Healthy earing and diets: How to lose 5kgs by Christmas


With the festive season sneaking up on us after a tumultuous year, so too is the realisation that the COVID kilos are not going to vanish without some effort.

If your goal is to get your body into shape before holiday season, it is time to act and with my plan you can comfortably lose 5kg or a dress size before the annual food and drink fest begins.

While there are many diets and programs that claim to induce extreme weight losses of several kilos each week, it’s not a long term plan.

The sooner you kickstart your dietary changes, the better.
media_cameraThe sooner you kickstart your dietary changes, the better.

For the average person who commits to an hour of exercise each week, losses of ½ -1kg a week are to be expected, and more likely to be sustained over time.

It is also crucial that when we are eating less, we focus on nutrient-rich foods – lean proteins, good quality carbs, healthy fats and loads of fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure the body has the nutrition it needs even when you are eating fewer calories overall.

Dietitian Susie Burrell says fad diets won’t work in the long run. Picture: Christian Gilles
media_cameraDietitian Susie Burrell says fad diets won’t work in the long run. Picture: Christian Gilles

Here’s my expert guide to the dietary changes you need to make to shed the COVID kilos and the sooner you get started, the better!

Start your day with a healthy breakfast.
media_cameraStart your day with a healthy breakfast.

1. GET SERIOUS FOR A WEEK OR TWO

It only takes a week or two of low calorie, nutrient-rich eating with a focus on soups, salads and shakes to drop a few kg quickly. Weight loss studies have repeatedly shown that losing a good amount of weight quickly initially on any weight loss program predicts long term adherence and ultimately weight loss success. Try swapping breakfast for a protein or meal replacement shake, have a large salad for lunch and a light dinner of soup or fish and vegetables for a week or two and notice how much better you feel at the end of it. Plus you are likely to be a few kilos lighter and well on your way to reaching your weight loss goals in time for Christmas.

A handful of nuts makes a great snack.
media_cameraA handful of nuts makes a great snack.

2. LOAD UP ON VEGETABLES

One of the most common reasons we eat more than we need is that we have not included enough bulk from salad and vegetables in our daily diet. As a result our meals are digested more quickly and we do not have the full factor that we get when we consume the 3-5 cups of salad and/ or vegetables that we need every single day. Bulk up your daily vege intake by adding a vegetable juice to your breakfast; enjoy a whole salad or soup with your lunch for minimal calories and always aim for at least 2 cups of salad or vegetables at dinner time. Not only will you feel more satisfied but your digestive system will work more efficiently and you will actually consume fewer calories as a result.

Make sure you fill up on leafy greens.
media_cameraMake sure you fill up on leafy greens.

3. DITCH THE SNACKS

In modern life we literally eat all the time with multiple coffees, breakfasts, snacks and munching on mindless extras which means that we rarely get really hungry, and ultimately end up consuming many, many more calories than we really need. While it is true that eating regularly helps to stoke the metabolism, if our definition of a snack is a simple piece of fruit or couple of plain crackers we would be fine, but rather our snacks tend to clock in at 300-400 calories or that of a small meal. For breakfast try a protein smoothie or meal shake and a piccolo coffee. Lunch can be a tuna or salmon salad, piece of fruit, handful of nuts. Dinner can be a bowl of minestrone soup, grilled prawns or white fish plus three cups roasted vegetables in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Eating your largest meal at lunchtime will kickstart weight loss.
media_cameraEating your largest meal at lunchtime will kickstart weight loss.

4. EAT YOUR LAST MEAL EARLIER

Another key reason so many of us are in a cycle of gradual weight gain is that we eat our final, largest meal later and later in the day. We know from research on fasting that the human body responds very well to longer periods of time overnight without eating, even up to 16 hours without food each day. This means that if you routinely eat your dinner at 7 or 8pm you will really benefit from eating your final meal by 6pm each night. This may mean eating your largest meal at lunchtime and swapping dinner for a lighter soup or salad earlier in the day but the simple action of extending the period overnight without food will support weight loss without following a rigid diet.

Salmon fillets makes an ideal meal for dinner.
media_cameraSalmon fillets makes an ideal meal for dinner.

5. FACTOR IN A MEAL OR TWO OFF EACH WEEK

While maintaining a period of strict calorie restriction in the initial phases of a weight loss program will support initial results, the act of also including in a meal off your diet program each week will also aid compliance longer term. Celebrations, cravings, social functions and family commitments can mean at times there is both a need and desire to eat higher calorie treat type foods and/or enjoy a few alcoholic drinks. Factoring this into any dietary regime allows you to maintain the strictness of a diet that is required to get results but also allows you to have a life.

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