Spending hours at the gym trying to get ride of the festive bulge? Here are some expert guidelines to help you lose weight effectively as you kick-start your New Year fitness regime.
A healthy, balanced diet combined with an exercise regime are probably one of your top resolutions this year. But if you are eating the wrong food, or even the right food at the wrong time, your weight loss goal could easily go astray. We got the experts to share their top rules for weight loss, to make sure you maximise the benefits from hours spent exercising.
1 Go gaga for grapefruit
Dora Ferko, body toning and pilates instructor at Real Pilates, recommends eating grapefruit before meals as the enzymes in the fruit help lower insulin levels, which in turn regulate metabolism. When your metabolism is well regulated, it helps you lose weight quicker.
2 SAY YES TO superfoods
“Consuming superfoods make you feel fuller for longer and can result in a decrease in body fat by influencing your calorie burn,” says Haitham Khalid, combination trainer at Fitness with Food, a Doha-based lifestyle training centre. Some of the most nutritious superfoods are chia seeds, acai berries, spirulina, wheatgrass, hemp seeds and cocoa nibs. The maca root is also a great superfood, as it increases stamina and energy levels.
3 Try age-old remedies
Rochelle Lubbe, executive director and founder of Amigo’s sports and event consultants says the oldest, most effective method to weight management is to mix 1 teaspoon of natural raw honey with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or 2-3 slices of lemon in a cup of hot water. Drink this every morning on an empty stomach to get rid of toxins which make the body sluggish and ineffective in fat-burning.
4 Crave for quinoa
“Quinoa, the all-star grain belongs in every weight loss plan, as just one cup of quinoa contains eight grams of protein, five grams of fibre and iron, zinc, selenium and Vitamin E,” says Shaveer Haripershad, personal trainer and coach. The low GI grain is great for those watching their weight, as it keeps you feeling full for longer and releases energy slowly.
5 Cook with coconut oil
Extra virgin coconut oil increases metabolism and balances your sugar levels at the same time. The saturated fats in this oil are known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and are used as energy, instead of being stored as fat in the body.
6 Drink green and white tea
The antioxidant-and vitamin rich green tea helps promote weight loss by stimulating the body to burn abdominal fat. It contains a chemical known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps burn calories quicker. A few cups of white tea per day is also good for you as it is packed with nutrients. “It lowers blood pressure and bad cholestrol levels, increases good cholestrol levels and speeds up your metabolism levels at the same time,” says Rochelle. The higher your metabolic rate, the more energy you gain – this is effective when exercising.
7 Mind your eating habits
Veronique Droulez, Global Nutrition Research Manager at Meat and Livestock Australia reccomends eating food slowly and with pleasure. “Only eat when you're hungry, not because you're stressed or bored. If you go off plan, just accept it and get back on it,” she says.
8 Choose oily fish
Salmon, herring and mackerel are all low in fat, packed with poteins and high in Omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain healthy fish oil which increase the elasticity of blood vessel walls and improve the flow of blood to muscles while exercising. Salmon also contains healthy oils which decrease leptin levels – a hormone which slows down the metabolism rate and increases weight – making it a great choice for those looking to burn fat.
9 Snack wisely
“Heart-healthy pine nuts contain pinolenic acid, which sends messages to your hormones, indiciating you are full,” says Rochelle. A serving of pine nuts helps suppress your appetite and has iron and protein – both of which are beneficial for weight loss. Almonds, as Dora suggests, are also a good choice as they are rich in manganese, copper, magnesium, and B vitmains such as riboflavin, niacin and biotin which give you energy and allow you to exercise for longer. Edamame is another snack ideal for those who crave salty, savoury food, as the beans inside are packed with protein and essential fatty acids which help lower LDL and cholestrol levels, while protecing your heart as you shed the pounds.
10 Always choose lean, protein-rich food
“The body finds it easier to burn calories which digest protein, as opposed to those which digest fat and carbohydrates,” says Kiram El Tbayli, head of the slimming department at VLCC. A diet high in protein causes substances called keteones to be released into your bloodstream. These substances lower your appetite and keep you full for longer. Always choose lean protein food such as lean beef, turkey, fish, chicken, tofu and eggs, as opposed to protein which has a high fat content. Veronique reccomends protein-rich food such as lean meat (beef and lamb) four times a week, which can help you burn calories quicker as it is low in fat.
