Spring clean-up your diet for awesome weight-loss results with these tricks from the nutrition pros
Spring offers the perfect opportunity to re-think your regular eating habits – and making sure your diet is on the money will ensure you sail through the season feeling and looking your best ever. Eating clean feeds your body the goodies it needs to run smoothly and fast forward weight loss results. Thinking outside the box and discovering the benefits of real food will whittle away any waistline worries so that you get the most out of the sunny days. Check out our expert’s top 10 tips to get started – there’s no calorie counting involved, instead you get to eat delicious food. Even dessert is allowed! What’s not to like?
1. LOAD UP ON LEMON AND GINGER
If you want to look figure fabulous on the beach this summer, factor lemon and ginger into your daily routine. This duo works together as a powerful and all natural weight loss aid. Ginger is known to be a thermogenic food. It raises the temperature of the body and helps speed up the metabolism. ‘It’s also a natural appetite suppressant and has a beneficial effect on the entire digestive system by regulating and assisting the movement of food through the stomach and intestines,’ says nutritionist Hanna Sillitoe, (beyondfit.co.uk). Lemons are the ultimate weight loss-booster. ‘They keep the body’s pH balance trending towards alkaline, which has been proven to help achieve optimal weight. Juice a chunk of lemon and ginger with a whole apple or pear and neck like a shot before breakfast,’ recommends Stillitoe.
2. POP A PROBIOTIC
Sadly there’s no magic pill for instant weight loss, but if a flatter tummy is on your spring wish list, pop a daily probiotic supplement. Probiotics can help to restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut, which helps to reduce tummy troubles and help you achieve your flat tummy goals. ‘If you combine a good quality supplement with a healthy diet you will prevent yeast and bad bacteria from overgrowing in your gut and causing bloating,’ says nutritionist Sharon Morey (questexcellence.co.uk). It’s also worth munching on prebiotic and probiotic foods such as natural yogurt, oats, asparagus and bananas to keep your digestion ticking over nicely.
3. NIBBLE ON SEASONAL FRUITS
Working towards a slimmer body doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re looking for a spring start that won’t cost the earth, simply take advantage of seasonal ingredients to guarantee great health benefits without the hefty price tag. ‘In season, produce is bursting with flavour as it’s usually allowed to ripen fully. Summer fruits such as strawberries are low GL, and are full of antioxidants which also help to keep our skin healthy, an added bonus during warmer months when the sun can cause damage,’ says Liana Bonadio, NutriCentre Technical Nutritionist (nutricentre.com). They make a great snack and a really nice addition to salads.’
4. START WITH A SALAD
We’ll let you in on a little secret. There’s a super-easy way to cut calories and ace your diet all in one go. Start your meals with a large salad and you’ll naturally eat a smaller main course! Having lots of fresh salads is a great way to increase your nutrient intake, and filling up on fresh vegetables means you are less likely to be tempted by processed or sugar laden foods,’ says Bonadio. Keep salads interesting by combining different colours and textures. Toss together beetroot, pomegranate, carrot and rocket, and ditch creamy dressings for a spritz of lemon and olive oil to transform a flat salad into something super-pleasing to the palate.
5. SWAP OUT THE BAD FOR GOOD
Simple swaps are one of the easiest ways to scale back on calories without having to miss out on yummy food. Wouldn’t it be amazing if sweet treats didn’t also come with a serving of guilt? Ice cream is pretty much a staple of warmer days, but swapping the creamy stuff for a sorbet is far more saintly, tastes delish and won’t have an impact on your waistline. ‘A sweet, creamy flavour like banana sorbet will help nix cravings in a flash’ says Sharon. Even better, make homemade banana ice pops. Blend together two bananas and a small pot of Greek yogurt. Spoon the mixture into mini ice lolly moulds, (or you can use an ice cube tray), and place in the freezer until frozen. Hankering after crisps but not the calories? Go for popcorn instead. ‘It’s not only low in calories but it has a large amount of vitamins; folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamins B, A, E, and K, as well as being a source of important minerals: iron, potassium and zinc,’ reveals Sharon. Dying for a burger? Order a grilled portobello mushroom burger instead. ‘It’s meaty taste and texture will satisfy your meat cravings,’ continues Sharon. Magic!
6. FOOL YOUR TUMMY
Beans and lentils have a reputation for causing bloating and gas, but when prepared correctly, these underrated ingredients are packed with super-powers including protein and fibre which stop you from packing on the pounds. ‘Lentils contain a type of resistant starch called amylose. Like the name suggests, it’s resistant to stomach acid and digestive enzymes and reaches the large intestine essentially intact – thus escaping digestion and absorption in the small intestine, says Morey. ‘Resistant starch provides bulk for the bowel motion and fuel for friendly gut bacteria so it can be a really useful weight loss aid.’ Use tinned pulses or soak the dried variety overnight and rinse before cooking to remove phytates (enzyme inhibitors which can cause gut discomfort). For an extra de-bloating effect, season legumes with fennel seeds, ginger and cumin as these all have gut soothing properties.
7. DON’T GO HUNGRY
When you’re looking to shed the pounds, snacking can either make or break your diet goals. It’s easy to grab the first thing you see when those in between meal hunger attacks strike, but chowing down on treats when tummy rumbles start will only set you off track. Instead, keep low GI snacks like nuts, fruit and oatcakes in your handbag to help you power up on the go and remember to eat slowly. ‘Gulping down food makes you swallow too much air which gets trapped in your digestive system causing pressure, bloating and gas,’ says Morey.
8. SOAK YOUR CELLS
Not getting your eight glasses of water a day? You could be stalling your weight loss results. Chugging back water keeps your body’s cells working optimally, and making it to your daily quota helps to quell hunger pangs, keeps bloating at bay and even improves skin health. ‘Water flushes out
toxins, regulates certain body functions and delivers essential nutrients to our cells,’ says Stillitoe. ‘Carry still, bottled water with you throughout the day and sip as you go. Drinking water before snacks and meals keeps hydration levels optimal and wards off those deceiving hunger pangs.’
9. MAKE YOURS A MATCHA
Dieting can often leave your energy levels a bit meh, but if you’re looking for a healthy vitality kickstart with super fat burning properties to boot, replace your morning latte with a cup of matcha tea. Whilst coffee is dehydrating and releases stress hormones, this naturally bright green powder is made from organic green tea leaves, which have been carefully ground down to a fine, super-concentrated form. It’s packed full of goodness and just enough caffeine to give you a buzz without the jitters. ‘Catechins – the major components of green tea – are key to it’s incredible fat burning properties. They help keep blood sugar levels stable which helps to stave off cravings. They also lower cholesterol and have even been shown to block the formation of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease,’ says Hanna.
10. COLOUR CODE YOUR DIET
Brightening up your diet will take your wellbeing to a whole new level so pimp up your plate with the colours of the rainbow. All veggies offer great health benefits, but greens are simply in league of their own when it comes to weight loss. High in iron and detoxifying nutrients, dark green veggies like kale, spinach and broccoli will put your fat loss in the fast lane thanks to their naturally cleansing properties.