If you’ve ever consciously decided to lose weight, you’ll know that “eat healthy and exercise” isn’t as simple as it sounds. From distracting food cravings, gnawing hunger to deciding what to eat, these five hacks will help you stay focused, make balanced choices and get the results you desire.
PILE ON THE VEG
You already know that veg and salads are excellent weight loss partners. But there’s a good chance you’re underestimating just how much your body needs. If you’re thinking “how boring”, think again. Salad and veg come in so many forms – roasted sweet potato with paprika, cauliflower rice, or colourful salads – and you can even explore juices and soups.
These low calorie, nutrient dense foods fuel your body and mind, and support effective weight loss. Plus, if you pile up your plate with veggies, you’ll feel full and satisfied, distracting yourself from those naughty temptations.
PAIR YOUR PROTEIN
People often see carbs as the bad guys – especially when wanting to whittle the waistline. But the golden rule of nutrition is: always combine quality carbs with protein-rich foods. This duo helps to regulate your blood sugar and appetite – two important factors in weight management. So rather than ditch carbs all together, enjoy ‘slow releasing’ carbs such as oats, barley or wild rice in sensible portions and team them with lean sources of protein, like meat, tofu, fish, nuts or legumes. These more complex carbs are not only more nutrient rich, they prevent you from hankering the sweeter, refined carbs like cakes and biscuits.
EAT ON TIME
Busy lives often mean we tend to eat whenever we have a free moment. But for weight control, it’s important to eat regularly. Why? Our hormones are programmed to burn food during the day and store it at night while we rest. This means calories ingested later in the day are more likely to be stored. So put an end to the 9pm couch dinner and set yourself more consistent eating habits: breakfast by 8am, lunch by 1pm, dinner by 8pm – and a few ‘mindful’ nibbles in between
Speaking of mindfulness – this way of eating is simply being conscious of each mouthful. In other words, paying full attention to what you’re eating, how you’re eating it, and encouraging yourself to make better food choices. The key is to start gradually: eat one meal a day in a slower, more conscious manner. Make sure you’re not eating out of habit or with a device in your hand. This sense of awareness gives the brain ample time to send fullness signals and stop you from eating until you’re stuffed.
It’s perfectly fine to snack between meals. Done right, snacking can help you avoid energy slumps, fill nutritional gaps in your diet and keep your appetite in check. But unfortunately, for some, it serves as another opportunity to eat, in which case, blowing the calorie budget is easy to do. The key is to choose the right foods, in the right amounts. For example, if you’re not going to eat dinner until 8pm and your lunch was at 12pm, chances are you’ll need to nosh around 3-4pm. Go for protein rich foods, like nuts, dried chickpeas, boiled eggs, yoghurt or tuna and pair it with some wholegrain crackers or fruit. Just enough to perk up the concentration levels, keep the metabolism humming and prevent pigging out at dinner.