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20 healthy habits that help with weight loss

Woman drinking water after exercise

If you need to lose weight or are trying to maintain your healthy weight there are a lot of small habits that can help, rather than trying to make drastic changes that are hard to keep up. Try these 20 research-backed tips to get started.

1 Shop with a grocery list

Researchers confirm that planning your shop ahead makes it easier to avoid less healthy impulse food purchases.

2 Track what you eat

People who did so in a study published last year lost over 2 kilograms in three months — without making a conscious effort to change their diet.

3 Eat 25g protein at breakfast

A CSIRO report has found eating at least 75g protein a day helps deliver weight loss, if that’s what you’re after, and that consuming one-third of your protein at breakfast is key.

4 Snap your snack in half

Fifteen minutes after you’ve eaten it, you’ll feel just as satisfied as if you’d eaten the whole thing, and you can then decide if you really want more or not.

5 Don’t eat ‘on the go’

It upsets your ‘food memory’, which means at the next meal or snack time you could eat much more food than you otherwise would.

6 Read food labels

People who read labels to choose food products tend to weigh less than those who never worry about reading the nutrition information.

7 Eat a small handful of almonds daily

Eating a daily 40g serve of almonds has been linked to a reduction in stomach fat.  Too much stomach fat is associated with increased risk of inflammation, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma and arthritis, compared with excess fat on hips and thighs.

8 Drink two glasses of water before each meal

This can make it easier to stick to a healthy portion size when you eat your meal.

9 Pick and stick to an exercise time

Increasing physical activity at the same time as making a few food-related changes helps us maintain or reach a healthy weight better than either strategy on its own. A study found that people who exercise at roughly the same time each day also do the most activity.

10 Downsize your portions

It can help you avoid eating more than your body needs. Use our ideal plate as a guide to what healthy portions look like, and use a plate that’s no more than 25cm wide.

11 Plan your meals

In a US study, people who bought lunch immediately after they’d eaten breakfast consumed fewer kilojoules at midday than people who decided what to eat for lunch at lunchtime. Think ahead!

12 Load your plate with prebiotics

The link between gut health and healthy weight means it’s smart to feed your gut bacteria a prebiotic-rich diet, including garlic, onion, leek, chickpeas, lentils, oats and pistachio nuts.

13 Shop for your food online

This reduces how much food winds up in your home and helps you make considered choices.

14 Go for a brisk walk after lunch

Exercise affects the production of two gut hormones that suppress appetite, so you’ll feel satisfied for longer.

15 Order first

Research proves we mimic the food choices of people we eat with, so order first to make your healthy choices stick.

16 Eat slowly, chew more

Taking smaller mouthfuls, chewing each bite 20 times and pausing between forkfuls leaves you feeling fuller because the hormones that signal your fullness have more time to get through to your brain.

17 Make sure you can hear yourself eat

When you can’t do this, you can eat around 25 per cent more food.

18 Divide your plate into four

Fill two quarters of it with non-starchy vegies, one quarter with a wholegrain carbohydrate and the final quarter with a serve of healthy, lean protein. People who did this for six months were three times more likely to lose 5 per cent of their body weight.

19 Avoid artificial sweeteners

The brain struggles to compute the big hit of sweetness that sweeteners deliver (minus any kilojoules), which then triggers a process that increases your appetite.

20 Eat your breakfast

90 minutes later and dinner 90 minutes earlier This was enough to double the amount of unwanted body fat that participants lost during a 10–week 2018 study.

First published: Feb 2020

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