When I was 12, doctors diagnosed me with juvenile arthritis.
At 17, specialists diagnosed me with chronic rheumatoid arthritis in my entire body and said I would be crippled by the time I was 22.
I was 13 kilograms overweight by the time I was 17.
Today, I’m a Weight Loss Nutritionist, a mum to a two-year-old, an Australian salsa dance champion, and a published author and speaker. I’m thriving in all ways—I am anything but crippled.
To me, physical well-being and vitality go hand in hand with achieving a healthy weight, a strong metabolism, and yes, a slim figure. Healthy weight loss is often a necessary step to healing many other diseases. That’s why I am so passionate about empowering others to eat for the body, health, and life they want.
And, contrary to popular belief, losing weight doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated.
To prove it, I’m thrilled to share my favourite weight loss hacks with you. I want to demonstrate how making a few effortless dietary changes can support your journey to health. Even if you change nothing else, these hacks will likely get you a bit closer to your ideal weight.
These are my top seven weight loss hacks for an effortlessly sexy body:
Weight Loss Hack #1: Stop Counting Calories!
I don’t count calories—haven’t for more than seven years—and I wish you would stop too.
Your calorie counter doesn’t know when you are no longer hungry. It doesn’t know when you are full. Think about it: The places on this beautiful planet where people are slim and healthy are not the places where everyone counts their calories.
A simple study compared the diets and nutritional intake of 13,000 participants, looking specifically at the difference between meat-eaters and plant-based. On average, vegetarians and vegans consumed around 360 fewer calories than the meat group. That wasn’t intentional dieting; a plant-based diet just naturally led to lower daily calories for participants—and, by extension, greater weight loss. This study looked at both vegans and vegetarians (the latter still eat eggs and dairy), but I am confident that the best diet for healthy weight loss is a fully plant-based one.
Instead of counting calories, pay attention to your body and its needs. Nourish it with whole plant foods, and it will tell you when it has had enough—and when it hasn’t. Not only will this hack save you time, but you’ll probably lose weight without changing a single other thing, too!
Weight Loss Hack #2: Drink an Apple Cider Vinegar Beverage.
In high enough doses, vinegar (which is essentially diluted acetic acid) can promote AMPK production in human cells. AMPK is the enzyme that tells our bodies to start burning fat stores and up our energy production.
A double blind trial of 150 “overweight” Japanese men and women specifically looked at the effects of apple cider vinegar on weight loss. One group received a high dose (two tablespoons per day). One group drank only one tablespoon per day. A placebo group drank an acidic beverage that didn’t actually contain any acetic acid.
The 150 test subjects otherwise went about their normal lives. They changed nothing else. And within just one month, both vinegar groups were showing significant weight loss—over two kilos (five pounds) in twelve weeks—compared to the placebo. They lost more and more every month, while the placebo group had gained weight by month three.
Weight Loss Hack #3: Switch to Brown Rice.
Researchers took two groups of overweight women and put each one on a weight loss diet—one including a cup of white rice, and the other a cup of brown. After six weeks, they switched the groups’ diets.
When the white rice group switched to brown, they experienced significantly more weight loss, as well as body-shaping around their hips and abdomens. In addition, they enjoyed lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation. These effortless results held steady for pre-diabetics—a particularly high-risk group.
So many people avoid brown rice because they don’t think it’s as tasty as white. Please don’t let that stop you! Brown rice can be so yummy if you have the right recipes. I strongly encourage you to explore the possibilities before ignoring this hack!
Weight Loss Hack #4: Switch from Dairy to Nutritional Yeast.
Dairy contains saturated fat, cholesterol, allergenic proteins, and lactose sugar, and may be linked to type 1 (juvenile-onset) diabetes and other serious conditions. Good thing we really don’t need it! Many cultures that consume few or no dairy products (fewer than 500 milligrams of calcium per day) generally have low rates of osteoporosis. Some scientists believe that’s because other factors like smoking, caffeine, and under-eating contribute far more to osteoporosis than calcium intake does.
If you’re enjoying fruits and vegetables in abundance each day, if you’re getting satisfied each meal, and if you’re staying clear of dairy, then your calcium requirements are likely in mighty fine form.
If you’re missing the rich, savory flavour dairy adds to your meals, I encourage you to get to know nutritional yeast—a healthier, tastier alternative. Nutritional yeast is your new vitamin and flavour-packed best friend. Full of B Vitamins, folic acid, zinc, and selenium, it’s also free of added sugars and preservatives. Low-fat, gluten-free, and so crazy delicious, nutritional yeast can go where no dairy product has gone before.
Its rich, savoury, cheesy flavour makes it the perfect replacement for cheese and other dairy products in so many recipes. Add it to pasta, popcorn, salads, soups, sauces, and really any dish that needs a bit of a boost…and kiss dairy goodbye for good!
Weight Loss Hack #5: Snack on Dried Fruit.
