Summer is here – here's how to get in shape without disrupting your daily routine
For many of us, the prospect of exposing our bodies to the elements, however clement, will be greeted with dread. After a winter of comfort food and limited workouts, we’re forced once more to consider the prospect of going out with knees and arms on show.
Weight loss, however, doesn’t have to be an undignified dash towards a crash diet and a frantic HIIT session. There are some easy habits that started now, will start to take effect immediately. Many of them will have added benefits to your general health and wellbeing.
Here’s how to slip into the sizzle season with ease and grace.
If you enjoy sleep then here’s a weight loss tip you’ll be happy to get into bed with. A 2022 study led by Professor Esra Tasali at the University of Chicago Medical Centre found that going to bed 75 minutes earlier each night helps you consume 270 fewer calories each day – the equivalent of three biscuits.
When we’re sleep-deprived, our body produces more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and less leptin (a hormone that makes you feel full).
So if you’ve ever reached for the frying pan after a late night it’s because tiredness is making you hungry.
If this is a task you regularly delegated to other two-legged family members then it’s time to put your boots on. A study at the University of Missouri showed that walking your dog was actually more effective for weight loss than having a membership in a gym or joining a diet plan.
If you weigh about 10st 7lbs try to walk briskly; you can burn up to 135 calories for every 30 minutes you walk.
Dr Jeff Foster, medical director of H3health, says: “In addition to the physical benefits of walking, walking a dog is also good as it helps provides time to reflect, and improves mental health and wellbeing.” Feeling better in yourself will help you to make positive food choices for the rest of your day.
Now is the time to be in the garden. In more ways than the obvious. Yes, making the effort now will mean you can reap the rewards later in the year.
Gardening is also an amazing source of exercise. According to nutritionists at Loughborough University, mowing, digging and planting for two to three hours can help burn off up to one pound a week.
Just half an hour weeding can burn up to 150 calories, and heavier tasks like hedge trimming can burn over 400 calories per hour.
Foster says: “In the same way going for a run would be, gardening is a really positive way or burning calories, staying active, and being outside. Simply being outside we know is better for our mental health, reduces the risks of depression and seasonal affective disorder, and improves our vitamin D levels naturally.”
If you’ve resisted the ice cream but crumbled at the sight of a cold glass of wine, then you’ve fallen into a common misapprehension about the calorie content of alcohol.
In February 2022, the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) revealed adults can exceed their recommended daily limit of sugar by drinking just two glasses of wine. A pint of beer can have as many calories as a Mars bar, and a large glass of white wine could be the same as an ice cream
Foster says: “We know that alcohol is bad for us, but in terms of calories, alcohol and other liquid calorie drinks are just wasted fuel we don’t need.”
Whether you find it easier to skip breakfast or have an early dinner, there are lots of potential benefits to intermittent fasting.
A 2021 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition by the University of Nottingham showed that a group of women aged 18-45 who ate their last meal of the day between 7pm and 7.30pm for 12 weeks lost more weight and more centimetres from their waistlines than women who ate between 10.30pm and 11pm.
Intermittent fasting can improve your metabolism because it helps you burn through your carb stores during the fasting period and helps use more fat for fuel. Thus promoting weight loss.
Ulrike Kuehl, dietitian at Lumen,, a portable device and app that measures your metabolism in real time with just your breath, explains: “Time restrictive eating is a type of intermittent fasting that has shown to significantly increase metabolic health due to improvements on insulin sensitivity, oxidation and inflammatory levels and even the weight by just restricting the ‘eating window’ during the day, more specifically, between no more than 8-10 hours during daytime.”
If you’re eating as you read this, you might want to put your fork/sandwich/chopsticks down. A 2019 review by the World Obesity Foundation found that mindful eating was just as effective for weight loss as limiting energy intake and restricting food choices.
Dr Foster explains: “Your satiety hormone is called leptin. And it makes you feel full when it is released, but like most hormones, they take time to work and therefore by eating quickly you can get more food in before you feel full. The opposite is also true – eating slowly will still stimulate leptin, making you feel full but you simply won’t have eaten as much and you won’t fancy any more.”
Yes, eating more vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes could help you lose weight.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that increasing fibre intake was the strongest predictor of weight loss, with 4g of extra fibre consumed daily being associated with an extra 3.25kg of weight lost over six months.
"Studies show that individuals who consume more fibre tend to be at a healthier weight, but this does not prove outright that increasing fibre causes weight loss," says Dr. Nadja Auerbach, Clinical Operations Associate at Thriva.
"Other studies looking directly at the impact of adding fibre supplements for weight loss have shown mixed results
"Theoretically, eating foods in high fibre can result in a greater feelings of fullness, and better regulation of blood sugar levels which can help with efforts to lose weight, and minimise cravings."
Sometimes it’s about resorting to shock tactics. Logging your food, either in a hand-written journal or an app, can help you keep track of what you’ve eaten so that you can understand the impact of your nutrition choices on your weight loss progress.
"The theory behind food journals is that by recording everything you eat, you are keeping yourself accountable," explains Dr. Nadja Auerbach. "This has been backed by research, which suggests that those who keep a food diary can lose more weight than those who don’t."
Hara hachi bu is a Japanese term meaning “Eat until you’re 80% full.” It originated in the city of Okinawa, where people use this advice as a way to control their eating habits. Eating slowly, see above, will help you to do this. As will using small plates so you aren’t tempted to give yourself a huge portion.
Try looking at your plate and deciding how much might make you feel full. Then estimate what 80 per cent of that amount would look like. Perhaps it’s two-thirds of the food on your plate.
"One doesn’t have to focus on 80 per cent as an exact number," says Dr. Nadja Auerbach. "The aim is to stop eating once you feel satisfied, rather than overly full. You want to feel content, not hungry and not overly stuffed.
It’s sensible to stay on top of your water intake when it’s hot. However if you’ve ever reached for a snack when really you should be having that delicious glass of tap water, then you’re one of the 37 percent of people clinical studies have shown mistake thirst for hunger because thirst signals can be weak.
As well as reducing your calorie intake, it’s been suggested that drinking water increases the efficiency of lipolysis, the way the body burns fat for energy.
However, you don’t have to be glugging back the glasses. “The idea of drinking 8 glasses of water a day really has no evidence behind it and is just an urban myth,” says Dr Foster. “We need about 2-2.5 litres per day depending on activity and body shape and age. Twenty per cent of this comes from food already, so actually a better marker is to look at your urine – if it’s light you’re drinking enough.”
What can be nicer on a sunny day than a jolly cycle? You’d be forgiven nowadays for thinking that you’re not a cyclist unless you’re in lycra. However the benefits of cycling aren’t exclusive to those who work up a sore sweat.
A 2016 study by the University of Colorado Boulder found that using an electrically-powered bicycle on a regular basis can provide riders with an effective workout while improving some aspects of cardiovascular health, especially for riders who previously had been sedentary. While a Norwegian study showed that electric bikes cause people to cycle longer and more often. The effect was strongest on women.
This article is kept updated with the latest advice.
We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism.
We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.
Thank you for your support.
Visit our adblocking instructions page.
Summer is here – here's how to get in shape without disrupting your daily routine