If you asked people you know if they would like to drop a few kilos, most will reply with a resounding ‘yes!’, especially at this time of year.
For many of us, 5kg is the amount of weight loss that will take us back to our fighting best and yet even though it does not seem like that much, we never seem to get there. So if you would love to see the scales creep back just a few kilos, here are some simple ways to drop the weight quickly.
Deplete your fuel stores
The average person holds at least two to three days’ worth of carbohydrate stores in their muscles and in their liver. One of the reasons we so infrequently burn extra body fat is that we always have plenty of stored fuel that will be used preferentially over fat. To kick start weight loss, especially when the amount of weight you want to lose is relatively small, depleting your glycogen stores with a few days of light, low-carb eating will help to kick start things. In food terms this translates into a shake or eggs for breakfast, salad and protein for lunch and a light dinner or salad or white fish and vegetables. Not only will this style of eating result in a quick drop on the scales but if you continue with a lower calorie intake following it, coupled with plenty of movement, you will continue to drop the kilos.
Ditch the snacks
In modern life we literally eat all the time which means that we rarely get hungry, and we consume many, many more calories than we really need. Whilst it is true that eating regularly helps to stoke the metabolism, if our definition of a snack as a simple piece of fruit or couple of plain crackers we would be fine, but rather our snacks tend to clock in at 300-400 calories or that of a small meal. For this reason dropping a snack or two each day in favour of three square meals can be enough to get you really hungry in between meals and more likely to enjoy a filling meal at meal times only rather than constantly grazing through the day.
Following on from the issues with snacking, it is time to consider the last time you felt really, really hungry before you ate a meal or a snack? Chances are you more likely ate because you were bored, someone offered you food or someone else around you was eating. It is this non-hungry eating that gets us into trouble with our weight, as we teach ourselves to not only eat when we are not hungry but we are then also less hungry for meal times which means we do not eat nutritionally-balanced meals. For this reason, swapping a meal for a light soup or salad and then waiting again until you are really, really hungry to eat is a great way to get back in touch with your natural hunger and reprogram yourself to only eat when you are genuinely hungry, and to stop eating before you are completely stuffed.
Eat your last meal earlier
Another key reason so many of us are in a cycle of gradual weight gain is that we eat our final, largest meal later and later in the day. We know from research on fasting that the human body responds very well to longer periods of time overnight without eating, even up to 16 hours without food each day. This means that if you routinely eat your dinner at 7pm or 8pm you will really benefit from eating your final meal by 6pm each night. This may mean eating your largest meal at lunchtime and swapping dinner for a lighter soup or salad earlier in the day but the simple action of extending the period overnight without food will support weight loss.
Factor in a cheat
Strict diets rarely work long term as they are not sustainable and one of the factors that will make a 5kg weight loss program sustainable is factoring in some indulge into your regular meal plan. This may mean enjoying a meal out once each week or a chocolate or piece of cake regularly but you will find it easier to adhere to your diet long term if you factor in some enjoyment eating. Then once you do, simply wait until you are really, really hungry to eat again and you will be able to buffer your calorie intake as to not undo all the hard work on your diet thus far.
Susie Burrell is a nutritionist. Continue the conversation on Twitter @SusieBDiet.