Leading British nutrition experts have unveiled the Top 10 Secrets of Healthy Weight Loss – allowing us to shed the pounds for life, not just for January.
If weight loss is usually one of your New Year’s resolutions only to fall by the wayside come the second week of January then with some expert help from the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) this year can be different – meaning you can lose weight, keep it off and be healthy all year round.
“Healthy eating isn’t something we should be doing for a couple of weeks in January out of guilt to try to purge ourselves of the festive excess,” says Sarah Hanratty, Nutritional Therapist.
“Healthy eating should be for life and you don’t need a faddy or starvation-style diet in order to achieve your weight loss goals. BANT represents nutritional therapists around the country who give personalised nutritional health advice and help people achieve their personal weight loss goals. We are today launching our Diet for Life campaign and we have some great tips and advice for those who want to get healthy for 2014. ”
By following some simple rules you can achieve and sustain a healthy weight for the long-term and have the energy to enjoy life to the full. Here are BANT’s Top 10 Secrets of Healthy Weight Loss:
1. Eat protein with every meal and snack: protein is essential for the body to grow and repair, it also keeps you feeling fuller for longer keeping hunger pangs at bay – leaving you less tempted to snack. Choose protein-rich fish, chicken and lean meats or beans, pulses and nuts with your meals and snacks.
2. Don’t skip meals: the body needs a regular supply of fuel, if you skip meals it sends your blood sugar and energy plummeting leaving you tired, hungry and tempted by sugary snacks or caffeine to re-energise.
3. Switch white foods to brown: white pasta, white rice and white bread provide very few nutrients and are quickly broken down in the body to sugar, this will leave you hungry and craving sugar as a pick-me-up.
4. Reduce stimulants: ideally don’t drink coffee or black tea, but if you do keep it to one cup a day and have it on a full stomach. Stimulants like tea, coffee and cola consumed for an energy boost actually have the opposite effect. They give you an energy rush, followed by a corresponding dip, leaving you lacking energy and looking for your next caffeine ‘fix’. Choose water, herbal tea and the occasional diluted fresh fruit juice as healthier options.
5. Deal with stress: it wreaks havoc with hormones slowing down your metabolism and making the body store more fat – especially around the middle. Did you know that stress has the same impact on your body as eating sugar? Stress causes cravings for the wrong foods, particularly salty, high fat and sugary snacks. Try to relax when you eat, chew your food and focus on what you are eating rather than reading, watching TV or using the computer.
6. Eat five or six times a day: have three healthy meals and two or three healthy snacks a day, this will give you sustained nutrients and energy for the day and keep hunger pangs at bay. Choose unprocessed, low sugar snacks such as a handful of unsalted nuts, hummus with carrot and celery sticks or oat cakes.
7. Don’t be afraid of fat: there are good fats and bad fats. Good fats are essential for the body to function well and support the weight loss process e.g. fat from oily fish, avocados or unsalted nuts. Bad fats on the other hand should be avoided, especially trans fats found in many biscuits and cakes and other baked goods with a long shelf life.
8. Sleep: when we are tired we eat more and reach for instant energy fixes from caffeine, sugar and fat. Try to get to bed early or deal with sleep problems should you have any. A good night’s sleep is really important for overall health as well as weight loss.
9. Stop calorie counting: listen to your body rather than count the calories, eat slowly and stop eating when you stop feeling hungry, keep portion sizes under control – meals shouldn’t be larger than your cupped hands put together. Your stomach is only around the size of your fist!
10. Exercise: this is important for overall health, energy and mood as well as a support to maintaining a healthy weight. Start slowly with a brisk walk in the park, take the stairs instead of the lift or get off the bus a few stops earlier than normal and walk the rest of the way.
GP Anita Nathan, who has a special interest in nutrition and obesity, said: “We all know that overweight and obesity is a huge problem in today’s society and being at the frontline of the nation’s healthcare system as GPs, we see the impact that this is having on people’s health.
“By making some simple changes to their diet, keeping well hydrated and getting personalised support from the likes of a nutritional therapist, many of our patients may avoid debilitating symptoms and manage their weight better, and in the future the medical consequences of poor quality diet and obesity.
“The concept of Diet for Life is certainly one that I would welcome. If adhered to, this way of life could help to reduce GP consultations that are simply for healthy lifestyle discussions so we can concentrate on the burden of diseases we need to treat today,” she added.