The diet industry is a multibillion-dollar global business, and with so many mixed messages and competing products out there, finding the right way to lose weight is mind-boggling for most people.
From Atkins, Paleo and IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) to flexible dieting and reverse dieting, these fad regimes — often endorsed by celebrities — all promise to deliver results.
However, keeping things straightforward and following common sense will help shift the flab for good, say experts. Here are nine top tips:
1. Cut back on sugars and starches
It is crucial to reduce your intake of sugars and starches — aka carbohydrates. These are the foods that stimulate secretion of insulin the most. If you didn’t know already, insulin is the main fat storage hormone in the body. When insulin goes down, fat has an easier time getting out of the fat stores and the body starts burning fats instead of carbs. Another benefit of lowering insulin is that your kidneys shed excess sodium and water from the body, which reduces bloat and unnecessary water weight. It is not uncommon to lose up to five kilos in the first week of eating this way, both body fat and water weight.
2. Eat at home more
A great way to lose weight is by cutting out unhealthy processed foods from your diet. Do this by cooking at home instead of eating out, says Dr Ruchika Mukherjee, Associate Medical Director at Dubai health services company Cigna. “Home-made meals contain fresher ingredients that have less sugar and calories. Although there are several healthy meal services that will deliver cooked meals right on your doorstep, cooking at home is a less expensive option. If anything, consider it an opportunity to learn a valuable new skill.”
3. Plan well ahead
Dr Mukherjee adds that it’s smart to plan meals and snacks for the week ahead. “Not only will this help you stick to your calorie allowance but it will also ensure that you have healthy eating options around when you get hungry.”
4. Don’t skip meals
Experts almost universally agree that skipping meals is not advisable, especially breakfast as it kick-starts your metabolism and helps you burn calories through the day. By skipping this important meal, you could miss out on essential nutrients and may end up snacking more in the afternoon and evening to compensate.
5. Lift weights three times a week
For both men and women, lifting weights can have a huge impact on weight loss and overall health. The best option is to go to the gym three to four times a week. Do a warm-up, lift weights, then stretch. If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice. By lifting weights, you will burn a few calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight. If lifting weights is not an option for you, then do some easier cardio workouts such as running, jogging, swimming or walking.
6.Drink more water
You hear it time and time again to the point where you want to just drink a soda to spite the water lovers. But the experts have a valid point. Being properly hydrated assists with so many different bodily functions that support weight management, and it also makes you feel amazing.
7. Make vegetables your best friend
“Vegetables should be your top friends on Facebook as they really can make losing fat easy,” says Jonny Young, founder of Dubai’s 6P. “They are made up of mainly water, are packed with nutrients and are low in calories. In a nutshell, your stomach doesn’t have a calorie counter, but it does detect volume. If you fill your plate with tasty vegetables you will naturally get fuller quicker and consume significantly less calories than if your plate was filled with less healthy options.”
8.Sleep and de-stress
Young adds another key tip — get more sleep and try to cut out stress. “Cortisol plays a huge role when it comes to fat storage and muscle breakdown,” he explains. “Do everything you can to reduce your stress levels and get a good night’s sleep, whether by meditating before bed or beating up a punch bag. Sleeping better and lowering stress levels doesn’t just make you feel better, it is a key player in fat loss.”
9.Hit your pause button
The next time you want to reach for a big bag of crisps, picture yourself hitting a pause button in your brain. Coral Arvon, Director of Behavioural Health and Wellness at Pritikin Longevity Centre in the US, recommends taking a ten-minute break to think about your action when struck by an urge to gorge on chocolate cake.