London-based Kate Shilland (right) is a Performance Nutritionist with Crystal Palace Academy and works within public health, with a focus on healthy lifestyles and weight management.
Here, Kate shares her brilliant insights with simple tips for healthy weight management.
1. Eat smart to sleep well
Studies show that poor sleep can prompt people to eat bigger portions of food, snack more and favour high fat, high-carbohydrate choices. Plus, it can play havoc with your metabolic health.
Kate says: “Sleep impacts on our appetite regulatory hormones, whereby a lack of sleep increases the secretion of ghrelin – our appetite stimulatory hormone which can lead to increased appetite for energy dense foods.
“Lack of sleep can also lead to a negative change in our gut bacteria. Even just a couple of nights of poor sleep can lead to an increase in particular bacterial strains that make us more prone to metabolic complications, such as Type 2 diabetes.
“Going to bed hungry or eating too close to bedtime can both have a negative impact on sleep quality.
“While sleep requirements vary from person to person, strive for between and seven and nine hours sleep a night."
Foods that support sleep
“Tryptophan and melatonin are nutrients that have been shown to positively impact sleep, both by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and helping you stay asleep for longer one you’re asleep.
“Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that gets converted to serotonin in the brain. Consuming tryptophan-rich foods, such as milk, oats, yoghurt, peanuts, eggs, turkey and banana, before bedtime can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
“Melatonin helps control the circadian rhythm, increases sleep duration and reduces the time taken to fall asleep. Tart cherries and walnuts are good sources.
“Two kiwi fruit an hour before bed have also been linked to improved sleep quality.”
2. Reduce stress – and eat enough carbohydrates!
Times of stress causes the body to release hormones [cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine] that are responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Prolonged periods of elevated stress hormones increase appetite, making it difficult to lose weight, or lead to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen.
Kate says: “Stress does play a role in weight management, both physically and behaviourally through the food and exercise choices that we tend to make when stressed.
“Make sure you’re eating enough and, in particular, enough carbs. This may sound controversial in a weight loss article but the key is to focus on what to keep in your diet rather than what to cut out.
“So many people live in fear of carbs but we need them, they’re an essential part of our diet; they fuel our brain, central nervous system and exercising muscles.
“Cutting them out (other than for medical reasons) makes us feel rubbish and increases the secretion of stress hormone cortisol. The key is to keep the complex carbs in and reduce simple carbs.”
3. Boost fat burning and make exercise easier with blackcurrants
CurraNZ has been shown to help overweight people burn 66% more fat during brisk walking3, and make exercise easier8.
The supplement may reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow up to 45%7, allowing your muscles to do more, without trying harder7,9,10.
Kate says: “Weight loss only occurs if you’re in an energy deficit and there really are no magic pills, but evidence emerging from studies with CurraNZ is providing promising data that they can increase metabolic efficiency by improving fat oxidation and they appear to make exercise easier, therefore making it potentially easier to achieve an energy deficit.
“Therefore, in conjunction with a balanced diet, something that can increase fat oxidation and make energy expenditure feel easier is definitely a good addition to your weight loss tool kit.”
4. Ditch the Alcohol
Alcohol is calorie dense and nutrient-poor and it is also very easy to over consume calories from alcohol.
Kate says: “Not only is alcohol calorie dense, it encourages the secretion of our appetite stimulatory hormone ghrelin, which means we easily find ourselves in a positive energy balance when drinking.
Alcohol is definitely one thing you should consider cutting back on – primarily for health reasons as well as weight.
“Think about your mixers too, opt for low/no calorie options and stick within the recommended guidelines. One of my clients lost a considerable amount of weight by switching to diet coke in her drinks.”
5 Resistance training
Chronic dieting and months/years spent trying one diet fad after another can cause reductions in your metabolic rate which makes it harder to lose weight.
Kate says: “Rather than following the next fad, we should focus on what to keep in our diets, rather than what to cut out. Combine a healthy diet with a resistance training to support muscle protein synthesis.
“Even if it’s just using a resistance band every time you boil the kettle – work it into your day in a realistic and sustainable manner. Muscle is an active tissue so it burns calories at rest.
“So, the better you look after your muscles, the more calories you are able to burn throughout the day which is certainly a positive step towards weight loss."