When it comes to most diet plans, one of the hardest rules to swallow is the need to cut back on calories. But if you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ll need to stop snacking in between meals in order to create a calorie deficit. So how can you stop those cravings for something to nibble on in between meals?
A healthy diet should include plenty of protein, “good” fats and carbs in order to help you feel energised throughout the day.
Eating plenty of fibre via vegetables and fruit will also help you to feel fuller for longer, as will protein.
But while it’s important to make the right choices for what goes onto your plate, there could be another element that’s missing from your diet.
“Your body is made up of two-thirds water, and hydration plays a key role in helping your body function at its best,” explained Dr. Naomi Newman-Beinart, nutritionist and specialist in health psychology.
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“It can sometimes be tricky to know the difference between feelings of hunger and thirst,” Dr Naomi warned.
“If you are often hungry and find that you are overeating, you may not be aware that you are actually dehydrated.”
It sounds simple, but studies have shown that staying hydrated can make a difference to the number of calories you eat each day.
“Researchers in America found that women who drank a glass of water before meals consumed between 75-90 calories fewer from their meal, and were more likely to lose weight than those who did not drink water before meals,” Dr Naomi said.
Overeating is one of the primary causes of obesity, with research showing that Britons eat as much as 1,000 more calories a day than the recommended daily intake.
It’s suggested that women should consume 2,000 calories a day, while men can have slightly more at 2,500.
But to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit – by burning off more calories than you eat.
Drinking water is therefore essential – not only as it can affect appetite, but because it’s calorie-free – meaning you won’t be adding extra calories without realising by staying hydrated.
Dr Naomi recommended setting a reminder on your phone if you’re not a big drinker – in the healthy sense – so that you sip enough throughout the day.
But if water doesn’t spark your fancy, you can stay hydrated and reap the weight loss benefits in other ways.
“Vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, watermelon and carrots are delicious when made into a fresh juice, and also really good to boost your vitamin and mineral intake,” advised Dr Naomi.
“Fruits and vegetables also contain water, so consuming them fresh or whole will up your hydration.”
Alternatively, you can add slices of lemon, orange or lime to a glass of water to give it a twist.