Top Tips for Weight Loss

By Alison Walsh, Clinical and Sports Dietitian

With mixed diet messages out there, it’s no wonder that some people have thrown their hands up in despair when it comes to what to eat.  But don’t give up – here are some sensible and fool-proof ways to get your weight back to a reasonable level for your genetic makeup, and keep it there. 

Don’t “go on a diet”

Diets are those horrible, restrictive meal plans that always start “tomorrow” or on “Monday”.  They are usually very antisocial, and can leave you mentally, physically, and even financially drained.  When you go on a diet, you ultimately have to come off!  The effect of yo-yo dieting on the body can actually be more dangerous health- wise than staying consistently at a slightly higher body weight.  When you resolve to alter your eating patterns gradually to a healthier way of eating, you should be able to maintain this for life.

Exercise regularly

Granted that as we go through the life cycle, we may need to adjust our program (ie. during pregnancy, when injured, in older age), but keeping active in some shape or form on a daily basis is essential to attain and maintain a healthy weight for you.  Exercise not only burns up energy (kilojoules) as we train, but also increases our metabolic rate up to 10% higher for up to 24 hours post the session.  Resistance training (weights) is also important as it helps to build muscle which can increase metabolism. 

Drink up

We lose fluid each day through sweat, urine, and breathing.  A good guide is to drink 2L each day; drink more if you are exercising.  In most cases, water is the fluid of choice, as it contains no kilojoules, no chemical additives, and is usually freely available.  But, low fat milk is also healthy, and sports drink can be used for hydration in particular sporting conditions.  Keep juice, cordial and soft drink to a minimum. 

Include plenty of fruit and vegetables

Current recommendations for adults are two pieces of fruit and five vegetables daily.  A fruit serving is 1 medium piece of fruit (eg. apple, orange), 1 cup of fresh / tinned fruit (in natural juice), ¼ cup dried fruit, or ½ cup of fruit juice (note this does not have the same “filling” value as actual fruit).  A serving of vegetables is seen as 1 cup of salad vegetables, 1 medium potato, or ½ cup of cooked vegetables.  It is important with both fruit and vegetables to have a wide variety where possible, as this ensures you consume plenty of different vitamins.  A good guide with vegetables is to include at least three different ones each night, all of different colour.  Work out how close your consumption is to these guidelines!

Enjoy calcium-rich dairy foods

Besides keeping bones strong, low fat dairy foods may help decrease fat stores.  This is for a few reasons, but primarily because when you eat dairy foods, you often forgo the cake or biscuit for yoghurt or low fat cheese and crackers.  Also, dairy foods are low glycaemic index (GI) and also contain protein – two reasons that we are often fuller after eating these, hence don’t turn to less nutritious foods to fill up.

Say “cheers” carefully

Although fine to have the occasional glass or two of red, it is essential to watch your alcohol intake, especially if trying to lose weight.  Alcohol is high in kilojoules, and can prevent fat being burnt up as energy, meaning fat consumed is more likely to be stored. 

Eat small portions of food regularly throughout the day

A healthy breakfast is essential to kick-start your metabolism after a prolonged fast overnight.  Every time we eat, our body must use energy to break down incoming nutrients.  Another reason why eating healthy foods regularly can help control weight is it can prevent you developing a ravenous appetite, and eating anything and everything in sight!  Try having a piece of fruit or two for a mid morning snack, and boost your calcium intake and satisfy sweet cravings by enjoying low fat yoghurt or a small milk smoothie when the munchies hit mid afternoon.

Eat slowly and chew well: savor your meal

When you eat food quickly, your body does not have adequate time to send a message to your brain to say “you’re full, so stop eating now”.  So you often end up with that “stuffed full” feeling and wish you hadn’t eaten those last few mouthfuls.  Eating like this on a daily basis can lead to an excess of kilojoules being consumed at each meal.  Make an effort to really try to taste the foods you eat, and feel their texture in your mouth. 

Regenerate each night with good quality sleep

When you are tired, your workouts are likely to be less effective, as you have less energy to invest.  Fatigue lowers self-control, which can lead to bingeing on high fat, high kilojoule foods, especially in the late afternoon or after dinner.  So see sleep as a great investment for keeping healthy and trim.

 

 

Alison Walsh is a dietitian, and has worked for the Carlton Football Club and Victorian Titans Basketball team.  She now runs a busy private practice in all areas of nutrition, writes for Runner’s World magazine, and presents on RRR 102.7FM “Run Like You Stole Something” (Sat 9 – 10am).  She also lectures to schools, and corporate and sporting groups.  To contact Alison, email alisonwalsh@optusnet.com.au or phone (03) 9853 2017.

© Alison Walsh, Alison Walsh Pty Ltd ACN 112 196 728. No part of this document may be reprinted nor published in any form whatsoever without the consent of Alison Walsh first obtained.

NB: This article is not intended to be medical advice, and is written for educational purposes only.