If your New Year's resolution is to lose 5 kilos in a week, adjust that goal now. There’s virtually no healthy way to drop that much weight that fast, but there are steps you can take to slim down quickly. Dietitian Jaclyn London, head of nutrition at WW and author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked), is here to tell you how, step-by-step. If you follow her guidance, you should be able to lose 0.5 to 1 kilo per week in a way that helps you keep it off.
1. Don't skip meals. Eat every 3-4 hours.
Chances are you like to eat, and lucky for you, losing weight requires you to do just that! “Don’t skip meals," says London. "We all do it sometimes, and women especially have a tendency to cut back, limit, or restrict their intake, which backfires every time!” Instead, she says the key is to eat every 3 or 4 hours (whether that’s a full meal or a small snack at 800kJ (200cal) or less, which will fuel you all day long, keep you satiated, and lower your chances of overeating or succumbing to late-night bingeing. “And each meal should be a combo of lean protein, fibre, and fat,” London says. Following the Mediterranean diet is your best bet because it’s got all the types of foods that will help you lose weight. And whenever you can, opt for a whole food - so vegetables instead of veggie chips, whole grain bread instead of white, a baked sweet potato instead of sweet potato fries, fruit instead of fruit juice - you get the idea!
2. Prioritise produce.
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, more is better, London says. Consuming fibre- and nutrient-rich foods in bulk means you’re more likely to consistently lose weight - and keep it off. “At least half of your plate should be filled with veggies, no matter the meal,” London says. “Sandwich for lunch? Stuff that baby with all the veggies available to you. Sushi for dinner? Add a side of salad or edamame beans, then choose rolls with extra vegetables built in.” Try adding a piece of fruit or an extra serving of veggies to your snacks, too. London loves swapping crispy radishes or carrots for chips and dip, and using apple slices instead of crackers as a base for peanut butter.
3. Limit sugar.
One of the easiest tricks to quickly whittle away weight is to cut back on sugary drinks and foods. “Make sure all your beverages - coffee, tea, sparkling water - are unsweetened, and when ordering alcohol, go with spirits on the rocks,” says London. Also be mindful of sneaky sources of added sugar (coconut sugar and cane sugar are still sugars!), such as fruit purees, sauces, condiments, and other packaged goods, including savoury ones like chips or bread.
4. Get moving.
“Exercise and weight loss can be tricky - building lean muscle is key, but overdoing the activity can lead to burnout and make you feel hungrier later on,” says London. “That’s why I like to recommend you make it your personal goal to simply move more. Walking whenever and wherever you can is an easy way to boost your activity levels without logging more hours at the gym.” Other good tips: Take the long way to your favourite coffee shop, walk up and down the stairs during commercial breaks, or do an ab workout while you wait for the pasta water to boil.
5. Check in with yourself.
Next time you feel peckish, ask yourself a few questions to determine what you need - a drink, a snack, or a full meal.
- Are you not hungry, but thirsty? Even being mildly dehydrated can make you feel hungry when you’re actually in need of water. If you know you’ve been slacking on water bottle fill ups, do that first. “One 475ml glass of H20, sparkling water, or any unsweetened beverage is a good bet,” says London.
- Did you skip breakfast? Going without your morning meal (or any other meal) is almost always sure to leave you with lingering hunger. So, get yourself a snack. “Look for items that provide at least 4g each of protein and fibre,” says London. Try an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or part-skim string cheese and a couple clementines.
6. Get your rest.
“Your sleep habits can affect your appetite," says London. "If you’re coming up short in the sleep department, you may feel hungrier during the day or end up eating more simply because you’re spending more hours awake." Aim to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, but if you do find yourself having a sleepy day, giving yourself a caffeine jolt can help curb your need to munch.
7. Seek out accountability.
Find a likeminded friend or online group to help keep you accountable, or seek out apps or programs that can help you keep track of your eating habits.