We’re well and truly in the midst of summer, a season when many focus on getting into shape. However, weight management shouldn’t be about those dreaded crash diets. Instead, a focus on simple health habits which can be incorporated into our daily routine are much more likely to stick…
- Enjoy outdoor summer activities
Why not take advantage of the balmy summer weather with activities that you enjoy which also keep you fit? Walking, gardening, cycling, kayaking, paddle boarding, rollerblading, surfing, rock climbing and swimming are outdoor activities which can help us to burn calories whilst having fun!
- Consume fibre-rich foods
As a population, we’re consuming just over half of our daily fibre recommendations (1). However, fibre plays a key role in keeping hunger at bay. An exciting 2019 study showed that increasing fibre consumption was a predictor for weight loss (2). We can find fibre in some fantastic summer fruit and vegetables, and other plant-based foods including wholegrains, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds.
- Drink smarter
When the weather is hot it can be tempting to reach for those cooling summer cocktails, but the cumulative effects of beer, wine and spirits can quickly add up. Whilst it’s possible to enjoy alcohol in moderation, choosing our drinks wisely may help with our health and waistline. Drink smarter, with clear spirits such as vodka or gin with a low-sugar mixer such as sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon or lime. This choice of drink is both low in sugar and calories. Why not try low or no-alcohol spirits such as Seedlip, Clean Liquor and Big Drop? These are great alternatives for when you’re not ‘drinking’!
- Eat mindfully
If you’ve ever polished off that bag of crisps in front of the TV without really noticing, you may have engaged in mindless eating. Mindful eating is about being present when eating whilst paying attention to our fullness cues. This increases satisfaction with our consumption and makes portion control easier. Mindful eating ditches that all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to health and weight management, and instead, gives us permission to enjoy our favourite foods, but in a more balanced way. Better yet, a 2019 study illustrated that the simple act of eating more mindfully could be just as effective for weight loss as intentionally reducing our calorie intake (3).
Top tips to eat more mindfully:
- Eat attentively – without laptops, TV and phone
- Chew thoroughly – savour the flavours
- Slow down – it takes the brain 20 minutes to register that it’s full
- Take a few deep breaths – if you’re stressed, take a few deep breaths before enjoying a meal or snack
- Make sleep a priority
The summer months come with longer days, hotter nights and more of those summer cocktails, all of which can take their toll on our sleep. However, sleep deprivation can increase our hunger hormone ghrelin, and decrease our appetite suppressant hormone leptin. What’s more, sleep-deprived people on average consume 385 calories more per day, and cravings for quick-fix foods such as sweet, salty and high-calorie starchy foods increase by as much as 45% (7)! It’s a no-brainer that good quality sleep will aid with optimal energy throughout the day, but it can also play a role in our food choices. Late-night eating, heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol are all components that will reduce the quality of sleep.
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- Consider the power of plants
During the summer months, there’s often a desire to de-bloat and effectively manage weight in preparation for those beach holidays. Artichoke leaf extract may help to reduce symptoms of indigestion which includes bloating, flatulence and feeling so fullness (4). Furthermore, alongside a balanced diet and exercise, green tea extract might actually help you to get into shape faster. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial illustrated a modest weight loss and decreased waist circumference when 115 women with central obesity were given green tea extract daily for 3 months (6)!
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