There’s no doubt about it: losing weight can be tough. Many of us enthusiastically start a diet or exercise regime only to discover that we can’t maintain it long-term. We may try crash diets and achieve dramatic, short-term weight loss, only to regain it (and a little extra) when the diet is over. This pattern is bad for our health and bad for our self-esteem.
However, there are ways that you can lose weight and keep it off. The best routine for weight loss is one that is sensible, safe, and can be maintained for a long time. For this reason, instead of subscribing to a particular way of eating or exercising, we should look at building a healthy lifestyle and habits for long-term wellbeing. So, we’ve rounded up our top ten proven ways to lose weight without going on a diet or setting foot in a gym!
Eat from a smaller plate
This tip is all about portion sizes. Studies have shown that simply making the switch from a 12-inch dinner plate to one measuring 12-inches is enough to reduce your overall calorie consumption for that meal by a whopping 22 percent on average. As everyone knows, cutting calories leads to weight loss. However, what’s so great about this weight loss tip is that it allows you to cut calories without having to calorie-count or even do much at all. So, why does a smaller plate lead to weight loss?
It all comes down to a clever optical illusion known as the Delbouef Illusion. Simply put, a portion of food on a large plate may not look like enough to satisfy us. However, put that same portion on a smaller plate and it tricks the mind into believing that the portion is larger. So, you’ll stop adding food to a 10-inch plate much sooner than you would if you used a 12-inch plate.
From a psychological point of view, this is a very effective way of limiting your portion sizes without losing motivation. When you put a small portion on a large plate, you may feel like you are forcing yourself to eat less than you would like. This can be discouraging and demotivating. However, the same portion on a 10-inch plate can actually disguise the fact that your portion size is reduced because it looks larger in comparison to the plate. So, you’ll be less likely to feel like you are denying yourself and give up altogether.
When it comes to the Delbouef illusion, does plate shape matter? You may be wondering this as many trendy tableware sets nowadays are square, rectangular or some other weird and wonderful shape. However, tests have shown that the Delbouef Illusion still works no matter what shape the plate is that you choose to use. The key factor is the size of the plate.
Change the color of your tableware
Believe it or not, changing the size of your plate isn’t the only simple change you can make to your tableware to help you lose weight. Incredibly, the color of plate that you choose can make a difference too.
It turns out that there isn’t a magic color when it comes to plates and weight loss- in fact, studies have shown that the key is creating a contrast between the color of your plate and the food you’re serving on it. That’s because, if your food blends in with the plate it’s served on, you’ll be less likely to recognise when the portion is large and may continue to keep loading more food on. That’s because the matching color of the food and the plate makes the portion seem smaller. So, serving pasta in a tomato sauce on a red plate is not such a good idea. In fact, studies found that using a plate the same color as the food resulted in participants serving themselves almost 30 percent more.
So, if you’re keen to lose some inches, serve your meals on a plate that’s a totally different color from what you are eating. For example, a white meal such as spaghetti alfredo should be served on a colourful plate (think blue or red for example) so that you can tell when you’ve dished up enough food.
Catch forty winks
Here’s another proven tip to lose weight without setting foot in a gym: make sure you’re getting enough good-quality sleep. In modern times, it’s all too easy to neglect sleep in order to get other things done. However, skimping on sleep is a fast-track ticket to weight gain. When you’re tired, you’re less likely to engage in healthy habits, skipping exercise because you’re too exhausted and reaching for sugary snacks and drinks for a quick energy fix.
When you don’t sleep enough, it reduces activity in the frontal lobe of your brain. As this area of the brain is responsible for impulse control, this makes it harder to resist making poor food choices during the day. Sleep deprivation also makes the reward centre of your brain more active, making you more likely to seek out comforting foods. Various studies have shown that sleep deprivation makes you far more likely to choose foods high in carbohydrates and fat. Scientists have also found that tiredness makes us more likely to eat food in bigger portions than we would if we were well-rested.
