Healthy Weight Loss Tips to Try at Home
Want to get trim and toned? Listen up. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. Fad diets and quick weight-loss fixes aren’t just unhealthy; they will put you in the danger zone for fluctuation and gorging on food, interfering with the results you want. The cold hard truth of weight loss is that it’s, well, pretty dang hard. It requires commitment, perseverance, and determination. That being said, there are ways to kick-start your efforts. Will it take time? Yes. Will it be worth it? You bet.
Go ‘whole’ or go home
Whole, single-ingredient foods are, by far, the best canvas for your new-and-improved eating regimen. This way, you’ll avoid the vast quantities of added fat, sugar and salt that are abundant in processed foods. Whole-foods are naturally satiating, too, meaning you’ll feel fuller for longer and won’t be tempted to load up on extra calories. Plus, they’re chock-full of vitamins and minerals, providing your body with many of the essentials nutrients you need to thrive and function optimally. Make sure your kitchen is stocked with fruits, veggies, legumes, dairy products, lean animal meats, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds.
Ditch the junk
If you really want to shed weight, you need to ditch the junk, period. Crisps, chocolate bars, biscuits may look attractive in their shiny packaging, but binging on these comfort foods will only add inches to your girth. Ever noticed how easily you can devour a packet of popcorn in one sitting? That’s because these unhealthy treats have been engineered so consumers eat as much as possible. Their high fat, sugar and salt content don’t only make them extremely calorific, but extremely addictive, too i.
Sugar is one culinary culprit to keep your eagle eye on. Excessive sugar consumption has been associated with weight gain, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer ii. Trouble is, this sneaky weight-loss saboteur is hidden everywhere: pasta sauce, white bread, cereals, yoghurt, crackers, nut butter – the list could go on. When shopping, you need to become an ingredient sleuth. Always check food labels! Fancy something sweet and guilt-free? Peruse our healthy recipes to satisfy your sugar cravings here.
Pack in the protein
You’ve heard us bang on about the power of protein before – and for good reason. Protein is the big daddy of the weight-loss world, making it one of the most important tools in your slimming toolbox. Not only does your body burn a shed load of calories when digesting and metabolizing protein, but it’s also super satiating, meaning it will make you feel full and satisfied. Some studies even suggest high-protein diets can reduce consumption by 400 calories per day iii. Try to include a quality protein source with every meal – be it animal or plant-based. Oh, and it’s wise to choose leaner proteins, too, like white fish, chicken breast and low-fat dairy. Sorry folks, bacon and burgers are off the menu. Discover more ways to up your protein intake here.
Fill up on fibrous foods
Like protein, fibre-rich food is immensely satiating. It naturally decreases your cravings and appetite, making it another powerful weapon for weight loss. In fact, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found eating approximately 30 grams of fibre every day could support weight loss iv. Make a conscious effort to load up on a variety of fibrous foods. Brown rice, porridge, legumes, broccoli, avocado and kale are brimming in the rough stuff. Want to supercharge your fibre consumption? Read more here.
Stash healthy snacks
When the four o’clock slump strikes, it can be tempting to reach for those calorie grenades to boost your energy levels. But we urge you to refrain! As a rule of thumb: never leave the house without a nutrient-dense snack. That way, the office biscuit tin or post-gym vending machine won’t suck you in. Hard-boiled eggs, trail-mix, roasted chickpeas, whole fruit, nuts and seeds, and unsweetened dried fruit are super snack attacks.
Breakfast like a king
When it comes to weight loss, the old adage, ‘breakfast like a king’ has never been truer. A well-balanced, nutrient-dense breakfast is fuel to jumpstart your day. And no – that sugary granola bar won’t cut it. Skipping brekkie won’t only lead to poor concentration, lagging energy levels, and low blood sugar; you’re likely to make unhealthy food choices later in the day, too. Eating protein for breakfast is highly recommended because it will leave you feeling full and satisfied until lunch. Quick wins include avocado and poached eggs on wholegrain toast, porridge with berries, or Greek yoghurt with a sprinkling of granola. Discover more breakfast staples to fire up your day here.
Hungry? Or are you actually thirsty? There’s a lot of truth in the claim that water can support weight loss. Not only does the process of drinking water burn calories; it fills you up, too. Next time a food craving strikes, try having a glass of water to see if that satisfies you. Plain water, not your thing? Add sliced berries, cucumber, or citrus fruits to tantalises your taste buds and encourage you to guzzle more.
