Whether you’re looking to improve your gut health, reduce bloating or begin your healthy weight loss journey, these nutritionist-approved diet tips and super foods will help fast-track your health goals, says Louise Pyne…
Nutritionists spend their days shelling out advice on the foods to eat and those to avoid in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
But if you really want the inside track on what foods will support your weight loss goals, we’ve recruited a handful of top experts to share their favourite tried-and-tested healthy-eating strategies…
1. Add gherkins to your salad
Struggling with bloating? Load up on fermented foods such as pickled gherkins as these are rich in tummy-flattening probiotics.
‘Pickled foods such as gherkins are amazingly helpful when striving for a calorie deficit as they are incredibly low in calories and, because of the sharp taste, you get palette fatigue quite quickly. This prevents you from over-consuming,’ says Performance Physique founder and nutritionist Arj Thiruchelvam.
2. Sprinkle cinnamon onto your smoothie
‘Warming spices such as cinnamon have been shown to have a positive impact on your metabolism. Add them to your smoothie to improve your metabolic function as this could, in turn, help with weight loss,’ explains Holly Zoccolan, holistic lifestyle and nutrition coach.
3. Drizzle apple cider vinegar on foods for weight loss
Stock up on cupboard essentials such as apple cider vinegar. ‘Using apple cider vinegar as a dressing has been shown to help reduce cravings for sugar later in the day, as well as improve digestion and reduce inflammation, which can all lead to higher rates of weight loss,’ shares Zoccolan.
4. Fill up on porridge first thing
Most of us miss out on the 30g daily recommended fibre quota, but this nutrient actually helps to improve blood sugar control and fights weight gain.
‘Certain fibrous foods such as porridge also help to feed our friendly gut bacteria, so you get a double bonus,’ says Kate Shilland, Bodyhero performance nutritionist and ambassador. Pimp up your porridge bowl with chia seeds and berries.
5. Make your own protein balls
Making sure to consume protein in every meal and opting for high-protein snacks keeps us fuller for longer.
‘It’s the most satiating macronutrient, and helps us maintain our lean body mass while pursuing fat loss,’ advises Maria Moore, Moore Movement nutritionist and personal trainer (@mooremovementofficial).
Blend together dates, cashew nuts, cashew nut butter, oats and cacao power, then shape into little balls for a satisfying protein snack.
6. Swap ice cream for Greek yoghurt
A little of what you love is the best strategy for sticking to a healthy diet, and if you’re looking for a low-calorie alternative to ice cream, swap for creamy Greek yoghurt.
‘Blend together low-fat Greek yogurt with banana and fruit of your choice, then freeze for an alternative to ice cream,’ says Moore.
7. Boost digestion with turmeric
Golden-hued turmeric contains curcumin which helps to fight inflammation. ‘It can be a great digestive aid when taken after meals,’ explains Moore.
Make your own digestion-boosting herbal tea by infusing ground turmeric, grated ginger, lemon zest and honey into hot water.
8. Add low-sugar fruit to your meals
Fruit contains a ton of nutrients, but the high sugar content of some fruits can raise blood glucose levels and make it harder to lose weight.
Instead of eating fruit on its own or in a juiced form, add it to meals – think, figs in salads, plums in tagines and apricots with roast chicken.
‘Large amounts of fruit between meals can put your body into fat-storage mode,’ says Dr Sarah Schenker, registered dietitian and nutritionist. ‘Instead, eat it as part of a mixed meal.’
9. Make a healthy trail mix
Nuts have a high calorie content, yet a large part of consumed nuts are not digested and absorbed, instead passing straight through the gut and out again.
‘There is research to show that regularly eating nuts is not associated with weight gain and can actually boost weight loss. If you feel hungry then choose a high-protein, high-fibre snack such as a handful of nuts or seeds,’ advises Schenker.
Better still, make a trail mix with a variety of nuts, seeds, roasted chickpeas and soy beans seasoned with paprika.
10. Fill up on eggs
Ditch pre-made supermarket sandwiches for a homemade protein pot – it’s an easy way to jazz up your lunch.
‘You can fill these with whatever takes your fancy – just embrace protein-rich ingredients and enjoy! It could be spinach with boiled eggs (one egg packs in a hefty 13g of protein) and your favourite dressing,’ shares Kathryn Danzey, Institute of Integrative Nutrition health coach.
11. Spice up your curries
Fiery foods such as chilli can help you to burn off extra calories. ‘The key ingredient is capsaicin which is believed to fight weight gain and obesity,’ says Danzey. Add a whole green or red chilli to curries for an extra calorie-burning kick.
12. Cook foods with coconut oil for weight loss
Coconut oil is a great cooking option as it promotes weight loss. ‘Coconut oil is naturally rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and caprylic acid, which are scientifically proven to boost weight loss by increasing 24-hour energy expenditure by up to five percent,’ says Danzey.
13. Add lemon to water
Keep a bottle of water with you on-the-go. ‘Sipping water can help to regulate appetite and prevent you from eating when you’re really just thirsty,’ says nutritionist Jenna Hope. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice to plain water aids bloating and helps to flush out toxins.
14. Boost your gut health with beans
A healthy gut helps maintain a healthy weight. ‘The gut microbiome can influence appetite and your hunger hormones and, as a result, maintaining a healthy gut profile may contribute to helping you make healthier dietary choices that support weight loss.
‘Fibrous foods such as beans are a good option because they are low in calories,’ explains Hope. Bulking out stews and soups with mixed bean varieties, such as kidney, butter and haricot, will help to ensure a wide range of nutrients.
15. Eat your greens
If you’re fighting the pounds, load up on your greens. ‘Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories yet rich in many essential vitamins and minerals and also high in soluble fibre, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied, reducing the risk of overeating.
‘Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are some of the best sources. Cooking methods can reduce their nutrient content so it’s best to either steam cook, lightly stir-fry or eat them raw,’ explains Shilland.
3 healthy treats to satisfy cravings
A nutritious diet doesn’t mean you have to forgo your favourite treats. Here’s how to give them an upgrade.
1. Have the occasional tipple
Swapping spirits for the occasional glass of red wine is a far better choice. Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which has been shown to help heart health.
2. Go dark
A couple of squares of dark (minimum of 70 per cent cocoa solids) or raw chocolate will help to satisfy cravings without causing rapid blood sugar spikes.
3. Make your own crisps
Most crisps are laden with unhealthy trans fats. Make your own healthy version instead.
Finely slice sweet potato, beetroot and parsnips with a vegetable peeler, coat in olive oil and bake in the oven until nice and crispy.