I’m sure you’ve heard this saying many times, to lose weight, you’ve got to eat less. Well, that’s not entirely true. Losing weight is not just about eating less! You don’t have to drastically cut down your food portion and start eating like a rabbit. You can still enjoy a healthy normal serving and still lose weight. Practice these 5 tips to help you lose weight without eating less!
1) Eat REAL Food
Not all calories are created equal. Therefore the quality of food you eat will be processed differently in your body and this will also influence your weight. Real foods are high in nutritional value and help you to maintain a healthy weight long term. On the other hand, eating processed foods can interfere with our body’s natural way of breaking down and storing food.
So what is REAL food? It basically means eating food closest to its natural state and minimally processed. Real foods also tends to be perishable and seasonal. Simply put, if you wanna eat chicken, then go for chicken, not chicken nuggets. If you want to have potatoes, then have potatoes, not french fries. When you consume real food, you will feel satisfied for less, you won’t overeat and real foods are much lower in calories compared to processed food.
So as you can see, it’s not just about eating less, it’s about the quality of your food. Just by making this simple changes towards eating real whole food and avoid processed food, you will already start to see and feel the difference on your body.
2) Consume High Volume Foods
High volume foods are foods high in water. Some of the examples of high volume foods include leafy greens. You can literally each as much leafy greens as you want and never gain weight! For instance, 1 cup of spinach only has 7 calories, and is packed with nutrients. Other examples include Arugula, Lettuce, Romaine, Spinach, watercress, kale, collard greens, bok choy and swiss chard. Other high volume vegetables (>90% water content) are asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, celery, cucumber, zucchini and bell pepper. So the trick here is to fill 1/2 of your plate with high volume vegetables at each meal. This way you get to fill up on very little calories.
Besides vegetables, you can also add high volume fruits into your meals. Examples include lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tomato, apricot, peach, strawberry, blueberry, watermelon and honeydew. Fruits are good for you, but remember that not all fruits are low in calories. Therefore, choose more high volume fruits.
Another example is broth. Broth is the ultimate high volume food. Clear miso, beef, chicken, vegetable or seafood broths are very filling for very little calories. 1 cup of homemade chicken broth has about 18 calories. I like to make clear soup noodles and toss in lots of vegetables and also lean protein. It makes a great low-calorie meal that’s satisfying. However, if you were to use packaged broth, be aware of the sodium content. Choose low sodium or sodium-free broth and have them in moderation.
3) Be Aware of Sneaky Hidden Calories
Perhaps you’re enjoying a healthy diet but the weight still isn’t shifting. Well, are you one of those people who enjoy your fruit juices, soda drinks, fancy coffee or even alcohol? Liquid calories in just about any form are “sneaky hidden calories”!
Those drinks are loaded with calories and some might even contain more calories that a proper meal. For example 1 serving of Caramel Frappuccino has 400 Calories. 1 cup of Bubble Tea has about 300 - 400 Calories. That’s more that a healthy portion of meat at about 350 Calories.
If you start counting how much calories you consume from fluids, you might be surprised that it can add up to 400 – 600 calories a day! Just by reducing on fancy drinks, and drinking more water, you will start to see the weight shifting.
Other sneaky hidden calories are in your sauces and dressings. A bowl of salad is healthy and very low in calories. But once you start topping it up with sauces and dressings, it can turn it into a high calorie meal. Image if you were to add 2 - 3 tablespoons of dressing, because hey it’s delicious. That’s an additional of about 250 calories that you have not accounted for, which does not even fill you up! By just being aware of the amount of dressing you use and swapping it with healthier alternatives which are lower in calories, you will also reduce your total daily calorie intake, which will contribute to weight loss.
4) Practice Mindful Eating
The fourth tip is something we often overlook, which is to Practice Mindful Eating. Basically, stop stuffing food into your mouth! With our fast pace lifestyle nowadays, most of us are guilty of that, including me.
We tend to eat so fast without even tasting our food, we eat with distractions and sometimes we even eat food that we don’t even know we’re eating. That’s the worse because it’ll just prevent you from achieving your goals. When you focus on your food, you get more pleasure and satisfaction. As a result, you will feel satisfied with less.
Try these simple tricks to develop mindful eating:
- Put your food on the plate. Avoid eating out of a bag, straight from the refrigerator or while you’re standing up.
- Enjoy with all your senses. Look, smell your food, take small and slow bites to fully appreciate the taste and texture.
- Sit at a dining table or a place that’s meant for a proper meal instead of sitting on a coach.
- Avoid distractions. So no eating in front of the TV, computer or doing any other activity besides fully enjoying your meal.
- Whenever possible, choose places with dim lights because it has been shown to slow down our eating pace hence eating less. Bright florescent lights in cafeteria or fast food joints are meant to speed up eating, and you unintentionally end up eating more.
- Having slow music playing in the background can also slow down our eating pace.
- And finally the speed of another person you’re eating with can also affect your pace and the amount you eat. If you find that the other person you dine with is eating way to fast, and you feel the need to catch up, perhaps tell them and ask them to slow down.
Apply these tips and naturally, you will start to listen to your body and stop when you feel satisfied, not when you are stuffed.
5) Get Some Sleep
And I can’t stress this enough, get enough rest! For many of us who have been lacking sleep, we’ve forgotten what being really, truly rested feels like. Lack of sleep can be linked to being overweight! Sleep is something we don’t prioritise in our busy and hectic lifestyle, but its impact is long term. Not getting enough rest can disrupt your hormones, change the way you process sugar, and decrease the number of calories you burn.
Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control the feelings of fullness and hunger. Leptin sends a signal to your brain that you've had enough to eat. Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin and increases ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. Hence, when you lack sleep, you’ll also notice that you eat and crave for high sugar and high fat foods.
When you sleep less than 6 hours, you are also putting your body under stress, which increases the cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that enlarges fat cells and promotes fat storage in the belly. A combination of high levels of ghrelin and cortisol in your body is a disaster!
So instead of solely focusing on food to lose weight, start prioritising your sleep by getting at least 7 - 8 hours every night, have a fix sleep schedule and avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert to start our day. Sleep is one of the most important aspects in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight for life.
So as we have learned, losing weight is not just about eating less! By making a few simple changes that optimise your hormones, reduce hunger and boost metabolism, you can lose weight without having to reduce your food portion. And the best part is that, this is sustainable long term.