The arrival of spring is a subtle reminder that summer (aka bikini/beach/boardie season) is a mere 12 weeks away.
So if the extra winter kilos have suddenly become apparent it might be time to take action and get your body back into tip top shape for summer.
While exercising is obviously an important element, there are a few simple diet hacks that will help get you back on track.
1: Give your breakfast a protein boost
Whether you choose a couple of eggs, a hearty serve of Greek yoghurt or a protein shake, research shows that consuming 20g of protein at breakfast helps to control the hormone insulin which regulates fat metabolism in the body. Protein-rich breakfasts are also more likely to keep you full throughout the morning so you avoid snacking on carb rich foods such as banana bread, muffins and biscuits. Even better, add some extra vegetables to bulk up your protein-rich brekkie - a vegetable omelet, veggie juice added to your yoghurt or some veggies blended into your shake or smoothie.
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2: Swap a meal
Very few of us get the two to three cups of salad and vegetables we need at both lunch and dinner for optimal health and nutrition. The easiest way to lose weight is to eat more vegetables yet few of us adopt this relatively easy strategy. The low calorie content of vegetable-based soups and salads means that you could literally eat as much of these foods as you like without weight gain. Put simply, when we eat lots of low calorie, nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, there is less room for other high calorie foods. One of the easiest dietary strategies you can adopt when trying to shift a few kilos quickly and safely is to replace a meal with a soup or salad. Whether you choose a rich vegetable soup for dinner or a leafy green or roasted vegetable salad for lunch, your total calorie intake will be significantly reduced when you bump up the vegetable content of your diet.
3: Concentrate on meal timing
One of the biggest issues from a dietary perspective is that we eat our meals a lot later in the day than we did 20-30 years ago. Breakfast is often not until 9am, lunch at 2 or 3pm and then we are lucky to have dinner by 8 or even 9 at night. Another exceptionally easy dietary strategy is to simply eat earlier. Breakfast by 8am, lunch by 1pm and dinner by 7pm at the latest so you have 10-12 hours without food overnight - so simple yet so effective. A sign you are on the right track is when you actually wake up in the morning hungry.
4: Keep dinner small
Generally speaking most of us eat a light breakfast and lunch followed by much nibbling and munching through the afternoon as well as enjoying our heaviest meal at night. The greater the volume of food we eat at night, when we are least active, the harder it will be to lose weight. For this reason, committing to eating a light, relatively low calorie meal as early as possible is an easy way to drop a few kilos quickly. Light 300-400 calorie dinner options include a piece of white fish and vegetables, 100g lean meat or chicken with salad or an omelet.
5: Count your carbs
We often hear about counting your calories but another relatively easy yet often overlooked way to support weight loss is to count your carbs. As carbs are the key source of fuel for the muscle, actively counting the amount you are consuming is an easy way to control your total fuel intake. Small females will lose weight safely on 120-140g of total carbs per day, while men 140-180g. You can count the total amount of carbs you are eating using on online monitoring app such as myfitnesspal.
A classic example of ways you can cut back on carbs is by swapping large slices of Turkish or Sourdough bread (40-60g carbs) for smaller, thinner slices of lower carb wholemeal or multigrain bread (20-30g carbs per serve).