Fat loss is certainly multifactorial and individual approaches must be applied. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition and there are no absolute diets you have to follow. But there are some tips that are worth implementing and if you can stick to them consistently, there is a good chance you will notice change occurring!
And that is key to remember nutrition is not attractive, there is no magic pill that will make a change it’s doing the monotonous things and doing them consistently! So, what are some tips to follow when it comes to losing weight?
- Colour – and lots of it! This is an area that is somewhat neglected in the common Irish diet. Incorporating fruit and vegetables as snacks throughout the day and with main meals will ensure we are including a wide range of vitamins and minerals, while also allowing us to stay within energy targets across the day. Aim for 7+ portions, which you can aim to build on slowly over time.
- Eating regularly across the day is associated with lower levels of body fat, as we can tend to feel a lot more satisfied and not risk extreme levels of hunger by going long periods without eating. It also allows us to maintain energy levels across the day, and reduce the risk of reaching for less nutrient-dense foods in the evening when we “crave” that little something extra!
- Portion sizes are an area a lot of people tend to struggle with. So, try to be mindful if it’s something you find difficult. Use the various measuring methods if you don’t want to take out the weighing scales every time you cook dinner. i.e. using hand portions such as:
-A cupped hand of carbs
-A palm-sized amount of protein
-A fistful of vegetables
-A thumb-sized quantity of fats
Alternatively, use your plate and aim for ¼ plate carbs ¼ protein ½ fruit/vegetables and a small amount of fats.
- Aim for balanced meals, similar to what is mentioned above use those visuals and ensure each main meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner is made up of protein, carbs, fats and nutrients. This will provide greater satisfaction and satiety throughout the day. Note that breakfast tends to be one meal that tends not to be protein-filled. So, consider each of your meals and think about how you could ensure they’re balanced.
- Increase fibre intake. Fibre not only has numerous health benefits but also leaves us feeling fuller for longer. Ideally aim for 30g of fibre per day, something which the majority of Irish adults are not achieving. So, include foods like oats, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds to reach that fibre target!
- Incorporate movement throughout the day. This is a common one, but greater movement through exercise or day-to-day activity is again associated with lower BF%. So, regardless if you’re an exercise fanatic or not, aim to incorporate at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise and you can build on it if that is a goal you have!
- Think volume eating i.e. 100g of peanut butter is 588cals compared to 100g potatoes which is 75cals. So essentially, you’re eating the same quantity of food but for a lot less calories. This doesn’t mean peanut butter is a no-go, but consider choosing meals with volume. Another way of doing this is maybe replacing 100g of pasta with 100g of vegetables. All these small swaps will add up!
- Aim for 2L of fluid throughout the day. Although it may not directly affect “fat loss”, there are many associated health benefits with maintaining hydration levels. Simply to ensure the body is functioning properly. In some cases, we can mistake thirst for hunger which therefore leads to mindless snacking.
- Avoid being too restrictive. Of course, when it comes to losing body fat, changes in the diet will have to be made. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut out specific foods entirely, try to include them little and often if possible. For example, if you love having a biscuit with your tea in the evening, try to include this day-to-day, while implementing various other changes. We want to focus more on the above and what to add to the diet, rather than just focusing on what to take out!
- Be realistic. Having a goal is always excellent, it keeps motivation high, but when the goal is not realistic it can completely deplete motivation. As straight away you’re setting yourself up for failure. So, consider, if you’re someone who hardly eats fruit and vegetables and always skips meals, in the space of one week it’s unlikely you’re going to eat 6 times/day and eat 7-10 portions of fruit and vegetables. Instead, a realistic goal would be to try and ensure you have breakfast 4/7 days and aim for 4 portions of fruit or vegetables each day. And as the weeks and months go on, aim to build on it!