I’m often asked if it is possible to achieve weight loss goals by increasing levels of physical activity, whilst retaining current eating and drinking habits. Unfortunately the short answer is no. If losing excess body fat is a key goal, then 80% of this goal is achieved in the kitchen (or the pub!) and not in the gym.
1. Plan and prepare – The key is to get yourself organised for the start of each week. Google some simple healthy meals that are quick and easy to prepare. Draw up a weekly meal planner for the week ahead and do a supermarket shop or online delivery based around the meals you’re planning for the week ahead. Try to minimise the number of processed/ready meals you buy and cook from fresh when possible.
2. Eat less – Serve up smaller portions for each meal. Some people find that using smaller plates and bowls helps to prevent them from overeating. If you find that you have overcooked, put the leftovers in Tupperware and place them in the freezer when cooled. This will give you a home cooked ready meal later in the week if you are under time pressure to cook from fresh.
3. Eat whole natural foods – These foods are unprocessed and include vegetables, fruit and whole grains. When eaten, they take up a lot of room in your stomach & digestive system, as they are full of fibre (which is very low in calories) which helps to satisfy hunger. Whole natural foods will make you feel fuller for longer and less likely to snack during the day.
4. Eat breakfast every day – Breakfast literally means ‘breaking the fast’ as you have not eaten for around 10-12 hours since your last meal the night before. Most breakfast cereals are full of refined sugar and they satisfy your cravings for sugar in the morning when your blood sugar levels are low when you wake up. If cereal is your preferred breakfast choice, then try Liz’s High Protein Granola which has less sugar and a higher protein content for building and repairing muscle. Alternatively eggs (scrambled, boiled and even fried in a non-stick pan) on toast are also a good option. The higher protein content and lower refined sugar will make you feel fuller for longer and reduce the likelihood of snacking during a mid-morning energy slump.
5. Drink lots of water – You need around 2 litres of water a day to stay hydrated. Also hunger can often be confused with thirst, so if you are feeling hungry, then reach for a glass of water as you may actually be dehydrated and not hungry. Have a glass of water with each meal as it will help to fill you up and may make you eat less.
6. Don’t give anything up – Consume the ‘treat’ foods and drinks you enjoy but consume them in smaller quantities and less frequently. If you cut out the treats completely, then you will feel unsatisfied and you will most probably respond by overeating and undoing all the good you are achieving.
7. Cut out calorie counting – Calorie counting is time consuming and takes the enjoyment out of food. Focus your efforts on choosing nutritious whole foods that will give your body what it needs and make you feel fuller for longer. They will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable which will minimise junk food cravings.
So in summary you can’t out train a bad diet but what you can do is combine an increase in your activity levels with making small changes to your diet, which collectively will make a big difference to your weight loss goals.