Don’t you just love summer? One long, happy haze of al fresco lunches, barbecues in the garden, picnics in the park, trips to the coast, camping weekends and family holidays. But all that fun can play havoc with your diet so make sure you’re looking your best for the season by incorporating some of these clever shortcuts into your daily routine.
1. Healthy Protein
Adding healthy protein such as pulses, eggs, lean meat and fish or legumes to your meals is a great way to avoid filling up on fat or carbs. What’s more, protein is one of the key building blocks for a healthy body, involved in strengthening bones and muscle repair. It also helps to reduce food cravings and curb your appetite so it’s the perfect fuel.
2. Breakfast time!
Forget spreading your toast with butter in the mornings – a study published in Nutrition Journal found that eating half an avocado at breakfast could help reduce post-meal hunger pangs. These nutritional superstars have twice the potassium of a banana and are packed full of healthy fats and fibre. For a real protein punch add a soft poached egg and you have a breakfast of champions!
3. Just add water
What’s not to love about H20? Not only does it support the smooth functioning of your body but it helps you to get lean and healthy too. “Various studies show that drinking half a litre of water increases metabolism by 24 to 30 percent for up to one and a half hours,” explains Christine Bailey on behalf of the Harley Medical Group. “Drinking water half an hour before meals can also be effective in reducing your appetite by making you feel fuller so that you consume fewer calories.”
4. Take it slow
Research shows that chewing your food slowly will not only help your body to absorb more nutrients it will make you eat less too. It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full so taking time to chew your meal gives your body time to process the information.
5. Spice it up!
Ramp up a sluggish metabolism with this super spice. A study found that women who ate fresh chili pepper raised their metabolic rate for up to 30 minutes after consumption. Or try black pepper instead – it contains a compound called piperine that, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, can block the formation of new fat cells.
6. Ice ice baby!
Why make your ice cubes with water this summer when you could add loads of nutrient-rich fruit into the mix too? This is not only a great way to up your vitamin consumption but it looks fabulous too! Try it with blueberries, raspberries, lemon or oranges, or for a cool twist on your usual ice and a slice try making cubes of cucumber and mint.
7. Try Mediterranean
Help your body to fire on all cylinders by making sure your healthy gut bacteria are in balance. Scientists at Imperial College London found that the gut flora of professional athletes is noticeably distinct with bugs primed for tissue repair. Make sure you feed your healthy bugs by eating a Mediterranean style diet with lots of different fruits and vegetables plus fermented foods.
8. Yummy soup
If you want to shed a few pounds, tuck into a bowl of broth-based soup before you eat. This could reduce your calorie intake by up to 20 percent according to a study at Penn State University. Load it with chopped vegetables and tofu for an extra health kick.
9. Tomato juice?
According to a report published in the journal Nutrition, women who drank a glass of tomato juice, which is rich in health-boosting antioxidant lycopene, every day for eight weeks lost nearly an inch off their waistlines, without making other changes to diet or lifestyle. They also had lower body weight, body fat, BMI and cholesterol blood levels.
10. Restrict the calories
Many experts believe that a calorie-restrictive diet is the key to optimum health and longevity so try using a smaller plate when you dish up your supper. A study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that halving your plate size led to a 30 percent reduction in amount of food consumed on average. Remember though, this only works if you serve yourself.
11. Switch to wholegrain
Swapping your white bread and rice for wholegrain alternatives could help you reach your weight loss goals, according to a study. Researchers at Tufts University in Boston found that people on a wholegrain diet developed a faster metabolism and burnt more calories than those who ate a similar diet with refined flour and rice. What’s more, whole grains can help improve blood cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
12. Have a cuppa
Who doesn’t love a morning brew? But remember, those calories can really add up so always opt for a white Americano or a cappuccino instead of a latte as they contain less than half the calories. Instead of sugar, try adding a couple of pinches of health-boosting cinnamon, which can help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
13. Instagram it!
Taking a snap of your meal won’t just get you a load of ‘likes’, but it could also get rid of your love handles. “Researchers suggest that taking a photograph of food just before you eat, concentrates the mind to eat not only healthier foods but also less of it, explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (marilynglenville.com).
14. No distractions
Whenever you’re eating, resist the urge to watch the television or check your social media pages. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who eat while distracted munch a whopping 10 percent more in one sitting than they would otherwise.
15. Smell an apple?
It might sound strange but research shows that you can curb pesky food cravings by sniffing an apple. Neurologist Dr Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that overweight people who smelt green apples and other sweet aromas including banana and vanilla when they were hungry lost an average of 5lb a month over six months.