Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, on a keto diet plan or just practising moderation, watching what you put into your body is even more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight.
Even if you choose your food well, with a healthy diet of nutrient-rich vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, you're still likely falling foul of common dietary pitfalls that are slowing down your progress.
- Ketogenic diet: what is the keto diet and how can it help weight loss?
- The 16:8 diet: what is this fasting diet and is it good for weight loss?
- How to boost your metabolism – lose weight and keep it off with less effort
Even if you're choosing the right base ingredients, if you're using butter and olive oil in your cooking, you could be slowing down your fitness progress. This is especially prevalent for followers of the keto diet, which emphasises high fat consumption to make up for fewer carbohydrates.
One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analysed a weight-loss diet which swapped olive oil for medium-chain triacylglycerol oils, such as coconut oil.
In scientific term, olive oil is known as a long-chain triacylglycerol, which is digested differently to medium-chain foods like coconut oil.
The study found swapping the LCT oils to MCT oils resulted in greater energy expenditure, with the participants losing more weight overall. This is great news for those of you trying to cook and eat healthier, but have hit a wall in your weight loss goals: one simple swap could get you back to business.
Another study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports this finding, rounding up the available science to show reductions in body weight and body fat composition. Because your metabolism works harder to digest the MCT oils, it helps your body burn more fat even while its at rest.
Next time you're frying some chicken breast or whipping up a salad, swap your olive oil for coconut or specialist MCT oil to reap the benefits.
Switching from LCT to MCT foods isn't going to be a "magic bullet", and frying your bacon and sausages in coconut oil isn't going to offset the damage you're doing if you're not already eating healthily. However, for those already on the right track, it's an easy swap designed to kickstart your metabolism into helping you lose weight.
Another way to rev up your metabolism is to lift heavy weights. A study from the Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (whew, what a mouthful) studied young women after they had performed strenuous resistance training. They found their metabolism was elevated for up to 16 hours after exercise, so their bodies were burning fat even while at rest.
While the gyms may be closed right now, a simple bodyweight exercise routine will get the job done. If you think getting stronger is for bodybuilders and gym rats, think again: combined with a swap to MCT oils and an already-healthy diet, resistance training is a great way to help you hit your weight loss goals.
- Best jerky: High-protein beef, vegetarian and vegan jerky
- Three health hacks to help you lose belly fat after lockdown