January is the month for making resolutions and losing weight is often top of the list. Dieting and exercising go hand in hand but if taken to extremes can often backfire. If you want to lose weight in healthy way and keep it off, you need to be smart about what you eat and what exercise you do. Here are a few weight loss hacks that have really worked for me.
1) Keep a diary – This may sound boring and tedious but it’s really worth it. I promise. The beauty of writing down what you eat is that you really think twice about eating that extra cookie, biscuit, soda, extra portion of pizza or ordering a Starbucks mocha with whipped cream. If pen and paper are too old fashioned for you, there are many apps that you can download which make logging of meals and snacks easier for example myfitnesspal.com or loseit.com. The extra benefit of logging your food is that you can really evaluate what you eat, where your calories are coming from and if you are eating healthy balanced meals.
2) Cut the liquid calories – Our body does not need sodas, juices, wine, cocktails, and coffee shop drinks. Stick to water, teas or simple Americano or espresso in the morning. If you are drinking orange juice for its vitamin C then swap it for an orange. You will get your vitamin C but with fewer calories and smaller spike in your sugar level. My favorite drinks are smart water, green tea and herbal teas like chamomile or mint.
3) Cut the mindless eating – Mindless eating is a concept derived from a finding that in one day people make 20 times more food related decisions than they are aware of which can account for as many as 250 calories a day. So if you are eating make sure you are using a dining table, a chair and a plate. I try to do this for most of my meals with breakfast being the only meal that is eaten on the run.
4) Control the cravings – The trick to controlling your cravings is to control you blood sugar level. You can do this by eating healthy and nutritionally balanced meals and snacks. These meals consist of rainbow of vegetables, a good portion of protein and a small portion of carbohydrates. Eating a small portion of fast digesting carbohydrate like a biscuit, chocolate or bagel within 15 minutes of finishing an exercise made a huge difference for me. I had more energy and my nighttime cravings were reduced.
5) Exercise smartly – By doing strength and interval training you will burn calories and build your muscle at the same time. More muscle means higher metabolic rate even if you are not working out. The strength and interval training exercises can be done in as little as 30 minutes per day and you can do these in a class, in a gym with a personal trainer or at home on your own. I like to mix my exercise up and I do little bit of Zumba, little bit or Grit (interval and strength training group class), yoga and reformer pilates.
6) Always eat simple carbohydrates with lots of coarse vegetables – This is a great rule because it reduces the rate of digestion of simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice while increasing the amount of nutrients your body is getting from eating extra kale, cabbage, spinach, radishes or anything else that you put on the plate. Slower digestion rate of simple carbs results in your body being able to absorb more of the food you have consumed which means less will be turned into fat.
7) Stay well hydrated – We often mistake thirst for hunger. Staying well hydrated will prevent you from snacking, you will eat less and your metabolism will get a boost. I usually carry a water bottle everywhere I go.
If you decide that you want to lose weight, be realistic and keep in mind that if you want to do this in a healthy way you are in this for the long run. Fad diets may word quickly but most people put the weight they lost back on within a few weeks or months.