Monday, 25 February 2019

My 5 tips for weight loss without dieting

It's nearly March! New Year's weight loss resolutions have probably fallen by the wayside and you may be thinking about the next diet ready for summer.

But if you dread the idea of yet another weight loss diet, there may be other ways of losing weight that doesn't mean depriving yourself of your favourite foods.

Rather than tell yourself you need to go on a diet, why not try something different, and not go on a diet?

Instead of embarking on some radically restrictive diet, you may find that making a few changes here and there, you will naturally lose weight without too much difficulty.

Tip 1: Narrow your eating window

Even without changing your eating habits, you may find that simply reducing the hours that you eat, can have a dramatic effect on your weight. Researchers at the University of Surrey found that those who ate breakfast 90 minutes later and dinner 90 minutes earlier, without dieting restrictions, ate less food, felt less hungry and consumed fewer snacks.

There are many ways of incorporating mini fasts. This includes eating only within a 12 hour window, the 16:8 diet whereby you eat in an 8 hour window and don’t eat for the other 16 hours, or the 5:2 diet whereby you reduce calories on 2 days a week and eat normally (ideally healthier) on the other 5 days.

Tip 2: Drink a glass of water before meals


You may have heard of this method for helping weight loss, and there is some research to back it up. One study by researchers from the University of Birmingham, studied obese participants over a period of 12 weeks to see what happened with their weight when drinking 500ml of plain water before each meal.

Each of the participants, all obese adults, were given a weight management consultation. They were advised on how to adapt their lifestyle and improve their diet and levels of physical activity. Of those people recruited, 41 were asked to preload with water, and 43 were advised to imagine that they had a full stomach before eating.

Those who reported preloading before all three main meals in the day reported a loss of 4.3kg (9.48lbs) over the 12 weeks, whereas those who only preloaded once, or not at all, only lost an average of 0.8kg (1.76lbs).

Tip 3: Eat more fibre


This tip is more about adding food in than taking it away. For each meal you eat during the day, make sure half your plate is filled with salad or vegetables (not including root veg such as potatoes or parsnips). Alternatively, start each meal with a large bowl of salad. The idea behind this is that by the time you’ve finished chomping through the salad, you will start to feel full, and less inclined to overeat your meal. Try to eat at least 30g of fibre each day. This is helpful for weight loss because fibre is filling so you may be less inclined to snack. It also helps diversify the gut microbes, and those with a more varied gut microbiome are linked to having a leaner physique.

Examples of fibre: (average portions)

  • 40g high fibre bran cereal = 8.8g
  • 30g flaxseed = 7.1g
  • 1tsp psyllium husk = 6g
  • 2 slices medium wholemeal bread (from large loaf) = 5g
  • 3tsp chia seeds = 5g
  • 100g baked beans = 3.7g (about a quarter of 400g tin)
  • 40g porridge oats / 2 wheat biscuits = 3.6g
  • 100g sweet potato cooked = 3.3g
  • 100g kale = 3.1g
  • 25g almonds = 3g
  • 100g broccoli = 2.6g
  • 100g raspberries = 2.5g
  • 1 medium apple = 2.4g


  • See ‘Top 10 highest fibre vegetables’ for more ideas.

    Tip 4: Get enough sleep


    Being sleep deprived is all too common these days, with our 24/7 culture always on the go. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is linked to weight gain. There are a few reasons for this. The most obvious reason that springs to mind is that if you’re awake more hours in the day (or night) then you have more opportunities to eat! And while we may think we have some degree of control here, our hormones are working against us.

    Research has shown that sleep-deprived people prefer larger food portions, seek more calories, exhibit signs of increased food-related impulsivity, experience more pleasure from food, and expend less energy! What chance do we stand?

    Being sleep deprived shifts the hormones involved in hunger and satiety so they’re out of balance and may become less sensitive to insulin. Sleep restriction also increases levels of endocannabinoids, which are known to have appetite-promoting effects. In addition to all that, acute sleep loss alters the balance of gut bacteria, which has been widely implicated as key for maintaining a healthy metabolism.

    Tip 5: Photograph your meals


    This is a bit like using a food diary, but photos don’t lie! Photographing your food serves to strengthen the proof of your food intake. A study  has shown that you are more likely to think about what you're about to eat when you have to take a photo of it. Even when writing a food diary, it’s easy to slip up and forget the odd nibble or snack here and there. Taking photos of everything you eat can prove to be a strong deterrent to mindless snacking and you may be surprised at how much you are actually eating in a day.

    If you want to lose weight but don’t feel ready to make big changes to your diet, you may find it easier making some of the small adjustments listed above. By adding in more of the good stuff, it leaves less room for the food that’s caused weight gain which may help you lose weight without thinking too much about it.



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