It’s the time of year when those extra winter pounds seem to have no intention of disappearing.

Could that tempting snack food kept in the desk drawer have something to do with it? Or the caramel macchiato on the way home? People who manage to do without such temptations for a time have taken the first step toward being in shape for spring.

Reducing the number of calories, eating more conscientiously, and paying attention to the sensation of hunger and fullness are other good rules for a weight loss strategy. Add sufficient exercise to the mix and the pounds come off without strict dieting.

“By cutting out snacks and extra portions, the amount of calories consumed is reduced,” said Ute Hantelmann a nutrition consultant at Germany’s central consumer office in Hamburg. But that’s exactly what people find difficult because tempting snacks are found on almost every corner and are available around the clock.

“We live in an environment of obesity,” said Professor Ines Heindl of the University of Flensburg.

Discipline above all else is needed to follow through on the well-intentioned New Year’s resolution to lose a few kilos.

“Losing weight in a relatively short time is not a problem for those who really want to do it,” said Stefanie Gerlach of Germany’s obesity society. But to be able to maintain a proper weight in the long term, habits must be changed permanently. This requires an examination of one’s diet.

People who want to get on track to lose weight should ask themselves what they eat and when they eat. They also should examine whether they eat because they are hungry or because they get tired while at work in the afternoon. Even little changes can result in big achievements.

“Foods that I love to eat and tend to eat frequently or snack on shouldn’t constantly be lying around in view,” said Gerlach.

Losing weight by eating a variety of foods also requires being strong while grocery shopping. If any snack foods like crisps, cakes and chocolate go into the shopping cart, buy them only in small amounts.

However, it’s not necessary to cut out all sweets and tempting foods, just limit them. Four to five kilograms can be taken off while still enjoying food. Usually it requires adding more vegetables and fruit to the diet and cutting the consumption of sweets and fatty foods.

When the body consistently gets fewer calories than it uses per day, then it’s forced to burn up calories stored as fat. Experts agree that the rate of weight loss should not be more than one-half to 1 kilogram per week. In an adult this goal can be reached by cutting 500 calories per day, that is, consuming 1,500 calories daily instead of the average 2,000 needed. The experts also say that crash diets are not effective. Weight lost resulting from such diets cannot be a result of fatty tissue being used up, Heindl said.

Heindl said she considered it sensible to eat fresh foods in the afternoon. It’s also important to chew food for a long time because the first phase of the sensation of fullness occurs in the mouth.

“If I eat too fast, I skip this phase,” said Heindl. A simple trick is to eat a raw carrot before a meal, which quickly fills up the stomach.

Drinking a lot of liquids also plays a decisive role in weight loss. Experts recommend drinking at least 1.5 litres of calorie-free drinks such as water or tea per day. Sufficient exercise always should be part of a weight loss programme. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes per day. This builds muscle, which requires energy, even when the body is at rest.

RELATED NEWS

Why be a vegetarian?January 9, 2010

Fasting, feasting December 30, 2009

For the travelling athleteDecember 4, 2009

Avoid the sugar trapNovember 7, 2009