We all need fat to live. It is an essential part of a healthy diet. So when I talk about fat in this post, I am talking about excess fat… thy unhealthy kind. I’m all for positive body image, and do not condone unhealthy “quick fix” fad diets that often don’t work and leave you feeling drained and unwell. But I can’t deny that with summer fast approaching (although could someone please tell the weather!), I’ve been a bit more conscious about my diet and exercise regime. I’m a firm believer that the beach will get whatever body I give it, but after following these top tips to lose excess fat, along with Jonny’s exercise tips (link here), I will be feeling that bit more confident when I don my bikini.
Top 5 tips for losing excess body fat:
1. Stay hydrated
It might seem strange, but staying hydrated is a good way to prevent unnecessary snacking. The difference between mild hunger and mild thirst is quite subtle, and when we aren’t tuned into our bodies it is quite easy to mix up the signals (and, let’s face it, it’s much more tempting to reach for the (vegan) biscuits than to drink a glass of water). An easy way to avoid dehydration is to carry around a reusable bottle of water and make sure you fill in up regularly. I always carry around a 750ml reusable water bottle and try to top it up at least three times per day.
2. Swap your go-to snack for something healthier
Whether it’s due to hunger, boredom or habit, most people do like to snack! My particular weakness was always crisps. Now though, I rarely eat them. They are often high in unhealthy fats and salt and, frankly, are bad for you. At first I switched to popcorn, which is a lower calorie option, but it often comes in plastic and I am cutting down on my plastic use, so now I tend to go for vegetable sticks with hummus. I happen to love vegetable sticks with hummus so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me. If you are the kind of person who thinks that sounds boring the don’t fret. There are lots of lower calorie options for snacks (our healthy flapjack is a delicious, healthier option than shop bought cake or flapjacks), including roasted chickpeas, fruit and rice cakes. Experiment a bit with healthier snacks and see what you like best!
3. Eat enough fibre and protein
Foods that are high in fibre provide a lot of volume (and so take up more space in your stomach) and also take some time to digest, meaning that you feel fuller for longer. This is great, as many whole, plant foods are high in fibre, low in calories and are really good for you (as they are packed with micronutrients). Jonny think’s I’m weird but, if I’m feeling peckish, I’ll often eat raw vegetables such as red peppers or broccoli, and I find these make me feel satisfied enough between meals that I don’t feel tempted by unhealthy snacks. Ensuring that you are eating a good source of protein with your meals is also an effective way of losing excess fat. This is because protein rich foods give your body a feeling of satiety, meaning you are less likely to over eat.
4. Slow down your meals
It takes time for the message that you are full to travel from your stomach to your brain. We have receptors in our stomachs that communicate with our brains to tell us to stop eating, but especially for those who tend to eat quickly, the delay between getting full and the signal reaching your brain is enough time to inadvertently over eat. If you tend to feel uncomfortably full after meals, this is likely a contributing factor. I know I am guilty of this. I don’t tend to eat after I am full, but I do eat quickly and that sometimes leads to feeling uncomfortable after meals, especially large meals. I now try to put my fork down between bites and really chew my food. The added bonus of this is that you have more time to savour the flavour, but the downside is that it might look a little bit strange!
5. Ensure you are in a calorie deficit
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way around this one. In order to lose excess fat you need to be in a calorie deficit. This means that you need to eat fewer calories than you burn on any given day. It is important to be realistic when setting your goals, and aim for sustainability rather than speed. You want to hit a good balance between being in a calorie deficit but not feeling miserable and lethargic. If you are just starting out, I’d say a 200-300 calorie per day deficit is a good place to start. Try following the tips above and you might find it easier than you thought to trim 200-300 calories from your daily intake. Another easy way to achieve this is to avoid alcoholic drinks such as wine (ouch) and beer, as they are highly calorific and pretty unhealthy.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy ways to lose fat fast that can be considered healthy, and you should be sceptical of diets that claim to do that. The above should all be considered as part of a healthy and balanced plant based diet. As always, it is a good idea to speak to a medical professional before making any radical changes to your diet.