YOU’VE probably already seen streams of social media posts from friends and family members proclaiming ‘New Year New Me’.
Maybe it’s learning a new language or even taking up a new hobbie, but for some people, their goal this year will be to lose weight.
Data from The Sun’s health survey found that 48 per cent of readers are planning to lose weight this year, with 66 per cent saying they need to improve their overall health.
While there are many so-called weight loss plans and hacks out there promising to get you the body of your dreams, it can be hard to know which option is best for you.
Following a December filled with food, booze and (probably) minimal movement, it’s time to kick things off and get healthy.
In 2021, a study by YouGov found that a whopping 48 per cent of Brits had set ‘weight loss’ as their New Year’s resolution, trouncing other new year goals which included, ‘taking up a new hobby’, ‘cutting down on drinking’, and ‘giving up smoking’.
Unfortunately, we know that sustainable weight loss can take a while, and is a case of maintaining a balance of fewer calories in, more calories out.
However, no-one wants to be waiting months to shed the festive pounds.
But what if there were some simple tweaks that could actually result in weight loss of up to a stone in just four weeks?
Search ‘how to lose a stone in a month’, on Google and you’re inundated with more than 718 million page results.
It’s a minefield out there.
Most read in Diet & Fitness
Here are 18 expert hacks to slim down, fast…
1. Take a cold shower
“Short sharp exposure to cold water has been shown to increase the metabolic rate,” explains Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy (www.doctorfox.co.uk).
“Do this slowly, perhaps ending your shower every day with say 10 seconds on cold, and gradually build this up to two to three minutes, two or three times a week.”
2. Get supplement savvy
Certain supplements can help with weight loss and metabolism. Dr Lee recommends taking a chromium supplement containing 1,000μg (micrograms) per day, as it “may help reduce appetite and food cravings”.
“In one 2008 double blind study, 42 overweight adult women were randomly assigned to take either chromium 1,000μg per day for eight weeks, or a placebo.
“After eight weeks, the chromium group was found to have a significant reduction in food intake, hunger, and fat cravings, and showed a tendency to a reduction in body weight.”
She adds that “other studies have shown chromium may be an adjunct to weight loss”.
3. Eat within set hours
If you’re a grazer, this one’s for you.
“Setting an ‘eating window’ means you’ll avoid that period of the evening where it’s tempting to pick at food for hours on end.
“Try only eating between the hours of 9am and 7pm at night,” says personal trainer Lucy Gornall.
You could even set this as an alarm on your phone to remind you that your eating time is over for the day.
4. Keep a healthy house
January is the perfect time to ditch the unhealthy foods from kitchen cupboards and drawers. Food banks are a good place to drop unwanted – but sealed and in-date – food off to, rather than wasting it.
Instead of sugary, calorific foods, Joanna Dase, fitness expert at Curves Gym (www.curves.eu/en/) recommends stocking the kitchen with healthy snacks so you give yourself the best chance of successful weight loss.
Can’t resist a snack?
“Healthy snacks include carrots with hummus, apple slices with peanut butter, a small handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg with some spinach leaves, or a handful of plain popcorn.”
5. Scrap booze
It’s just for one month, and not only will you save up to around 4,000 calories across the four weeks, but your liver, digestion, skin, hair, mood and a multitude of other things, will also benefit.
Joanna explains that a single glass of wine contains around 133 calories, equivalent to three Jaffa Cakes, whilst a pint of beer contains just under the same amount of calories found in a Mars Bar.
6. Don’t snack on carbs alone
Claire Snowdon-Darling, founder of kinesiology clinic, Balanced Wellness explains that whenever we eat carbs, such as bread, pasta or rice, our blood sugars spike and in response, we produce the hormone insulin.
“Insulin helps the body to lower blood sugar but it also signals to the body to store fat.
“As our blood sugars drop in response to the insulin, we produce the stress hormone cortisol.
“When we produce cortisol a load of sugar gets dumped into our muscles so we can be ready for ‘fight or flight’, or in this case to go and ‘find more food’.
“That sugar then also triggers an insulin response, and we end up in a blood sugar roller coaster that stops us losing weight,” says Claire.
Help stop this from happening by eating fat alongside carbs.
Complement fruit with a handful of nuts, for example, or have a slice of bread topped with peanut butter.
7. Trick your mind
Our minds are more powerful than we think, but Emily Hall, weight loss coach and hypnotherapist at Fresh Forward (fresh-forward.co.uk), has a few simple cheats up her sleeve.
“Use smaller plates so you don’t overload with food, drink fizzy water served in a wine glass so you feel like you’re still ‘drinking’ and put chocolates out of sight because when food is in view, you’ll automatically eat more.”
