Want to slim down fast for summer? Top diet tips and expert food advice
Whether you've got a big event coming coming up, are desperate to fit back into an 'old trusty' item of clothing or you're simply concerned about your health, one of the biggest questions diet and fitness experts get asked is: 'How can I lose weight quickly?'
Making sensible and healthy lifestyle changes over a long period of time is, of course, the best way to lose weight and keep it off in the long-term, but what if you're deadline isn't so relaxed?
Losing weight safely, in a short period of time, can be tricky business. After all, being healthy is about far more than simply slashing calories - there's no point dropping weight quickly if your diet is seriously lacking in nutrients, or you're drastically overdoing it in the gym. But is there a middle-ground?
We asked some leading nutritionists, personal trainers and health experts to hit us up with their number one tip for losing weight quickly and effectively...
1. Say 'laters' to the lattes and operate some 'portion caution'
"Switching to an Americano or herbal tea instead of your usual latte or cappuccino can save a lot of calories on a daily basis, especially if you have sugar or syrups in them. A Starbucks Tall Vanilla Latte has 240 calories, compared to just 15 calories in their Americano," says Danny Noble, a personal trainer at Xercise4Less.
"Keep an eye on your portions too. Most of us simply guesstimate how much we are eating and too often we get it wrong. Get this under control using the following 'hand' method; two handfuls for vegetables, one clenched fist for carbs, a palm for your protein and a thumb for your healthy fats."
2. Prioritise proteins and fats
"At the root of weight loss is 'calories in and calories out', but what makes the difference is how you get those calories. Try making each meal based around protein, like meat, fish, pulses, tofu, Quorn, and healthy fats like oils, avocado, nuts and seeds - then pile up on veggies," says Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan.
"Protein and fats keep you feeling full as they take a while to be digested, and veggies help to bulk out the diet and provide key micronutrients. As far as the carbs are concerned; to lose weight, your best bet is to keep them limited to just two of your daily meals. Keep the portion size to just a handful and make sure they're wholegrain (think oats, brown rice, buckwheat, brown pasta)."
3. Try body brushing
"Body brushing in the shower every day is a good way to reduce fat deposits, tighten skin and tone muscles in the short-term. Brush towards the heart to help improve blood flow and reduce cellulite," says Nicola Addison, wellbeing advisor and personal trainer at Eqvvs Training.
4. Make sure you're not burning muscle
"One of the most frustrating things I see on a daily basis is people killing themselves on the treadmill, watching the calories rack up, sweating like crazy and gasping for air like a fish out of water, thinking their undeniably hard efforts are going to promote fat-loss. Weight loss certainly, but weight is made up of a number of factors and once they've exhausted their available carbohydrate reserves, which ironically won't be much as they're probably on a low carbohydrate diet, they will need an alternative fuel source - that's when they'll burn muscle," says Callum Melly, personal trainer from Third Space.
"This is why it's important to count your macros - that caloric content of your food - to ensure you're consuming enough protein to maintain your lean mass, and enough carbohydrates to fuel and replenish energy levels."
5. Sleep your way to a trimmer you
"Interrupted or impaired sleep can cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight. What we eat and don't eat plays a very important role on sleep. For example, eating a high-protein snack several hours before bed as this can provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production," says Pippa Campbell, nutrition and weight loss coach
"Finally, avoid before-bed snacks, particularly starchy carbs and sugars as these will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. If your blood sugar drops too low in the night, you may also wake up and be unable to fall back asleep."
6. Utilise kelp
"If adjusting your diet and exercising more hasn't helped you to lose weight, you may have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. A GP can access this for you and if necessary, you can help normalise an underactive thyroid gland by increasing your intake of the mineral iodine. This is where kelp can help," says medical nutritionist, Dr Sarah Brewer.
"As well as providing iodine, kelp contains alginates that help you feel full and which block fat absorption. Try Healthspan Kelp Extract (£12.99 for 360 tablets)."