Easy ways to get your diet started, plus how to stick to it!
How many times have you resolved to start the diet tomorrow, or this weekend or next month? We’ve all been there. Getting started is often the hardest part of a diet. Slip-ups along the way can be testing, too.
But don’t fret, these tried and tested, straightforward tips will help you find the diet motivation you need to lose weight and stay svelte, the healthy way.
From the latest studies to top expert advice, get your diet motivation here and kick start your weight loss for good. Because once you get started, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to keep going and stick to a healthy eating plan.
Scientists have long proclaimed the calories in, calories out method when dieting but new research suggests the belief that all calories are equal is flawed. To boost your chances of weight loss success, it’s important to recognise that not all calories are equal.
Doctors at Harvard Medical School have been studying the effects of different foods on the body. And whilst 100 calories of any food may release the same energy when exposed to a Bunsen burner in the lab, a human doesn’t store them in the same way because other factors such as satiety, metabolic rate and blood sugar spikes come in to play. This means what you’re eating is much more important than the numbers on the back of a packet.
So what should you stock up on? Nuts and high fibre veg like spinach, if further research is anything to go by. Scientists have found that only three-quarters of the calories they contain are actually absorbed by the body, the rest are excreted unused, which makes peanuts the perfect 4pm snack.
Keep reading for more expert tips to boost your diet motivation…
Find the right diet for you
If you struggle with diets and find yourself falling by the wayside two weeks into your healthy eating plan, then you're in luck. New research by professor Nuala Byrne from the Bond Institute of Health and Sport in Queensland, Australia, found that people who diet using the two weeks on/two week off approach lose more weight than those constantly dieting.
So how does it work? You spend two weeks eating normally and the next two dieting. This type of dieting helps to kickstart your metabolism so the pounds drop off quicker and enjoying a glass of wine or a slice of cake won't be such a guilty pleasure on your week off.
And because you're good for a limited amount of time, you're more likely to carry on eating healthily during your downtime.
Losing weight is hard work but having an end goal (a big event, slipping in to that dress that no longer fits) will keep you motivated. Remind yourself every day why you're dieting.
Top tip: Tell close family or friends too. Their support will ensure you stay focused.
There's no need to banish treats from your shopping basket completely, but sticking to the outer aisles of the supermarket (where fresh, whole foods tend to live) automatically encourages healthier choices. Never shop when hungry either - you're more likely to overindulge.
Top tip: Clear out the snack cupboard! Keep high fat treats in a difficult to reach place. Fill the cupboard, fridge and fruit bowl with easy to eat, healthy snacks like veggie sticks or berries.
Everyone slips up now and again. The trick is to figure out where you went wrong and learn from it. Maybe stress encouraged that 4pm junk food binge? Try to go for a walk at lunchtime. Or maybe you're just not eating enough? Up your intake of healthy snacks. Relax a little too, losing weight takes time.
Top tip: Plan little treats - like an afternoon with friends or buying your favourite author's latest book - to keep you motivated.
Dehydration is often confused with hunger. Not drinking enough not only impacts on your waistline, but also causes constipation. The amount of water your body needs to stay in optimum condition varies, but aim to drink at least a litre and a half of water every day to flush out toxins.
Top tip: Fill up on water before you pick up your fork or reach for that snack! You'll eat less.
This is where most dieters go wrong. Eating too little encourages the body to go in to starvation mode so it clings to calories rather than burning fat, preventing weight loss. Ask your doctor for a manageable, tailored calorie-controlled plan instead.
Top tip: Eating six times a day (three mini meals and three snacks) is often easier than sticking to three large meals. Make sure you keep track of your calorie intake though.
Diet needs to be combined with exercise to reach that goal weight. Mix cardio activities (such as swimming, tennis or power walking) with strength work (yoga, pilates) to really get results.
Top tip: Get in to the habit of exercising in the morning. Most gym-bunnies do.
Alcohol is packed with empty calories. A small glass of wine will set you back 132 calories; cider and beer even more! The odd tipple won't hinder weight loss but try to stick to small clear spirits (vodka, gin) topped up with a low-calorie tonic.
Top tip: Drinking too much impacts on your eating. If you've got a heavy night planned, eat something filling and healthy before you head out. Then alternate alcohol with water. Prepare healthy snacks for when you get home too - you'll be less tempted to reach for the biscuit tin when you get home!
Eat less of what you don't like and more of what you do! That doesn't mean overdoing it on the heavy snacks or fizzy drinks but teaching yourself to eat in a different way. Allow yourself a small portion of houmous or cheese if you really want it, but don't just eat food because it's there.
Top tip: There's no point wasting calories on a food if you really don't like it. Swap it for a healthy alternative instead.
And how much of each food group should make up your plate. Cup your hands together (like the picture) to determine the right portion size for you. Then build upwards starting with a low fat protein (turkey, white fish, soya) before adding fibre (beans, sweetcorn, broccoli, potato), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olives) and at least one portion of fruit or veg. Wash everything down with plenty of water, not fizzy drinks.
Top tip: Planning your meals in advance makes dieting relatively stress-free!