If you’re trying to lose weight but just don’t know where to start, these top 10 tips can help you get the ball rolling (hint: none of them involve you buying those weight loss gummy bears off the internet… who woulda thought?). Follow these nutritionist- and NHS-backed approaches if you’d like to lose weight and keep it off.
1. Be consistent
If you find that you’re sometimes having your first meal of the day at 2pm, or if you’ve noticed on some nights that you’re raiding the fridge at 12am, stop. Eating at random and fluctuating times every day is a big no no － doing this means that you’re more likely to over or undereat which wreaks havoc with your metabolism.
Having a consistent eating schedule is key in helping you lose weight as it helps to burn calories at a quicker rate while also limiting your temptation to snack on fatty or sugary foods. A good approach to maintain regular eating is to ensure that you eat within one hour of waking up and to not let four or five hours pass without eating. For example, you could eat breakfast at 8am, lunch at 12pm, a snack at 4pm and dinner at 7pm. Once you master the art of consistent eating, your body will exhibit signs of hunger at expected meal and snack times and will have a desire for balance coupled with the skill of eating just the right amount.
2. Just eat your fruit and veg, please?
If this good doggo can do it, so can you. Honestly, just eat your fruit and veg.
Fruit and veg contain the three key ingredients for weight loss － low calories, low fat, and high fibre. The fibre, prebiotics and antioxidants in fruit and veg have been proven to lower inflammation, a core trigger of obesity.
In particular, try eating more non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes (okay this is technically a fruit, but you get the gist). They’re rich in nutrients, hugely satisfying and very low in calories. Win, win and win!
3. Do that workout you’ve been putting off…
Lacking the motivation to get up off the sofa and exercise is something we’ve all experienced, but being active is crucial to losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. Exercising can help you to burn off calories that may be difficult for you to achieve through just diet.
Wondering how you can motivate yourself to exercise? Find a physical activity that you enjoy and will look forward to doing, rather than seeing it as a chore. This can be as weird and wonderful as you like, by the way － if you’ve ever been curious to know what it’s like to be chased by zombies (who hasn’t?) and you fancy improving your running skills, download the Zombie, Run! app. That’s right, you can improve your fitness levels while pretending that you’re running away from zombies. Pretty cool, huh?
4. Hydrate yourself, honey
It’s common for people to confuse thirst with hunger. This isn’t good, as it can cause you to consume more calories when all you really need is a good ol’ glass of water.
If you want to prevent yourself from overeating, drinking a glass of water before meals will naturally lead you to eat smaller portions and lose weight as a result. The NHS also recommends that you drink 6-8 glasses of water each day, so you could drink four cups before noon and four cups between noon and bedtime. Bored of plain water all day long? Add in lemon, lime, mint, cucumber or fruit to spruce it up!
5. Sober, not just for October
If you’re taking part in sober October, you may want to extend this a little longer. Just kidding, you don’t have to be completely sober, but limiting your alcohol intake will definitely do you some good; alcohol stimulates appetite, and an average glass of wine can contain the same amount of calories as a piece of chocolate. If you’re having a glass of wine or two every night with dinner, this can easily lead to weight gain over time. Try limiting alcohol to weekends only.
6. Eat on a smaller plate or bowl
A quick and simple trick is to eat your meals on a smaller plate or bowl. Why? This automatically helps you to eat smaller portions, and before you know it you’ll naturally be eating smaller portions without feeling like you’re still hungry. Make sure you eat slowly too; it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so if you chew your food for longer and take small breaks between mouthfuls, you’ll be less likely to overeat.
7. Fill up on fibre
High-fibre foods help to keep you fuller for longer, which is perfect if you want to lose weight. If you want to increase your fibre intake, eat more plant foods like fruits and veggies, pulses and wholegrains.
8. Be organised and plan your meals
Put that same energy that goes into planning your outfits and your meet-ups with friends into planning your meals. By staying organised and planning your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the week, this can help you stick to your calorie goals and prevent you from being tempted to grab an unhealthy snack or from ordering a takeaway. Write a weekly shopping list and stick to it!
9. Ban yourself from banning foods
Banning certain foods from your diet will only make you crave them even more… We all want what we can’t have, right? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a treat every now and again, as long as you don’t go over your daily calorie allowance and eat a balanced diet.
A helpful tip is to identify your favourite treats and make some room for them in your diet in a sensible way. For example, if you love chips, include them in your dinner but reduce the portion size and have them alongside plenty of veggies and some lean meat. Or, you could say to yourself that you’re only going to eat chips on the weekend and maintain a healthy diet during the week.
10. Are you actually hungry, or are you just bored?
It’s a question you might ask yourself daily (or is that just me?). If your body is hungry, it will trigger physical signs like a rumbling tummy but mind hunger is triggered by habits, emotions, or environmental factors like watching someone else eat.
Next time you’re feeling hungry, pause and try to distinguish whether it’s real hunger or if it’s because you just smelled someone cooking food downstairs. For a lot of people, this is the most difficult piece of the weight loss puzzle. Once you master it, though, you’ll be unstoppable.