Weight loss Tips

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Weight loss Tips

Losing weight is never easy and there’s no one tip that’s going to change that. However, it doesn’t have to be as complicated a process as many of us make it, like counting every calorie or stripping our diet of entire food groups while trying to follow aggressively restrictive diet plans.

If you’re not sure what those habits could be, then we have advice from the experts to help. We have nutritionist Orla Hugueniot and former footballer John Barnes from Public Health England’s Better Health campaign, which aims to help people lose weight, plus other dietitians and registered nutritionists sharing tips that have worked for the people they’ve helped to lose weight.

You don’t have to try to take on all the tips at once. In fact, we’d definitely advise against trying that, because you’ll overload yourself and may lose motivation. Pick a few that you think you can manage to start with, then keep coming back and adding more into your lifestyle.

1. Be Realistic
“Time and again, patients say to me that they are disappointed that they have ‘only’ lost a pound in a week,” says George Hamlyn-Williams, principal dietitian at The Hospital Group. “The reality is that one pound (454g) of fat equates to around 3,500 calories. This means that over the week the pound was lost, they have eaten on average 500 calories less per day – a massive achievement! It’s so easy to eat or drink an additional 500 calories – two standard 50g bars of chocolate would do it. However, to eat 500 calories less is much more difficult and to be consistent with it is even more challenging – so give yourself a break and pat yourself on the back if a pound comes off. Remember, if you keep going, that’s 52lb (23.5kg) over a year – over 3½ stone!”

2. Prioritise Your Sleep
“Often in clinic, if someone wants to lose weight but is not getting a good night’s sleep, I won’t begin by talking about food,” says dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine. “We talk about getting the sleep right first or they’ll be fighting a losing battle.

“The research shows that if people are chronically sleep-deprived they consume more calories the next day. When you are sleep-deprived, the hunger hormone called ghrelin increases, which means that you genuinely, physiologically, feel more hungry. Your brain function is also impaired so that you’re less likely to be able to resist high-calorie, palatable foods. Also your energy level and your motivation are going dip so you’re less likely to want to prepare a healthy meal.

“Ideally, go to sleep before midnight, get between seven to eight hours a night, and stick to consistent bedtimes and wake times – even on weekends. Ensure your bedroom is dark, not too hot, not too cold, and ideally keep screens out of the room. Watch your caffeine intake – with your last cup of tea or coffee 4pm at the latest – and alcohol intake. People think alcohol helps, but actually it leads to restless sleep.”

3. Get Familiar With Portion Sizes
“If you’re mindful of portion sizes you can say goodbye to calorie counting,” says Kerri Major, a registered dietitian and SENr sports dietitian, and author of The Dietitian Kitchen. “It can be useful to look at the recommended portion size on food packaging and see what you’re eating in comparison with this.

“Using your hands to get a rough idea of an appropriate serving size can also be a really useful tool. This is never going to be 100% accurate but it’s a simple and useful way of helping you get the right portion sizes.”

Here’s Major’s general advice for the portions that make up a balanced meal.

Protein 1 palm-size portion
Carbohydrates 1 handful of complex carbohydrates, typically wholegrain varieties
Vegetables 2 handfuls of non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms or salad leaves
Healthy fats 1 thumb-size portion
Additionally, a portion of fruit is one piece of whole fruit, like a banana, or one handful (approximately 80g if you have scales to hand), and Major advises aiming for three portions of dairy or dairy alternatives a day. “Portion sizes of dairy vary depending on the product,” says Major. “Again, I recommend checking the food label, which usually indicates an appropriate serving size.”

Of course, what’s exactly right for you depends on a number of things, including how active you are. If you’re unsure how much you should be eating, Major suggests seeing a registered dietitian.

4. Use Your Plate As A Guide
If you want to make portion control that little bit easier, Hugueniot suggests using smaller plates, and then dividing that plate up by food group.

“Make sure that half your plate contains vegetables or salad,” says Hugueniot. “The other half should be protein and carbohydrates.”

5. Homemade Beats Ready-Made
Increasing the amount you cook for yourself will make you more aware of what’s going in your food and help you avoid high calorie and fat counts, especially those from unexpected places. Also, cooking is fun! If you’re not sure where to start in the kitchen, healthy recipe boxes can be a big help.

“You could try doing your own burgers,” says Hugueniot. “Add chopped kidney beans, some chopped onion and an egg to the leanest beef mince you can get, grill it and serve with salad – making a much healthier meal than a traditional burger and chips.”

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