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Top 10 Weight Loss Hacks

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You’ve been working hard to achieve a calorie deficit and hitting the gym on a regular basis. The fat started melting off but now you feel your progress is starting to slow down. You’re running out of ideas to get back on it.

The fix? You need access to some weight loss hacks.

Weight loss isn’t easy. But employing little strategies and quick tips can make all the difference. So if you’re looking to get back on track with your body composition goals then this article is for you.

Here are our easy-to-follow weight loss hacks…


#1. Prepare your meals in advance

One of the biggest obstacles you can face on your weight loss journey is time. And having to quickly prepare meals without notice can lead to poor decisions – instead of a healthy, nutritious meal options you might opt instead to go for a high-calorie, junk food convenience food just because you can.

But by planning your meals in advance, you can find a way to eat healthily without having to spend hours and hours throughout the week preparing individual meals.

‘Meal prepping’ is a dietary habit that’s becoming more and more popular with fitness buffs because it helps you keep on track with your goals.

All you have to do is pick a day (one when you’ve got an hour or two free), plan your menu for the following few days, and then make them all in one go. Not only does it save time in the long run, it allows you to make more informed food choices based around what your body wants and needs – and you even track you calories too to give yourself exact portion sizes.

Don’t over complicate things. To begin with just focus on making one or two simple menus and then build on it once you get the hang of things. All you need are a few food containers, an hour or so for prepping and one or two of your favorite, healthy meal ideas.

And the science backs this up too. Published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity [1], a group of 40,000 French men and women were interviewed about their eating habits.

Those that planned meals in advance and followed meal prepping techniques were not only found to be more likely to follow healthy eating guidelines, but they also showed more food variety, lower odds of being overweight and less likely to be obese too. 


Containers containing different healthy meals on a wooden table

#2. Drink plenty of water

Yes, yes, we know – drinking water is an obvious one. It’s healthy and life-sustaining so it’s obviously pretty important.

But did you know that drinking water can also directly help with weight loss too?

That’s right. Not only does it help to keep you hydrated, give you energy, boost your immune system and improve your complexion – it ramps up your metabolism and keeps you feeling full too.

It has been proposed by a number of experts that absolute increases in drinking water may promote weight loss by altering metabolism, and relative increases may promote weight loss by lowering total energy intake.

Take this study for example from the highly prestigious journal Obesity [2]. Over 170 overweight female volunteers were tracked over a 12-month period. The group were stratified on various aspects of their health and fitness habits, with one of them being whether or not they drank more than 1 liter of water per day or less than 1 liter.

The results were interesting – the group that had a water intake of more than 1 liter per day lost around 2 kg in fat mass over the 12 months – that’s the equivalent of over 17,000 kcal less food intake. 

And in another study [3], researchers showed that drinking 500 ml of water prior to a meal led to 2kg loss in weight over time – a full 44% more than the group that didn’t drink any water prior to eating.


#3. Reward yourself

To reach your target weight you’ll have to work hard. It’s not an overnight journey and from time to time you’ll probably wonder whether it’ll all be worth it.

Planning rewards throughout your weight loss journey helps to keep you motivated. It doesn’t have to be a food-related reward – in fact it can be anything that makes you feel happy. So called ‘incentive programs’ have been shown to help with adherence and promote behavior change [4].

Booking a weekend away when you hit a target weight, buying a new dress if you stick to your diet for 30 days or planning a day trip if you cut out alcohol for a few weeks are all incentives that will make you more determined to succeed.

And if you think that you’d rather have a food or drink related reward then do so – and don’t feel guilty. You can still factor in a chocolate pudding, bowl of ice cream or couple of glasses of wine and still maintain a calorie deficit too.

But you’ll feel so much happier and content for a little treat that it’s not worth worrying about anyway.


Healthy pancakes dripping in chocolate sauce and covered in red berries

#4. Try a few different diets

The key to losing weight and shredding fat is a calorie deficit – there’s no discussion there. But how you achieve that deficit is up to you.

