When you join the gym and begin your new exercise routine you’ll probably notice the pounds drop off easily at first. If you’ve never exercised before, all of this extra activity is suddenly burning off calories that used to get stored as fat. Even if you’ve not changed your eating habits drastically, you should still notice an improvement at first.

However, over time, your body will get used to this new routine and you may find that your weight loss starts to plateau. If you want to give things a boost you need to monitor what you eat, reduce your overall calories and include these foods in your daily diet...

  • Whole grains: when you eat whole grains, such as brown rice, brown pasta, oats and wholegrain bread, your body burns twice as many calories during the digestion process as it does for processed grains, such as white bread and white pasta. Whole grains tend to be higher in fibre too, so they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer, as well as helping to promote a healthy digestive system.
  • Lean meats: protein has a high thermogenic effect, which means your body burns about 30% of the calories it contains during digestion. For example, if a chicken breast contains 300 calories, your body will use around 90 of those calories just to digest it. Always opt for lean, skinless cuts of meat and be mindful of how you cook them too; grilling and poaching are much healthier methods than pan-frying.
  • Low fat dairy products: dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D; nutrients that are essential for preserving and building muscle mass, and for maintaining a good, robust metabolism. Opt for things like skimmed milk in your tea, low fat yoghurt on your cereal and low fat cheese grated onto a healthy brown pasta dish.
  • Lentils: red and green lentils are a fantastic source of iron, something which many of us are lacking. One cup of lentils will give you around 35% of your daily iron needs. Try adding lentils to vegetable soup or curry to thicken it, making it more filling and satisfying. This will also help you to cut down on snacking in between meals.
  • Chillies: chilli peppers contain capsaicin, a compound that heats up your body’s metabolism, allowing you to burn extra calories with no extra effort! Whether you eat them raw, cooked, dried, or powdered, the effect is the same. Add chilli flakes to soups and stir fries to give your metabolism a fiery kick.