Weight loss is a personal goal for many people, but it can be one of the hardest things to achieve if you don’t know where to start, you tend to sabotage your progress, or certain life situations make it difficult for you to stick to a weight loss plan.
The psychological component to weight loss is complex and deserves a blog of its own. But first, we’d like to start with 12 basics of weight loss that can help set you up for success.
1. Calories Matter
If you want to lose weight, you must create some sort of calorie deficit. Sure, it’s not fun to count calories, but the reality is that total calorie intake each day still plays a role in weight control and health, regardless of the composition of your diet. It’s helpful to keep a food diary until you develop a better understanding of the number of calories in the foods you consume regularly and their portion sizes.
2. Focus on Eating Whole Foods and High-Fibre Foods
‘Whole foods’ generally describe foods that are natural, unprocessed and contain only one ingredient. Whole foods tend to have fewer calories and more nutrients per serving than processed foods, which are often referred to as ‘empty calories’. Also, foods high in fibre help keep you fuller for longer, which is perfect for losing weight. Fibre is only found in food from plants, such as fruit and veg, oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta, and beans, peas and lentils.
3. Portion Control
This is best achieved by using smaller plates and bowls at meal times. Over time, you will get used to eating smaller portions without going hungry. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.
4. Be More Active
You can’t out-train a bad diet, but exercise can certainly help you burn excess calories and it also provides numerous health benefits, physically and psychologically. Find an activity you enjoy doing and make it part of your routine. Remember, if you don’t enjoy it, you’re less likely to stick with it.
5. Eat More Fruit and Veg
Fruit and veg are high in fibre and low in fat and calories. They will help keep you fuller for longer, especially if they have a low glycaemic index (GI)*. Furthermore, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals.
6. Drink More Water
Sometimes people confuse thirst with hunger, which can lead you to consume extra calories, when all you really need is a glass of water.
7. Cut Down on Alcohol
Alcohol can be very high in calories, and over time, drinking too much can contribute to weight gain. If you drink regularly, start by cutting down slowly. For example, have alcohol-free weeknights and enjoy a few drinks on weekends only.
8. Don’t Keep Junk Food in the House
If it’s in the house, it’s likely to be eaten. Avoid temptation by not stocking junk food – such as chocolate, chips, biscuits and soft drink – at home.
9. Plan Your Meals
Planning means you’ll be less likely to stray from your diet. Plan your weekly shopping list along with your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week, making sure you stick to your calorie allowance.
10. Read Food Labels
This can be a real eye opener and can help you make healthier food choices. Use the calorie and macronutrient information on the label to work out how a particular food fits into your weight loss plan.
11. Eat Regular Meals and Don’t Skip Breakfast
Eating at regular times throughout the day – at least three times per day – reduces the temptation to snack on food that are high in fat or sugar. And skipping breakfast won’t help you lose weight either. Instead you’ll likely miss out on essential nutrients and want to snack more throughout the day.
Poor sleep can increase your appetite (due to the impact of sleep on your hunger hormones) and have you reaching for foods that are high in fat and sugar. When tired, you also have less self-control and you’ll be less likely to make healthy food choices.
Need help managing your weight? Why not engage with a personal trainer for weight loss?
*According to Diabetes Australia, the glycemic index (GI) ranks how quickly or slowly carbohydrate foods affect blood glucose levels. Low-GI carbohydrate foods break down into glucose over a longer period of time. Compared with high-GI foods, they result in a smaller and slower rise in blood glucose levels after eating. Low-GI diets have also been shown to help with weight management and to improve blood cholesterol levels.