Can’t understand why your weight has fluctuated? Alice Whitehead reveals the weight loss saboteurs that can make the scales soar – and how to remedy them
As well as burning fewer calories after meals, studies have shown that clashing couples are also more likely to overeat. “There is a high correlation between a person’s mood and what they eat, and this is why diets alone don’t work long term as many people need help learning how to manage their mindset and behaviour in a more productive way,” says health and lifestyle expert Claire Hegarty (clairehegarty.co.uk), a certifiedtrainer in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy. “When a person is stressed they often turn to ‘something’ to make them feel better in the moment and for many that ‘something’ is food.”
SLIM SOLUTION: “Explore what’s causing your stress or low mood – the key to long term healthy weight loss is learning how to break out of these cycles,” says Hegarty. “Techniques such as NLP and hypnotherapy are very effective.
Water is a dirt-cheap dieting aid, with studies showing people who drink two 250ml glasses of water 30 minutes before each meal lose 5lb more weight. “Dehydration can also lead you to eat when you really need liquid intake,” says nutritional therapist Chana Nichtburg (chananutrition.com).
SLIM SOLUTION: “Keeping track of the amount you drink during the day will help stop overeating,” says Nichtburg. “If you feel hungry after or between meals, drink a glass of water – chances are you won’t feel hungry any more.”
Lack of shut-eye can lead your body to produce a hormone that makes you feel permanently peckish, when in fact you’re just pooped. “There’s a lot of research that shows people who get good quality sleep lose weight more easily than those that don’t,” says Hegarty. “When someone isn’t sleeping well, they lack energy and motivation and are more likely to grab the quickest snack food they can find.
SLIM SOLUTION: “Minimise stimulation by cutting out sugary, caffeinateddrinks, and electrical equipment, at least fivehours before sleep,” says Hegarty. “And if you have thoughts on your mind, write them down and do a mental ‘download’ before bed.”
Research has shown those wearing trackers tend to overestimate calorie-burn after exercise and eat more while working out, which can cause water retention that alters your weight. “Estimates on CV machines and trackers are partly to blame as they can often be inaccurate,” says celebrity fitnesstrainer Laura Williams (laurawilliamsonline.co.uk). “Lack of awareness about what’s in your post-workout snack can be an issue too.”
SLIM SOLUTION: “If you eat after exercise, ensure your snack contains a good amount of protein and carbs without breaking the calorie bank. A wholegrain salmon sandwich ticks multiple nutrient boxes; a blueberry muffiwith your latte doesn’t!” she says.
Some mueslis and cereals contain an eye-popping 18g of sugar per bowl, spiking blood sugar levels and making you more likely to eat again before lunch.
SLIM SOLUTION: Go for protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates such eggs, avocado, and smoked salmon. “These keep sugar levels stable and keep you satiated,” says nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner Helen Williams (thefunctionalnutritionclinic.com). “Protein may also slightly boost your metabolism as your body uses more calories to break down protein than carbs.”
Diuretic parsley is much more than just a garnish: it kickstarts weight loss by making you pee more (thus expelling water weight), aiding digestion (boosting the burn) and suppressing hunger.
SLIM SOLUTION: “Chop parsley into salads or soup,” says nutritional therapist Nichtburg. “The parsley’s nutrients will automatically leak into the soup.”
Stress triggers hormones that increase appetite, which equals extra helpings at mealtimes!
“The body produces cortisol, which gives us the energy to ‘fightor flee’,”says Helen Williams. “This was finewhen we were being chased by sabre tooth tigers, but being constantly taxed by modern day stressors can chronically elevate cortisol, which makes cells resistant to the glucose storage effectof insulin leading to sugar cravings. It also reduces our ability to burn fat and makes us store more fat.”
SLIM SOLUTION: “Planning ahead is key so you have a healthy option to hand and don’t go for a quick fix,”she says.
Tuck in while distracted and you’ll eat more overall because the signals to your brain are interrupted.
SLIM SOLUTION: “Take time to eat away from TV, laptops and phones,” says Chloe Manlay, nutritional therapist and yoga teacher (chloemanlay.com). “Aim for at least 15 minutes per meal, giving yourself time to chew and sit and digest. Smelling and enjoying your food calms the nervous system, helps increase body awareness and promotes better food choices in the long run.”
9. You’re scale obsessed
Weight fluctuates over 24hrs so tipping the scales more than once a day will not give an accurate log of gains and losses.
SLIM SOLUTION: “Weigh yourself firs thing before you get dressed, and around twice a week,” says Laura Williams. “Stay away from the scales if you’re feeling ‘puffy’as water retention can have an effect,and if you findyourself becoming obsessive cut back.
Taking a break can calm the nervous system and de-stress, leading to better overall wellbeing and less over eating. And as long your tea of choice is not a builder’s brew i.e. strong and sugary, a good cuppa can has many positive impacts on weight loss.
SLIM SOLUTION: “Catechins in green tea have the effectof fat-blasting, triggering the release of fat from fat cells and speeding up the liver’s capacity to turn fat into energy,” says Nichtburg “Mint tea will also suppress appetite.”