Studies have also found that not enough sleep triggers the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. This hormone has an effect on your metabolism and makes it harder to burn body fat as your body tries to hang onto it. Sleeplessness also reduces your sensitivity to insulin, which increases the amount of sugar in your blood stream that’s converted into body fat.
So, as you can see, it’s a good idea to keep as well-rested as possible. Developing good sleeping habits and making sure you get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night are a great way to stop the pounds piling on.
Try mindful eating
Turns out that mindfulness isn’t just a useful tool for de-stressing. In fact, developing mindful eating habits has been shown by studies to help you lose weight and keep it off. There’s no need to count calories, cut out any particular foods or start a brutal gym regime. So, what exactly is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is, in essence, developing a greater awareness of what you’re eating and how it tastes and feels in your mouth. This means focusing on what you are eating and your enjoyment of it without distraction. That means no eating in front of the television or scrolling through your phone at the same time. The idea is that when we eat mindfully, we are more aware of our enjoyment of the food and are more likely to notice when we are satisfied.
Another principle of mindful eating is that the majority of the pleasure we experience when eating a food high in calories, sugar or fat is obtained from the first few mouthfuls. After that, we are simply consuming more calories without necessarily enjoying the food any more. Many mindful eating experts recommend really savouring those first bites, focusing on enjoyment of the food and noticing when we have eaten enough to feel satisfied.
This method may sound wasteful. However, the best approach to ensure you’re not throwing food away when you’re eating in this way is to serve smaller portions in the first place.
Speaking of mindfulness, there’s another reason why mindfulness and relaxation are a good idea for those trying to lose weight. Although some people find exactly the opposite, for many of us being stressed-out is a fast-track ticket to weight gain.
Stress can make you gain weight in a couple of ways. First of all, when you’re very stressed you may be more likely to seek fatty and sugary foods to comfort you. The other main way that stress makes you gain weight is to do with hormones- and it’s our old friend cortisol again. Stress causes you to release increased amounts of cortisol, which in turn raises the amount of sugar in your blood. Over time, this can increase your body fat, especially around your middle.
So, as you can see, it’s a good idea to try and reduce your stress levels as much as possible in order to lose weight. There are no hard-and-fast techniques that reduce stress for everyone, and you should choose a method that works for you. Many find that mindfulness techniques can be very helpful in reducing their overall stress levels. Yoga, meditation and massage are all great ideas for reducing stress and getting your cortisol levels (and weight) under control.
Increase the amount of protein in your meals
There’s no need to deprive yourself or force yourself to eat bird-sized portions in order to slim down. In fact, a simple way to lose weight fast is to increase the amount of satisfying protein in your meals. If you eat meat, this could mean serving yourself more meat, chicken and fish in comparison to the amount of carbohydrate on your plate. Vegetarians could try stocking up on protein-rich pulses, nuts, seeds and tofu. So, how does eating more protein lead to weight loss?
When we eat protein, this reduces the amounts of hunger hormones released by the brain whilst increasing the amount of hormones that promote satiety. So, when we eat protein, we tend to feel full and satisfied much earlier. Therefore, we are more likely to eat less calories automatically without any effort whatsoever.
Also, when you eat protein some of the calories are actually used in digestion. This is true of all foods. However, the amount of calories it takes to burn protein is significantly higher. In fact, when you eat protein, about 30 percent of the calories it contains are used in digesting it.
Finally, eating plenty of protein can help you to burn more calories overall, even when you’re at rest. This happens because a protein-rich diet increases your metabolism. In fact, studies have found that eating a diet with plenty of protein will help you to burn an extra 80-100 calories without going anywhere near a treadmill.
Drink plenty of water
Most of us will be aware that drinking water is an absolute must for all-round health. However, you may not know that staying well-hydrated is absolutely vital for keeping your weight under control as well. So, how does the wet stuff help us to stay slim?
Whenever we take in food or drink, our body has to use calories to process it. Water is no exception to this rule. So, when we drink plenty of water it actually has the power to increase our metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 16 ounces of water can actually temporarily increase your metabolism by up to 30 percent. They also found that by drinking around 6 glasses of water a day, you could expect to increase your daily calorie burn by around 200 calories.
