Want to lose weight? Here are 5 easy things to do instead of diet

Click to play video 'Top 6 weight loss mistakes, according to experts' Top 6 weight loss mistakes, according to experts
WATCH ABOVE: Top 6 weight loss mistakes, according to diet and exercise experts

Exercise more, lose weight, and eat better. Those are the top three New Year’s resolutions people make, according to one recent poll.

Opinions can often differ on what weight loss method works best. For instance, some say consuming a lot of smaller meals throughout the day will fuel your metabolism. Others, like registered dietitian Hélène Charleboisargue more eating will equal more calories because people “have a hard time stopping at ‘small.'”

There is at least one thing most experts agree on, though: diets should be avoided if you want healthy and long-lasting change.

“You can do all these gimmicks and quick fixes and unhealthy ways to actually lose scale weight,” said Gidon Gabbay, a performance nutritionist with G Force Home Training in Toronto. “But if you want to lose body fat and keep that off, it’s mainly about metabolism.”

READ MORE: Why the numbers on your scale don’t matter

For dietitian Andrea Hardy of Ignite Nutrition, the “magic formula” involves: eating whole foods (the opposite of processed foods), exercise, having a good relationship with food, sleeping well and managing stress.

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Here’s more on what the experts feel is essential if you want to shed those holiday pounds.

1. Sleep more, stress less

A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your waistline, Gabbay warns.

“So many people are chronically under-slept and it makes them hungry for [sugary, high-calorie] foods, which they are unlikely to work off with activity since they are too tired,” said Toronto fitness expert Oonagh Duncan.

READ MORE: A look at our bad sleep habits and how to fix them

Duncan compares people who think they can function well on five hours of sleep to “that drunk guy at the party who is slurring and insisting he’s OK to drive home.”

“Don’t be that guy.”

WATCH: Nutrition expert Vanessa Perrone talks about the connection between sleep and weight control

She and Gabbay add fatigue can put our bodies into a state of stress, which can contribute to belly fat.

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“Stress is not good for anything, including fat storage,” Gabbay said.

Both encourage their clients to meditate, as well as exercise, to help reduce stress levels.

2. Watch your portion sizes

Size matters.

Duncan says a reasonable portion of carbs is the size of your fist — not the whole plate.

WATCH: Here’s what your portion sizes should look like

Click to play video 'Here are the portion sizes you should be putting on your plate' Here are the portion sizes you should be putting on your plate
Here are the portion sizes you should be putting on your plate

“Try to skip the grains at the supper meal but load up on veggies,” said Charlebois. “Even the ‘starchie’ veggies are great like squash, carrots, sweet potato, turnip, beets.”

Half your plate should always be veggies, she and other experts stress.

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WATCH: The most nutritious fruits and vegetables

However, even healthy foods like avocado (which is considered to be a “good” fat) should be limited to a thumb-sized portion (or about one quarter of an avocado) in a single sitting.

A handful of nuts and seeds is also “plenty,” Charlebois says.

3. Pack in protein

Protein is often recommended by dietitians as it can make you feel fuller for longer. Fitness experts also love it for its ability to fuel muscles and help them recover.

Charlebois urges her clients to make sure they consume at least 20 grams of protein at all meals.

READ MORE: Here’s a hierarchy of the healthiest sources of protein

For breakfast, Charlebois says that could mean some Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or two eggs.

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For lunch and supper, it could be as simple as eating a grilled chicken breast (the size of your palm) or adding some legumes (like chick peas) or white beans to soup or salad.

4. Drink more water, less alcohol

People have a tendency not to drink enough water during the winter months, Gabbay has noticed.

This can leave them feeling bloated with water weight, as their body clings to whatever water it can suck out of food because it’s feeling so dehydrated.

In addition to helping deliver nutrients throughout our body (including our muscles), research has shown the zero-calorie beverage can help satiate us before a meal.

“Lots of people confuse thirst for hunger,” said Hardy. “Having a glass of water can help to combat that hunger confusion.”

Gabbay recommends consuming at least three litres of water a day.

Alcohol, on the other hand, should be curbed if you want to lose weight.

“It’s definitely contributing to the size of your waist,” said Duncan.

“Alcohol is high in sugar, high in calories, it reduces the quality of your sleep and makes you less likely to exercise. It’s a perfect storm for weight gain.”

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5. Get moving

A sedentary lifestyle slows down our metabolism, as our body realizes that no energy is needed.

Duncan suggests setting an alarm to go off every hour and taking a 10 minute walk “to keep the muscles awake and active.”

On top of that, Gabbay urges people to exercise at least three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes.

The workout should be a combination of cardio and weight (or resistance) training.

An easy routine he suggested that will give you big pay-offs is interval training. His cardio of choice is 10-20 second sprints, which work your whole body and burn a lot of calories. You could replace it with something equally strenuous like jump rope or swimming, though.

The one to two minutes of “recovery” can be spent building your muscles through exercises like squats, lunges, or planks.

WATCH: More on HIIT (high intensity interval training) 

Other exercises that are worth your time, according to what Briar Munro, founder of Toronto’s Fly Girl Fitness, told us last summer:

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  • Mountain climbers
  • Squat jumps
  • Walking lunges
  • Push-ups in all different variations
  • Planks (front and sides)

The more muscle you have, the more fat it’ll burn — even when you’re just sitting at your desk.

And who doesn’t want that?