1. Sleep it off
One 2017 study published in the journal Sleep purposefully manipulated its subjects’ rest to be 60-130 per cent of their normal totals. Modest sleep loss resulted in a significant increase in food intake, with a greater number of kilojoules coming from less healthy, kilojoule-denser foods, often with lots of sleep-disrupting sugar.
“Put simply, you’re practically eating yourself awake,” says W. Christopher Winter, a sleep-medicine doctor and author of The Sleep Solution.
When you treat lost sleep as extra kilos, you can try and sleep it off. No matter how old you are, it’s worth it to set a bedtime and wake-up time. That also means your devices – the single greatest driver of poor sleep habits, Winter argues – should be put away. Then, after you’ve set this goal window, work backwards or forwards towards it in 15-minute increments every few days, he says. This way, you’re not jarring your system or schedule.
RELATED: 5 Ways To Sleep Better Every Night
2. HIIT it
Emerging research shows HIIT training – short bursts of intense cardiovascular exercise – fuels weight loss not because of the kilojoules you expend during exercise but because of the kilojoules you continue to burn after exercise.
“Interval training seems to change the metabolism and promotes many physiological changes that might favour long-term weight loss,” says Paulo Gentil, an exercise-science professor at the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil.
Translation: interval training makes your body more efficient in burning fat by way of oxygen. But don’t associate HIIT with “hard”.
“One or two days of high-intensity interval training weekly is enough and realistic when it’s part of a long-term plan,” says Brett Klika, author of 7 Minutes to Fit.
Don’t go overboard. If you’re new to working out, up the incline by a few notches for a minute two or three times during a 30-minute walk or jog. If you’re more advanced, try adding hill sprints or jump rope to your usual workout. It’s not hard. It’s kind of fun, actually. And rewarding. Promise.
3. Up your fibre intake
Even though it’s far less sexy than protein right now, fibre has the same power to satisfy. High-fibre foods take more time to digest, but they also tend to have a high water content – like oranges, tomatoes and grapefruits do – and water helps to fill you up, eat less and lose weight. Plus, they require chewing, which sounds silly, but consider how many spoons of peanut butter you can put away in the time it would take to eat an apple. The longer it takes you to eat something, the more time hunger hormones have to decline, and the less you feel like you have to eat to become full. New research shows that eating produce with other high-fibre foods, such as legumes and whole grains, may improve how your digestive system works, helping you maintain a healthy weight.
“Healthy guts have a wide variety of bacterial species,” says fibre researcher Julie Miller Jones. She says the best way to feed and diversify those bacteria is to try to hit 38 grams of fibre a day by way of a broad range of fibrous foods.
4. Try fasting
“Window” eating works. Obese people who followed a 16-hour fasting schedule lost weight without counting kilojoules, found a 2018 study in Nutrition and Healthy Ageing. I have a friend who raves about fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an eight-hour window. Because she’s stopped eating after dinner, she doesn’t snack or have a glass of wine later in the night. No breakfast means she’s truly hungry at lunch, eats her fill and is less likely to snack in the afternoon. It is simply harder for her to overeat throughout the day.
I tell my clients that if you’re good with rules, try setting some boundaries in terms of when you eat. But if the thought of such a highly structured life makes you want to dash out and eat a whole pizza, target “trouble times” during your day. If you tend to return to leftovers after leaving the dinner table, make the hour after dinner a no-kilojoule hour. If you find yourself mindlessly snacking at your desk come 4pm, see if you can abstain till dinner. Spot-treating trouble times can offer the benefits of intermittent fasting without having you be a slave to the clock.