1 Eat more frequently
Some people drastically reduce their kilojoule intake in an attempt to drop the holiday kilos more quickly. However, eating small meals, every 2 to 3 hours, is a far more effective strategy to lose weight. “Eating every 2 to 3 hours will keep your blood sugar levels stable and encourage weight loss because balanced blood sugar burns fat, gives you energy and stops cravings,” explains Sandton-based nutritional therapist and weight-loss consultant, Fiona Greggor.
Eating regularly is also important for improved portion control and to boost metabolism, asserts Jenna Bowes, a clinical dietician at MME Dietitians & Associates, in Johannesburg. “The very process of digesting food burns calories, which is why eating regularly is so important for weight control,” says Jenna. “Skipping meals leads to fluctuations in blood glucose and energy levels, poor mood and a loss of control over appetite,” she adds.
This, in turn, results in the overconsumption of food later in the day.
She also explains that the body needs a certain amount of calories to function and extreme calorie reduction is not sustainable. “Instead, choose foods rich in nutrients and low in calories like salads, vegetables and lean proteins,” she suggests. It is also important to watch your portion sizes and stick to three moderate main meals and two small snacks a day, to keep your weight in check.
2 Gulp guilt free
Jenna advises that maintaining good hydration and drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day is essential. This is because people often mistake thirst for hunger and staying hydrated can help prevent overheating or reaching for the wrong foods. Opting for water instead of other calorific beverages will also help stave off those extra kilojoules. “In addition, ease up on alcohol because it is energy dense and can lead to weight gain and dehydration,” advises Jenna.
Fiona adds that beverages such as coffee, energy drinks and alcohol are stimulants that unbalance your blood sugar and thus best avoided or only consumed in small amounts. However, Jenna argues that including green tea in your diet can boost your fat-fighting efforts. “Green tea can assist in helping the body use fatty acids as energy and boosts metabolism,” she elaborates.
3 Power up on protein
“Make sure that you eat lean proteins with every meal because proteins are broken down slowly by the body, which helps to maintain blood glucose levels, when eaten as part of a balanced meal.” advises Jenna. “Adding a portion of lean protein to each meal also enhances safety, which can help to manage appetite and carvings,” she adds. Jenna recommends eating good protein sources like chicken, fish, eggs, beans, legumes and dairy.
4 Value your veggies
Jenna advises eating plenty of vegetables if you want to loose weight. “Vegetables are packed with water, fibre and phytochemicals, all of which help the body with its own natural detoxifying process.” says Jenna.
“Vegetables are also versatile, are very low in calories and keep us feeling full for longer,” she adds. She recommends including lots of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in your diet us they are very low in carbs and high in antioxidants and liver-supporting nutrients.
Fiona suggests eating sweet potato because it has a low glyceamic index and is rich in vitamin A, C, manganese, fibre and iron. She adds that spinach should feature on your weight loss menu because it is rich in phytonutrients and a fresh hundred grams serving of spinach contains about 25% of your daily intake of iron. Just note the carbohydrate content of root vegetables, like potatoes, parsnip, carrots and butternut, because they are higher in carbohydrates than veggies grown above ground. Fiona therefore recommends limiting your intake of root vegetables to a maximum of a cup or 45g a day.
5 Eliminate extreme behaviour
It is important to avoid extreme exercise and fad diets if you want to drop holiday weight in healthy manner. “Too much exercise your body under extra stress and fitting in long workouts or participating in multiple sessions a day can mean early mornings or late nights,” says Jenna. “This will interfere with sleep and, when coupled with inappropriate calorie restriction, it can affect overall energy levels, which is not conducive to weight-loss. Remember too that a fad diet is one that offers fast, overnight results, but this rapid weight loss is not maintainable and will result in rapid regain of the weight you worked so hard to lose. Healthy, sustainable weight loss is about 0.5 to 1 kg per week and this takes time and requires patience,” asserts Jenna.
6 Exercise intelligently
“It is important to add cardiovascular exercise to your training routine to shift those excess pounds\’, suggests Bruce Namhing, a Johannesburg-based, ETA-certified personal trainer. “However, do not just do hours and hours. of steady-state cardio. Add interval cardio to your program too.“ However, he points out that, while interval cardio has been shown to burn more fat, doing it daily will eventually have a negative effect on your weight training and can cause you to burn out. Thus, it is about achieving a healthy balance between the two forms of cardio. For example, he recommends doing slow and steady cardio every 2 to 3 weeks for one week.
This, however, will depend on your fitness level and it is important to start slowly and wore your way up.
Including resistance training in your fitness program is equally important when attempting to drop weight, according to Bruce. “Try to stick to mainly compound movements and limited isolation training to target multiple muscle groups with each exercise. The benefits of this include more muscle fibre simulation, reduced time in the gym and an increase in the production of anabolic and fat-burning hormones,” he says. “I also recommend training with a friend, or joining a fitness class, if you struggle with motivation. Getting a trainer or coach can also boost your motivation, help you with goal setting and lifestyle screening and prevent you from repeating mistakes.”
7 Get real
“Be realistic when attempting to lose weight and set smaller, more achievable goals,” suggests Bruce.”Goals that are too lofty and unrealistic will just set you up for failure. It is about changing behaviour and taking one step or goal at a time.” So, set mini goals that can be reached within a reasonable time and track your progress. “This will keep you motivated and give you a better chance of dropping that holiday weight,” he adds.
8 Plan properly
Whether it is making regular workouts a non-negotiable part of your weekly schedule or preparing your meals for the day, proper planning is essential for achieving your weight loss goals. For instance, ensure that you pack a healthy lunch, snacks and a large bottle of water to sustain and hydrate you while away from home. Also, pack your gym bag the night before a schedule exercise session to help you save time and feel more prepared. Stocking up on healthy foods for the week ahead and pre-planning each meal will also give you an edge when trying to get your diet back on track.
9 Limit late nights
The body releases a stress hormone called cortisol when you do not get enough sleep and this can slow the metabolism and encourage the body to store fat. Researchers have also found that insufficient rest leads to an increase in the hormone ghrelin (which increases appetite) and decreased production of the hormone leptin (which controls appetite), which generally results in weight gain. So, aim to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to help shift the holiday weight.
10 Watch your sugar intake
“Sugar which is not used for energy will be stored as fat and is therefore counterproductive to weight-loss,” says Fiona. Therefore, it is important to watch your sugar intake and to try to avoid sweets, chocolates, certain cereals, flavoured yoghurts, baked products, sweetened juices and sugary soft drinks. “However, keep in mind that not all ‘sugars’ are equal and sugars that occur naturally in foods such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk have a very different response in the digestive tract,” adds Jenna. These foods also impart other important health-promoting nutrients, such as antioxidants and calcium and should therefore be included in your diet in small amounts.
Source: Magazine Fitness January-February 2017 South Africa