There is nothing worse than starting the New Year with an intense focus on weight loss and thinking the only way to achieve this is with a restrictive diet. It is often a complete waste of time as study after study show diets fail and often result in an increase in weight.
Would it not be better to focus on health above weight? In my many years of experience both for myself and working with clients, weight loss is achieved by making healthy choices and never going hungry.
Here are my six top health focused weight loss tips to get you started in 2022.
1. Are you skimping on sleep?
Weight gain, or inability to lose weight, may be directly linked to a lack of sleep.
Research has shown a lack of sleep affects hormones that are linked to hunger and satiety. Poor sleep increases levels of the hormone ghrelin that makes us feel hungry and decreases levels of leptin that creates feelings of fullness. So it can lead to an increase in hunger during the day. Do try to get a consistent 7-8 hours sleep every night. If you struggle with sleep, try to follow a night-time calming routine and avoid blue light gadgets.
2. Have you considered time-restricted eating?
This is linked to healthy ageing but also achieves a steady weight reduction. I do not focus on calorie counting but eating in an eight hour window (for example midday to 8pm). Build up to this slowly adding an hour every few days. It does not have to be followed every day.
3. Have you checked in with your emotions?
Emotional eating can cause over-eating 88 per cent of the time. The past two years has heightened anxiety and stress. So what actions can you take?
Before reaching for food, quickly check in with yourself and ask is it real hunger or are your emotions taking over? That pause alone can start to change your behaviour.
Try and call on your stress relieving techniques. My favourites are deep abdominal breathing, going for a walk, doing some yoga or chatting to friends or family.
4. Do you snack throughout the day?
I believe snacking is a major culprit for creeping weight gain. It creates a greater release of insulin that can cause blood glucose to be stored as abdominal fat. And raised insulin inhibits fat breakdown. If you snack because you are hungry between meals, then read on!
5. Are your meals balanced?
I find many people eat meals which contain too many starchy carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, potatoes) with insufficient protein and good fats. These starchy foods can quickly raise blood glucose levels leading to raised insulin/fat storage described above. The solution is to reduce portions of starchy carbohydrates and to always eat protein and fats with a meal as these foods slow the release of the sugars.
6. Are you eating fats?
Fats have been demonised as the culprit for weight gain but it is sugar not fat that is largely to blame. We need fats in our diet but focus mainly on essential fats from foods like oily fish, nuts, seeds and other good fats like avocados and olive oil. These fats have been shown to help mobilise our fat stores and lead to better blood sugar balance. They also keep you fuller for longer helping to avoid those pesky snacks.
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