Clear through the clut­ter and add these trusty hacks to your kilo-kick­ing ar­mour – tried, tested and ap­proved by the ex­perts

Women's Health Australia - - FRONT PAGE - By Clare Bax­ter


The weight-loss world is more of a mine­field than a Kar­dashian dat­ing life. Nav­i­gat­ing the con­flict­ing ad­vice and pa­rade of fad di­ets (hey, teatoxes) to cut a few ki­los is one thing, but you also want to do it in a healthy way. And for it to be sus­tain­able. Oh, and easy to fit into your life. “Any­one can lose weight: crash diet, cut kilo­joules fast,” says ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist Drew Har­ris­berg. “There are so many ways to lose it, but keep­ing weight off long term, that’s the hard­est part and what ev­ery­one is look­ing for.” With this in mind, we combed the sci­ence and tapped the ex­perts for the tech­niques that’ve stuck around – for good rea­son. All so we could de­liver you the most ef­fec­tive, sus­tain­able strate­gies to help you hit your healthy, happy weight – and main­tain it.

one Power down por­tions

To see how serves have grown over the past 50 years, check out your grand­par­ents’ wed­ding plates, sug­gests Clare Collins, pro­fes­sor of nu­tri­tion and di­etet­ics at the Univer­sity of New­cas­tle. “You might think they’re side plates be­cause they’re so small, but those were the real serv­ing sizes,” she says. A 2016 Deakin Univer­sity study saw peo­ple who were given large plates eat 44 per cent more than those with dishes half the size. So, try buy­ing plates from an­tique stores to nat­u­rally re­duce your kj in­take.

two Join the break­fast club

Some pros rec­om­mend hav­ing the ma­jor­ity of our daily food at brekkie, while oth­ers reckon skip­ping it al­to­gether will help you drop ki­los (look­ing at you, 16:8). But the gen­eral con­sen­sus falls with the first op­tion. “In the long term, hav­ing reg­u­lar meals in­clud­ing break­fast is a re­ally help­ful strat­egy [for weight loss],” says Collins. She points to the Na­tional Weight Con­trol Registry in the US, a long­stand­ing study of peo­ple who have lost an av­er­age of 30 ki­los and kept it off for more than five years. “[Eat­ing break­fast] is one thing these long-term suc­cess­ful peo­ple do.” Chuck eggs or beans on your plate to dial up the pro­tein: eat­ing more of the macro at brekkie can sup­port a healthy slim-down by keep­ing crav­ings in check over the day, re­veals a 2018 CSIRO re­port.

All that said, don’t force food down if eat­ing first thing re­ally isn’t your jam (on toast). “Some peo­ple might not feel hun­gry in the morn­ing or it may make their stom­ach up­set. If that’s the case, try a later break­fast or larger morn­ing tea,” says di­eti­tian Ste­fanie Valakas. Brunch for the win.

three Head for the Med...

… for the de­li­cious grub as well as the Euro­pean sum­mer. The Mediter­ranean diet was ranked the best diet of 2018 by US News & World Re­port, based on nine cat­e­gories such as how easy it is to stick to and the like­li­hood of los­ing weight on it. The ap­proach is char­ac­terised by heaps of veg, fruit, seafood and legumes, and smaller amounts of meat and dairy. Plus, of course, those healthy fats in things such as fish and olive oil. “I use it as a tool for peo­ple who al­ready con­sume a high-fat diet and just con­vert the types of fat to ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, nuts, seeds and av­o­ca­dos,” says Valakas. The other bonus? “It fo­cuses on the so­cial as­pect of eat­ing,” she adds. “Mak­ing [meals] more so­cial will keep your at­ten­tion on how you’re feel­ing, rather than mind­lessly eat­ing.”

four Clue into cues

We’re sub­tly be­ing pushed to eat or drink ev­ery­where, whether it’s by the Mac­cas ad at the bus stop or the two-for-one lolly bags at the su­per­mar­ket check­out. Not ideal, since ex­po­sure to food cues sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­ences eat­ing be­hav­iour and weight gain, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 Yale study pub­lished in Obe­sity Re­views. To man­age your long-term kilo count (and out­smart those sneaky food jug­ger­nauts), start to man­age the po­ten­tial pit­falls around you. “The more you are aware of [food cues], the more you can say, ‘Hey, I had a slip-up to­day be­cause this en­vi­ron­ment sab­o­taged me,’” says Collins. Recog­nis­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal trig­gers is the first step, and then you can find a strat­egy. “For some peo­ple it’s di­ver­sion (phone a friend or walk in the op­po­site di­rec­tion); for oth­ers, hav­ing an al­ter­na­tive to the food cue (like an ap­ple in­stead of a choco­late bar) re­ally works.”

five Hit the sack

Sleep is a sci­en­tif­i­cally proven weight-loss strat­egy. A study in Na­ture Communications found peo­ple who’d had a full night’s rest pre­ferred health­ier foods than their kip-de­prived com­pan­ions, who craved junk. Need more? US re­searchers from Stan­ford Univer­sity tested 1024 vol­un­teers, and those who hadn’t clocked enough sleep had el­e­vated lev­els of hunger hor­mone ghre­lin and re­duced lev­els of sati­ety hor­mone lep­tin – mean­ing they were more likely to eat more, more of­ten.

