It’s always difficult to be consistent when it comes to dieting and weight loss, as life often gets in the way and we return to old habits around eating and drinking. The good news is that you can bring some consistency in and around the way you eat and make some healthy morning rituals to support your weight loss goals.
Eat a healthy amount of protein at breakfast
Believe it or not what you eat when you begin your day can influence how you feel for the rest of the day. To maintain or even increase your energy levels it is important to ensure you make the right choices when it comes to breakfast options in order to nourish and nurture your body. Adding a healthy amount of protein to your breakfast each morning has been shown to not only provide your body with nutrients to help build and repair muscle, it will help keep you feeling fuller and feeling more satisfied for longer which will prevent you from snacking between meals as it reduces cravings.
Imagine the impact that just including some protein with breakfast can potentially have on your weight loss efforts. Let’s take a look at how adding protein to a meal works. In this randomised pilot study, they studied the effects of normal protein intake vs. high protein breakfast on food cravings which suggests that the addition of protein at breakfast reduced post meal cravings. Further research would suggest that a high-protein breakfast results in a reduction of daily food intake and fewer hunger pangs. Protein does this by decreasing ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating appetite, increasing food intake, and promoting fat storage. In phase 3 of the hCG Australia program it is essential to include good quality proteins to your meals to prevent our hunger hormone ghrelin from taking over leading to overeating. If you are looking for some recipe inspiration you can find these included in the maintenance phase of the program and on the website.
Increase your water intake
Drinking more water will not only help to boost your metabolism but also act as an appetite suppressant. Drinking water between meals will also help reduce cravings and may also prevent overeating by creating a sense of fullness. The brain is not able to decipher whether you are hungry or thirsty therefore, we often mistake thirst for hunger or sugar cravings. So, before grabbing an unnecessary snack try drinking a glass of water first. Drinking water also helps prevent your body from retaining water, helping you to shed any excess water weight. Another reason that drinking water is important during weight loss is that it provides hydration without adding unwanted calories. For more on this check out our blog on The Benefits of Drinking water.
Weigh yourself regularly
I know, many of us have previously been told to throw out your scales and to stop weighing yourself however, by weighing yourself regularly perhaps weekly or even daily may help you to understand what you should add or reduce from your diet to increase your weight loss. If you notice you have reduced some weight from your last weigh-in, it helps keep you motivated to lose more or to stick to a certain diet that assists with weight loss. On the other hand, if you notice weight gain from your last weigh-in, you can then make corresponding changes to your diet to help with weight loss.
Get outside and get some Vitamin D
While dosing yourself with sunshine doesn’t significantly up your calorie burning, there is some scientific evidence that sunlight helps you to burn more fat. According to research published in Scientific Reports in November 2017, it was concluded that the sun’s blue light (the light we can see with our eye) wavelengths may help shrink the white fat cells located just beneath the surface of the skin.
Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada set out to help those with type 1 diabetes by attempting to genetically engineer these fat cells to produce insulin when exposed to light. Along the way, they found that sun exposure actually, shrunk the lipid droplets in the fat cells under the skin and caused these cells to store less fat.
However, don’t get ready to go out and cook yourself in the sun just yet, researchers also noted that more studies need to be done in this area, as there are many factors to be taken into consideration and that they don’t yet know the intensity or duration of sunlight needed to activate this process.
According to the Mayo Clinic Mindful eating is an effective weight-loss strategy that encourages you to slow down your eating and pay attention to your food, encouraging you to notice each bite you take. Typically, we all eat too fast as we cope with the business of life. Practicing Mindfulness helps you to focus your senses on exploring, savouring and tasting your food, thinking about how it makes you feel. It also teaches you to follow hunger cues rather than just eating by the clock. Are you hungry right now? Or are you eating out of habit, emotions, or boredom? According to the popular mindfulness app Headspace in a recent poll, 38% of adults reported eating or overeating in the past month as a means to deal with or to avoid stress, and approx. 50% of those adults reported these behaviours in the past week.
