Tips and Healthy Recipes for Weight Loss this New Year

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

As the new year rolls on, plenty of us have made resolutions to try and lose some weight. But we all know how easy it is for these good intentions to fall by the wayside. So we’ve gathered together some tips you can use to stick with your weight loss journey throughout 2024.

How can I eat healthier this year?

A lot of us would like to eat better, but making the necessary changes to do so can be a stumbling block in shifting to a healthier lifestyle. The good news is there are ways to make these changes a little easier to start and stick to.

Adding more healthy food to your diet helps to push out unhealthy food – if you’re full from eating healthy foods then there’s less room for the unhealthy stuff. You don’t have to try and eat less right away, just try and replace your meals and snacks with healthier options.

Here’s some ideas for swaps and healthy recipes and for weight loss you can make:

    1. Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains less sugar and fat than milk chocolate, and has a few other health benefits, too. Just make sure you don’t go overboard – stick to a couple of squares here and there.
    2. Kale or vegetable crisps instead of potato crisps. Craving a savoury snack? Try kale or veggie crisps instead of regular ones – you’ll still get the satisfying crunch of crisps, but with a little more colour and nutrition. Just make sure you pick up the crisps that are made with actual veggies, not coloured and flavoured potato starch and flour.
    3. Frozen natural yoghurt or bananas instead of ice cream. If you want a frozen treat, frozen natural yoghurt is packed with tons of nutrients like calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.[1] Or, try blending some frozen bananas with a few tablespoons of milk and toasted almonds for a creamy dessert.
    4. Oat bites instead of cookies or donuts. No-bake oat bites are a great alternative to cookies or donut balls. Just mix some oats with nut butter, dark chocolate, honey, and any other nutritional ingredients of your choice, like flax or chia seeds – then form them into balls.
    5. Smoothies instead of milkshakes. If you’re a fan of milkshakes, try swapping them out for a healthier fruit smoothie instead. These can still contain a lot of sugar, so only have them in moderation – but they’re an easy way to get in one of your five-a-day.
    6. Nuts and raisins instead of sweets. Want something to snack on between mealtimes? In place of sweets, try nuts or raisins. Nuts are a great source of proteins,[2] and raisins can help with digestion.[3] Try covering them in dark chocolate to satisfy that sweet tooth.
    7. Seltzer water instead of fizzy drinks. While zero calorie fizzy drinks are better than sugary fizzy drinks, they still contain dyes, sweeteners and additives that aren’t the best for your body. Seltzer water is just as good as drinking a glass of water while still satisfying that craving for fizz, and some brands have options flavoured with real fruits.
    8. Hot drink instead of puddings. Instead of sugary dessert, try sating that after-dinner craving with a hot drink, like a tea or coffee. It has far fewer calories, and coffee can even help reduce your appetite by upping the production of a hormone called peptide YY that suppresses appetite.[4]
    9. Cottage cheese instead of other cheeses. Cottage cheese has a lower fat content than lots of other cheeses, making it a much healthier option. An ounce of cottage cheese only contains 0.8 g of fat, compared to 7 g in the same amount of cheddar, or 6 g in mozzarella.[5]
    10. Eat whole grain.Whole grain foods contain more fibre and are more nutritious than their counterparts, and can even help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of obesity. Try substituting your normal bread, pasta, or rice for a whole grain alternative.
Get active with a winter workout

Getting in some extra physical activity alongside a healthy diet is the best way to shed some pounds. Don’t let the cold weather put a dampener on your health goals – we’ve got some tips for how to stay healthy during the winter:

  1. Get outdoors for a nature walk (or run). A winter walk is the perfect way to get out and moving during the colder months – just make sure you’re prepared. Check any transport you need to get to and from your walk is running, wrap up warm, and be aware of when the sun sets to keep safe.
  2. Turn housework into a workout. There are plenty of household tasks to keep on top of during the winter, and lots of them can be a workout. Vacuuming, sweeping and polishing can burn some calories while staying indoors, and has the bonus of keeping your house clean. If you want to get outdoors to keep active, raking leaves and shovelling snow are also great options.
  3. Make the most of the season. There are loads of seasonal activities you can do to keep active that are also fun. Try going ice skating, snowshoeing, or to an indoor or outdoor ski slope this winter.
  4. Hit the gym…If the weather’s bad and you don’t feel like braving the outdoors, working out at the gym is just as good. If you’re not sure where to start, lots of gyms have personal trainer programs – or you can find classes and workout plans online. Experiment to find what works best for you.
  5. Or workout at home. But if you don’t feel like leaving the house at all, there’s still plenty of exercises you can do. Body weight exercises require little (if any) equipment and can be really effective. Yoga is another great way to improve flexibility and fitness from the comfort of your home – and there are lots of online classes you can join.

