Looking good on the beach is a lot easier than you think. Just follow the seven golden rules for a successful summer diet below, devised by nutritionist Angela Dowden, to help you reach your weight loss goal.
Golden rule 1: make the right calories count
You’ll only lose weight if you eat fewer calories than you burn off; aim to eat around 1500 calories a day to lose a steady pound a week. However, not all calories are created equal – the trick is to get the right balance of nutrition and hunger-curbing potential from the calories you consume. The answer? Focus on natural produce such as fruit, veg and wholegrains, rather than processed foods like cakes and takeaways, and you won’t go far wrong.
Golden rule 2: get your ratios right
Draw an imaginary line down the middle of your plate and fill one half with veg. Split the other half into two and fill one quarter with lean protein, like fish, meat or chicken, and the remaining quarter with quality, slow-release carbs such as pulses or wholewheat pasta. Eat every meal like this and you can still enjoy ‘normal’ food rather than feeling like you’re on a diet.
Golden rule 3: trick yourself
Professor Brian Wansink, a renowned US food psychologist, says managing our weight could be a question of mind over matter. Here are some of his top tips:
- Use smaller plates – we can easily eat 20 per cent less as long as it doesn’t look obvious.
- Use smaller spoons and tall thin glasses to further reduce calories.
- Measure out snacks into smaller bowls rather than dipping in and out of a large bag.
- Pick plates that contrast strongly with the food you’re serving – people in a study ate less creamy sauce when it was served on red plates, for example.
Golden rule 4: Instagram your menus
Put aside some time to plan your meals for the week ahead, and don’t go to the supermarket hungry! You’re more likely to put processed food in your basket. Keeping a record of everything you eat and drink will also help you lose weight – a study by Wisonsin-Madison University in the United States found women who took photos of their food – hello, Instagram – were more likely to make healthy changes.
Golden rule 5: pick the right snacks
Make a list of healthy foods you can nibble on when the 3pm biscuit craving strikes. For just 100 calories you could have:
- 110g of strawberries with 30g half-fat crème fraiche.
- 50g sliced apple and 12g – around a heaped teaspoon – of peanut or almond butter.
- 1 crispbread square with an eighth of an avocado, topped with a tablespoon of fresh tomato salsa and 2 to 3 garlic or herb chicken slices.
Golden rule 6: cut out liquid calories
One of simplest but most effective ways to cut calories is from sugar-containing drinks, plus calories in liquid don’t fill you up like calories in food, so they’re ‘empty’ or wasted calories. In place of full-sugar soft drinks, choose water with a squeeze of lime, or herbal or mint tea. One small glass of fruit juice or a smoothie a day does have health benefits, but eating the whole fruit will help keep your stomach feeling full. Reduce your alcohol intake too, as booze can be high in calories.
Golden rule 7: consider the right supplements
There’s no miracle weight loss pill, but certain supplements could help. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found obese women lost more weight when they took a multivitamin, compared with those taking a dummy pill. Other research in the journal found that green tea could boost your metabolism. Magnesium and chromium may also help, as they play a role in managing blood sugar levels – fighting cravings – according to Mexican and US studies.
Want more ways to shape up for summer? Find more diet and weight loss tips today.
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