Post Summer Shape Up


80% of us gain weight on our summer holiday with an average gain of 3.5lbs per week of holiday! Going on a ‘diet’ can be tempting when you return but overly restricting yourself or cutting out food groups is never a healthy solution. Instead making sensible and achievable changes to your diet and lifestyle that you can maintain long term is the key to successful and permanent weight loss.


Timing is Everything!

desayuno-breakfastEating at regular intervals is absolutely key to weight loss. This means starting every day with a healthy, filling breakfast as people who do are slimmer and better at losing weight than those who skip it. (LINK to breakfast blog for ideas) Eat about every 4 or 5 hours over the rest of the day, having lunch, dinner and one or two small snacks. This regulates your appetite and reduces the chances of over eating.

Turn your meal pattern upside down! Adjust your meals so that you eat a substantial breakfast a decent lunch and a little less at dinner – you will find your appetite adjusts accordingly after a couple of weeks. If you think about it, this makes more sense as food is for fuel, which we need during the day, not just before we go to sleep!

Plan your meals in advance. This means you are less likely to make unhealthy choices when you are tired, hungry or emotional. Build in some flexibility, but have a rough idea of what meals you will eat and factor in things like working late, when you might want something prepared in advance. Do an on-line shop to save time (and avoid the temptation of the biscuit aisle!) and have all the ingredients you need at home.

What to Eat

Instead of telling you all the things you can’t eat like most diets do, I am going to tell you all the things to eat more of! In my experience, this is a much better way to approach healthy eating.

  • Fill up on Fibre

    High fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils and oats are filling and low in calories. Eat at least 7 portions of fruit and vegetables daily (more vegetables that fruit) and two or three servings of whole-grains and pulses. These are high in nutrients but low in calories and mean you will eat less high-calorie foods.

  • Don’t cut carbs

    But choose the right ones and limit your portion size – 50g (dry weight) of brown rice or quinoa for example, 1 slice of rye bread, a small sweet potato or 40g of oats is one serving. You don’t need many carbs in the evening for the reason I mentioned above – carbs are for energy so you need them more during the day.

  • Protein keeps you full so include some with every meal.

    This is especially important for breakfast, which tends to be carb-based. Try eggs (see below), yoghurt, and nuts and seeds on your porridge. Fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils & quinoa are good choices for main meals.

  • Drink plenty of water

    This helps regulate appetite as thirst and hunger signals can get confused.


Stay Active

Combining a healthy diet with staying active will get you the best results.  (Don’t use exercise as an excuse to eat more though, which is a common mistake many dieters make). As well as structured exercise such as the gym or sports, being more active in your daily life makes a big difference. Measuring how many steps you take using your phone, a pedometer or a wristband is an excellent way to build more activity into your day. The aim is to do ten thousand steps per day, which can burn around 400 extra calories!


Sleep & Mood

When we don’t get enough sleep the body releases a hormone, called ghrelin, which increases appetite. Make getting a good nights sleep a priority, as you will find it so much harder to control your appetite if you are sleep deprived.

Stress plays havoc with our health, including our weight. Long term, low level stress (unfortunately a common feature of modern life), raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol acts against our weight loss efforts in several ways. Firstly, it increases fat storage, especially around the middle and secondly it increases appetite and cravings for high calorie, sugary foods. Not only that but it can reduce muscle tone and slow down the thyroid gland which controls metabolism, meaning you burn calories more slowly! Psychologically stress also makes us more likely to make bad food choices, comfort eat and not look after ourselves properly. Research shows that stress reduction techniques such as yoga and meditation help people lose weight.


Weight Loss Super-Foods

No single food can actually make you lose weight, however including the following regularly, as part of a healthy diet can certainly help!


Eggs Almonds
Very filling and help you eat less!
One study found that dieters who ate eggs every day, lost twice as much weight, another found that eating 2 for breakfast results in eating 400 calories less during the rest of the day. Eat 2 poached or boiled eggs for breakfast with a slice of rye toast
Provide healthy fats which help you feel full
People who include nuts in their diet, consume fewer calories throughout the day. Almond eaters have been shown to lose 50% more fat from their waists compared with non-almond eating dieters. Have a palm-full as a snack between meals
ChilliesGreen Tea
Raise your metabolic rate for up to 2 hours after eating
Add to curries, sauces, stir-fries and fish dishes
An especially rich source of protective antioxidants and several cups a day increases metabolism
Drink 4-5 cups throughout the day, add a squeeze of lemon if preferred
OatsNatural live yoghurt
Provide soluble fibre which helps keeps us feeling full
Make porridge with whole oats, a large pinch of cinnamon, which helps balance blood sugar and top with fruit and nuts
Low in fat and high in ‘good’ bacteria and calcium
Imbalances in gut bacteria are linked with obesity and research shows that the good bacteria may help shift tummy fat and improve blood sugar control. People on high calcium diets have been shown to lose more fat than those on a low calcium diet. Have natural yoghurt as a healthy pudding, topped with berries.
Increases feeling of fullness by delaying gastric emptying (time taken for stomach to empty)
Eat a bowl of vegetable soup as a starter and you will feel full up sooner.