WHEN it comes to losing body fat, it can seem like you have to resort to extreme measures to see a real difference.
We're told to fast. To go keto. To take all sorts of expensive supplements.
But weight loss really doesn't have to be faddish or complicated.
In fact, the NHS recommends 12 easy diet hacks to kickstart any weight loss regime.
They are pretty obvious but that's the point – most us genuinely do know how to live a healthy lifestyle, it's just that we find it hard to keep it up.
Breaking it down into these points might make it a little more attainable.
They're the perfect accompaniment to their no-nonsense, scientifically-based and guaranteed programme which lasts for 12 weeks, or for simply incorporating into your everyday life.
1. Don't skip breakfast
Experts recently revealed that skipping breakfast could actually help you to lose weight.
But if you genuinely feel hungry in the morning, why deny yourself a meal? You're far more likely to snack through the morning without a nutritious breakfast.
It may not be the most important meal of the day anymore but having breakfast won't make you put on weight.
Try to make sure your breakfasts are packed full of fibre and fruit rather than a tonne of fat and sugar. Think oats and berries over a fry up or sugary cereal.
2. Eat regular meals
OK, so some people swear by intermittent fasting – going long hours without eating anything.
But that doesn't work for everyone.
If you love food and you're a snacker, going cold turkey for 18 hours isn't realistic.
So you're best off setting yourself set times for eating smaller meals more regularly. If you set out to have a 11am and 3pm snack in between your meals, then you won't be tempted to finish a whole bag of Maltesers at 11.30am having had no breakfast and no prospect of lunch any time soon.
3. Eat loads of fruit and veg
You should be eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day – and if you are, then you'll find that there's not an awful lot more room for junk food.
Low in saturated fats and calories, they contain loads of vitamins and minerals.
Try to fill at least half of your plate with veg at every meal.
4. Move more
An obvious one, but making sure that you're regularly moving and exercising is absolutely vital.
Although experts tend to agree that weight loss is 80 per cent down to diet and 20 per cent down to exercise, you still definitely need that 20 per cent.
The healthiest and quickest way to reduce body fat is to build lean muscle mass – and you can only do that by exercising.
So get in the gym, in the park or on your living room floor and do something.
5. Drink more water
A lot of us confuse hunger with thirst so before you reach for a biscuit thinking that you're hungry, have a drink.
Keep a bottle or big glass with you at all times and just keep refilling it.
We all need to be drinking at least 2 litres of water a day.
6. Eat more carbs
Fibre is such a crucial nutrient and barely anyone eats enough of it in this country.
Foods that contain fibre can help you feel full and feeling fuller for longer is the key to successful weight loss.
And that's why you shouldn't cut out the carbs.
You only really get fibre from fruits, veg, whole grains, beans and oats – you need carbs. As well as fibre, they contain all kinds of vitamins and minerals that you can't get anywhere else.
In fact, Melissa Meier calls carbs "energy-boosting superfoods".
7. Read food labels
Once you start reading food labels, you'll never go back.
It's amazing how many calories are in some foods – as well as the extra additives, flavourings, sugars and preservatives seemingly "natural" foods contain.
Make sure you read labels before chucking stuff into your trolley.
8. Use a smaller plate
If you've been brought up to eat everything on your plate, you probably finish off everything even if the plate is slightly too big.
Get yourself a smaller plate and you'll feel nice and satisfied without having overeaten.
It takes around 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it's full, so the slower you eat, the more you'll be able to see how much food you actually need.
And if you have a small plate, you can always go back for seconds – after you've checked in with yourself.
9. Don't ban foods
The more restrictive you make your diet, the harder it is to follow and stick to.
No food is inherently "bad" – it's all about moderation. So don't ban yourself from eating anything, just try to reduce the amount of calorie-dense, nutrient-light foods you eat.
10. Don't stockpile junk
It's so tempting to buy multipacks of Hula Hoops and Kitkats – especially if they're on special offer.
While a little of what you fancy is always good (and can actually help you lose weight), you're better off making sure that you've got plenty of healthy snacks lying around, like fruit, plain popcorn, oat cakes and unsalted rice cakes, and nuts.
11. Reduce your boozing
We all know that alcohol contains empty calories but it can be difficult to remember that when we're used to a glass or two after work.
But did you know that a standard glass of wine actually contains the same number of calories as a piece of chocolate?
While the odd glass won't do you any harm, over time it all adds up.
For more diet-friendly options, go for colourless drinks like vodka soda or G&T.
12. Plan your meals
"Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail" – and that's totally true with dieting.
Spend one day a week working out what you'll eat for the other days and make batches of grub, so you're not having to bother with cooking when you come back from work.
Prep your breakfast and lunch the night before to take to work and you'll save a tonne of cash – and inches around your waist – on shop/cafe bought food.
Sports nutritionist Scott Baptie also recommends dieters (and actually, anyone interested in healthy eating), should "prepare for an alien invasion", by stocking up on healthy food that you can access at all times.
"When faced with a dietary disaster, it can be all too common for people to throw in the towel and either order a greasy, calorie-loaded takeaway or just create a random concoction of bits they find in the cupboard like cheese and crackers with a side of toast, crisps and half an Easter egg," he wrote in his book, 101 Ways to Lose Weight and Never Find It Again.
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"However, if you've got an emergency food stash, then you can still cook up a tasty and healthy plate of scoff to tide you over."
He suggests always having frozen fruit and veg in the freezer, tinned chicken, tuna and soup in the cupboard, as well as nuts and packets of pre-spiced rice.
So there you have it – easy tips for healthy weight loss.
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