1. Eat before meals
Choosing the right starter can help you shift the pounds. American research found eating half a grapefruit* before a meal resulted in an average weight loss of 3.6lbs, with some people losing up to 10lb, over 12 weeks. Scientists think the fruit helps kickstart your body into burning fat. Or grab an apple 15 minutes before your meal – you’ll eat less and save 187 calories.
Veggie soups and salads before a main meal also help you cut back on calories. A light, healthy snack before you eat helps take the edge off your appetite so you don’t want such a big calorie hit from your main meal. C Grapefruit can interact with certain medications, including statins. Check with your GP if you are concerned.
2. Swap an afternoon snack for berries
A study at Loughborough University found eating a handful of berries instead of a sugary treat in the afternoon could lose you up to a stone in a year – even if you make no other changes. And it’s not just because berries are lower in fat and sugar than biscuits – researchers found people who ate mixed berries mid-afternoon ate 134 fewer calories, on average, at dinner in the evening.
So stock up on strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries – all high in vitamins and fibre.
3. Switch off the TV
Research has shown that people who have meals with the telly on eat about ten per cent more at that meal – but a whopping 25 per cent more at the next. Scientists think this is because eating while you’re distracted means you don’t properly register how much you’ve eaten, so don’t remember it when you come to your next meal.
Eating mindfully can reduce how much you eat overall; sit at the table, preferably with no music or television, and let yourself savour every mouthful. The result? You’ll be much more aware of how much you’re eating and when you feel full.
4. Get up early
Night owls are more likely to have a bigger waist and more abdominal fat than women who get up earlier, according to one study. Researchers believe that staying up late could affect your metabolism and cause you to gain fat around the middle – which could increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Eating later in the evening could also mean that you don’t burn off as many calories, which will lead to more weight gain. Try going to bed and getting up earlier for a few weeks to see if losing weight is any easier.
5. Have an almond fix
If you need a snack between breakfast and lunch, make it almonds. Eating 43g of the nuts mid-morning helps limit the calories you take in through the rest of the day, according to research from Purdue University, US – this may be down to the combination of good fats, protein and fibre that help control your appetite in the hours ahead.
6. Choose your plate
Strange but true: you may eat as much as 22 per cent more if your plate is a similar colour to your food, according to research from Cornell University, US. Choosing a brightly- coloured plate for pasta means you automatically serve less food. Smaller plates also help create the illusion you have more food in front of you than you actually have.
7. Spice it up
Capsaicin – the fiery substance in chilli peppers – can help turn up your metabolism, so it burns calories faster. Research from the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, found that your body’s cells burn 25 per cent more calories after you eat a meal containing chillies. Plus the peppers help quash your hunger, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
You can also try adding dried chilli flakes to stir- fries and pasta sauces. Cinnamon is another spice to add to your fat-zapping arsenal. Studies have found it can help slow down the production of insulin, the hormone that stores excess sugar as fat.
8. Get moving
We all know that exercise can burn calories and fat but did you realise it could make you less hungry? American scientists have found that doing some cardiovascular exercise (any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you slightly out of breath) triggers the release of hormones that quell appetite.
Try a brisk walk, an energetic swim, a bike ride, a jog or a zumba class – you’re likely to reach for a healthy salad afterwards rather than the biscuit tin.
9. Go Greek
A daily dose of yogurt could help you slim. In a study, people who ate one small pot of full-fat yogurt daily were 19 per cent less likely to be obese, compared to people who ate smaller amounts. Researchers think this is because the regular yogurt-eaters were choosing to eat yogurt over unhealthy options such as creamy desserts.
Full-fat yogurts are also more filling than low-fat versions, so eating them may lead to lower calorie intake overall. If you want a sweet treat after a meal, try some chopped fruit with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.
10. Enjoy a glass
Alcoholic drinks may contain a lot of calories but studies have found moderate drinkers gain the least weight, compared to both heavier drinkers and teetotallers. For women, ‘moderate’ means an average of a glass of wine daily. Keep to that limit by using narrow, flute-type glasses and always put your glass on the table when you pour – scientists have found these tricks help keep alcohol intake (and the calories) down.
- Words by Charlotte Haigh MacNeil
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.