Thousands of people world wide are doing everything in their power to lose weight, but many of these people are failing drastically at doing it. The healthiest way to lose weight is neither crash diets nor bursts of exercise. The body likes slow changes in terms of food and exercise. A sensible rate of weight loss is around 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) a week. To achieve this, you need an energy deficit of 3,500kcal to 7,000kcal a week, which means eating 500 to 1,000 fewer calories a day. It is time to get out of the dark and see what you can do to improve your health and lifestyle now.
1. Starchy carbohydrate foods, such as bread, potatoes, rice and breakfast cereals, provide us with energy and other nutrients, including iron and B vitamins. Starchy foods should make up about a third of your total daily energy intake. Choose unrefined types that are higher in fibre. They’ll make you feel full for longer and help to control hunger.
2. Now, you are probably wondering what exactly is “healthy food”. If you walk into a super market you will quickly notice that all the fresh, none processed foods all seem to be on the outer portions of the store and all the processed food is in the inner aisles. Fancy that! Fresh produce, fresh meats, fresh diary and fresh grains are all great for you, if prepared in the right portion sizes. These are all on the outer areas of your super market, normally. Stick to these areas and you will already be ahead of the game.
3. Small changes can make a big difference. One extra biscuit a week can lead you to gain 5lb a year – cut that biscuit out of your diet and you’ll lose the same amount. You’re also more likely to stick to, say, swapping full-fat milk for semi-skimmed or making time for breakfast each morning than a diet that sets rules for all foods.
4. Meat, fish, eggs and alternatives, such as beans and lentils, provide protein, which is essential for growth and repair. These protein-rich foods, meat in particular, are also good sources of iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins. Lean sources of protein can also help to curb your appetite. To help reduce the calories you get from fat, remove the skin from chicken, cut off obvious bits of fat from lamb, pork and beef, and use minimum oil for cooking. Aim to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines or trout.
5. Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast – or any meal to lose weight. While skipping a meal will reduce your calorie intake for that hour, it will leave you much hungrier later on.
6. Fruit and vegetables provide essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and contain many other compounds associated with good health. Everyone should aim to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in their diet. Because fruit and vegetables are bulky and contain a lot of water, they can help to control your calorie intake. Aim for at least five portions a day. This is one of the best natural weight loss.
7. The type of exercise you do is not as important as picking an activity that you enjoy and can stick with. “Regular exercise keeps you sensitive to insulin, which means you burn fat instead of sugar, are less hungry, and stay slimmer. It also helps you feel good. Every extra step you take helps. Always use the stairs instead of the lift, or get off the bus a stop before the usual one and walk the rest of the way.