Were weight loss to come in a pill, the list of side effects would include “Causes shortness of cash” and “Users may experience a loss of friends.” The trick is to make healthy eating fit your lifestyle – not the other way round. Follow these new rules for lasting results, with none of the unpleasant extras.
1/ MAKE IT WALLET-FRIENDLY
Forty two per cent of Brits say they’d eat better if healthy food was cheaper, according to a Food Standards Agency survey. One easy cash-saving tactic is to eat less meat. Not only is it pricey, it’s a source of excess calories and saturated fat, says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. Get your five-a-day on the cheap in the freezer aisle: frozen veg often packs more nutrients than fresh. And always cook them straight from the freezer – studies show they’ll retain more vitamin C than if you let them thaw first.
2/ EAT YOURSELF HAPPY
Drastically cutting calories causes your levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin to nosedive. “Unbalanced meals can also cause massive fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to dips in energy and mood,” says Nigel Denby from the British Dietetic Association. Instead of starving yourself, switch to smarter foods. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, mackerel, eggs – you know the drill by now) are proven mood boosters and can stabilise blood sugar. Give yourself an easy blast of omega-3 by sprinkling a tablespoon of flaxseeds over cereal, and have a tuna sandwich for lunch.
3/ SCHEDULE IN SHOPPING
Not having enough time is the main barrier for 27 per cent of you, says Britain’s National Obesity Observatory. But taking an hour to plan a week’s worth of meals will pay off, big time. To help, download the app Food Planner (free), which plans your meals, downloads your favourite healthy recipes and tracks what you’ve got in your pantry. If you’re really low on time, outsource the hard work: bodychef.com lets you choose from eight different menus of fresh, healthy meals from £18 a day. That’s breakfast, lunch, dinner (and desserts), sans effort.
4/ MUSCLE UP
To keep your metabolism humming, lift weights. Muscle burns up to nine times more calories than fat, says personal trainer and weight-loss management specialist Laura Williams. She advises weight training three times a week to maintain muscle mass. The best exercises to do: squats, lunges, deadlifts and press-ups. “These recruit multiple muscle groups so they’re time-effcient,” Williams says. And to help that muscle repair faster, try to eat around 130g of protein a day. The morning is the optimum time to replenish protein stores, so aim for a 30g serving (that’s two eggs and three tablespoons of ricotta).
5/ ENJOY A NIGHT OUT
Trying to ditch a few pounds should never turn you into a recluse. You just have to be smart. Download the free Restaurant Nutrition app, which lists most UK restaurants and tells you how many calories are really in that hot chicken salad. Or before you eat out with friends, neck a spoonful of malt vinegar. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistryfound that taking this before or after meals could reduce the amount of fat your body stores by 10 per cent.