Once you’re more physically active, it’s really important to stay consistent. It’s recommended we do at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of intense exercise, each week. So how can you make keeping active easier?

  1. Make it social. Joining a team or a class can be a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and help stick to your exercise goals. Having others around you to encourage and help you, as well as scheduled meeting times can help make keeping up with your workouts easier.
  2. Switch it up. Keeping your physical activity varied can also be a good way to ensure you don’t get bored and lose track of your goals. Trying new sports or activities, changing the way you train certain muscles, or trying new walking routes can help keep you engaged with and excited about your workouts.
  3. Keep track of your progress. There’s nothing better than results to help you stick to your health goals – keep track of metrics like how far or fast you can walk or run, how many reps or how much weight you can lift, or take before and after pictures to help visualise your progress and goals.
Don’t rely on weight loss supplements or shakes

You might have seen various weight loss shakes and weight loss supplements marketed towards replacing meals with lower-calorie options. While these can help you achieve a calorie deficit and lose weight in the short term – they’re not designed for long term use. And once you stop using them, it’s really easy to go back to old habits and gain the weight back.

Restricting your calories by sticking to weight loss shakes can also affect how your body absorbs nutrients, slow down your metabolism, and interfere with how you feel hunger and satisfaction after eating.[6] A good way to increase feelings of fullness after eating is to improve fibre intake – and weight loss shakes don’t contain any fibre.

So using weight loss shakes alongside a balanced diet to replace meals here and there can be beneficial for losing weight short-term, but relying on them to replace your meals can do more harm than good in the long run.

What about weight loss medication?

If you’ve heard about weight loss medications, you might be wondering whether they could help you shed some pounds this year. Typically, weight loss medications are prescribed for people with a BMI of 30 or higher, or for people with a BMI of 27 or higher that have at least one other health condition related to their weight. There are a few different options for weight loss medication, and what’s best for you will depend on your lifestyle and health. Here’s some information on the different types of weight loss medication available:

  1. Weight loss injections. There are two weight loss injections available at the moment: semaglutide (under the brand name Wegovy), and liraglutide (under the brand name Saxenda). Both liraglutide and semaglutide are types of medicine called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These mimic the hormone GLP-1 that’s naturally produced by your body in response to eating, which slows how quickly your stomach empties – making you feel fuller for longer. This helps reduce appetite, makes you feel more satisfied for longer after food, and helps you lose weight (in combination with a balanced diet and exercise).[7] Semaglutide is available under the brand Ozempic, too – but Ozempic is only licensed for type-2 diabetes. There’s also a medication called Mounjaro for type-2 diabetes that’s shown to help people lose weight, but there isn’t a version of it that’s licensed for weight loss yet. Check out this health guide on everything you need to know about weight loss injections for more information.
  2. Weight loss tablets. If injections aren’t your thing, there are prescription weight loss tablets available as well. Orlistat is a medication that limits the amount of fat you absorb from meals after eating, meaning you pass the rest in stool. It’s available as the generic Orlistat, and under the brands Xenical and Alli. Orlistat is usually a bit cheaper because it’s a generic medication, and Alli is a lower dose version that’s available as a pharmacy medicine. If you’re looking for weight loss tablets, here’s a guide on how you can get weight loss pills.

[1] Elliot, B. Ramburger, L. Meeks, S. (2023). 6 Impressive Health Benefits of Yogurt. Healthline, 10 March. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-yogurt (Accessed 19/01/2024).

[2] Gonçalves, B. et al. (2023). Composition of Nuts and Their Potential Health Benefits—An Overview. Foods. 12(5). P. 942. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10000569/ (Accessed 19/01/2024)

[3] Cafasso, J. Marengo, K. Are Raisins good for you? Healthline. 19 April. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/are-raisins-good-for-you (Accessed 19/01/2024).

[4] Gavrieli, A. et al. (2013). Effect of different amounts of coffee on dietary intake and appetite of normal-weight and overweight/obese individuals. Obesity (Silver Spring). 21(6). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23671022/ (Accessed 19/01/2024).

[5] Rose-Francis, K. Streit, L. (2023). The 9 Healthiest Types of Cheese. Healthline. 19 July. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthiest-cheese (Accessed 19/01/2024)

[6] Nobella, L. Younkin, L. (2023) Do weight loss shakes really work? EatingWell. 19 November. Available at: https://www.eatingwell.com/article/290841/do-weight-loss-shakes-really-work/# (Accessed 22/01/2024)

[7] Shah, M. Vella, A. (2015). Effects of GLP-1 on appetite and weight. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. 15(3). pp. 181-187. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4119845 (Accessed 22/01/2024)

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