It’s that time of year: the nights are longer, leaving your bed is harder, and eating hearty, beige food is a universal yearning. Then you have Christmas, a season traditionally spent sharing festive cheer and propping up the multipack snack industry. Before you know it, you notice a little winter layer forming around the waistline, your favourite big coat feels ever-so-slightly snugger and panic starts to set in.
The urge to lose weight quickly is common, but as any self-respecting nutritionist will tell you, crash diets, pills and anything else promising a quick fix should, at best, be approached with extreme caution. The scientific community still hasn’t settled on the effects of gradual vs sudden weight loss; a 2020 Cambridge University study found potential benefits to both, stating that further research is needed. However, another study found that yo-yo dieting is associated with less overall weight loss – so hold off on that ‘juice cleanse’ you saw on TikTok.
Ultimately, losing weight shouldn’t be about a life-altering regime or revelatory diet, but a sustainable lifestyle change that results in a healthier body and mind. According to experts at America’s CDC, losing one to two pounds (0.45kg – 0.9kg) per week is a healthy and sustainable way to shift some timber. Try to lose more and not only will you likely be tired and dejected from lack of calories, but you could be at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies, losing muscle mass and negatively affecting your metabolism. Plus, even a small weight loss (5-10% of bodyweight) can have major benefits for your blood pressure, cholesterol, and stable blood sugars. Basically, aim for making yourself feel good, not for Hemsworth-range Marvel abs.
If you feel like shedding a few pounds might help improve your health and mood just in time for Christmas dinner, we sought out some tips from nutritionist Milena Kaler and expert PT Farren Morgan that will help you tweak your routine for quick – and sustainable – results.
Exercises to lose weight
Lift heavy Exercise is a great way to lose weight quickly and applying resistance to your exercises will amplify your weight loss results. Strength training develops your muscles and increases your metabolism, resulting in fat loss through the post-workout afterburn. The harder your muscles work, the longer they’ll take to recover, burning calories in the process.
An extremely busy schedule doesn’t mean resting on your laurels. Even a quick bit of fitness is better than nothing, so look to implement it into your daily routine whenever you have a few minutes. This could be as simple as making an effort to walk to nearby locations instead of driving, or jumping on some basic 5-10 minute workouts when you have the chance.
If strength training isn’t your thing, look to cardio exercises like running, cycling, or swimming. A large number of cardio exercises can also be implemented outdoors, too, which is known to decrease stress hormones, lowering your blood pressure while providing the body with the Vitamin D it needs. Outdoor workouts also burn even more calories due to external factors like wind resistance and colder temperatures.
Speed it up
If you’re looking for quick weight loss results you’ll have to amplify the intensity of your workouts, which is where high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises come in handy. HIIT sets last between 10-60 seconds, with a short recovery before another set of reps. The best HIIT workouts incorporate push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, crunches, and jumping jacks.
Sleep on it
Lack of sleep could be playing a major role in preventing weight loss without you even realising it. Your body needs time to recover from a workout, giving your metabolism the time it needs to convert consumed food (and stored fat) into energy so the cells in your body can perform their designated functions instead of storing your last meal as fat. The more we sleep, the less we eat – not just because when you’re unconscious you usually can’t make a pasta bake, but also because when we’re rested, we don’t need to snack to feel energised. Your new secret weapon? 40 winks.
Diet tweaks to help you lose weight
Eat fat to lose weight It might sound counterintuitive, but your body needs fat to burn fat. Just make sure you’re taking in the right sort: good fats include avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. Aim for two or three portions of oily fish per week. Combining fish oil with exercise has been shown to reduce body fat, as well as improve metabolic and cardiovascular health.
Have protein in every meal
Protein’s not just for getting jacked. Between 1.5 and 2 grams of protein per 1kg of your body weight per day will help you build and maintain sustainable muscle mass, which is key for keeping your metabolic rate high and promoting fat loss.
It might sound simple, but your brain and stomach register a feeling of fullness after around 20 minutes. Eating slowly will help your brain and gastrointestinal tract coordinate their activities, meaning you’re more likely to feel satisfied with less food. Your gut and brain will thank you.
We can’t emphasise enough the importance of drinking water. It has countless benefits, but when it comes to weight loss, drinking water increases the amount of calories you burn, and could also reduce appetite.
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