With new diets, ‘fabulous’ dieting pills and potions, and new workouts appearing all the time, it can be very confusing as to what will actually help you lose weight and beat the belly. I like to keep it simple, for one reason - you need to stick to it. Research has shown that most people who lose weight on a diet end up putting it all back on and more!! Which is gutting after all their hard work losing it in the first place. So how do you lose weight and keep it off?
As much as I love exercising, I am afraid you can’t out exercise a poor diet. You only have to look at how many burpees you have to do to burn off a biscuit, and you’ll soon see that what you eat is vital. Losing weight is 80% about what you eat and 20% about how much you exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying stop exercising, but if you are looking to lose weight, you need to also think about what you are eating.
So obvious, I know, but we all miss it. How often do we eat because it is time to eat, or we feel we ought to eat? I know I am not great at this one. Start to listen to what your body is telling you. Aim to eat when you are hungry, but before you are starving, and stop when you are no longer hungry, not full. Think of hunger on a scale of 0 to 10 - 0 being really really hungry, and 10 being full to bursting. Aim to eat when you are between 2 and 5, so before you get really really hungry. This will help stop you over eating.
I like to keep this really simple. Totting up calories is time consuming and doesn’t help you to understand what is healthy and what isn’t. For example a diet coke has less calories than an apple, but that doesn’t mean it is healthier. Instead, use your hand. Each meal aim to have -
Aim to eat one palm sized portion of food with every meal to feel satisfied, stay fuller for longer, build lean muscle, help the body repair and maintain a steady blood sugar level. Good sources of protein are - poultry, lean red meat, eggs, low sugar yoghurt, cottage cheese, low fat milk, salmon and shell fish, as well as soy based products and nuts for vegans and vegetarians.
Aim to eat a fist sized portion of vegetables with every meal to help get all the vitamins and minerals you need to remain healthy. Mix up the vegetables as much as possible as eating a whole array of different coloured vegetables will help you eat all the essential micronutrients that are recommended in a day. If you want more vegetables, go ahead, but a fistful is a good portion size for those who struggle to eat enough vegetables.
Aim for a cupped handful of good carbohydrates in every meal to give you energy, fuel the brain and nervous system and to stop lean muscle being metabolised. These are grains, other starches (such as squash, potato and sweet potato), beans and fruit. Your best sources of grains are proper whole grains, such as whole oats, quinoa, millet, barley, buck wheat and rice. Warning - this is the one we commonly get wrong, so could be a real eye opener.
Just a thumb full of fat with each meal is adequate for balancing our hormones, forming cells, transporting fat soluble vitamins and providing energy. Healthy fats include nuts, nut butter, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and flax seeds. Try not to avoid fat altogether as it is vital for our body to function properly, and has many essential health benefits. Instead opt for healthier fats.
If you are strict for 100% of the time and avoid any treats whatsoever, then you’ll soon find your cravings going wild and you will give up all together and eat whatever you fancy far too often. So if you are going out for a special meal, allow yourself to have your favourite pudding, after all we have all got to live!!
As many of you will know, I am loving my new Fitbit watch. It counts how many steps I have done in a day, but also how active I am every hour, so when I am having a paperwork day, I will glance down at my watch and see that I haven’t moved for a while, and get up to do something. Being a little competitive, it encourages me to walk a little more, so getting back into walking to school, walking the dogs twice or using the car a little less. Being more active in everyday life keeps your metabolic rate elevated and burns more calories in a day, without eating into your day.
Ooooo this is such a big one. Basically when we are stressed it raises our cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of our hormones and it tells our body whether to store fat or burn it. If the level goes too high we start to store fat, and not burn it. Women have the most number of cortisol receptors on their stomachs (so we can use it easily when pregnant). So if you lead a busy stressful life your body will start to store fat rather than burn it. Try and put an element of relaxation into each day, get enough sleep regularly and put less pressure on yourself - think what is a realistic amount to achieve in a day, rather than adding too much to your 'to do list' and stressing yourself out.
It used to be advised that if you were trying to lose weight, long periods of steady exercise were best. Actually, building lean muscle will help you burn more calories in everyday life, as well as strengthen your bones, stabilise your joints and protect against injury. Aim to do 2-3 tone based exercise sessions a week for optimal results. They don’t need to be an hour a time, you can achieve a fair bit in 20min. Check out Popsugar fitness, Bodyrock TV, or Furthermore for great free workouts you can do from home, or log into my workout page for other sessions, all with no kit and less than 20min!!!
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