Forget those crash diets: how to lose four kilos a month without the stress

Forget those crash diets: how to lose four kilos a month without the stress

Two experts tell us how to change our mindset about weight loss and diets by following four, simple guidelines

Solange Vázquez

Friday, 21 June 2024, 11:18

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We like numbers so much that sometimes we measure our happiness by them - by adding heaven knows how many zeros to our bank balance, or by how many times a week we have sex, or by how many hours we get off work. So, let's turn to a figure that at this time of the year most people will lose sleep over more than any other: the exact number of kilos we want to lose before the summer holidays.

Well, here are some more figures for those counting sheep over weight loss: science has shown that 95% of restrictive diets do not work and 90% of people who lose weight using such unorthodox methods regain those pounds a year later, if not sooner.

What do we mean by this? Simply that Operation Bikini is a sham, as the experts have been warning us. Here two experts encourage us to flip the switch, to forget crash summer diets and to place all our money on four simple guidelines. They assure us that we will lose weight without suffering. We should lose two to four kilos in a month if we apply these guidelines, combining them with a sensible diet. "Small changes can make a big difference," they say.

  1. 1

    More water, less weight

Obviously, if we are stuffing our faces, then drinking more water is not going to have any effect. However, if we eat normally and take care of ourselves with just the occasional indulgence, drinking plenty of water will help us to improve our figure. "Staying hydrated helps control appetite and improves digestion. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day although, if you eat lots of water-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, you might need less. It is also important to drink water outside of meal-times: in this way, the digestive process improves, because we do not dilute the gastric juices," advises nutrition coach Mentxu da Vinci.

According to a study published in 'Obesity: A Research Journal', after three months of restricting calories, people who drank half a litre of water before each meal lost 44% more weight than those who ate the same but did not increase their water intake. Drinking half a litre boosts metabolism by 30% within 10 minutes of drinking the water and the maximum effect is reached 30 to 40 minutes later and lasts for over one hour. This increase in metabolism is equivalent to 17,400 calories per year, about two and a half kilos of body fat.

  1. 2

    Eat sitting down and use a plate

If we were to put everything we have eaten on a plate at the end of the day, we would be astonished to see that we have eaten much more than we thought we had, and in much greater quantities. In fact, many people complain that they don't lose weight even though when they sit down at the table they watch what they eat and control the quantity. The problem is all that they have put into their bodies without realising it! "Eat sitting down and on a plate: this will help you to be more aware of your portions and to enjoy every bite," recommends Da Vinci. "Ask yourself how you eat, not what, this is a radical change," says Leila Pérez, nutritionist at Vithas Vitoria Hospital, adding: "If you pay attention, you enjoy your food more and notice better the feeling of when you are truly hungry."

The fact is that most of the time when we overeat, it is not because we are hungry, more out of habit or due to some anxiety. "Eating is a dopamine rush, which brings a sense of well-being... but only for a while, then it generates more anxiety, so think about it". A group of Argentinian researchers analysed the amount of snacking that we do daily. They found that it can add up to 500 to 800 calories a day, the same amount of calories as in a full meal. And that's no way to control your weight. So it's best to give up this habit and eat fruit or yoghurt mid-morning to kill the hunger pangs. If you can't resist snacking, have some healthy pickles or tomato juice to hand, for example.

  1. 3

    Get moving: 10 minutes a day

Maybe you don't have much time to go to the gym and you find it hard to find time to exercise. Well, that's no excuse for not doing something. First of all, walk more and take the stairs instead of riding every lift you see. That's already a lot. But do you have ten minutes per day to give? There are training apps - especially HIIT (high-intensity impact training) - that make the most of those ten minutes. If not, you can also opt for the exercise trio that never fails - squats, lunges and planks - for those 10 minutes. This alone can burn 200-250 calories a day and certainly improve your fitness. Then, if you're up for it, add more reps for 15 or 20 minutes....keep pushing.

  1. 4

    Diet blip: never give up

It is our great enemy! If we do indulge, we should enjoy it and not feel guilty, but then just get back on track, not give up and open the door to more excesses because, after all, we have already failed. "Restrictive diets make us swing between extremes: good food, bad food, going hungry or binge-eating... and we get into a loop that is not good for us."

How do we swallow the fact that we have been taking care of ourselves and then, one day at a birthday party, we eat a piece of chocolate cake the size of Australia? That's 300 or 400 calories, oh no!..., that's the whole day's calorie count down the drain. Do we fold and eat more cake meant for other guests and continue in madness mode for the rest of the day and for several days after that?

"Nooo, occasionally it's fine, it's even part of a healthy diet, because pleasure is also important. But it's better if the excesses are planned. And very important: we have to think that eating well to reach our goals is not a perfect or linear process. We must have patience and 'train' to get into practice," insists nutritionist Leila Pérez.

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