Weight Loss Wednesday April 27, 2016

Relatively Painless Ways To Lose Weight

Losing weight, sigh. It seems like tips and tricks are everywhere. If you're not trying to shed a few pounds, you can be guaranteed at least one person you know is.

It's a tough battle, and you'd be kidding yourself if you thought otherwise. There's no "quick fix" when it comes to weight loss, and there shouldn't be either. Like gaining a few pounds in the first place, losing weight is a gradual process; it requires willpower and a plan of action. There are also many current habits that you can look to reduce, or stop altogether, and gradual weight loss is not only healthier for you but studies have shown that you're more likely to keep trim in the long run.

We know that we need to 'eat less and move more' but sometimes following that advice is not as easy as it sounds! Plus, let's be honest, it's a bit on the vague side. When you're looking to lose the extra pounds, you want a more specific idea and realistic outcome, which will in turn help you stick to your goals.

There's no arguing that trying to lose weight can be tedious and takes a while, however beginning to alter aspects of your routine can help you feel better and lose the weight. If only there were some painless ways to speed up weight loss. Lucky for you then that we've compiled this list of pain-free weight loss tips.

You're welcome…

Drinking water only

Why not try banning all fluids that aren't fresh from the tap? Even diet fizzy drinks aren't the best for you, squash juices contains loads of sugar and coffee has the caffeine factor.

Using water as a weight loss method

Rumbling tummy? It could be dehydration. Stocking up on the H2O is one of the best ways to curb hunger…

Water fills the stomach and kills hunger pains, which may actually be dehydration cravings - it's difficult to tell the difference – so simply reaching for a glass of fresh cold H2O over a cup of squash, coffee, diet coke or juice could stop the grumbling from your stomach. When you don't drink enough your body can't metabolise cells, so follows these tips and guidelines:

  • Drink up to eight (200ml) glasses of water each day for women
  • Drink up to ten (200ml) glasses of water each day for men
  • Get a glass or bottle that you know the volume of
  • Keep a mental note, or even tally chart, of how much you've drunk

Pre-loading weight loss tactic

There's also 'pre-loading', which can help to curb the amount of food your hunger tells you to eat. A study followed dieters who combined low-calorie foods by drinking 16 oz.s of water around 30 minutes before each meal lose weight. Those water drinkers lost an three extra pounds after 12 weeks, in fact.

Water and child obesity

Reports have been released from the Local Government Association (LGA) associated with requesting free tap water in restaurants. The study has shown that 13% of parents are nervous or reluctant to order tap water in a restaurant, which causes them to order soft drinks instead.

Whether this is a embarrassment or confidence factor in ordering something that is for free, or a lack of knowledge that all restaurants and even pubs must supply you with water if asked, by cutting down on the sugary fizzy drinks for the kids, we can adopt healthier lifelong habits.

The government is looking to impose a sugar tax on certain products, sugary drinks being the first in the firing line, so why not try a water-only drinks diet first and see if this makes a difference. This can include sweet squash and juices too, unless you've blended them yourself.

Drinking water for weight loss

Or drink green tea

If you're used to your morning coffee, or like a glass or seven of Ribena, it can be difficult to cut down on the habit, so try to reduce the amount firstly, and or replace with healthy versions.

For example, green tea. A study compared the metabolic effect of green tea with water and found that tea sippers burned 70 more calories in a day. This may be to do with antioxidants called catechins. You can call them miracle working BFF extracts.

Not a green tea fan?

It's my personal belief that green tea tastes like lawn. If you're in a similar mind frame, what is there to do?

  • Firstly, flavour your green tea. Try a dash of honey or sweetener
  • Secondly, try similar alternatives such as peppermint or camomile

Actually eat your meals

When you go into starvation mode, your body pays attention. Skipping a meal may save calories but it encourages your bum, tum and bingo wings to hold onto fat in case a biblical famine has arrived. Eat regular healthy meals to keep your metabolism going, and some find eating smaller more frequent meals to be effective for them. For example, instead of sticking with the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner, grab yourself five smaller meals throughout the day.

