Now that we are into the new year, many of us will be embarking on a new weight loss journey having previously tried many 'celebrity' diets, extreme diets as well as the countless supplements being sold by friends on social media.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a miracle weight loss cure. To achieve long term results it takes time and dedication, not a few 'fruit' capsules or shakes which will inevitably be chucked to the back on the cupboard come February.
Here are 12 tips that will help you stick to your weight loss plans without depriving yourself of the things you like and help keep you motivated to carry on going.
1. Set yourself achievable goals
Before you start with your weight loss plan, make a list of goals you want to achieve.Get yourself a diary and use it specifically for your weight loss journey. These goals should be specific, positive and realistic. e.g. I want to lose 10lbs (4.53kg) of body fat by 31st March. Make sure the time frame is realistic, there is no point in saying you want to lose 2 stone (12.7kg) in 1 month, as this will lead to you becoming unmotivated and giving up. Aim to lose 1-2lbs per week (This is the safe weight loss rate).
Research has proven that by writing down your intentions, you are much more likely to make it happen.
2. Monitor body composition changes
Many people say they want to lose weight and will rely on scales alone to measure their progress. The problem with this is that if you are heavily restricting calorie intake then the chances are you will be losing lean tissue, which may look like progress according to scales but in reality it is the opposite as you are wanting to lose body fat.
The best way to monitor changes is a combination of girth/circumference measurements from chest, waist, hips, arms and legs. This is a more effective way in showing you fat loss rather than overall weight loss.
Also, when using scales do not use every day as this can lead to obsessive behaviours, use them as a guide every week or fortnight.
3. Aim to lose 1-2lbs per week
As mentioned previously, aim to weigh yourself weekly or fortnightly. This is a useful way of checking the speed of weight loss, but don't rely solely on this as it doesn't reflect changes in body composition.
4. Keep a food diary
Keeping a note of everything you are eating and drinking is a great way to evaluate your eating habits. By doing this you can see exactly what and when you are eating, which may also give you an indication as to why you are eating certain things at certain times. It is important that you don't change your normal diet when doing this, be completely honest with yourself as it will benefit you in the long run. So every sugar you put in your tea, every biscuit and every can of juice should be noted down.
5. NEVER consume fewer calories that your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
By consuming a low calorie diet, you risk losing lean tissue, severely depleting your carbohydrate stores which are vital for energy and lacking important nutrients. It is dangerous to be on any form of diet that is fewer than 1000kcals as this is not enough to support basic bodily functions. Check out my blog about the risks of restricting calorie intake
6. Cut down on Saturated and Hydrogenated fats
Look at your food diary and look for foods which may be high in saturated and hydrogenated fats. If protein and carbohydrate are eaten in excess, the body makes adjustments to allow it to increase the use of them as a fuel source and for an increase in the storage of carbohydrate (in the form of glycogen). When saturated fat is eaten in excess it causes virtually no changes and are readily converted into body fat. Make sure you are not cutting out unsaturated fats from your diet as these are very important. (Found in foods such as oily fish, nuts, avocado, olive oil etc).
7. Healthy fats
As mentioned previously, fats do serve a very important purpose in the body, providing essential fatty acids, stimulating hormone production, keeping skin healthy and absorbing/transporting various vitamins. You should be aiming for around 15-20% of your total calories coming from unsaturated fats. (Nuts, seeds, oily fish etc). These fats also assist in the transport of oxygen to body tissues which plays a role burning fat.
8. Pay attention to the Glycaemic Index
The glycaemic index (G.I) is a way to distinguish between different carbohydrate based foods and their effects on blood sugar levels. It uses a ranking of how quickly the foods make your blood sugar levels rise after eating them. (The higher on the scale the faster the rise in blood sugar).
Eating lower G.I foods helps to improve appetite regulation, increase feelings of fullness which in turn will delay hunger between meals. For more information about the glycaemic index check out the British Dietetic Association website
9. Eat More fibre
Fibre helps to slow down the rate at which food is emptied from your stomach which will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. It also gives food more of a texture which means you will have to chew more, resulting in your eating speed being slowed down and cutting down on the chances of you overeating. Fibre is also shown to reduce your risk of various cancers and heart disease. Check out my guide to carbohydrate
10. Don't deprive yourself of your favourite foods!
When you are wanting to lose weight it is important that you don't deprive yourself of your favourite comfort foods. For a large number of people, this is one of the main reasons why they give up on diets. Give yourself a 'day off' where you can have your favourite food once a week, this will help keep you motivated and satisfy your cravings without giving you the feelings of guilt since it has been planned. Maybe it will be a bit of chocolate, ice cream or even a burger.
11. Eat regularly
Plan to eat 4-6 times a day at regular intervals. Eating moderate sized meals or snacks more frequently is associated with a lower total energy intake as well as an increased metabolic rate following eating. By doing this it also helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels more stable. If you are also carrying out an exercise plan this method is also very beneficial and it helps replenish energy stores and minimise fat being stored.
12. gradually incorporate new lifestyle changes
Many people rush into a diet thinking it is going to be the end of their troubles, then give up once they realise it wont happen overnight. Many excuses are thrown about from not enough time to prepare, shift work, cooking for family etc. Make changes one at a time then once you have achieved it you can move onto the next one. Make a note of anything you feel is stopping or hindering your weight loss then think about ways that you could overcome them. E.g. spend a bit of time on a Sunday making various meals to freeze so you have food on hand for those days you can't be bothered cooking.
- The complete guide to sports nutrition 7th Edition; Anita Bean