Water can also help you to recognise whether you’re really hungry. Often, we can get the body cues for hunger and thirst mixed up. That’s because the sensations of feeling hungry and thirsty are quite similar. So, sometimes we reach for a snack when what we actually need is a glass of water. A good habit to develop is to drink a glass of water when you start to feel peckish. If you’re still hungry after 30 minutes, then you know that these are real hunger pangs and it’s time to eat.
Finally, sticking to water can prevent you from reaching for drinks that are worse for your waistline. Many sodas, fruity drinks and coffee-based beverages are actually loaded with sugar, fat and calories. These can be a complete disaster when it comes to your weight loss efforts. Also, these are the types of drinks that we often reach for when we feel low on energy. Dehydration and fatigue have very similar symptoms. So, a glass of water may actually pep you up just as well as a sugary coffee or soda would.
Store fatty and sugary foods out of sight
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t let foods that you might want to splurge on through the front door. However, keeping unhealthy foods out of your house isn’t always possible. Perhaps your partner or other family members are unwilling to give up these types of food just because you’re trying to lose weight. You yourself may feel that you want to be able to enjoy these foods from time to time or you will start to feel deprived. In these situations, you’ll need a strategy to ensure that you’re not chowing down on these foods more often than is good for your waistline.
Research has shown that being able to see (or smell) unhealthy foods makes us feel more hungry and more likely to give in to temptation. Resisting the urge to eat something naughty when it’s in full view can be extremely difficult. When it comes to treats, out of sight really can be out of mind.
So, the best solution is to store these types of tempting foods where you can’t see them. The ideal spot would be in a high cupboard well out of your eyeline. Other solutions could include storing candy and other junk foods in opaque storage containers or tins so you they’re concealed. At the same time, make sure you offer yourself healthy alternatives. Keeping healthy snacks such as fruit and veggie sticks within sight and easy reach means you’ll be more likely to reach for the healthy stuff instead of raiding the store in the cupboard.
Eat more fiber
We’re always being told the benefits that fiber-rich foods have for our all-round health and digestion. However, fiber is also your secret weapon when it comes to losing weight with minimum effort. Studies have shown that a fiber-rich diet can help to keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer, making you less likely to overeat.
In particular, a type of fiber called viscous fiber can really help with weight loss. This type of fiber forms a gel-like substance when it comes into contact with water in your stomach. Therefore, it slows the food’s transit through your gut. It also increases the amount of time that it takes your stomach to become fully empty again after eating. So, foods rich in viscous fiber will keep you feeling fuller for longer, making you less likely to reach for snacks between meals.
So, how do you get this viscous fiber into your diet? Be sure to include oats, beans and pulses and flax seeds. These foods are extremely rich sources of viscous fiber.
Slow down when you’re eating
When you’re eating something delicious, it can be tempting to gobble it all up as quickly as possible. However, when we eat quickly it’s easy to miss the body’s signals that you’ve had enough. Not only can this cause you to overeat and gain weight, it can also leave you with that uncomfortable, over-stuffed feeling. The answer? Try slowing down when you eat.
A recent study has found that people who are slow eaters are 42 percent less likely to be obese than people who eat their meals quickly. Slow eaters also tend to have smaller waist measurements. So, it’s a great idea to make a conscious effort to slow down when you’re eating. That way, you’ll notice when you’ve had enough to feel satisfied, potentially reducing the amount of calories you eat overall.
Slowing down your eating can be difficult if you’ve spend a lifetime wolfing down your food. To get you started, you could try setting a timer for around 20 minutes. Remind yourself that it should take you around this time period to finish off a full meal. Taking time to chew your food properly can also help to slow you down, and it will help with your digestion too.
The bottom line
Of course, we all know that decreasing the calories in vs. calories out is the most effective way to lose weight. However, as you have seen, there are plenty of ways to promote calorie reduction and weight loss without dieting or setting foot in a gym or health club. Simple strategies like getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and keeping unhealthy foods out of sight are all easy ways to reduce your waistline without the headache. Even better, most of these strategies are completely free.