As days slowly start getting lighter and we begin to book summer holidays it’s natural for thoughts to turn to slimming down. Don’t leave it to the last moment. Effective fat loss takes a little time, so start now with these seven simple tips.
1. Maintain (or slightly increase) protein intake It sounds odd to say increase your eating, but you want to avoid hunger and loss of lean muscle so slightly increase your protein intake. Protein is digested slowly helping to keep you full for longer and prevent your muscles from being robbed for their protein stores.
2. Reduce fats (lean sources of proteins) One gram of fat has 9 calories, while 1 g or carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories each, so you can save a lot more energy by limiting fat intake even if by only a small amount. Choose lean sources of protein, avoiding red meat and processed meats that contain higher fat levels, particularly saturated animal fat.
3. Reduce unnecessary carbohydrates Cut back slightly on your carbohydrate intake, but not too much. You should only be looking to lose weight slowly and consistently. A slightly smaller plate at meal times will help save just enough to make a difference without leaving you starving.
4. Cut back on desserts This is a quick method of achieving the previous two tips. Most desserts are high in both carbohydrates and fat and tend to supply additional calories that are not needed. Eat healthy in the main course and you won’t need pudding. Or, try swapping your normal desserts for something smaller, e.g. ‘Low Fat Yogurt’ or two small chunks of rich dark chocolate will save calories if you normally eat bigger desserts.
5. Cut back on alcohol Alcohol is extremely calorific, let alone the other ingredients, such as sugar, added to make it taste nice, so if you are serious about shedding weight this is a very quick and easy way to save unnecessary calories. If cutting out alcohol altogether seems like a step too far, at least try to find lower calorie versions, such as spirits instead of pints.
6. Don’t skip meals – make them smaller This tends to be most people’s natural reaction when they diet. Although skipping meals does save calories in the short term it’s too severe and not necessary. Going too long without food leads to cravings, loss of energy levels, impaired exercise, and causes your body to lose muscle tissue. Instead, eat the same foods as normal, just slightly smaller amounts. Save 250 calories a day by cutting out 63g of carbohydrates, or 28g of fat, or a mixture of both.
7. Increase energy expenditure I couldn’t leave without mentioning exercise. One pound of stored body fat has the equivalent energy as 3500 calories, so 3500 in 7 days = 500 calories a day, meaning saving 250 calories by cutting back on excess food is half the battle. Burning another 250 calories a day through exercise you will achieve your goal. Cycling for 20 minutes a day at 16-20mph burns over 250 calories for a 65 kg person. It soon adds up.