Ten tips for healthy weight loss

Tips for healthy weight lossPic: Corbis

We're always hearing about the latest celebrity endorsed or quick fix diet, but losing weight fast isn't necessarily the best way. If you want to shed those excess pounds and stay in shape in the long term, here are some diet tips for healthy weight loss.

Natural foods
Processed foods are usually packed with salt and fat, and will put you on the fast track to weight gain. Swap your ready meals for home-cooked natural food and you might be surprised how quickly you see a difference. Likewise, switch refined white carbs (bread, pasta, rice) for brown varieties and you'll stay fuller for longer.

Protein is a must when you're dieting, as it helps to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, reducing the temptation for unhealthy snacks. It will also keep you feeling fuller for longer and give you energy for fat-burning exercise. Try to add a little protein to every meal. Studies show that those who ate eggs for breakfast lost more weight than those who had cereal.

Vegetables are low in calories but high on nutrients and the fibre will fill you up without the weight gain. Increase the proportion of veggies on your plate, particularly leafy greens like broccoli and kale, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Green tea
Containing nutrients and antioxidants that have been scientifically proven to provide a range of health benefits, studies have also shown that green tea can aid weight loss by increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation, particularly around the belly area. If you can't bear to swap your morning cuppa for the green variety, capsules are available.

Reduce your salt intake and you'll almost certainly notice your stomach starts to get flatter, since salt adds to bloating in the tummy region. While there's nothing wrong with a pinch during cooking, try to avoid adding salt to your meals before you eat. As much as 75 per cent of the salt we eat is added to foods - so check food labels on things like soup and processed meals. Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt per day.

When you're on a diet, you'll probably see fruit as the healthy snack option, and it's certainly better for you than crisps and chocolate. Nevertheless, fruit does contain sugar, so go for the low-sugar options like berries, plums and cherries.

Thirty minutes of cardio, five times a week is what's recommended to stay healthy, and even if you're busy a thrice-weekly exercise habit is a slimming essential. Half an hour of cardio plus eight minutes of resistance training three times a week should kickstart your weight loss.

As well as downsizing your dinner plate, try to stick to the right ratio of food groups. If your meal consists of 50 per cent veggies, 25 per cent protein (lean is best), and 25 per cent carbs, you'll know you're getting a healthy, balanced diet.

Sleep deprivation affects your metabolism's ability to function properly, and leaves the hormones associated with appetite out of kilter. To give your body the best chance of benefitting from healthy eating and exercise, make sure you get your eight hours a night.

With summer just around the corner, many of us will be tempted to the pub garden post work, but alcoholic drinks are heavy on the calories. For example, a pint of cider is equivalent to a sugary doughnut on the calorie front, while a large glass of vino is loaded with the same calories as a slice of sponge cake.

Have you recently achieved your weight loss goal? What advice would you give to other dieters? Leave your comments below...