Stirred not shaken

Salt tastes great but it creates water retention that makes you appear bloated. Also, salt is just plain bad for you as many foods with high salt levels are processed meals with too much salt and fat in as well. If you're eating pre-packaged food, take a look at the label and avoid anything with high sodium levels.

Sodium levels are extremely high in salt and it is this that prevents weight loss. Just take your skin for example. After going in the sea, the salt water dries it out completely.

"The skin becomes starved of moisture so your body reacts by locking in what moisture and fluid that is left; it is exactly the same when consuming salt. Your body retains the little water it has to combat the high salt levels so prevalent in our meals, especially in takeaways, pre-made sauces and meal kits."

Not only can salt stall any weight loss progress, but also excessive amounts can cause diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Spice spice spice

Hot and spicy peppers can boost metabolism and may reduce the appetite because they have capsaicin that can increase stress hormones. Chop a hot pepper into your salad or baked potato.

Get some sleep

Here's the logic; if you're asleep, you aren't eating M&Ms in front of Mad Men again, and if you're not eating M&Ms in front of Mad Men again, you'll save calories that way.

A solid weight loss trick, but this is not exactly possible at 11am in the office when Bev's handing around the custard creams. Having a good night's sleep can help you in your weight loss quest too…

  • Sleep regulates your metabolism. This means the 'I'm so tired' sugar craving at work the following day is avoided minimising the snacking.
  • It stops you from drinking too much caffeinated drinks like coffee.
  • You make poorer food choices; whether it's grabbing something easy and fatty like a meal deal sandwich on your lunch break, or picking up a takeaway in the evening.
  • These fatty, sugary and salty food evening food choices mean you stay up even later, it's like a vicious circle.
  • You're more likely to skip exercise if you're too tired, instead opting to head home and sit in front of the television.

All these factors basically come down to your metabolism, and us adults in the UK are recommended to get at least seven and half hours sleep every evening. We have tips on getting the perfect night's sleep, and most of them are extremely doable.

Make your own lunch

We're not saying that food manufacturers want to make you fat, but they tend to add tasty, bad-for-you ingredients to that meal deal to keep you coming back for more. Make your own brown bread or wrap sandwiches with plenty of washed salads and low fat stuffing. Lean turkey, tuna and hummus are great, or skip the bread altogether and make a salad with pulses and couscous. Don't forget some Greek yoghurt - it's low fat, high protein and delicious.

Making your own meals in general!

This goes for your evening meals and breakfast too. Now you have your sleep and fluids sorted, you're making some fab and tasty lunches to boot; creating evening meals should be a doddle.

As long as you have the basics sitting in your cupboards and fridge, creating hearty meals will become easier with time. Try replacing white bread with brown bread or crackers for example.

One of the hardest things to do is to quit the snacks. Consider nuts (the unsalted, unroasted kind), fruits (dried, dipped in yoghurt, kebabs, whatever you can think of to keep them tasty and interesting), crispy roasted veggies, couple of slices of dark chocolate, carrots dipped in hummus.

Remember to include some of those peppers…


How can I find the time?

Finding a pocket of time on a daily basis is never going to be manageable and as soon as you break the snack and meal making train, the more likely you are to repeat the behaviour.

Depending on your schedule, why not allocate a certain amount of time in the week to either do it in one go, or do it over two or three sections.


Measure how far you walk. Pedometers are simple cheap pieces of kit that help people focus on their exercise levels. Once you've clocked your levels, you may be more inclined to up your game. In fact, recent research shows that users take 2,500 more steps each day - is it guilt, is it enthusiasm? It doesn't matter - it improves health and burns calories so take it. Don't do all of these in one go...

But walking is a really easy change you can make in your day-to-day and something that can be incorporated as exercise. If you find it difficult to exercise, starting gradually by walking further everyday, maybe during your commute or in the evenings, will inspire you to take on more strenuous exercise further down the line. And remember, you can do this at the gym too on the stair trainers, treadmill and cross trainers.

According to healthy blogger Laura Agar Wilson, there are common hurdles to face when looking to curb habits that you have possibly had for years. Here are 5 common problems that you could be facing if you are having difficulty losing weight. Combating these will have you in good stead:

1. Portion Control

In today's world of fast food and super sized restaurant portions, it is easy to lose sight of what a proper meal size should be. If you feel you are eating all the right things, but are still not losing weight, focusing on making sure you are eating the right portions for your size is a good place to start.

