Winter is officially in full swing and chances are you’re enjoying plenty of cosy nights tucked in watching telly. The shorter daylight hours and cooler weather point to all-things-snug: red wine in front of a fire, pub meals, hot chocolate, and Netflix. The only problem is that it can be really hard to stick with your health and fitness regime – who wants to get up for that HIIT class after a late night sipping mulled wine? Who wants to order the grain bowl when there’s a hearty pasta on offer? We don’t blame you.
If you’ve been indulging in the cosy delights a little too much lately, don’t sweat it. These five tips will make it easy to keep that extra winter padding at bay:
1) Increase your protein
High protein foods keep you feeling full for longer and they also lead to faster fat loss because they take more energy to digest than carbs or fat. Also, when paired with strength or weight training, high protein foods will help you build muscle which helps your body burn more fat, even when you’re not exercising. Increase your protein by adding more plant proteins into your daily diet like chia, lentils or quinoa.
2) Sleep right.
Make it your mission to have at least seven hours of sleep, every night. When we don’t sleep enough, our bodies produce more cortisol – which is a stress hormone that causes our bodies to store fat. Lack of sleep is also linked to higher BMIs and reduced muscle recovery and growth. If you’re struggling to get seven uninterrupted hours, try limiting your alcohol and caffeine consumption – these can wreak havoc with the quality of your sleep. Or, try setting a pre-bed ritual to help you wind down: ban screen time after 9pm, dim your lights, and try listening to a relaxation podcast.
3) Eat fat to lose fat
Seems like a paradox, but eating more fat won’t necessarily make you fat. In fact, increasing healthy fats like nuts, avocado, and coconut oil can help reduce hunger and maintain blood sugar levels, which makes you less likely to reach for that sugary 3 pm snack. Try to get at least 25% of your daily calories from healthy fats.
4) The numbers don’t lie
As much as we’d like to do away with calorie counting, the simple truth is that if you are putting more ‘fuel’ into your body than you are burning, it will become stored on your body. We’re not terribly fond of restrictive diets, but it does pay to educate yourself on where your calories are coming from – you might be surprised by some of the hidden calories in snacks and beverages.
5) Get stronger
While cardio has long held the ‘fat burning’ crown, strength training is really the unsung hero. In fact, too much cardio can cause you to lose muscle, which slows your metabolism and fat burning. Even if your goal is to be smaller, training heavy and building strength will improve your body composition. That old ‘heavy weights make you bulky myth’ is so 1993 – get some big exercises like squats and deadlifts into your routine, heavy enough that you can get 4-6 reps out at a time. You can thank us later.