One of the most pressing questions I always get asked is, “How can I lose weight fast but without starving myself?” And my answer often goes something like, “Forget the fad diets, the pills and the quick-fixes, figure out what a healthy lifestyle means to you, and stick to your plan.”
If there’s a fast-approaching beach vacation, wedding to attend or high school reunion, no crash diet is going to make a difference, a day or two before the event.
Throughout my years of formulating diet and fitness plans for people of all ages, shapes and sizes, I’ve discovered a few healthy, balanced ways to drop those stubborn kilos without resorting to crash diets or excessive exercise plans. Because in the end, whichever weight loss or weight maintenance plan you choose, it needs to be moderate and one that you can sustain for many years without yo-yo dieting or falling off the bandwagon. Life is too short to deprive yourself and be unhappy. The key is to find a plan that suits your unique body type and lifestyle.
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Kickstart your metabolism and digestive system by drinking warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar first thing. Then, enjoy a few cups of green tea throughout the day. Numerous studies have proven that green tea can help to speed up the metabolism and help you lose weight naturally. This is because it’s especially high in catechins, a type of antioxidant that boosts fat burning.
Listen to your body. If you’re not hungry in the morning when you wake up, that’s okay. Just make sure that you don’t overindulge later that day or evening. Intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose weight and slow down the ageing process.
Healthy eating shouldn’t be about food deprivation, but indulging in delicious food which nourishes your body. Add a handful of toasted nuts and fresh herbs or Himalayan rock salt to salads for added flavour. Apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar are also full of flavour and will add a zing to your meals. If you’re looking for a healthy cleanse, and wholesome recipes packed with all the right nutrients, look out for my Elimin8 plan, coming soon.
Don’t obsess over calorie counting and scales. Rather focus on eating good quality, healthy food in the correct portions for your weight, height and activity levels. You want to avoid big portions as this simply overloads your digestive system, leading to weight gain, bloating and water retention.
Try some simple food swaps. If you’re craving salty crisps, swap them with air-popped popcorn with a sprinkling of salt. Rather than sugary soft drinks, opt for sparkling water with pieces of fresh fruit and mint. Feel like a piece of cake? Try a slice of wholegrain bread with strawberry jam first. And if you want to treat yourself once or twice a week, stick to smaller portions. Choose two pieces of dark chocolate over the whole bar, or a small glass of red wine over a bottle.
If you’re prone to mindless eating, keep track of what you put in your mouth with a food log app or simply write it down. Sometimes we overindulge without even realising it and the kilos can pile on fast.
Cut back on sugar. If there’s one drastic change you make to your diet, cut out sugar (in obvious foods and hidden foods such as in sauces, cereals and fruit juices). There are virtually no benefits to a sugar-filled diet. In fact, it not only sabotages weight loss, too much sugar in the diet speeds up ageing too. It causes excessive glycosylation (when sugar molecules bind to your skin’s DNA and damage the connective tissue), leaving it less elastic and more prone to wrinkles and sagging, say dermatologists.
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Variety is key. Pick a few different exercises you enjoy and mix them up every week. Vary your intensity and duration. Combine shorter sessions of high-intensity interval training with longer sessions of light cardio such as walking, swimming or cycling.
Don’t over train. I can’t emphasise this point enough. Whether you’re a cardio or weight lifting fan, your body needs at least 1-2 full rest days a week. Recently, I was shooting a series of exercise videos which we crammed into a week and I exercised a lot more than I normally would. As a result, my body was sore, stiff and I retained a lot of water. Remember when muscles tear through exercise, the body sends water to the muscles to help them recover. It takes a while for the inflammation to come down. Also, too much exercise can wreak havoc with your hormones, especially leptin and ghrelin, the hormones responsible for appetite and hunger signals.
Lift weights. Your body loses muscle as you age, and as muscle is metabolically active, the less you have, the less fat you’ll burn. Weight training is a natural way to lose body fat, tone up and slim down. How heavy should you lift?
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Fuel your exercise sessions. I don’t mean eating a chocolate chip muffin before you train, but the right foods at the right time can help you run faster and work harder in your sessions. For instance, drinking beetroot juice can boost stamina. A University of Sydney study found that beetroot juice consumed two hours before exercise improved the performance of rowers.
Your healthy juice recipe
- 1 small beetroot, scrubbed
- 1 apple, cored
- ½ carrot, peeled
- Chunk of cucumber, peeled
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Handful of ice cubes
- 50ml apple juice (optional)
Put all the ingredients in a blender, whizz together and then pour into a glass and enjoy.