It might surprise you that adding dried fruit to your diet won’t lead to weight gain…it will probably do the exact opposite.
In a recent study, children aged nine to eleven were given all the grapes or raisins they wanted 30 minutes before a meal. At that meal, they were offered all the pizza they could eat.
If they had just the meal—with no snack beforehand—they consumed an average of 840 calories of pizza. Add the unlimited grapes, and they ate around 120 calories of that, but less pizza. Their overall calorie intake was higher, but a portion of those calories came from fruit—which, of course, is preferable to pizza. When the children were given raisins, researchers found that they consumed even more calories from their snack than with grapes, but then ate so much less pizza that their overall calorie intake was lower.
It’s not just raisins, and it’s not just kids; dried fruit is an incredibly satisfying snack. And, with the healthy calories in fruit, you don’t need to worry about portion control. Eat up!
Weight Loss Hack #6: Cut Animal Proteins.
As many studies have indicated, vegetarians and vegans tend to be slimmer and healthier than their meat-eating counterparts.
Adults with a BMI (body mass index) above 30 are considered obese; 25 to 30 is overweight; under 25 is ideal. Predictably, meat-eaters averaged 28.8 in several analyses. In the United States, the only group consistently showing at their ideal weight and BMI was the plant-based one…these averaged 33 pounds (about 15 kilos) lighter than their meat-eating friends.
So if you want to drop that extra bit of weight, just drop the animal proteins and you probably will! This is probably the most effective weight loss hack out there.
Weight Loss Hack #7: Eat Fruit, As Much As You Want!
I love fruit. That’s where I get most of my calories, and the same goes for my family. As proven by my before-and-after photos, all that fruit and all those extra calories are definitely not making me gain weight.
Nutritionists think the answer to this puzzle is in something called energy density, a pretty new term that may be linked to weight management. Energy density refers to the amount of calories per unit weight contained in a food or drink. Water, for example, is heavy, but calorie-free, so it has an extremely low energy density. Fibre is also high in weight and low in calories.
Foods that have high water and fiber content (like fruit!) will have a lower energy density. These low energy density foods fill us up better. (High-fat foods, on the other hand, are extremely high energy density—think bacon, or anything in that high-calorie, small volume category.) The lower the energy density of the foods we eat, the more weight we’ll lose.
Not only does fruit sugar not negatively affect our health, it seems to actually protect our bodies from the negative effects of other less healthy foods. Isn’t it amazing what fruit can do?
These weight loss hacks are so simple, right? The best thing about them is that they are safe and natural. They work with your body through the power of food dynamics to help you achieve the slim, healthy body you need to thrive.
So, what do you have to lose?
I would love to hear from you. Have you explored any of the weight loss hacks in this list? What has your experience been so far? Please share in the comments!
C L Taylor, P R Thomas, J F Aloia, P S Millard, C J Rosen. Questions About Vitamin D for Primary Care Practice: Input From an NIH Conference. Am J Med. 2015 Nov;128(11):1167-70.
J W Anderson, K M Weiter, A L Christian M B Ritchey, H E Bays. Raisins compared with other snack effects on glycemia and blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial. Postgrad Med. 2014 Jan;126(1):37-43.
J B Kohn. Is vinegar an effective treatment for glycemic control or weight loss? J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Jul;115(7):1188.
B Neal. White rice and risk of type 2 diabetes. BMJ. 2012 Mar 15;344:e2021.
C Kang, H Lee, E S Jung, R Seyedian, M Jo, J Kim, J S Kim, E Kim. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) increases glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity in muscle cells via multipathway mechanisms. Food Chem. 2012 Dec 15;135(4):2350-8
P Knekt, A Aromaa, J Maatela, R K Aaran, T Nikkari, M Hakama, T Hakulinen, R Peto, L Teppo. Vitamin E and cancer prevention. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):283S-286S.
D R Keast, C E O’Neil, J M Jones. Dried fruit consumption is associated with improved diet quality and reduced obesity in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 1999-2004. Nutr Res. 2011 Jun;31(6):460-7.
B. Farmer, B. T. Larson, V. L. Fulgoni III, A. J. Rainville, G. U. Liepa. A vegetarian dietary pattern as a nutrient-dense approach to weight management: An analysis of the national health and nutrition examination survey. 1999-2004. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 111(6):819 – 827.
J Sabaté, M Wien. Vegetarian diets and childhood obesity prevention. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2010 91(5):1525S – 1529S.
V Matkovic, P K Goel, N E Badenshop-Stevens, J D Landoll, B Li, J Z Ilich, M Skugor, L A Nagode, S L Mobley, E J Ha, T N Hangartner, A Clairmont. Calcium supplementation and bone mineral density in females from childhood to young adulthood: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):175-88.
D Feskanich, W C Willett. Early-Life Milk and Late-Life Fracture Reply. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(7):683-684.
Author: Donna Wild
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman