LOOKING to slim down and shape up this January?

Lots of us are on a health kick this month, with big plans to get fitter, stronger and shift a few unwanted pounds too.

The key to shedding extra weight is a calorie deficit (burning more than you consume).

And there are lots of ways to help you get there.

We've checked in with the experts to round up 25 ways to help you maintain or lose weight and kickstart 2023 in rude health…

1. Try the hula hoop

According to Bliss Mason, personal trainer at F45 Mill Hill, hula hooping can burn up to 600 calories an hour.

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“Hula hooping is a fun, physically challenging exercise to add into your week, that can be done in the privacy of your own home. 

“If you are a beginner, try a weighted hoop as this is easier to rotate. As you become more advanced, switch to a lighter hoop which requires more effort to rotate and hence, helps burn more calories.”

2. Don’t believe all packets 

Dr Gary Bartlett, NHS GP and Bio-Synergy ambassador says it’s best not to be fooled by claims such as low sugar or vegan – always check the full ingredients list. 

“Read the label, as often there can be an alarming number of calories,” he adds. 

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3. Drink orange juice

A glass of OJ could help, according to Mark Gilbert, nutritionist at The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight plan.

He said: “One food that has been specifically studied for weight loss is orange juice and specifically a flavone found in orange juice, called hesperidin.”

4. Enjoy the magic of mushrooms 

David Wiener, PT and nutritionist at sports brand Freeletics recommends medicinal mushrooms, which have been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years.

He says: “Two of the best mushrooms that can help with weight loss include Reishi and Cordyceps. 

“Research shows that Reishi mushrooms change the way your body absorbs and stores fats, whereas Cordyceps, traditionally known for its stimulating properties, is a brilliant, natural way to deliver a sustainable a boost of energy which can enhance motivation to work out and boost performance, improving the way your body uses oxygen and boosting blood flow around the body.”

Find these mushrooms at health food stores and online. Dirtea sells a great range.

5. Get your skates on 

Whether you’re on ice or on the pavement, skating can torch calories. 

“Not only does skating help strengthen your core and general muscle strength, it's good for your heart as well,” explains Bliss. 

“Skating is a cost-effective activity and has less impact on your joints than running.” 

6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

“There are a number of studies that prove that drinking more water throughout the day may benefit weight loss and weight maintenance,” says David.

“Drinking water has been shown to improve your resting energy expenditure which means it increases the number of calories you burn. 

“Drinking cold water over room temperature water has been shown to improve these effects, as it leads to a temporary metabolic boost.”

He adds there is also research that’s found a link between drinking water before a meal and a reduced appetite, however this has only been found in middle-aged and older individuals. 

7. Get outside

Wrap up warm and brave the cold as David says any form of outdoor exercise – from a park bootcamp to a brisk walk – will help regulate your appetite by temporarily suppressing ghrelin (our hunger hormone) as well as boosting your mood and reducing your risk of stress.

8. Picture yourself thinner

"Put simply, visualisation is a technique which encourages you to create a picture in your mind about what you want to achieve and how you will get there,” says David.

“To be successful using this technique, you need to be as detailed as possible, creating a plan to help you achieve the outcome you have thought about and believing that what you desire is a real possibility.”

He explains that practising visualisation is a great way to focus your mind on what you want to achieve. 

“The more you focus on something, the more likely you are to see it in your life and consequently achieve it. 

“On the flipside, if you don't believe you can achieve something or visualise yourself reaching a goal, it’s less likely you will succeed as subconsciously you are not motivated to go for it.”

9. Don’t do it alone 

Jess Hillard, nutritionist atWarrior says that a mistake people often make is thinking they should and can lose weight all alone. 

“The reality is that when trying to reach your weight loss goals, you need support from those around you as they can help you stay on track. 

“There is nothing worse than dragging yourself to the gym on your own when you do not want to and going out to eat with friends who are all enjoying their meals while you’re sticking to a diet. 

“If you really want to achieve your goals, you need to be doing it with other people who will motivate you to succeed.”

10. Focus on fibre

“Fibre absorbs water and creates bulk in the stomach,” says Dr Caitlin Hall, chief dietitian and head of clinical research at myota – and this bulk helps you feel full for longer. 

“Foods high in fibre are usually (but not always) lower in calories too. One study showed that people who increased their dietary fibre lost more weight and were able to more effectively adhere to their daily energy (calorie) recommendations.”

A high fibre diet also helps improve the number and diversity of certain gut bacteria, which can also aid in weight management. 

High-fibre foods include whole grains (barley, oats, rye flour), pulses (lentils, beans), fruits and vegetables.

11. Don’t skimp on sleep 

“It’s during times of deep rest and sleep that your body can get the housekeeping done that makes it most efficient at fat-burning,” says holistic lifestyle coach, Sarah Wall.

She adds that we burn 500 more calories while asleep: “Fat loss is a form of regeneration and requires the body’s healing response so if you skimp on sleep, not only does it make it harder for you to burn body fat as poor sleep decreases your metabolism, but you’ll also experience more cravings because sleep regulates hunger hormones.”

12. Have a hot bath 

Whether you opt for a hot bath or a sauna, heat can help your body burn fat.

“Fat is energy and all energy is expended through heat,” says Sarah, adding that this is why exercise helps burn calories.

“If you’re not feeling up to exercise, you can skip the gym and go straight to the sauna to burn some extra calories. Going a few times a week will contribute to fat burning efforts,” she says.

If you’re running a bath, Sarah recommends making it as hot as you can comfortably bear and soaking your whole body for at least 20 minutes. 

13. Sip on ginger tea

“Ginger tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which help you feel fuller for longer, decreasing the feeling of hunger,” says David.

“It’s also full of potent diuretic and thermogenic properties. These properties help with boosting metabolism as well as encouraging the body to use up more energy, therefore you are burning more fat.”

14. Try apple cider vinegar

It’s made serious waves over recent years for supposedly aiding weight loss. But is there any science behind it? 

Rick Hay, Healthista’s nutritional director, explains that a 2009 study was done investigating the effects of vinegar intake on body weight and abdominal fat in 175 obese Japanese subjects.

“It showed that vinegar intake reduced body weight, BMI, and body fat mass. 

“Apple cider vinegar is a digestive tonic and may also help with bloating.”

Try using apple cider vinegar as a salad dressing, or if you’re brave enough, dilute a tablespoon in hot or cold water and drink it.

15. Chew gum

“If you find yourself craving something, try to chew on a piece of sugar-free gum. 

“This may act on the idea of chewing and distract your mind from the craving, allowing it to pass,” says Karine Patel, weight loss nutritionist for Dietitian Fit & Co.

16. Eat your vegetables first and your carbs last

The order in which you eat your food at mealtimes can have an impact on your weight loss efforts, according to Karine. 

“Vegetables are very low in calories but high in fibres which fill you up without increasing your caloric intake. 

“Next, eat your protein foods as these also help to make you feel full. 

“Finally, eat your carbs if you are still hungry, but by that time, you generally feel much fuller and have less appetite for your carbs. 

“This strategy will help you eat less overall, and consume fewer calories as you are often too full to finish your meal.”

17. Drink your coffee

Coffee lover? Karine says your morning mug of Joe can be a good way to regulate your appetite. 

“Research has shown that coffee can reduce the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which can then leave us feeling less hungry throughout the day, therefore consuming less overall,” she adds.

18. Opt for plant based protein 

“Eating more healthy plant based protein can boost metabolism, reduce hunger and keep you satisfied for longer which can help to reduce belly fat,” says Rick.

“In fact, eating more plant based meals is one of the best weight loss tips out there – you could either just increase your intake of these fibre rich vegan meals or have a stint on a vegan diet.”

19. Drop liquid calories 

From cab sav to cocktails as well as lattes, hot chocolates and energy drinks; many of the drinks we enjoy day-to-day are packed full of sugar and calories. 

“Opt for black coffee, green tea and lots of water, adding lemon, mint and ice for taste,” says Simone Thomas, nutrition expert, and founder of Simone Thomas Wellness.

“If you do love a coffee shop treat and the odd tipple in the evenings, keep a diary over a week of the calories that you are consuming from drinks and I think you will be amazed at just how many are being wasted and what good food you could be eating instead while losing weight at the same time!”

20. Use resistance bands 

Short on time to exercise? Jessica Stansfield, nutrition expert at Huel says that a resistance band is a useful, portable and versatile piece of equipment used to exercise different parts of the body that can come in handy.

Resistance bands also recruit the smaller stabiliser muscles that often get neglected in the body. Unsure on what moves to try? Type ‘Resistance Bands Workouts’ into YouTube for inspiration. 

21. Eat from a smaller plate

“Ultimately, reducing the surface area of what you eat from, can reduce how much you put on the plate,” says Karine. 

“A smaller plate that’s full can visually look more filling than a larger plate that’s empty, which can help with our mindset when trying to cut down.”

22. Put the kettle on

Dr Tim Bond from the Tea Advisory Panel says: “Tea is one of our best loved drinks, yet less than half of us realise that drinking it regularly can help us manage our waistlines.”

He explains that there’s science to show how regularly having a brew can help reduce body weight and waist circumference. 

“Tea is full of nourishing plant compounds and can support health and wellbeing in all sorts of ways.”

23. Become a little bitter

Bitter herbs such as chamomile, milk thistle and dandelion could help to flatten a bloated belly.

“Bitter herbs help to promote healthy digestion which in turn leads to better elimination and liver health,” says Rick. “If your digestive system is sluggish it is harder to get a flat stomach.”

Try sipping on herbal teas to enjoy the benefits. 

24. Change your food placement

“Leaving biscuits on the counter and having your pantry and fridge full of sweet and savoury snacks constantly at eye level makes you eat more,” explains Karine.

“Studies show that placing snack-food further away from you consistently decreases its consumption.”

Try hiding foods in drawers or place packet foods in hard to reach places. 

25. Try the 20 minute rule

It takes 20 minutes for food to reach our stomach and signal to our brain that we’re full.

Because of this, eating slowly is important. 

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“Put your fork down between each bite,” says Karine. Plus, chew food until it’s fully broken down in your mouth. Try to take 20 minutes or longer to finish a meal.

If you're concerned about your weight, or feel you need some support, speak to your GP.

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