8. Swap pudding for a starter
Off out to eat? Ditch the dessert but keep the first course as this could save up to 800 calories, reveals Dr Naresh Kanumilli, medical director at Liva Healthcare.
“Soup is often a good choice as it fills you up.
“If you feel left out while everyone else is eating a pudding, you could have a coffee during that course instead.
Drink fizzy water served in a wine glass so you feel like you’re still ‘drinking’
9. Eat often
Elliott Upton, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance (ultimateperformance.com), says that eating every “two to four hours is crucial”.
“The more regularly you eat, the better you can control your appetite.”
Regular eating means splitting up your meals and calorie intake relatively evenly across the day.
However, Elliott adds: “It’s not really about how many calories you consume per meal, but the quality of those calories and the overall amount of calories you consume per day.”
He recommends tracking your meals and calorie count throughout the day but adds that “if you start to obsess or overthink about hitting a certain amount of calories per meal, it can lead to unnecessary anxiety”, so stop immediately if you feel this happening.
10. Pack in protein
“Protein is really satiating,” says Elliott.
“This means it will help you feel full for a lot longer, so you don’t get hungry between meals, fall off the wagon and snack on calorie-laden junk foods that will dent your weight loss efforts.”
Men should aim to eat between 30 to 50g of protein per meal whilst women should aim to eat between 20 to 30g of protein per meal.
For perspective, 100g of chicken contains around 30g of protein whilst one egg contains around 6g.
11. Walk for 10 minutes a day
Just adding an extra 10 to 12 minutes of walking each day could burn an extra 100 calories, says Ryan Hodgson, Health and Happiness Coach (hodgsonhealth.com)
“Taking the stairs over lifts as part of your lifestyle can also burn up to 250 calories a week, which may not seem like a lot, but doing this consistently certainly pays off for total calories burnt.”
12. Avoid caffeine after 12noon
Swap your afternoon coffee hit for the decaf version instead. Why?
Caffeine has a six hour half-life, says James Griffiths, Owner of Wild Training (www.wildtraining.co.uk), “meaning if you have caffeine after midday you aren’t going to sleep properly”.
A lack of sleep can lead to a lack of energy, which can mean you start reaching for sugary foods to perk you up.
January is the perfect month to rack up the bedtime hours, so set yourself a sleep schedule and stick to it as rigidly as you can.
13. Watch your portions
Michael Brigo, Body Transformation Coach (www.brigopt.com) explains that all you need is your hand to ensure the correct portion and balance of food at every meal.
Aim to eat a cupped hand portion of carbohydrates (such as pasta, and grains), a palm size portion of protein (such as fish, chicken, or tofu), a thumb size portion of fat (such as olive oil and nut butter) and a fist size portion of vegetables.
“This strategy means you don’t need to weigh food, count calories, or keep track of everything.
“Your hand is proportionate to your body; its size never changes and it is always with you, making it the perfect tool for measuring.”
When you’re inundated with lots of different tastes, you want to eat more
14. Munch on sweet potatoes
The white potatoes’ cousin, the sweet variety are a great weight loss tool and an essential item to pop into your shopping trolley.
Elliott explains that sweet potatoes have a low Glycemic Index (GI), especially when steamed or boiled.
“The glycemic index helps measure the impact of a certain food on blood sugar levels.”
Low GI foods are helpful at keeping you fuller for longer, controlling appetite and helping avoid those calorific sweet cravings.
Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin A – essential for normal vision, bone growth and healthy skin, as well as Vitamin C, which can help protect our immune systems and avoid winter coughs and colds.
15. Go veggie (but only three times a week!)
We aren’t telling you to give up meat, but Emily says that going vegetarian three or four times a week can save on calories.
“Plus, vegetables are lower in fat and calories and contain a lot of water, so they can leave you feeling fuller.
“If you do choose meat, go for the lower fat options such as chicken or turkey rather than sausage meats or other meats which can be higher in fat and salt.”
16. Go plain
“Limit the amount of flavours you have,” recommends Emily.
“When you’re inundated with lots of different tastes, you want to eat more.
“Think about it, if you have one meal that contains meat and two veg and one that’s a range of tapas dishes, which one will you eat more of?”
It’s also worth keeping in mind that this is short term, and more flavours can be re-introduced in time.
17. Slow it down
It takes our body about 20 minutes to register fullness, from the moment we start eating.
So, the faster you eat, the more you’ll consume.
When was the last time you spent 20 minutes on a meal?
Focus on chewing food until it’s completely broken down in your mouth, and place cutlery down between each mouthful.
Plus, opting for crunchier foods can also help with the pace of eating; crunchier foods take longer to chew, so you’ll eat less.
18. Chew gum
Snacking throughout the day is often a sign of boredom rather than hunger, so keeping your mouth busy can help distract the mind.
“Pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth so the chewing action is mimicked,” says Lucy.
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