Believe certain dark corners of the internet and weight loss can seem incomprehensibly complicated. Every weight loss plan contains nuggets of dietary truth, padded out with a heap of creatine crap peddled by people who have done little to no research.
Well, we have done some research and filleted all that conflicting information into the only rules to follow to lose weight. And keep it off. Forget palaeolithic diets; this is the 21st-century way to a better body.
Eat More Protein
It’s not just bodybuilders who should reach for muscle food. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, upping your protein intake is proven to increase satiety (how full you feel).
That means that unlike carbohydrates, which spike the body’s blood sugar and cause the crash that leads to doughnut cravings, with some extra chicken breast in your lunch you’ll forgo the afternoon snack run.
Build Movement Into Your Day
The average gym session burns around 500 calories. Fit in four a week and one 12-inch pizza will cancel out all that work. To stoke the fires, you need to move more, all the time. “Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise,” says Rob Aitken, a senior trainer at Matt Roberts gyms.
Three hours at a stand-up desk adds 750 calories a week. Get off your tube or bus a stop early to walk and get another 570 calories back. Swapping the lift for stairs could add another 300 calories. Just don’t consider that carte blanche for a stuffed crust.
Get More Shut-Eye
Lying down could be the best way to burn fat. People who don’t get enough sleep have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which reduces feelings of satiety. Decision-making is also impeded, which means that not only are you hungry, but you pick a bacon sandwich, not a muesli pot.
To ease your way to the land of nod, “stop all screen time 30-minutes before bed,” says Aitken. He also recommends investing in blackout curtains, to cut out street light; taking a bath before bed; and calming an overactive brain with a pre-snooze ‘brain dump’. Write down everything that’s worrying you. The brain knows that it’s on a pad, so stops trying to hold on to all that work stress and will actually let you sleep.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
Complicated diets can work, but only if you stick to them. Thin women on Instagram might tell you to cut out meat and gluten to achieve better ‘wellness’, but it’s not much use when you’re in a restaurant and the only thing your diet plan allows is chips. So don’t overthink it.
“It’s all about choosing the right foods and keeping it varied,” says Dylan Jones, founder of P4 Body. “Then you will be able to stick to it for longer and are less likely to fall off the wagon.”
Build every meal around lean protein and make sure there are at least three different colours on your plate. Ideally vegetables – not ketchup, mayo and barbeque sauce.
Go Nuts For Nuts
To burn fat, eat fat. Just make sure that it’s the right kind. Like protein, fat makes you full, and if the fats you eat are from vegetables and not bacon, they can also reduce the risk of certain cancers and type-2 diabetes.
There’s a reason why you’ve never seen a tubby squirrel: according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who eat fatty nuts like almonds or cashews seven or more times a week die later than those who avoid them and, according to a study in the journal Obesity, are also 43 per cent less likely to be overweight.
Have a handful whenever the cravings for ready salted kick in.