‘Drastic weight loss’ diets don’t work says nutritionist

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Dr Richard Allison is a nutritionist at Herbalife Nutrition and head of nutrition at Tottenham Hotspur Women’s Team. He is also former head of performance nutrition at Arsenal Football Club and a registered dietician with the British Dietetic Association. He has shared his top tips with Express.co.uk on how to start incorporating healthier choices into your daily routine, without going overboard.

Dr Allison said: “After a month of indulgence, many of us will make a resolution to go on a restrictive diet. Cutting back drastically or hopping on a fitness trend to shed the kilos in a quick timeframe. As a nutritionist, I can tell that’s a bad idea.

“Short-term, drastic weight loss fixes don’t work and this all-or-nothing approach to January is simply setting yourself up for failure. The result? You rebound and feel bad about ‘falling off the wagon’.

“If you’re looking to lose weight and improve your wellbeing – that’s amazing. However, adopting a longer-term healthy eating strategy that you can maintain and keep consistent is vital. Think weight-management, not weight loss and you’re there.”

With this in mind, Dr Allison shared five small changes people who want to lose weight and feel healthier can make to “help you shift your wellness in the right direction”.

A healthy diet is essential for a healthy body and healthy mind, and the best way to begin is to “load up on veggies”, according to Dr Allison.

He said: “Find innovative ways to help you increase your vegetable intake. By piling more vegetables onto your plate, you’ll feel fuller for longer while upping your vitamin intake.

“Add freshly made salsa to your morning eggs, chop veggies into your pasta sauce, swap rice for broccoli rice and experiment with cauliflower crusts.”

Protein is another food type that is “an amazing tool for weight loss”.

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Dr Allison explained: “It plays a vital role in repairing muscles and helps you to feel fuller for longer – avoiding the risk of snacking on high fat, high sugar options.

“Including a high protein food in every meal is a great step and eating it first can also help you avoid over-eating. For those who struggle to get enough protein, shakes are a great and convenient option to give you a boost.”

Water is essential for overall wellbeing but staying hydrated throughout the day can also enable slimmers to feel fuller for longer, aiding weight loss.

Dr Allison recommended swapping coffee for water whenever possible throughout the day. He said: “It’s so easy to sip endless cups of tea and coffee, especially if you’re in an office or working from home – special moments that can help us get through the day.

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“However, these drinks can mean that you forgo drinking enough water – leading to dehydration. Why not swap your morning cup of caffeine for a hot water and lemon?

“A simple swap that will refresh and cleanse your system. Make every second drink in the day a cup of water and you’ll soon reap the benefits of this enhanced hydration.”

The nutritionist went on to stress the importance of portion control throughout the day – how much one eats is just as important as what they eat.

He said: “Even a meal that’s ‘healthy’ can cause you to gain weight if you eat too much of it. Portion control is a seriously underestimated component of longer-term weight management.

“Buying products that are already pre-portioned for you is an easy way to stick to your goals. Choosing a smaller plate and always putting snacks into a bowl rather than eating them from the bag are simple swaps to help.”

As for exercise, the component to a healthy diet, Dr Allison highlighted that it “doesn’t have to be exclusively tied to a gym”.

He said: “If you lead a busy life, you need to find smaller ways to move more that will help you keep in step with your health ambitions.

“Could you get off your train or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the journey? Could you park at the far end of the work car park so you get in a few more steps? Could you go for a walk for 30 minutes before work every day? Little changes make a difference.”

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