Cunning hacks, neat tricks, clever tips and great foods to help you shed the pounds and keep them off – for good
45 foolproof fat-loss tips to help you shed the pounds and keep them off
Seafood and cheat it
The lower your levels of the satiety hormone leptin, the higher your risk of obesity. But scientists have found a decadent solution to this problem. Crustaceans such as langoustines and lobsters are rich in the mineral zinc – with roughly a third of your RDA per serving – which ramps up production of the hormone, says the journal Life Sciences. Try to do without the lashings of garlic butter.
Empty the tank
Evolution has hardwired our bodies to store fat for impending famine, rather than torching it for fuel. But imposing a tactical food delay could hack your weight-loss hard drive. Researchers at the University of Bath found that training on an empty stomach triggers a rise in PDK4 gene expression – code for a sign your body fat is being burnt. Run first thing, before you eat, and you needn’t show restraint at the breakfast table.
Add some spring onions to your postrun meal. They contain chromium, which can help you metabolise carbs for fuel, plus they’re full of fibre and calcium, which aids weight loss.
Put cheat days in the diary
Scientists now know willpower can be a factor of biology, rather than an acquired trait. This means our genetics could affect our response when we are faced with a mouthwatering menu, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Maryland, US. Take impulse out of the equation by making ‘burger night’ a weekly event, rather than weakwilled indulgence. A 2,700kcal cheat day can binge-proof your brain for the rest of the week.
Enjoy season’s eatings
Leaner runners have healthier, more diverse gut bacteria than their overweight peers. This is partly inherited, but reworking your staid nutrition plan can flip the switch. A study in the journal Science found that a seasonal diet makes these food-processing microbes more efficient, so ditch imported foods. Instead, ask your butcher for in-season meat and gather seasonal food at your local greengrocer.
Play with fire
Anyone with a passion for Sriracha sauce will be aware of chilli’s ability to bump up metabolism. But now research from the American Society for Microbiology has also found that capsaicin – the burning core chemical in chilli – hacks the genes involved in digestion, too, using up calories long after your tongue stops tingling.
Add to your bar tab
It’s not just your choice of beverage that can affect fat loss – your bar snack has a part to play, too. Peanuts are a source of resveratrol, the compound famously found in red wine, which, the European Journal of
Nutrition reports, boosts your fat cells’ ability to burn calories at rest. And should you need something to wash it down with, Pinot Noir tops the wine list. Pub peanuts tend to be the salted variety, so show a little self-control (and class) and don’t tip the whole bag down your throat.
Runners eat a lot of pasta, but running coach and former GB marathoner Mara Yamauchi chooses soba noodles instead. ‘They are thicker, flatter and chewier than pasta but cook the same way,’ she says. Made from wholegrain buckwheat, soba has just as many carbs as pasta, plus the phytochemical rutin. Studies show that rutin may halt the expansion of fat cells and lower bloodfat levels.
If an insatiable sweet tooth is souring your weight-loss plans, it’s time to rethink your afternoon pick-meup. But it’s not just the chocolate digestives that are at fault: a study by Cornell University, US,
Play the green card
Spread half a ripe avocado on your toast instead of slathering it in butter. ‘Most of us could do with more monounsaturated fat – avocado contains plenty, as well as many other health benefits,’ says nutritionist Drew Price. It’ll raise your basic metabolic rate, helping you to burn more fat. found 200mg of caffeine – a double espresso’s worth – dampens our tastebuds, heightening sugar cravings. If you recoil at the word ‘decaf’, just try to restrict yourself to a single shot.
Diet by halves
Sticking to that monthsold strict eating plan? Take a break. According to the University of Tasmania, Australia, adopting a ‘two weeks on, two weeks off’ protocol prevents the drop in your metabolism – part of your body’s hardwired famine response – that occurs midway through a strict nutrition regime. Give yourself a break every now and then and you’ll stick with the plan.
Upgrade your morning porridge by skipping the fruit topping and grating dark chocolate over it instead; its polyphenols suppress genes related to fat storage, according to
Nutrition Journal, rewiring metabolism. Better still, a 600kcal breakfast with a little cocoa has been linked to a reduced incidence of overeating later in the day.
Put the brakes on
If you want to supercharge your calorie burn, the muscle you need to be working is your jaw. Chewing food thoroughly increases ‘diet-induced thermogenesis’ – calorie burning – while improving blood-sugar control, according to Clinical
Nutrition. Aim for 40 chews per mouthful, instead of the usual 15. You’ll have far less time for second helpings, too.
Bite- sized advice
Slice your food into morsel-sized pieces before you eat. You’ll take in 20 per cent fewer calories, according to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, which says people rate sliced servings as 27 per cent larger than unsliced, so you eat less.
Chewing sugarless gum for 15 minutes after eating will curb your desire to snack for up to three hours after your meal, according to Glasgow Caledonian University.
