Every day is packed full of opportunities to maximise your weight loss potential. The trick is to understand exactly when those opportunities occur and what to do about them. So here's our guide to successful slimming round the clock .
6 — 9 am
Can the caffeine
Kick starting your day with a cup of tea, coffee or cola is not a great idea. That's because these drinks contain caffeine which stimulates your body to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol triggers the release of another hormone, insulin and one of insulin's main roles within the body is to encourage cells to store fat. So go for a herbal tea, a hot water and lemon or a long glass of cold water instead.
Take a brisk walk
Researchers have found that doing a short burst of cardio exercise before breakfast may help you burn fat more efficiently. Doing this outside is even better as natural light helps regulate your body clock, so you'll be more energetic during the day and sleep better at night. During the winter months, sunshine helps ward off SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a condition that can lead to uncontrolled food cravings. Sunlight on your skin also increases your levels of vitamin D, which are associated with a higher metabolism and a lower risk of obesity.
Get serious about your cereals
Break the fast that your body has experienced while sleeping with a breakfast that will encourage your body to burn fat not store it. That means avoiding all those over processed, high GI cereals out there that cause insulin levels to rise and your fat storing ability to increase and go for a far slower releasing, preferably wholegrain option instead. Ideally, you'll add some protein too as this helps to increase satiety (feelings of fullness) for longer and will help to slow the rate of emptying from the stomach even further. Great options to go for include:
- A bowl of porridge made with skimmed milk sprinkled with a few walnuts
- A smoothie made with soya or skimmed milk, a little oat bran, ground almonds (for added protein) and fresh, frozen or tinned (in natural juices) fruit.
- A slice of stone-ground, wholegrain bread topped with a couple of spoonfuls of beans
- A whole meal pita bread filled with peanut butter, a chopped banana and a drizzle of honey.
- Two tablespoons of oats soaked overnight in a some skimmed milk topped with a spoonful of mixed nuts and fresh berries.
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10 am — 12 pm
Have a snack
Try not to go for any longer than three hours between eating. Just a small snack will do the trick helping the keep blood sugars elevated and cravings at bay. Have an oatcake topped with ham and hummus, a low fat yogurt mixed with fresh blueberries or a piece of fruit. Alternatively, go for a handful of nuts. Researchers at Purdue University have found that when people added peanuts to their daily diets, they ate less considerably less during meal times.
12 - 2 pm
Sip on soup
According to researchers at Penn State University eating a small bowl of soup before lunch can save up to 700 calories a week. Subjects who ate soup before their midday meal consumed 100 fewer calories and they didn't make up for those calories by eating more later on. Just make sure you avoid high fat, high calorie soups such as chowders and 'cream of' varieties and go for a low calorie, low fat option such as a Thai broth, vegetable, bean, minestrone or a home made tomato soup.
2 — 4pm
Siesta yourself slimmer
Feeling that 3pm slump? Forget the chocolate biscuits and find a quiet place to have a cheeky power kip instead. Just 15 — 20 minutes spent snoozing will be all you need to have you feeling on top of the world again without an extra calorie in sight!
If now's the time you'd usually reach for that latte or hot chocolate switch to a cup of green tea and an apple instead. According to Scientists at Sydney University, apples are one of the most filling snacks you can eat. This is because they have a high water content which adds bulk helping your stomach to feel full. The green tea is a great source of immune boosting antioxidants and drinking it instead of a latte will save up to 7,000 calories (the equivalent of two pounds of body fat) a month!
5 — 8 pm
Avoid the 'wine wind down'
If you must have a glass of wine always have it after dinner but before 7pm. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach increases appetite and can result in over eating your main meal. Alcohol also inhibits the body's ability to make a substance called glutamine, a natural stimulant whose job it is to keep you awake which is why you may find a glass of wine helps you to relax and unwind. However, when you stop drinking your body responds by overproducing this stimulant. This can result in difficulty getting to sleep. Alternatively, you may find yourself wide awake just a couple of hours after drifting off. This disruption to sleep patterns can disrupt the body's natural hunger hormones and lead to over eating the next day. To avoid this happening refrain from drinking at least four hours before going to bed.
Overloading on carbs such as bread, rice, jacket potatoes or pasta can cause insulin levels to increase, which in turn inhibits fat burning and promotes fat storage. Instead, make vegetables the base of your evening meal and add some good quality protein in the form of lean red meat, fish, chicken, beans, pulses or nuts. Switching the ratios of the food you eat around in this way will also significantly decrease the calorie content of your meal. Try a prawn, beef or chicken vegetable stir fry, a salmon steak on a bed of sautéed red peppers and spring greens or a medley of roasted vegetables served hot with a little feta cheese on top.
9pm — 11pm
Find your bed!
A lack of good quality sleep can over-stimulate ghrelin production which increases the desire to eat. This is probably why researchers in Cleveland who studied 68,183 women for 16 years, found that those who slept five or less hours per night were 32 percent more likely to gain at least 30 pounds and 15 percent more likely to become obese than women who slept for seven hours of more.