Mindfulness helps you to become more aware of judgmental thoughts about how, and what you are eating and helps bring some appreciation and gratitude for the food before you. Try not to rush over a meal, take some time out to sit and enjoy the food before you. Avoid being distracted while eating, sit at the table, turn off the Television and phone until you are finished eating. Mindfulness is also great for your digestion as you make yourself take time to observe smells, textures, colours, and tastes. Give thanks for the injection of nutrients the food is providing your body giving you energy and the vitamins and minerals needed to help you grow.
Sitting is now being called the new smoking, humans are built to stand upright, not to sit all day behind a computer at a desk. Your heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively when you move. Your bowel also functions more efficiently with movement. Being physically active increases overall energy, endurance, and it produces feel good hormones called endorphins and hormones that help us sleep. Whereby sitting for long periods can cause muscle weakness and shortening of the muscles, if you aren’t regularly moving or stretching, sitting for long periods of time can cause back issues and other muscular issues whereby regular exercise alternatively helps you to increase muscle and burn fat. Some research suggests that most people require 60-75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity to combat the dangers of sitting for extended periods of time.
I am sure that many of you have also heard that the more muscle you have the quicker you burn fat and as we age there is an increased need for building muscle to increase longevity and healthy ageing therefore, you can see why regular physical activity is important for good health, particularly if you are trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight.
Pack Your Lunch
It’s time to start packing your own lunch instead of buying it. Look, I know everyone is time poor, the problem is that this feeling that you are lacking time effects the choices you make when it comes to cutting corners around food. You sleep in, grab some high carbohydrate breakfast and a coffee on the run to work/school. Just a couple of short hours later you are starving, sound familiar? Time does not have to be your enemy, by planning to make healthy snacks on the weekend or packing leftovers from dinner you can save yourself a lot of angst in the “what to have for lunch department”. Don’t forget that grabbing an apple, a handful of almonds or a boiled egg can certainly go a long way when you are hungry, they give you a great dose of protein and they are super easy to have on hand when cravings hit.
Researchers in Minnesota created an interesting study to test this idea. They recruited 19 women who agreed to eat a pre-packaged lunch each day at work for two months. The women were given either a small lunch of 767 calories or a large lunch of 1,528 calories (double the size) and were told to eat as much or as little as they wanted. Data analysis at the end of the study showed that the women who had the larger lunch ate 278 calories more each day. The results indicate that ongoing exposure to larger portion sizes causes people to unknowingly eat more. As expected, the women who ate the larger lunches also gained weight, approximately two kilograms over the study period of two months.
Drinks don’t have to be your downfall, as mentioned above water will quench your thirst and it doesn’t contain the calories that most soft drinks, ice coffee’s or alcohol contain, and water contains far less chemicals than our low sugar counterparts.
Another tip for healthy lunches could mean whipping up a chicken/tofu and vegetable soup that can be frozen and used several times for lunch during the week. By packing your own lunch you have all the control over what goes into it, the portion size, flavours, additives and you will know that you won’t feel gross after eating the food that you have prepared or let down that the substitute lunch that you picked on the fly didn’t taste anything like you imagined it would.
Research has shown that sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours a night is linked to having greater body fat, increased risk of obesity, and may also influence how easily you lose weight.
Additionally, cutting back on sleep reduces the benefits of dieting, according to a new study. When dieters got a full night’s sleep, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss came from fat. Sleep-deprived dieters also felt hungrier, producing higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. When you haven’t slept enough it also affects your ability to stay motivated and on track to continue to eat healthily the next day.
Start keeping a food Diary
This study of almost 1,700 participants shows that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss. The study found that the best predictors of weight loss were how frequently food diaries were kept and how many support sessions the participants attended. Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records at all.
A food diary can be used to track your intake of food and drinks throughout eat day, you may also use diet apps such as My Fitness Pal to record your daily food intake and count calories if this is your goal. Keeping a food diary will ensure that everything is tracked and recorded, you won’t have to rely on memory alone therefore, it’s far more accurate and easier to understand why fluctuations in your weight may be occurring and help you better understand your eating habits and to become more aware of any unconscious eating.
Try some of these healthy morning habits to lose weight, don’t give up and remember consistency is the key.
You’ve got this!
Adv Dip Health Science Naturopathy, Nutrition