There’s a lot of debate about whether you should monitor your calories while you’re on a diet. The biggest argument for it is that you won’t have to spend time trying to estimate how many calories you’ve consumed and burned. Plus, it can be very easy to underestimate the number of calories in many ingredients – and some people may even overestimate their calories, which may mean they’re not getting enough nutrients.
Therefore, one of the best diet tips to lose fat is to make sure you don’t underestimate how many calories you’re consuming each day. For example, many people would be surprised to learn that just 1 tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains 119 calories - more calories than 2 fingers of Kit Kat (107) or 10 Maltesers. Yet you’re much better off getting those calories from olive oil – as this is rich in antioxidants and good monounsaturated fats.
An even better option would be to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. For instance, a medium, raw carrot only has about 25 calories - so four carrots would still contain fewer calories than just one tablespoon of olive oil!
This work out as an average deficit of 500 calories a day. This will make it easier to monitor your progress and determine if your diet is on track. Weigh yourself after 1 or 2 weeks and compare with your weight before you started your diet.
The previous point leads to another very important piece of advice: try to avoid weighing yourself more than once a week. For more reliable readings, always weigh yourself at the same time of day, such as first thing in the morning (but no more than one morning every 7 days).
Did you know that your weight can fluctuate by a few pounds throughout the day? In an experiment, nutritionist Alexandra Caspero, the founder of whole-food vegetarian recipe brand Delicious Knowledge, weighed herself every hour and found that her weight fluctuated by 7 pounds - from 131 pounds just after 10am to 137 pounds by 9.30pm.
One of the best diet tips to lose fat is to eat enough protein to keep any muscles loss to a minimum. Protein shakes can be a quick and simple way to boost your protein intake. Consider fast-digesting whey protein before and/or after a workout, and slow-digesting casein protein before bed.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 revealed that weight loss among 800 overweight adults from European countries was better maintained in those who had moderately increased their protein consumption and moderately reduced their glycemic index (eating complex, lower sugar carbohydrates like legumes and pasta as opposed to sugary carbs like fruit juices and many common cereals).
Another study by McMaster University divided 40 young men into two groups - one on a low calorie diet and another on a diet with higher protein intake. Surprisingly, the group with higher protein intake not only lost more body fat, they also gained muscle, despite being on a caloric deficit. In one month, they lost 10.5 pounds but gained 2.5 pounds of muscle - whereas the other group consuming less protein only lost 8 pounds but gained no muscle.
This may sound like strange advice for someone looking for diet tips to lose belly fat. However, it’s fine to treat yourself to a pizza or a hamburger one day a week, as long as you know how much you’re eating. For example, if you plan on losing a pound a week, you could aim for a deficit of 700 calories a day from Mon to Saturday. Therefore, by the end of Saturday, you’d aim to burn 4,200 calories (since Monday) – but you’d only need to burn 3,500 calories to meet your pound-a-week target. Therefore, you can go on a caloric surplus of 700 calories on Sunday. So that means you could eat 1,400 more calories than you did on the six previous days (although you can eat less if you prefer - the choice is yours!).
Always make time for the most important meal of the day. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that omitting breakfast from a diet was linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while a study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association revealed that eating breakfast daily could improve your memory by boosting cognitive function.