Skimping on carbs. Binging on protein. Countless diets seem to advocate the same restrictive and strenuous methods. But sometimes losing weight can be as simple as shifting your habits. We spoke with nutrition and diet expert, Judith Wills and celebrity personal trainer Matt Roberts to get their best advice.
The good news: Despite what we’ve been led to believe, when it comes to losing weight, the key isn’t depriving yourself; it’s making subtle lifestyle changes and altering your routine. Wills, author of The Food Bible, The Diet Bible and Escape the Fat Trap for Life www.thedietdetective.net, recommends making these six simple adjustments to your diet.
1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. This will help you maintain even blood sugar levels and prevent hunger pangs, not to mention improve overall digestion.
2. Eat protein and fat at each meal. Research shows that both protein and fats of all kinds take longer to break down in your digestive system than do carbohydrates. Bottom line: They help you feel full for longer.
3. Eat “whole” foods. Breads, breakfast cereals and pastas made from “whole”, or unrefined, grain take longer to digest than those containing “white” grain. So if you are going to eat carbs, stick with the whole grain versions.
4. Eat slowly. Simple enough! Research tells us that people who eat slowly tend to eat less at each meal. It takes around 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you have had enough to eat, so aim to take at least that long to eat your meal.
5. Eat chewy foods. Chowing down on foods that require a lot of chewing will also help you to eat less. This is partly because it will take you longer to eat a meal full of crunchy foods such as raw apple, carrot, celery or meat. But also, because your mouth is doing all that work, your brain feels as though you are eating more.
6. Use herbs and spices to provide flavour. Dieters list blandness as one reason to hate “diet foods” and give up. So add flavour and enjoyment to your meals with strong herbs and spices. These tasty enhancements will not only provide mouth satisfaction but also help you feel full for virtually no extra calories.
But changing your eating habits is just one piece of the equation. In order to see results, you also need to adjust your thinking about exercise, says Matt Roberts, a best-selling author and owner of a chain of personal training centres in London www.mattroberts.co.uk. He suggests the following four tricks of the trade.
1. Drink water or green tea. Keeping hydrated by consuming enough water helps to prevent hunger pangs and enables you to burn fat more efficiently. This will also help make your workouts more effective. What’s more, consuming green tea has an added advantage of enhancing your metabolism so that you can burn more fat, even at rest.
2. Target the process, not the result. Many people become fixed on a number, hoping to drop a size or lose one stone. And while it can be useful to aim for this type of long-term goal, it is also important to have smaller, more achievable goals to help maintain your motivation. Set targets for yourself, such as drinking two litres of water daily, consuming five portions of fruit a day or going for a run every other day.
3. Try as many forms of exercise as possible. Exercising your body in one way generally will not achieve the best results. However, combining different types of exercise and training such as Pilates, running and weight training helps to work your body in various ways to maximize your results.
4. Match intentions with action. Although we all want to achieve the ideal physique, few of us put in the effort needed to attain it. Make the change this month, and match your intentions with the right actions. Set your goals, make a plan, and stick with it so that you can achieve your ideal results.
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