On the topic of hydration, watch out for beverages that could sabotage your weight loss journey. Fizzy drinks, fruit juices, milkshakes, energy drinks and alcohol are extremely calorific. One study found the daily consumption of a sweetened beverage increased the risk of obesity in children by 60% v! Remember: just because your slurping and sipping, it doesn’t mean you aren’t consuming calories. One drink you may want to consider, though, is black coffee. A cup of java is thought to rev up your metabolism by 11% vi. Just make sure you skip the cream and sugar. Learn more about the best foods for your metabolism here.
How often do you scoff food in front of your computer screen, phone or TV – inhaling every last crumb, forgetting to breathe, and totally failing to be mindful? No matter how desperately you want to catch up on your favourite Netflix season, it doesn’t cost you anything to slow down. Properly chew your food. Breathe between bites. Enjoy the flavour sensation in your mouth. Chances are, you’ll end up munching less food and feeling all the better for it.
When you’re stressed, you probably reach for pick-me-ups. Sound familiar? That’s because your stress hormone, cortisol, whets your appetite for fatty, sugary treats. No wonder stress is linked to weight gain. Indeed, in a 2007 Obesity study, researchers found exposure chronic stress was a significant factor in the presentation of obesity vi. Hence, every weight-loss journey needs a stress-management strategy. It could be yoga, meditation, chilling out with music, or taking the dog for a walk. Bottom line: ensure hunger, not sky-high stress levels, is the emotion that leads you to the kitchen.
Get enough sleep
Poor sleep – that is, less than 7-9 hours – won’t just leave you bleary-eyed and groggy; it’s a recipe for weight-loss disaster. When you don’t get enough quality slumber, your body’s hormones are skewed and thrown out of whack – and this can impact hunger levels the following day. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals are 55% more likely to become obese, compared to their counterparts who clock enough shut-eye each night vii. Struggling to drift off? Improve your sleep hygiene here.
Slim fast with fasting
If you’ve done any snooping around the wellness corner of the Internet, glossy magazines or social media, you’ll know intermittent fasting is a buzzword that crops up a lot. This method has been heralded for its weight loss credentials by making you eat fewer calories overall. You can fast in various ways: the 5:2 diet (eating a normal diet for five days a week, while restricting calorie intake to 500-600 calories on the other two days) and the 16:8 method (fasting every day for 16 hours and eating all your food in an 8-hour window). In one investigation, participants who fasted demonstrated a 4-7% decrease in abdominal fat in 6-24 weeks viii.
Time for that much-quoted nugget of any health guru’s weight-loss mantra: exercise! One of the best ways to blast fat is with cardio, such as jogging, cycling, power walking or hiking. Cardio burns calories, gets your heart pumping and floods your brain with ‘feel-good’ hormones. This form of exercise seems to be especially effective at tackling abdominal fat, too ix. For weight loss, the National Institutes of Health recommend least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on three to five days a week x. Oh, and don’t forget strength training, either. Lifting weights and using your body for resistance is another way to torch fat and sculpt your body.
Schulte, E., Avena, N. & Gearhardt, A. (2015). Which Foods May Be Addictive? The Roles of Processing, Fat Content, and Glycemic Load. PLOS ONE, 10(2), .e0117959.
Bostick, R., Potter, J., Kushi, L., Sellers, T., Steinmetz, K., McKenzie, D., Gapstur, S. & Folsom, A. (1994). Sugar, meat, and fat intake, and non-dietary risk factors for colon cancer incidence in Iowa women (United States). Cancer Causes & Control, 5(1), 38-52.
Weigle, D., Breen, P., Matthys, C., Callahan, H., Meeuws, K., Burden, V. & Purnell, J. (2005). A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(1), 41-48.
Ma, Y., Olendzki, B., Wang, J., Persuitte, G., Li, W., Fang, H., Merriam, P., Wedick, N., Ockene, L., Culver, A., Schneider, K., Olendzki, G., Carmody, J., Ge, T., Zhang, Z. & Pagoto, S. (2015). Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(4), 248.
Ludwig, D., Peterson, K. & Gortmaker, S. (2001). Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. The Lancet, 357(9255), 505-508.
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Barnosky, A., Hoddy, K., Unterman, T. & Varady, K. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research, 164(4), 302-311.
Ohkawara, K., Tanaka, S., Miyachi, M., Ishikawa-Takata, K. & Tabata, I. (2014). Erratum: A dose–response relation between aerobic exercise and visceral fat reduction: systematic review of clinical trials. International Journal of Obesity, 32(2), 395-395.
Nhlbi.nih.gov. (2018). Exercise and Fitness. Available online: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/phy_act.htm [Accessed 16 Nov. 2018].
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Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.