Lose weight quickly with simple food swaps...
Big party coming up? Worried you’ve left it too late to slim down for that winter wedding? Losing weight in time for that special occasion might seem like an impossible task, but a few simple tweaks to your daily routine could pay dividends more quickly than you would have imagined possible.
Click through to find out what – and when – to eat and do to rev up your metabolism, burn fat and blitz bloating…
80% of those who lose weight – and successfully keep it off – eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast will rev up your metabolism and ward off mid-morning cravings. Combine a serving of healthy carbohydrates like fruit, oats or wholemeal toast with a source of protein such as eggs, nuts and seeds or natural yoghurt.
Healthy carbohydrates are packed with tummy-filling fibre. Meanwhile, protein will fill you up and fire calorie burning, as it requires more energy to digest.
Can’t survive without your morning caffeine hit? Make it skinny. Those who consume 3 servings of low-fat dairy products a day lose 70% more fat than those who avoid it. Researchers believe that the calcium content “tells the body to burn excess fat”. Skimmed milk is packed with protein, too.
Don’t go mad, though – milk is still relatively high in calories, so opt for the smallest size and swerve the sugar, syrup and chocolate sprinkles.
The body doesn’t register ‘liquid’ calories in the same way as ‘solid’ calories, so you might be feeling tempted to nip out for another latte right about now… Stop right there. If you want to lose weight quickly, every calorie counts, so keep a big bottle of water at your desk, instead.
The body needs water to metabolise stored fat, so if you’re not drinking enough, you could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Drinking 500ml can increase your metabolic rate by 30%. Find plain water boring? Sip on herbal tea. Drinking green tea could help you burn an additional 70 calories a day.
Experts recommend eating a healthy meal or snack every 3-4 hours in order to keep your metabolism revved up. The enzymes found in pineapple and papaya can help to ease bloating, so pick up a snack pack from your local supermarket, or cut into chunks at home.
Try to ensure each meal includes lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and fresh produce. Pick a sandwich made from wholegrain bread over a white panini, or opt for a chunky vegetable broth or quinoa-based salad. Pick water or green tea over diet sodas, which can cause bloating and may even trigger fat storage, according to experts.
Be prepared for that 4pm lull by keeping healthy, tasty snacks in your desk drawer or handbag. A piece of fruit and handful of nuts and seeds or an oatcake with peanut butter will be satisfying and guilt-free! Popcorn is also a good option – it’s low in calories and high in fibre.
Cooking at home? Swap starchy carbohydrates for vegetables. Cooked carrots can be mashed, cauliflower can be pulsed into ‘rice’ and courgettes, beetroots and butternut squash can be spiralized to form spaghetti or noodles. They’re all packed with vitamins, nutrients and filling fibre, as well as plenty of bloat-busting water.
If you can’t haul yourself out of bed in time for an early morning workout, don’t worry. Working out in the evening can be just as effective. Do it before dinner to maximise fat and calorie burning potential, and avoid any interference with sleep.
Resistance exercises using your own bodyweight (e.g. squats, lunges and push-ups) and light weights will help build lean muscle, which burns 9 times as many calories as fat. Combine with intervals of high intensity cardio for maximum benefits. If you can’t make it to the gym, home workout DVDs are just as good. Davina: 5 Week Fit is great for beginners.
Eating out? Watch out for those hidden extras and supersized portions – they could undo all your hard work! If you can, check the menu and nutritional information online in advance. Make smart choices – many restaurants offer half portions and ‘skinny’ options. If not, why not order a starter as a main course? Fish eaters produce less leptin – the hormone which makes us feel hungry. If you prefer a bit of spice, order something hot – the compounds found in chilli peppers boost metabolism.
Alcohol is packed with empty calories. It has also been found to depress metabolic function, and can encourage fat storage when drunk with food. Try to limit yourself to a glass every other day, or restrict your drinking to a couple of glasses at the weekend.