Following a diet plan is not easy… So if you’re looking diet tips and healthy weight loss tips you’ve come to the right place. Here are some do’s and dont’s for losing weight and shaping up. From the foods and exercises to tone you up, to what food groups and how much you should be eating.
DO eat plenty of vegetables. Most are low in calories but high in fibre, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, they are packed with toxin-battling antioxidants, which can help to boost your beauty and vitality, as well as keep your energy levels up. The best are…
…Broccoli, which contains almost a complete set of vitamins, as well as essential minerals like calcium and potassium, and is high in fibre and relatively low in calories – making it a great meal-time addition to boost your general health and vitality. As is…
…Spinach, which is a fantastic source of antioxidants, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B (particularly good for boosting energy levels) and vitamin C. It’s also low in calories and high in fibre, which helps to curb cravings and keep sugar levels on an even keel. Eat instead of your dietary boring lettuce salad, or stir a handful into your meal during cooking.
Asparagus is particularly high in vitamin B, which naturally aids healthy energy levels. It is high in fibre and other antioxidants, which regulate your insulin levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Asparagus is also thought to have anti-inflammatory effects on our digestive system, helping to flatten bloated bellies.
DON’T be too strict on yourself. Give yourself a treat every now and then as a reward for all your hard work. Just be sure to factor it into your daily calorie intake, and limit treats to once or twice a week. That way, they’ll taste so much sweeter.
DO limit the amount of animal fats you take in. Animal fats are most concentrated in dairy products like cheese, milk and cream, egg yolks and meats – particularly red meats like pork, lamb and beef. Opt for lean fish and dark turkey meat instead, and try to eat veggie a few times a week, too.
But DON’T forget that not all fats are bad for you. Polyunsaturated fats like those found in olive oil can stop you feeling hungry, while olive oil itself contains a naturally-occurring chemical called oleic acid, which aids the breakdown of excess fats in the body.
DO remember to include in your diet and every meal if possible a good portion of protein, like turkey meat, which is extremely lean and a great source of protein. This helps to build muscle mass, reduce cravings and fill you up for longer.
Oily fish like salmon is high in protein and packed full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which can alter the levels of a hormone called leptin in your body. Leptin regulates energy intake and expenditure, and is therefore essential if you’re looking to speed up your metabolism. Try eating two to three servings of oily fish a week.
Beans are a good source of fibre, protein and complex carbs, too.
DO remember that carbs are your friends. DON’T cut them out. They give your body the energy it needs to function and help to power your metabolism – the mechanism our body uses to burn energy and fat. The best are…
Complex carbohydrates that are full of fibre are a source of basic, steadily-burned energy for the body, which can help to regulate our blood sugar levels and keep us feeling fuller for longer. Sweet potatoes are particularly good because, as well as the above, they also contain energising vitamin B.
Brown rice can aid weight loss as a source of slow-release energy, which keeps you satisfied for longer. Each grain is packed with vitalising B vitamins and strengthening protein too.
Oats provide your body with slow-release, natural energy throughout the day. This can lower your cholesterol and help to maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
Wholegrain wheats like brown bread and brown pasta are great too. For portion size, you should be able to fit the amount of carbs you eat per meal in the palm of your hand.
Parsnips are high in soluble fibre, which helps to lower cholesterol and keep energy resources ticking along steadily. They contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals too, including folic acid and vitality-boosting B vitamins. They’re also relatively low in calories, so ditch the roast spuds and opt for parsnips instead.
DO eat little and often to keep your energy levels up and your metabolism at an even keel. Having five small 250-400 calorie meals a day has been shown to aid weight loss. Think wholemeal toast and almond butter, yogurt, seeds and fruit, salads, soups, steamed vegetables and oily fish.
DON’T forget to stock up on healthy snacks at home like fruit, yogurt, nuts and wholegrains, and clear away processed foods like biscuits, cakes, crisps and chocolate. After all, you can’t eat them if they’re not there.
DO keep yourself busy, and find other ways of releasing stress. Pick up a hobby, join a book club, listen to music or try your hand at painting instead to take your mind off of comfort eating or snacking out of boredom.
DO exercise regularly to burn excess calories, strengthen and tone your body. Aim for two to three cardio sessions a week, starting off at 30mins each, and gradually progressing to 45mins/1hr. This can be running, swimming, playing energetic sports or cycling, to name a few.
But DON’T over do it. Have rest days in between active days where you take it easy instead or take light exercise, like walking for 25 minutes.
DON’T forget to mix it up. If our bodies are doing the same exercise at the same resistance all the time, they will eventually get used to it, and our fitness and weight loss progression will plateau. Instead, try different activities on different days. Try dancing one day for an hour, yoga another and running the next. That way, it’ll be more fun, too.
DO cut down on alcohol. It’s full of empty calories of very little nutritional value that’ll leave you feeling sluggish, hungry and dehydrated, making you more likely to reach for unhealthy foods to soak up your hangover the next day.
DO remember the power of sleep. Eight hours kip is enough for our bodies to fully repair themselves and re-energise, keeping our metabolisms speeding along and our moods soaring.
DO keep a food diary. At least until you’ve got the hang of your healthy new diet. That way, you’ll be able to track patterns in your eating behaviour, spot possible pitfalls, or even just give yourself a pat on the back and factor in a treat.
But DON’T forget to have fun. Diet plans are there to be stuck to 90 per cent of the time but for the other 10 per cent, let loose – treat yourself, and above all, don’t take it all too seriously. Everything in moderation, after all…
DO turn your body into a fat-burning furnace with metabolism-boosting foods like chilli. It contains a chemical called capsaicin, which boosts the metabolism by increasing the body’s temperature. A single pepper contains a full day’s supply of beta carotene (which is great for maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails), and twice your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C – an essential antioxidant that helps to battle toxins and foreign bodies in the blood stream.
Endurance athletes swear by ginseng and often take it in tea or supplement form before a big race. This is because it speeds up the metabolic rate, enhancing their performance by giving them the extra energy they need to last the distance. Transfer this tip to your own busy life, and see if it helps you last that little bit longer.
Garlic is well-known for helping to lower blood cholesterol, as well as being a great immune system booster and a natural antibiotic. This not only improves the general health of the body, but also aids blood circulation, helping the body to flush out toxins and battle against cellulite. It’s also great for boosting the metabolism.
Lemons aid the restoration of the body’s acid-alkali balance, keeping your insides at a steady pH. This means that your body is better able to support healthy bacteria and assist the removal of environmental and dietary toxins in the body, which in turn can help to stimulate a sluggish metabolism. Try drinking the juice of one lemon in a mug of hot water as a morning beverage and see if it makes a difference.
Tropical fruits like pineapple contain an exotic cocktail of nutrients essential for the metabolism – among them iodine, which promotes healthy thyroid (the gland which regulates the metabolism by controlling how quickly it burns energy) function. Meanwhile, high levels of B complex vitamins, potassium and calcium stimulate blood flow and lower the cholesterol.
Cinnamon helps to curb soaring blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production. There is some evidence to suggest that cinnamon extract also makes fat cells more responsive to insulin, which means they’re much less likely to hold on to excess energy, and far more likely to burn existing stores instead. Add a pinch to your cereal in the morning.
Super-algae spirulina has so many health benefits it’s a wonder we aren’t eating it all the time. Not only do the unique phyto-nutrients it contains power the immune system, improve digestion and cleanse the body, but they have also been shown to reduce fatigue, control the appetite, promote heart health and boost energy levels – all serious diet DOs. Add to green smoothies raw to reap the benefits.