A New Year is a time for new beginnings. Could there be a better time to get started on the path to improved health?
We give you 16 totally manageable New Year’s health resolutions. Even if you can’t stick with them all, a few of these healthy living habits will set you up for a better 2016.
1. Begin with a big brekkie
Yeah, you know it but do you do it? Countless studies have shown that skipping breakfast means greater temptation from bad-for-you snacks later in the day. Women take special note for a 2013 study found that women who ate an ample breakfast had a larger drop in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, than those who ate a small meal. Clearly, this is one of the healthy eating habits that you must make your own.
2. Eat a hot breakfast
Cereal with milk may be your go-to breakfast on all days but take the time out to fix yourself a hot brekkie. Research at Louisiana State University showed that women who eat a warm bowl of oatmeal with fat-free milk feel 28% less hungry for up to four hours later compared with when they eat cereal. A sweet ending to your breakfast – be it a cookie or a piece of cake – will ensure fewer cravings and a better chance of sticking to healthy meals through the day, a Tel Aviv University Medical Center study has shown.
3. Forget latte, drink it black
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that a cup of black coffee may jumpstart your metabolism by 12% for three hours. But don’t overdo the black bit; women should consume no more than three cups a day.
4. Exercise in the morning
Scheduling your workout in the first couple of hours after you wake up stokes your metabolism and sets you up to burn more calories for the rest of the day. Appalachian State University research has shown that 45 minutes of exercise in the morning can lead to a metabolic spike that burns an additional 190 calories over the rest of the day. But if you can’t, try scheduling a session before your dinner time. This lets can refuel with a meal you were already planning to have and cuts out an extra snack.
5. Put dairy on your to-do list
Forget veganism and other dairy-free diets. Adding dairy to your daily diet loads you up with calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that help build muscle and boost your metabolism. The hormone calcitriol helps conserve calcium for stronger bones and – get this – instructs your fat cells to convert less sugar to fat and burn more body fat.
6. Sip on cold water
Make sure you pour yourself a big glass of cold water before you sit down to a meal. Studies have shown that being dehydrated can lead to sugar cravings, especially for those who have been exercising. Why cold water? A German study found that drinking about 16 ounces of cold water increased metabolic rate by 30% for an hour.
7. Keep taking small steps
Sure, you’ve done the biggie – cardio for 20 minutes and strength training for 30 minutes – but that doesn’t give you the licence to cop out for the rest of the day. Park your car in the last parking lot, take the stairs and walk to the supermarket. These additional movements will increase overall daily calorie burn.
8. Eat 30 gm fibre every day
Amping up your fibre intake may improve your heart health and help you shed some weight. An American Heart Association study linked consumption of 30 grams of fibre a day to better overall health. So cook some oats for breakfast and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
9. Cut down on meat
Much has been said about the benefits of white meat over red meat, but a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics said that vegetarians tend to be healthier than meat eaters. We don’t want you to go completely vegetarian but try and slim meals by replacing meat with plant protein. Try tasty options such as black beans, mushrooms, tofu or paneer.
10. Be pro-probiotic
The world and its cousin are going ga-ga over probiotics. A recent study carried out at Virginia Tech and published in the journal Obesity has shown that a probiotic blended into a milkshake may help protect against weight gain. The study showed that those who consumed the probiotic mix had lower body mass gain and fat accumulation than those who didn’t.
11. Spice up boring recipes
Spicy meals may speed up your metabolism, according to a study in Physiology & Behavior. Researchers say that capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that makes them hot, activates the sympathetic nervous system and that the effect on metabolism can last for more than 4 hours after eating. New research suggests that capsaicin can indicate if you’re overeating and can make you stop by creating the feeling of “being full”.
12. Mind the 2 S’s
Added sugar and salt could well put you on the path to an unhealthy future. Worldwide, it is recommended that women have no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day, and men stick to nine teaspoons. But the average person takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. The same goes for salt, which – like sugar – is present in most processed foods.
13. Eat meals at leisure
Chuck the distractions that seem to have become part of modern mealtimes. Shun the smartphones, laptops, TV and movies. Research from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab says that we tend to consume additional calories when distracted as we are less likely to notice the body’s signals that you’re full. Studies have also shown that speed eating makes you prone to weight gain.
14. Drink it down
An alcoholic binge mid-week will ruin all your careful diet and fitness planning. A single serving of beer, wine or spirits racks up upwards of 125 calories. With large pegs and servings the norm, the calories add up to the size of a small meal. And drinking brings additional calories in the form of greasy snacks and savouries.
15. Rethink your drink
If you must have something to drink, let it be water, tea or coffee. For sodas and juices are to grown-ups what candy is to kids. Do you really want to consume something that has 18 teaspoons of sugar and more than 240 calories per 600 ml serving, and provides zero nutritional value? Chuck diet variants too. A study in Obesity revealed that diet soda drinkers were more likely to have a high percentage of fat in their bellies.
16. Never skimp on sleep
Sound sleep lets you focus and increases productivity. Research has shown that sleep-deprived people are prime contenders for health problems such as the increased risk for depression, type 2 diabetes, and stress. A University of Chicago study has also shown that dieters who get their daily hours lose more fat than the sleep-deprived.
Adopt these healthy living habits in the New Year and reap their benefits through life!