11 Have a booster shot
Coffee drinkers probably already experience increased energy levels after a morning cup of coffee. Kiram suggests enjoying black coffee in moderation to help increase the metabolic rate while exercising. Anna Pettit, nutrition consultant for TribeFit, a fitness studio. recommends a small cup of black coffee or an espresso, pre-workout, if energy levels are low.
12 Consume carbs before you work out
A glass of water is sufficient before a jog or a light walk. But if you’re doing more intense exercises, eat easy-to-digest carbohydrates such as toast or half a plain bagel or banana, to provide fuel, says Anna. “Avoid pre-workout protein bars and shakes, as some of them pack high amounts of protein but omit sufficient carbohydrates – which depletes energy levels. Like fat, protein doesn’t hit the bloodstream quickly, so you can feel lethargic even though you have eaten,” Anna adds.
13 Spice it up
“Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that can kick metabolism into a higher gear,” says Kiram. Anna suggests adding chillies to dishes, as it has a compound called capsaicin which has a thermogenic effect – causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after eating the chillis.
14 Include healthy fats in your diet
“Monounsaturated fatty acids are used as slow burning energy in the body. This energy and the feeling of satiety that you get from eating fruits like avocado, which are packed with fibre and protein, is one of the reasons why healthy fats are good,” says nutritionist Hala Barghout. Stick to quarter or half of an avocado a day – it has a high calorie count – but do keep in mind the other calories and fat content eaten as well, to balance out your total calorie intake. Peanut butter is also a great source of monounsaturated fats, and is a healthy alternative to regular butter. Choose low or reduced-fat options of peanut butter and enjoy it on wholegrain toast or with a celery stick as a snack.
15 Detox Delight 5-day package (Tried & tested)
Months of eating carelessly, and practically being chained to my desk meant that I had put on far more weight than I could shake off with just a few diet tweaks – drastic measures were called for. The Detox Delight package put me on a juice and soup only diet (with a couple of solid meals included) with the promise of helping me cleanse my body, lose weight and clear up my skin in less than a week. I’m usually skeptical about serious results being achieved from things like this, but was pleasantly surprised.
The daily diet is made up of four juices and one soup (the soup comes in a reheat-able glass jar), which are packed with nutrient-dense and detoxifying ingredients such as apple, lemon, wheatgrass, cucumber, beetroot, spinach, lentils and so on. I was most surprised by the fact that I rarely felt hungry, in spite of being on a completely liquid diet – this is probably because the body is receiving more than enough nutrition through these drinks. Some snacks are allowed, such as sliced apple, cucumber and carrot sticks, avocado and nuts, but I hardly needed to resort to those – bar for munching on a few nuts most afternoons. In fact, on one day, I couldn’t even finish my whole quota of juices – albeit it was probably because I was on the go all day – and it didn’t seem to have a negative effect. I had been warned about possible side effects including headaches and nausea, which I didn’t experience, but I found myself going to the bathroom more often (a sign that the detox is working) and also felt cramps in my legs from about the third day onwards – I was told this was a sign of toxins being freed from the body and it could be eased with an Epsom salt bath or massage.
The results were almost instantaneous, and I started feeling less bloated in the first two days. By the fifth day, I was visibly slimmer and my clothes were fitting less snugly, my skin felt clearer, and overall, I looked and felt lighter than I had in a long time. My biggest surprise was in the fact that I managed to get through the entire working week without my mandatory caffeine fix – I was able to get my day started with just herbal tea, and a bottle of juice seemed to happily replace my afternoon coffee. And I could maintain business as usual in terms of my work life – whether it was getting in and out of meetings, or hosting Food Club events.
While this is certainly not a lifestyle that can be adopted on a permanent basis, it is a convenient and very effective way to kick-start a healthier eating regime, and get back in shape fast. After gently cleansing your body, you can resume normal life, but it is more likely than not that you will be a bit more conscious and careful of what you’re eating.
Need to know: Detox Delight diets are home-delivered in beautiful packaging every two days, along with detailed detox information and literature. Packages can be tailored according to individual needs. Prices start from Dhs1,120, five-day package costs Dhs1,790. Visit www.detox-delight.ae. - Sudeshna Ghosh