12 tips to help you lose weight
Updated: Jan 17
Get 2021 off to the best possible start with our 12 tips to help you lose weight.
Increasing your activity levels is key to weight loss.
Physical activity is great for your physical and mental health.
As well as the numerous health benefits that come with being active, exercise also helps to burn calories which can make weight loss easier.
I always recommend a target of at least 10,000 steps a day and some form of strength training two to three times a week.
Read and understand food labels
Knowing what's in the food and drink that you consume can help you to choose the healthier option.
Understanding the number of calories in a particular food enables you to work out how it then fits into your daily calorie allowance.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
Most of us know that fruit and veg are low in calories and high in essential nutrients.
Many fruits and veggies also weigh a lot, which means you can add bulk to your diet, without overloading calories.
For example, a meal consisting of a 150g grilled chicken breast, a 300g jacket potato, 20g of butter and 30g low-fat cheese provides a total weight of 500g and provides 790 calories.
Swap that meal for a 130g chicken breast, a 200g potato, 5g of butter, 80g broccoli, 45g carrots and 40g green salad, and you still have an overall weight of 500g, but for just 480 calories.
You will feel just as full after eating the second meal as you would the first, but you've cut 310 calories. Enough to help you lose 1/2lb a week without dropping the amount of food you eat.
Water is a healthy, zero-calorie and cheap choice for quenching your thirst.
People often confuse feelings of hunger with thirst. They then eat extra calories when actually all they need is a drink of water.
Plan what you eat
Plan your meals, snacks and shopping list for the week.
There's nothing worse than feeling hungry and not knowing what to eat. You end up reaching for the quickest available option, which is usually not the best choice.
I even go one step further and add my food to a tracking app like MyFitnessPal the night before.
This way I can see clearly what I need to eat that day to hit my calorie allowance.
You don't need to skip meals
You do not need to skip meals to lose weight. You may feel more hungry throughout the day and end up snacking more without realising.
Some people swear by intermittent fasting, a method of scheduled fasting, but it's not for everyone and could lead to binging if you get overly hungry.
Eating regular, planned meals throughout the day can help reduce the temptation to absent-mindedly pick at snacks.
There's no truth that eating regularly burns more calories but it will keep you from feeling hungry and less likely to overeat.
Eat foods high in fibre and protein
Fibre can help keep you feeling full, which is great when dieting. You can find fibre in fruit and veg, whole grains and beans, peas and lentils.
Protein has been shown to help satiety and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
It also preserves lean body mass when dieting and it takes more energy (calories) to break it down and digest.
Use a smaller plate
If portion sizes are a problem, try using smaller plates at mealtimes.
You may then get used to eating smaller portions and not overeating, without going hungry.
Practise mindful eating.
It takes around 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it's full, so slow down your eating and enjoy your food.
Do not restrict foods
Restricting things makes you want them even more.
A sustainable weight-loss diet includes a balance of everything you like.
As long as you stay in your calorie allowance, that bar of chocolate or glass of wine is fine.
Do not buy junk food
I know that restricting certain food isn't sustainable long-term, but if you really can't help yourself then don't buy it in the first place.
Adding additional barriers between the thought and action makes it that much harder to do.
If you have to get up off the sofa, get dressed, put on your coat and shoes, before going to the shop to buy chocolate at 9 pm at night, you are much less likely to do it.
If you simply have to walk to the kitchen, or better still, send your partner to fetch it for you, it's too easy to give in to temptation.
Reduce your alcohol
The same as not buying junking food.
A standard glass of wine is perfectly fine when it fits into your calorie allowance but if you can't stop at one glass, it's probably best not to tempt yourself by buying it.
To sum up
Adding all of these changes to your lifestyle at once can feel overwhelming.
Even if we are committed to working hard, our natural tendency is to revert back to our old ways at some point particularly when stressed and overwhelmed.
Making a permanent lifestyle change is really difficult if you try to do too many things at once.
Focus on one thing and be consistent to get started.
As that becomes more natural and automatic, then add another.
Behaviour change requires a lot of conscious effort, don't overload yourself by trying to do too much at once.
Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.
To book your free personal training consultation click here