As the summer approaches many of us start to worry about our weight and body shape as we want to fit into our summer clothes and feel confident in them. This is especially true if you’ve recently had a baby, and quite naturally have some pounds to lose.
If you are breast feeding, please don’t punish yourself by severely restricting your calorie intake. Remember you need an extra 500 calories a day to ensure that you produce enough milk.
Those of you who have tried strict calorie restricting diets in the past may well have experienced the frustrating reality of the weight creeping back on, once you stop dieting. The reason for this is that our bodies cannot cope with a cycle of bingeing followed by starvation. If we suddenly and dramatically reduce our calorie intake, the body responds to this by slowing down our metabolism, in order to conserve energy. We burn less calories than we would and as soon as we start to eat normally again the body stores these extra calories, just in case another famine is around the corner.
It’s far better to resolve to eat more healthily, filling up on nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, instead of refined carbohydrates such as cakes, biscuits and white bread. Eating foods which take your body longer to break down (protein and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and pasta) will keep you feeling fuller for longer; maintain your blood sugar levels; and reduce the likelihood of you having cravings for quick fixes like biscuits, chocolates, sweets, coffee and fizzy drinks. And as a result you will naturally lose weight.
Balancing your blood sugar levels is the key to losing weight, as it stops cravings and avoids blood sugar highs, where your body stores excess sugar as fat.
Here are my top tips for healthy and sustainable weight loss:
- Cut down on your starchy carbohydrate intake – that is reduce the amount of bread, rice, pasta and flour based foods that you eat (cakes, pastries, biscuits).
- Swap refined carbohydrates (anything made from white flour, white pasta, white rice) for complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread, oats, wholemeal pasta, brown rice).
- Never go for more than three hours without food, as this causes your blood sugar levels to crash which leads to cravings. Have three main meals a day, and a mid morning and mid afternoon snack.
- Eat a combination of complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice, oats) and good quality protein (eggs, meat, fish, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soya) at every meal and snack. This combination enables you to better balance your blood sugar levels leading to better, more even energy levels and less cravings
- Cut down on saturated fats and increase your intake of essential fats (found in oily fish, nuts, seeds). Your body needs these fats to lose weight.
- Try to minimise your intake of stimulants (coffee, tea, cola, diet drinks, chocolate) as these disrupt your blood sugar levels and consequently your energy levels. They also place a burden on your liver
- Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Go for anything brightly coloured (peppers, berries, broccoli, sweet potato) to boost your intake of antioxidants
- Try to drink 6 -8 glasses of water a day. Water helps the body excrete toxins, supports digestion and is vital for good energy levels.
So ditch the strict diet and start eating healthily!
If you are interested in losing weight, I am a zest4life weightloss coach and run regular weight loss programmes in Ealing. Find out more about Zest4Life. If you would like to find out how nutrition can support health issues please contact Emily on 07967 639347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.