5 helpful hacks to lose weight

Nutritionist and Centre Manager at Bupa UK
15 February 2016
Man sitting next to his bike having a drink

If one of your goals is to lose excess weight then this post is for you. I’ve put together my five key pieces of advice to help you stay on track and reach your goal weight.

1. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet

Aim to eat a rainbow-coloured diet of fruit and vegetables. The different colours contain numerous vitamins and nutrients, all of which are essential for good health. They are also high in fibre which can help to keep you full, which is especially important if you’re trying to lose weight.

The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits such as reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. It may also improve your cognitive function (things like reasoning, thinking, perception and remembering).

The basis of this diet is that it’s rich in fruit, vegetables and salad, lots of fish and seafood with less red meat and processed foods.

Healthy fats such as olive oil, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds with moderate amounts of poultry, dairy and wine are also included.

To reap the long-term health benefits, adopting this diet is more about making more of a lifestyle change than a short-term diet fix.

2. Drink more water

Staying hydrated is essential - your body needs water to do lots of daily functions, such as transporting nutrients and regulating body temperature. It’s recommended that around two litres of water a day should come from fluids (8 glasses) and this can come from tea, coffee, squash or plain water. To make it more appetising and to increase your intake, there are a few things you can try.

  • Flavour your water with a fruit infuser water bottle or just add a few slices of lemon or lime to your drink for a citrus twist.
  • Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. It will act as a reminder to drink.
  • When trying to lose weight, try having a drink before you reach for a snack to see if you’re thirsty rather than hungry.

3. Plan and prepare

Set yourself some SMART goals – this refers to goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-managed.

Here’s an example: lose 2lbs a week for a month to achieve an 8lbs weight loss through reducing calorie intake and attending two gym classes a week.

Once you’ve set your goals, decide what will help you to achieve them. Being prepared is a great way to ensure you stay on track.

You could:

  • batch cook your meals at the weekend ready to heat up in the week
  • make your lunch the night before
  • take your gym kit to work so that you head straight there

Little tricks like this all help and makes it much easier for you to build these new habits into a routine.

4. Count calories

Counting calories is a great tool if you’re looking to lose weight. You need to burn off more calories than you take in. This means you will be in what’s called an energy deficit. Typically, reducing 600 calories per day from your diet will result in a steady weight loss of 1–2lbs per week.

Rather than thinking in calories, a good way to monitor your food and drink intake is to use a food diary or an app. This helps you to become more aware and realise how to swap those higher-calorie foods to lower-calorie options.

Some good swaps include the following.

  • Americano (15kcal) instead of a latte (190kcal) – 175 calories saved.
  • Tuna or lean meat homemade salad or sandwich instead of a supermarket pasta pot – 300 calories saved.
  • A piece of fruit instead of those two late afternoon biscuits – 90 calories saved.
  • Making courgetti to have with a tomato-based sauce for tea instead of pasta – 90 calories saved.

5. Increase physical activity

Diet and exercise go hand in hand when you’re trying to either lose or maintain your weight. If you can increase the amount of daily physical activity you do, you will burn off more calories. The recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate physical activty a week. You can break this down into manageable chunks though so it’s not so daunting. Try doing something active for 30 minutes every day.

It can be as simple as taking the stairs rather than the lift at every opportunity or parking your car at the furthest point from where you work. Even reducing time spent sitting by getting up and having a walk every few hours will help. Using an activity monitor such as a Fitbit or an app like Bupa Ground Miles might also help you stay motivated.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.

Victoria Evans
Nutritionist and Centre Manager at Bupa UK

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