Portion sizes

Bupa have stated what our portion sizes should be, and you may be surprised with just how much excess food you are consuming.

How many portions am I allowed per day...
Starchy foods Approx. 7 portions
Protein foods Approx. 2 portions
Dairy foods Approx. 3 portions
Miscellaneous Approx. 3 portions

These all count as one portion...
  • Breakfast cereal – 3 tablespoons (20g)
  • Bread – 1 slice of bread or half a muffin, bagel or roll
  • Rice – 2 heaped tablespoons (80g) when cooked
  • Noodles – 3 heaped tablespoons (80g) when cooked
  • Pasta – 3 heaped tablespoons (80g) when cooked
  • Lean meat – 70g when cooked
  • Fish – 140g when cooked
  • Eggs – 2 medium-sized
  • Baked beans – 200g tin
  • Pulses (lentils) – 5 tablespoons (100g) when cooked
  • Nuts – 2 tablespoons (40g)
  • Milk – 200ml
  • Yoghurt – 125ml
  • Hard cheese – 25g
  • Soft cheese – 75g
  • Dried fruit – 40g
  • Leafy vegetables – 4 heaped tablespoons (80g)
  • Almonds – 10 whole (22g)
  • Sardines – half a can (50g)

You could even buy some measuring cups to help!

2. Emotional eating

Are you eating when you are unhappy, stressed or anxious? If you eat when you are feeling like this, it is more difficult for your brain to register feelings of fullness and the signs to stop eating. Your digestion is also compromised so you will not absorb all the nutrients from your meal, and may even end up with a bad stomach! Taking time to relax before eating will support your weight loss efforts by ensuring you stop when you are full.

Make sure you treat your meals with the same level of attention that you treat the scores rolling in on the last day of the season, or a flash sale at your favourite store. Making dinner time special and transferring your focal point on your eating includes:

  • No distractions – turn off the television, leave your phone in the living room and put down the newspaper
  • Avoid eating out and about – the cinema is the prime example where we continually eat popcorn, but also music and sporting events
  • Lay the table – arrange your plate coaster, knife and fork and buy particular ones for certain times to make your dinner special
  • Make it a family occasion – whether you live at home or in a house share, try to have meal together and TALK! Not only will you feel fuller, but you'll save money by bulk-buying ingredients

3. Eating low fat products

You might think that eating low fat is the best thing if you are trying to lose weight. However that is not always the case. Many low fat products replace the lost taste and texture with added sugars and chemicals. When you eat these higher sugar foods, they can affect your blood sugar causing a sharp rise in energy followed by a dramatic 'crash'. That crash makes you crave more sugar and the cycle continues. Don't fear some fat as it is needed for nutrient absorption, go for naturally low fats foods and read labels to identify added sugars.

The added sugars and salt in foods has recently come under fire in the UK with the government imposing a sugar tax, starting with fizzy drinks, and now with companies branding certain foods clearly if they are not suitable for daily consumption.

4. Not eating enough protein

Out of all of the macronutrients, protein will keep you full for longer. It takes longer to digest than carbohydrate or fat, and helps to regulate sugar levels in the body. If you aren't eating enough protein with your meals, you may find yourself becoming hungry again after just a couple of hours. Good protein sources include eggs, fish, chicken, lean meat, beans and the grain quinoa. Tofu is also a great option for vegetarians!

5. Not eating enough!

It might surprise you to know that not eating enough could actually slow down your weight loss. If you are not eating enough your body goes into 'survival mode' as it believes that food is not plentiful and therefore holds on to any energy within your body – i.e. fat. Your metabolism slows down to reserve energy and weight loss efforts can come to a halt. If you feel that you are not eating a lot, especially if you are exercising, increasing your intake just slightly could help get you back on track.

A study from the Annals of Behavioural Medicine found people who make one tiny permanent change each week lost twice as much belly fat. The point being, if it's simple and doesn't overwhelm, then it's more likely to stick as a long-term healthy habit.

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