Use these tips to help you kick-start a change in your daily routine.
Check your BMI
Working out your Body Mass Index (BMI) will give you a good indicator of whether you’re a healthy weight for your hight. To calculate, all you need to do is divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in metres) and then divide the answer by your height again to get your result. A healthy BMI score ranges between 18.5 and 25, while 25-30 is classed as overweight, and a score of over 30 is classed as very overweight. Being overweight can increase your risk of developing heart disease, joint problems, dementia, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, sleep apnoea and many other conditions.
- Drink plenty of water: Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether you’re hungry or just thirsty. Many people confuse the two, so next time you feel peckish, help yourself to a cold glass of water and see if that settles your craving before consuming unnecessary extra calories. Try herbal teas and sugar free cordials for a bit of added oomph.
- Always eat breakfast: How many times have we heard the words: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Skipping meals will inevitably leave you feeling hungry and more tempted to snack. Use breakfast as an opportunity to get all-important fibre into your diet to promote good digestion throughout the day and, thanks to its bulky nature, it will help to keep you feeling full for longer. Make time for a healthy morning meal, like high-fibre cereal with skimmed milk and berries.
- Exercise daily: You need to burn calories by expending energy so find time to exercise regularly. Several 30-minute bursts of anything from brisk walk, to cycling, jogging, swimming or even dancing will get the cogs turning and kick-start weight loss.
- Keep a food diary: Make an effort to jot down what you eat day-to-day. You might be surprised at naughty habits you find and it’s a good way of keeping track of your calorie intake. Be honest though – you’ll only be cheating yourself if you’re not!
What goes into a balanced diet?
- Watch your calorie intake: Depending on how active you are, the body needs a certain amount of calories per day to keep going. The average man needs 2,500 calories a day, while the average woman requires around 2,000 calories. If you consume more calories than your body uses then, quite simply, you will gain weight.
- Base your meals around fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates: Overall, aim for 33 percent fruit and vegetables, 33 percent carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, ect) 11 percent protein (meat, eggs and beans) 11 percent fat or sugar and 11 percent dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt)
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day: they’re low in calories, packed with fibre and vitamins and help you stay feeling fuller for longer. “Always aim for a colorful plate at mealtimes,” advises Vivienne Logan-Reid. ” A non-colorful plate often means high calories and a lack of nutrients that are essential to keeping you happy and healthy.”
- Eat at least two portions of oily fish a week: Learn to love mackerel, herring, sardines or tuna for their rich omega-3 content, which can protect you from heart disease and may also reduce the risk of you developing dementia and inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Cut down on salt: Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which puts you at higher risk of stroke and heart attack. Aim to eat less than 6g a day.
- Know your fats: Avoid trans fats found in processed food such as cakes, biscuits and some ready meals. Keep saturated fat below a third of your daily intake (including eggs, dairy and meat) and switch to unsaturated fats including polyunsaturated fats found in sunflower, soya and corn and monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and rapeseed oil.
- Avoid eating too much sugar: It’s high in calories and rots your teeth! Be careful to spot high sugar content often hidden in the most unlikely of foods. For example, eating a salad is a healthy lunch option, but make sure the dressing isn’t loaded with sugar; if in doubt try making your own! Another culprit is dried fruit – in drying, it shrinks down causing the nutrient, calorie and sugar content to become concentrated. So be aware that a handful of raisins or banana chips could have a sugar content that doubles its fresh counterpart.
- Drink alcohol in moderation: That means just one alcoholic drink per day for women , and no more than two for men. The lowest in calorie choices include wine, beer, or liquor without mixers.
Top foods that help to fight fat
- Peppermint: Well known for its healing digestive properties, this helpful herb is at its best when brewed in hot water as a healthy alternative to tea or coffee.
- Grapefruit: One of the best fat fighting foods around, this ‘super fruit’ is high in fiber and low in calories. It’s also a ‘negative calorie’ food, which means that the body uses more calories to digest it than it takes from the fruit itself.
- Bananas: Packed full of fibre, bananas are a great way to help you stay fuller for longer as they release energy slowly. They also contain high levels of potassium, a well-known mood booster.
- Salmon: Meat-based protein breaks down slower than that from veggies or grains. Lean meats or fish, such as salmon, will settle your stomach and and help you to avoid late night snacking!
- Lentils: Full of fibre and a good source of iron, which means they’re a great way of boosting your metabolism. Perfect as an alternative to rice and pasta; try adding them to warming winter stew for a low-cost midweek supper.