There are so many different diets around that you’ll definitely find one that suits you best if you try a few different ones. Paleo, carb backloading and so on – they can all help you.

Some people prefer a standard restrictive diet that cuts out all junk in favor of ‘clean’ foods. Others prefer a more flexible approach such as ‘if it fits your macros’ dieting. Some might even prefer to take an intermittent fasting approach.

There’s no one diet that’s better than the others – but finding the one that works for you is key. So if you’re currently following an eating plan and it’s just not right for you, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure – it just means the diet is failing you.

Swap it out and try something different. There’s a diet out there for everyone.


#5. Make protein and vegetables the priority

In terms of weight loss, protein is your most important macronutrient. It has the highest thermal effect of food meaning you burn more calories digesting it than you would eating carbs or fats.

It has a high satiety value meaning that protein helps you to feel fuller for longer too. And just when you thought protein couldn’t get any better, factor these points in as well – it fuels your body into adding lean mass and it boosts your metabolism on top.

Research shows that adding protein to each meal can decrease overall calorie intake. One study suggested that upping protein from 15% to 30% of food intake led to a 441 kcal decrease over the course of a day – and that led to a drop in fat mass of 3.7 kg and overall body mass of 4.9 kg over a 16-week period [5].

And another (pretty large) study of over 40,000 men and women found that protein intake was inversely related to abdominal fat [6]. The more protein that people ate, the lower their belly fat levels were.

And what about vegetables?

Well, not only do they provide you with essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and water- they are a low-calorie, low-fat option to help you stay in your deficit.

Vegetables help to keep your body working optimally, they provide bulk for very little energy and offer a great source of fiber, helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

And with endless varieties available to choose from you can definitely find some vegetables that you like.


Medium-rare steak on a plate with assorted vegetables

#6. Focus on fat burning nutrients

Although the key to successful weight loss lies in calorie balance, there are a number of vitamins and minerals that you should incorporate into your diet as a way of speeding up your progress.

For example, green tea has been found to help weight loss by giving you more energy, raising your metabolic rate and suppressing your appetite. It has even been shown to boost fat oxidation by 16% over a 24-hour period in clinical trials too [7].

Eating foods high in vitamins B6 and B12 such as meat, fish and milk, as well as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli that are high in chromium are all linked to better body composition and lower body masses.

For example, chromium has led to significant weight loss of over 1 kg in over 10 randomized, double-blind studies over various time points [8]. And B vitamins help you tone up by controlling your blood sugar, reducing sugar cravings and increasing the number of amino acids that can be taken up for protein synthesis (meaning more muscle and a higher metabolism).

Being mindful of not just the amount of food, but the most effective types of foods are all important when planning your weight loss diet strategies.


#7. Try mindful eating

Being aware of not just what you eat but how might make all the difference when you’re on your weight loss journey.

Mindfulness is often defined as “a state of nonjudgmental attention to the immediate experience and an acceptance of moment-to-moment experience”.

It basically means that taking your time and slowing down when you eat will give your body time to process the volume of incoming food. It also helps send signals to your brain to tell you that you’re getting full.

Mindful eating helps to build positive relationships with food and seems to be an appropriate intervention for weight loss.

Savoring your food (particularly the first few bites, where you get most enjoyment) and enjoying it away from distractions such as computers, mobile phone and television are all ways to eat mindfully.

One study, called the Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL) project, used mindful eating techniques to help a group of 10 obese volunteers lose a significant amount of weight over a 6-week period. It also helped them keep it off after 3 months too [9]. On average, the volunteers lost 4 kg in mass and saw a BMI decrease from 37 to 35.7.

The program consisted of 2-hour group classes that covered meditation, mindful eating techniques and discussions about emotional eating triggers and feelings towards weight loss.


Young red-haired woman eating a plate of vegetables sat at a dining table

#8. Walk if off

Granted – intense exercise just after you’ve eaten can cause discomfort, stomach ache and general tiredness. But a gentle stroll if you’re not too full can work wonder for weight loss.