The take­away? Switch off The Hand­maid’s Tale and hit the hay.

You know the tricks (dark room, no tech), but also try telling your­self to stay awake while in bed. Sounds weird, but a study in Be­havioural and Cog­ni­tive Psy­chother­apy ac­tu­ally re­ports that peo­ple who did this found it eas­ier to fall asleep and had less anx­i­ety about the process.

six Eat mind­fully

Mind­ful­ness re­ally does de­serve the royal-wed­ding-level hype – it’s as good for your waist­line as it is for your headspace. Just take the in­tel from a 2013 re­view in The Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion: peo­ple who ate while dis­tracted (watch­ing TV or scrolling In­sta) con­sumed 10 per cent more kilo­joules dur­ing the meal and 25 per cent more later in the day than those who paid at­ten­tion to what they were eat­ing. Um, we’re sold – but how? “It’s about not see­ing eat­ing as another task on a long to-do list. In­stead try set­ting a lit­tle bit of time aside for your­self to en­joy food,” says Valakas. Fo­cus on en­joy­ing each bite and tune into how you feel while eat­ing. “Ask your­self how full you feel dur­ing the meal in­stead of feel­ing ob­li­gated to eat what­ever’s in front of you. Eat un­til you feel con­tent, not stuffed.” Duly noted.

seven Em­brace in­ter­vals

Yeah, you’ve heard it be­fore, but in­ter­val train­ing re­ally is your su­per­hero here. Re­searchers from the Univer­sity of New South Wales agree it’s an ef­fec­tive weight-loss strat­egy for women: sub­jects who did in­ter­vals for 20 min­utes, three times a week, trimmed down faster than steady-paced ex­er­cis­ers who worked out for twice as long. In­ter­vals prompt ex­cess pos­tex­er­cise oxy­gen con­sump­tion – be­cause you’re work­ing so hard dur­ing your sesh, you can’t breathe quickly enough and so your body works anaer­o­bi­cally (with­out oxy­gen). “It’s prim­ing your body to burn fat later in the day to re­pay this debt that you’ve cre­ated in your ses­sion,” says Har­ris­berg. Mean­ing you ex­pe­ri­ence an “af­ter­burn” ef­fect, torch­ing kilo­joules hours af­ter you’ve fin­ished train­ing.

eight Mind the scales

In the pro cor­ner: weigh-ins can be use­ful mo­ti­va­tors. In fact, a 2016 study pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Obe­sity found adults who weighed them­selves daily lost more weight than those who didn’t. But on the anti side, many ex­perts are wary to rec­om­mend hop­ping on the scales ev­ery day. Weight man­age­ment psy­chol­o­gist Glenn Mack­in­tosh of­ten no­tices that once clients take their fo­cus off the num­bers, they feel hap­pier. “Learn to en­joy move­ment and healthy eat­ing not as a weight-loss be­hav­iour but as a thing that our bod­ies are de­signed to do,” he says. If you stick with scales, weigh your­self at the same time ev­ery day, and be aware of pat­terns over time rather than let­ting a spike get you down. But if it makes you feel de­mo­ti­vated or stressed, mea­sure change via other fac­tors: your jeans feel­ing looser, run­ning up the stairs sans puff or feel­ing more en­er­gised.

nine Be the tor­toise

Fact: Crash di­et­ing is a sure-fire way to de­rail your goals. “Your body wants to main­tain home­osta­sis; it wants to stay the same. So if you cut [kilo­joules] your me­tab­o­lism goes, ‘We’re los­ing weight re­ally fast here, we bet­ter slow the hell down,’” warns Har­ris­berg. The re­sult? Your me­tab­o­lism takes on a snail’s pace, then strug­gles to ad­just when you in­crease your food in­take again. Hello, weight gain. So, make small changes to your diet that you can sus­tain over time. Valakas’ gen­eral rule is to aim for half to one kilo of weight loss per week. Slow and steady wins this race.

ten Love lift­ing

Pump­ing iron may not blast the ki­los like car­dio (a 2012 study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Ap­plied Phys­i­ol­ogy found re­sis­tance train­ers lost less weight than car­dio bun­nies), but that’s not a bad thing: what you lose in fat, you gain back in mus­cle mass. Why this helps with longterm weight loss? The higher your mus­cle mass, the higher your rest­ing meta­bolic rate (that is, the amount of en­ergy you burn do­ing noth­ing at all), ex­plains Har­ris­berg. “Re­sis­tance train­ing is a way of de­plet­ing glyco­gen from the mus­cle, which then makes space for the carbs you eat, rather than your body say­ing, ‘OK, we’ve got ex­cess, let’s con­vert it to fat.’” In short, more mus­cle equals more kj-torch­ing power.

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