The countdown to Christmas has officially begun – with just five weeks remaining until the big day.
And while that means some festive feasting is likely on the horizon for many, according to one Australian expert there are some simple tricks you can use to shape up for Santa’s visit.
Here Susie Burrell, the brains behind the popular Shape Me diet plan, shares her best diet tips with New Idea – and reveals why adopting the 7:12:6 routine could be the key to helping you lose five kilos by December 25th.
Get breakfast right
‘Without a doubt the most powerful thing you can do when it comes to weight loss is to eat a protein rich breakfast as early as possible,’ Susie says.
‘As the body’s hormones and metabolism are programmed according to a 24-hour circadian rhythm, the earlier in the day you eat your breakfast, the more energy you are likely to burn.’
The expert explains that this is the reason you feel hungry a few hours later on days you’ve eaten breakfast early.
‘Making sure your breakfast includes a protein rich food is also crucial to optimise burning, as protein requires more calories to digest than carbs or fats,’ Susie adds.
‘In theory it is viable to cut the carbs from your diet, it is not necessary to cut them from your breakfast. You are likely to get just as good a result including a small amount of carbs with breakfast as you are to skip them entirely in favour of a shake or egg based breakfast.’
Eat a lunch packed with salad
‘The most common issue observed with individuals’ lunch choices, especially when they are trying to lose weight is that they fail to get the amount of bulk they require at lunch time,’ Susie explains.
‘Too often a plain sandwich or wrap or sushi is eaten which leaves you feeling satisfied for just an hour or two before you are craving sugar.
‘And do not even start on the lunches that consist of plain salad and tuna day after day, how many people do you know who eat this for lunch every day and still need to lose weight?’
Susie explains that it’s crucial that lunch contains at least two cups of vegetables or salad.
‘It does not matter if this is via a soup, fresh cooked vegetables or through a salad but it must be remembered that few salads you purchase away from the home will have this quantity,’ she adds.
Susie says you need a palm-size serving of a lean source of protein too.
‘The protein will again help to regulation your energy levels throughout the afternoon as well as provide important nutrients including iron, zinc and vitamin B12,’ Susie says.
She adds that while many people might be tempted to cut carbs at lunchtime, you do still need one serve – or two if you are a man.
‘This can be as simple as adding some sweet potato to your salad, a slice of bread or wrap or some beans or corn,’ she says.
Have soup once a day
‘The reason that you see so many references to soup in weight loss literature is that there is evidence to show that consuming a bowl of low calorie, broth or vegetable based soup before a meal will see you consume at least 100 calories less at the meal,’ Susie says.
‘Vegetable based soups, especially those which contain plenty of leek, onions and garlic also have a “strip” style effect through the digestive tract, helping to rid the body of extra fluid which can be adding on a kilo or two.
‘In a short term, intense weight loss effort, adding a soup to your daily intake not only gives you a good dose of fibre, it also helps to keep you full and helps to shift extra fluid weight,’ Susie explains.
While Susie says that this may not be ‘true’ fat loss, she insists the psychological benefits of seeing a shift on the scales is often all you need to feel motivated and stay on track.
Try the 7:12:6 routine
‘If we were to eat breakfast at 7am, lunch by 12 noon and dinner by 6pm, we would far fewer weight issues,’ Susie says.
‘The truth is though that many of us are lucky to have eaten breakfast by 9am, lunch by 2pm and dinner by 8 or 9pm at night.
‘Shifting our caloric intake back towards the second half of the day is an issue for weight loss, as hormonally we are programmed to burn calories during the first half of the day and store during the second half of the day,’ she adds.
‘This means that if we eat proportionally more calories during the second half of the day, we are more likely to store them.’
Cut the liquid calories
‘It does not matter whether the calories come from wine, juice, coffee or a smoothie, the body does not compensate well when we consume liquid calories,’ Susie says.
‘This means that we do not adjust our food intake to eat less when we drink fluids other than water or clear tea.’
The expert admits that for many, a daily coffee habit or couple of glasses of wine a night are routines that have gradually crept into our lives – along with a couple of kilos.
‘Take a break from your milk coffee, alcohol and extra juices and swap to water or herbal tea and you are likely to see a drop in weight as well,’ Susie concludes.