It doesn’t have to be fast, and it doesn’t have to be far – but even 30-minutes of low intensity walking an be enough to help with digestion, regulate blood sugar and control your appetite. It decreases bloating and helps manage indigestion and heartburn too.

There are an ever-increasing number of clinical trials and case studies showing that post-meal activities can boost weight loss. For example, on woman lost nearly 3 kg in one month by incorporating a brisk walk into her daily routine [9].

It’s important that you don’t overeat before any physical activity, so knowing you are going for a brisk walk or stroll after you’ve finished your meal will help you to stop eating once you’re content, rather than getting too full.

And how long should you wait before going for your walk?

One study found that the perfect amount of time to wait before going for a walk was 30 minutes – just long enough to help maintain a stable blood sugar level.


#9. Save room for treat foods

One of the worst approaches you could take to dieting would be being too restrictive.

Trying to reach your goals on nothing more than chicken and rice just isn’t way. Why? Because research tells us that restricting yourself will end in dietary disaster.

We’ve already said that you could employ cheat foods as rewards when you hit certain achievements – but they can also form part of your daily eating plan too… as long as you manage your overall calorie intake.

So feel free to plan in occasional treats as part of a flexible daily program. When done correctly, a more flexible diet approach allows you to balance food choices, but with a certain amount of ‘wiggle room’ and moderation.

By following a flexible diet you can eat whatever foods you like, as long as they balance with your daily macro values. For example if you had 200 kcal of carbohydrates to eat you could obtain them from either brown rice or from donuts.

We’re certainly not saying you should eat like this all of the time, as healthy foods should form the basis of everything you do on your weight loss diet – but having the odd indulgent snack and still staying in a deficit is the key to weight loss success… and probably your own sanity sometimes.


Young sports athlete woman training hard in the gym in a pink top and black shorts

#10. Don’t forget the spice

Some of the most potent thermogenic foods (ones that raise your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories) are spicy. Whether it’s piperine from black pepper seeds or capsaicin from cayenne pepper, there’s no denying that spices will help you shred fat.

As an active compound in black pepper, piperine makes up around 9% of it by weight. It is an excellent diuretic and antioxidant, with the ability to improve gastrointestinal efficiency. It also provides a potent anti-inflammatory effect too.

Piperine helps to trigger fat-melting receptors in your body which can help suppress fat cell growth [10]. It can also significantly decrease the size of your fat cells by by inhibiting proteins that regulate fat cell growth as well [11].

So get that black pepper used in your cooking!

And cayenne pepper is another fantastic you can use in cooking to give you that all-important edge in the fat loss war too… or even chili peppers in general.

Adding peppers to your meals will help reduce food intake [12] and can even increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure too, especially when you use an extract or high doses [13].


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References

  1. Ducrot, P et al. Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017; 14: 12
  2. Stookey, JD et al. Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity. Obesity. 2012; 16(11): 2481–248
  3. Dennis, EA et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb; 18(2): 300-7
  4. Strohacker, K et al. The Impact of Incentives on Exercise Behavior: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Ann Behav Med. 2014; 48(1): 92-99
  5. Weigle, DS et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations Am J Clin Nutr. 200582(1): 41-48
  6. Halkjaer, J et al. Intake of macronutrients as predictors of 5-y changes in waist circumference. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 84(4): 789-97
  7. Hursel R et al. The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: A meta-analysisObes. Rev. 2011; 12: e573–e581
  8. Pittler, MH et al. Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003; 27(4): 522-9
  9. Dalen, J et al. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine. 2010; 18(6): 260-4
  10. Hijikata, Y et al. Walking just after a meal seems to be more effective for weight loss than waiting for one hour to walk after a meal. Int J Gen Med. 2011; 4: 447–450
  11. Okumura, Y et al. Adiposity suppression effect in mice due to black pepper and its main pungent component, piperine. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010; 74(8): 1545-9
  12. Whiting, S et al. Could capsaicinoids help to support weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of energy intake data. Appetite. 2014; 73: 183-8
  13. Ludy, MJ et al. The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans. Chem Senses. 2012; 37(2): 103-21