Top Tips for Eating Well and Losing Weight
There has never been a more confusing deluge of diet information as we see today. New miracle diets, super foods and food villains are bounded about daily. But if you are looking to lose weight here are some overarching guiding principles that you cant go wrong with.
1. Keep a food diary
Keeping a food diary is one of the easiest ways to watch the pounds fall off.
The simple act of being more mindful of what we eat can help with weight loss. An American study involving 1700 people found that keeping a food diary could double diet weight loss1.
And it doesn’t matter how you keep that record, be it texting it to yourself, taking photos or using an app like my favourite Fat Secret.
Or try a mindfulness app like Headspace.
2. Drink water
Aim to drink 2L of water each day to curb your appetite and aid weight loss.
One study of 173 overweight women aged 25-50 years found that increasing the amount of water drunk each day, led to significant weight and fat loss over time2. But be careful not to drink too much water (over 5L) as this can lead to hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition caused by low sodium.
3. Eat natural, unprocessed foods
Wherever you can eat natural, unprocessed foods. The less processed the food the more energy it takes for our bodies to break it down and therefore you absorb less calories. This is particularly true of raw foods, as cooked food, even natural unprocessed cooked food, is easier for the body to breakdown and therefore takes less energy for the body to break it down.
For example take a cup of raw carrot. The body will absorb 52 calories if you eat them raw, but if you were to cook the same carrots the body would absorb 55 calories.
SO the bottom line, eat less processed food and let your body do the processing and breaking down of food
4. Cut back on refined sugar
Sugar is one molecule in the carbohydrate chain and therefore takes very little energy to breakdown and turn into energy. Which is great for getting that instant sugar rush of energy, but not so great for the hunger crash that follows. Sugar is hidden in a surprising number of foods including salad dressings, breakfast bars, cooking sauces and soup. It also comes in disguised in over 50 names including glucose, maltose, sucrose, corn syrup, lactose, dextrose, honey and maple sugar. Yes, they are all sugar!
Check food labels and if it contains over 10% sugar, forget it!
Boost your energy expenditure by taking regular exercise. Aim to do something that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe a little harder than usual for an hour a day, five times a week. For example cycling or swimming.
In addition aim to increase weight-baring exercises like press-ups and squats. This will not only help you tone-up, but will increase your muscle mass leading to an increase in the amount of calories you burn at rest. So you’ll burn more calories even when you are asleep!
6. Curb your alcohol intake
Alcohol contains more calories per gram (7Kcal) than protein or carbohydrate (4Kcal).
For example, a large glass of wine or a pint of beer contains approximately 200 Kcals and a double gin is approximately 150Kcals.
So if you are having 7 glasses of wine or pints of beer each week you will gain a pound a week and almost 3 and ½ stone in a year!
Not only that, but the more we drink the weaker our dieting willpower becomes. Who hasn’t been for that midnight kebab after drinking one too many?
Start by reducing your alcohol intake or cutting out all together.
7. Get more sleep
A good night’s sleep not only boosts your mood, it can help control your appetite too.
A study3 of over 56, 000 adults found that those that slept less than 7 hours per night had a 6% increase in their likelihood of becoming obese.
Sleep deprivation has also been shown to increase cravings for high calorie foods4.
During sleep your body repairs itself and any gains you have made when exercising happen while your body is at rest. This is the time the muscles repair themselves and become stronger and leaner.
So prioritise getting a good night’s sleep and watch the pounds drop off!
1 ScienceDaily. (2017). Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests. [online] Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708080738.htm [Accessed 22 Aug. 2017].
2 Stookey JD, e. (2017). Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18787524 [Accessed 22 Aug. 2017].
3 Buxton, O. and Marcelli, E. (2010). Short and long sleep are positively associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease among adults in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 71(5), pp.1027-1036.
4 Greer, S., Goldstein, A. and Walker, M. (2017). The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain.