Easy weight loss

Article Mar 6, 2014

Calorie counting isn't fun. Why not try these unusual diet strategies and watch the pounds fall away?

1. Snap your food

Taking photographs of what you eat can be more effective at encouraging healthier eating than writing a food diary, say scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US. They asked 43 people to record in pictures as well as in words what they ate for one week, and found the photo diary was more effective at encouraging different eating habits. The experts believe that if you take photographs of your food, you’re more likely to think more carefully about what you put on your plate. 

2. Sleep more

The evidence that insufficient sleep results in higher bodyweight has been piling up. Now there’s even more reason to get your zzzs in, with the news that junk food is particularly appealing to tired brains. Scientists at St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Centre and Columbia University, US, used brain scans in normal-weight people to measure responses to unhealthy foods (such as pepperoni pizza and sweets) as well as healthy options (including porridge and fruit). They found the brain’s reward centre lit up more at the sight of junk food if subjects were fatigued.

In separate research, brain activity in the frontal lobe of the brain has been found to be significantly impaired when people are sleep deprived. This is the region of the brain involved in the complex processing that encourages you to make wise choices about what you should eat.

3. Make a fist

In a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research, volunteers were better able to resist fattening foods at a snack bar when they clenched their fists. Psychologists believe that tightening your muscles is so closely linked to determination, that simply doing it when faced with a food temptation can muster up greater will power to resist.

4. Rethink mid-morning snacking

Healthy snacking can be an important part of your stay-slim strategy, but can also sabotage your diet, with morning snacks being particularly perilous. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that dieters who ate a healthy breakfast but no mid-morning snack lost an average of 11 per cent of their bodyweight, compared with only 7 per cent for women who did snack.

According to the study’s author, Dr Anne McTiernan of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, the gap between breakfast and lunch is rarely long enough to mean you’re hungry enough to need a snack. ‘Mid-morning snacking, therefore, might be a reflection of mindless eating habits, rather than eating to satisfy true hunger,’ she says.

If this sounds like you, listen to your body and only eat something if you’re genuinely hungry. However, don’t go for more than five hours without eating, otherwise you’ll be tempted to reach for the nearest snack, regardless of whether it’s healthy or not.

5. Eat almonds at breakfast

Adding almonds to breakfast cereal helps stabilise blood glucose levels until lunchtime, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. The unsaturated fats and fibre in almonds help reduce the rise in blood sugar after a meal say the researchers. So even though nuts are high
in calories, they are calories well spent, preventing unhealthy snacking later on.

6. Drink a slush puppy

If you’re exercising outside on a hot day, a drink made with crushed ice (which is colder than a regular iced drink) will cool your internal temperature and significantly increase the time you can exercise for. A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that people who drank a slushy before working out could run for about 10 minutes longer – and, therefore, burnt more calories – before feeling the effects of the heat.