Picture the scene
Food cravings begin in the brain, not the belly, with the part of your grey matter responsible for visual imagery being particularly active when you suddenly want something to eat. Next time you find yourself salivating, rewire your mental circuits by bringing a vivid, emotive picture to mind, suggests Frontiers in Psychiatry. Lacking imagination? A scroll through @natgeoadventure on instagram should take you to a better place.
With seven grams of protein per serving, jerky is a healthy postrun snack ( just make sure it has 480mg or less of sodium per serving).
A much better option than crisps, says nutritionist Justin Lord. They contain B vitamins and antiinflammatory celery seed (which reduces bloating).
It will help to lower your blood-glucose levels, which, in turn, switches your body into fat-burning mode. Keep it plain and air popped, please.
Tortilla chips and salsa
High in vitamins and antioxidants, salsa contains just 70kcals per 250g. Enjoy it with baked, multigrain tortilla chips.
When the waiter comes to your table and proffers the black pepper, tell him to go for it. The spice can block the formation of fat cells, thanks to a compound called piperine.
Shape your day
Simply looking at fruit and veg in the morning can hardwire you to make better food decisions during the day, says research from the University of Leeds. So make sure that fruit bowl is front and centre at breakfast time, even if you eat nothing from it.
Just 1 tbsp of mustard can increase your metabolism by 20 per cent, says the Oxford Polytechnic Institute.
Milk your recovery
After running the hard yards, a recovery drink tastes amazing. But that’s because it probably contains artificial sweeteners. ‘Skimmed milk is a good, quickly absorbed source of quality protein and carbohydrate,’ says nutritionist Drew Price. ‘And even better, it’s widely available for when you don’t have a sports drink to hand.’
Drain the fat
Making spaghetti bolognese? Dry-fry the mince until brown, then throw it into a colander and rinse with boiling water to drain away any remaining fat. Wipe out the pan with kitchen paper to remove the fatty residue before returning the meat to the pan and adding the other ingredients.
Smoothies and soups can be incredibly quick and easy to make, but when they are prepared in a blender they also fight fat. According to researchers at Pennsylvania State University, US, foods with more air, such as shakes prepared in the blender, keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Juice up your metabolism
Try upgrading your morning juice. Not only is watermelon lower in sugar than orange juice, it’s also rich in the amino acid citrulline. Studies by Paris Descartes University found the compound ‘loosens’ stubborn belly fat, making it easier for your body to burn it up. Try What a Melon (£1.95 for 330ml, sainsburys.co.uk), which is 100 per cent pure.
Goat’s cheese is 40 per cent lower in calories than the stuff made from cow’s milk.
People who prepare leftovers for the next day spend more time savouring their meal and feel fuller more quickly, according to research from the University of Minnesota, US.
It doesn’t taste great, but add 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a litre of water. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found the acetic acid suppresses your body’s ability to store fat. Apple cider vinegar can also be added to salads (see p17 for more).
Make it ambient
Gentle music and soft lighting made people consume 18 per cent fewer calories per meal, found a study by Cornell University, US, and they enjoyed their food more, too.
In a pickle
A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diets rich in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles and miso reduced belly fat by five per cent over 12 weeks.
Cool your cans
Refrigerate olives, anchovies, pesto, curry paste, sun-dried tomatoes and any other jars or tins in which the ingredients are packed in oil. When chilled, the fat rises to the top of the jar and collects so you can scrape it off and bin it before using the product.
Ice and easy
Making gravy with meat juices is the tastiest option, but it adds fat, too. ‘An easy way to extract the fat is to pop a couple of ice cubes into your gravy and watch the fat collect around them. Spoon it off and you’ve got yourself a much healthier gravy,’ says nutritionist Judith Wills.
‘Save your carb intake for the hours around your run or the evening,’ says Andy Reay, strength and conditioning coach at Pure Sports Medicine (puresportsmed.com). ‘If you’re going on a long run, eat something before, but for shorter distances, save fuelling until you’re done. After training, your body will soak up these carbs to replace the glycogen you have used up, so it won’t be converted to fat.
If you have a lunchtime Haribo ‘issue’, start the day with a small slice of chocolate cake. Scientists at Tel Aviv University, Israel, found that a sweet treat in the morning suppresses cravings later in the day.
A chicken breast contains up to a third of a runner’s daily protein needs. By eating protein-rich legumes, beans and nuts along with the meat, you take in more antioxidants. Over time, slowly add more beans and reduce the amount of meat.
Don’t be thick
Instead of thickening your sauces or gravies with flour or butter, try puréed vegetables, breadcrumbs or even leftover mashed potato.
Beef up your butty
Putting tomato in your sandwiches will keep you feeling fuller for longer and will make you less likely to gorge on mid-afternoon snacks. The fruit suppresses the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for hunger pangs.
Splash on a little low-salt soy sauce as seasoning. Research shows that soy proteins interact with the receptors in our brains that tell us we’re full. Choosing the lowsalt variety means you can limit any health downsides.